MBA: Tell us about your book.
Andrea Thalasinos: It’s the story of how an act of kindness triggered a series of cascading events in many people’s lives.
MBA: Apparently the inspiration behind this novel all started with a puppy. Tell us more about that.
AT: The inspiration began with looking into the puppy’s background, the history of the breed. They’re different from other dogs and I was curious about them. But when I discovered the parallels between Native Americans and the treatment of many of the Peoples of the Russian Far East, I felt there was a story here that needed to be told. And particularly what happened to the Chukchi under Soviet collectivization and rule for generations until the collapse and transition into the Russian Federation. Also, I was curious as to what happened to the dogs that had been central to the lives of the Coastal Chukchi.
MAB: How much research and what kind did you put into An Echo Through the Snow?
AT: I was ready to hop on a plane, but the realities of life wouldn’t let me. So I used the tremendous holdings of the University of Wisconsin Libraries and resources, as well as other articles and books I discovered through my travels. The most amazing cold weather photography collection, arcticphoto.com.uk gave me current photographic ethnographies of how the Chukchi and surrounding people still live.
MBA: How does your educational background lend itself to your creative work?
AT: While I don’t have formal training, e.g. MFA or other professional writing credentials that many have these days, I’m more driven by story and the storm of a creative idea. Being a sociologist myself, it’s often the creative tug of a social dilemma that precedes everything.
MBA: Where did you get the idea to create and then intertwine the two narratives?
AT: While standing under a hot shower one day I realized the lives of these people were inextricably linked. The task became to allow it to happen. People tried to talk me out of it, rejected it because of it, and I suppose it might have worked more smoothly without doing that, or by focusing on one narrative or the other, but I couldn’t. That was how the story was conceived, that was how it had to be told otherwise I wouldn’t write it. It wasn’t stubbornness; it was organic, if I may use that word.
MBA: How did your real life relationship or impression of animals—specifically dogs—evolve while writing this tale?
AT: Funny thing. As I began assembling this story, I also began assembling my own sled dog team. I started with one husky and ended up with six. My kids and I ran them for eight years through the snowy hills
of Wisconsin. We had a ball!! Some of the best and fondest memories. When you have that many dogs (and YES they DID all live in the house, on the couch, sleeping in beds with my kids) you see pack dynamics and interactions that others miss when they only have one or two dogs.
MBA: What similarities do you see between Jeaantaa and Rosalie?
AT: Both are trapped in marriages, but more importantly the dogs become more important than their lives or safety. Neither thinks of their well-being before the dogs, especially Rosalie as she moves to save Smokey.
MBA: Who, in your opinion, is your target audience?
AT: People who love history, animals, are curious about dog sledding, and are interested in what someone from Library Journal called, and I’m paraphrasing“…history’s darker corners.”
MBA: Do you see any yourself in any of these characters?
AT: I see myself in all of my characters.
MBA: Finally, where can we find your book?
AT: I believe it will be widely available on its release date of August 21, 2012.
Now if you’d like to find out more about An ECHO THROUGH SNOW by Andrea Thalasinos, check out Angela’s website: http://www.andreathalasinos.com/
ECHO THROUGH THE SNOW *taken from author’s website*
despair, An Echo Through the Snow is
a story of relationships between unlikely
people that compel them to persevere
with the belief that a better world is
possible. Set in far eastern Siberia as
well as the Red Cliff Indian Reservation on Lake Superior in Wisconsin, both
places are center stage where the forces of personal and cultural destruction
try to entice the characters into surrender and desperation. It’s only through
conviction of the heart that Rosalie McKenzie, Jeaantaa, and Tariem endeavor
to bring that better world closer to realization.In 1919 when young Jeaantaa’s betrothed dies in a hunt on the Bering Sea, she is
pressured into an unwanted marriage to Tariem, his older brother. Ten years later
as Stalin’s Red Army advances to their village on the Bering seacoast, Jeaantaa
is forced to make a decision about their dogs, called guardians. Her actions put her
at odds with both her husband and the ancient ways of the Chukchi. Thwarting their
family’s plan to escape into reindeer country, she vanishes after a meeting with
Robert Ramsay, a young man from Nome, Alaska. Her disappearance leaves
Tariem haunted for a lifetime as to her fate and the whereabouts of dozens of their
young dogs. Later in 1994 after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Tariem returns with
other villagers to reclaim their ancestral lands and culture after the decades long
ravages of Soviet domination.
In 1992, eighteen year old Rosalie McKenzie is her own worst enemy as she’s at
odds with the world. Stuck in a destructive marriage along with a string of dead-end
jobs, she breaks ranks to save Smokey, an abused husky at great consequence to
her own well-being. As Rosalie gains a passion for this elegant animal, she unwittingly
ventures along a path of self discovery. Hired as a dog handler by Jan and Dave,
who own a local sled dog racing kennel, she finds herself center stage in the world
of competitive dog sledding. It’s there she meets Charlie Gokee, a veterinarian and
retired Alaskan dog musher who sees in Rosalie all the spirit, strength and potential
she fails to recognize in herself. Rosalie shines as she comes into her own. And it’s
through a series of mysterious events or remembrances that Rosalie embodies the
spirit of Jeaantaa as a contemporary Keeper of the Guardians. Through Charlie,
she meets legendary musher Robert Ramsay who opens doors to the many
puzzling dreams and intuitions that served as the initial impetus for saving Smokey.
Readers of Echo are treated to vivid locations and highly charged emotional themes
that reveal little known historical and political events spanning sixty years. As the
narratives weave together they meet towards the end in a dramatic present time
conclusion where an ancient breed of canines, huskies that have thrived in the homes
and hearts of northern peoples, help to guide the way home.