Sergei Kourdakov, a former KGB agent and Soviet naval intelligence officer, defected from the USSR at the age of twenty. A year later we met at my Federal Government office in Washington DC. We were watched and followed. “Even you could be spy,” Sergei whispered. My book, A Rose for Sergei, is the true story of our time together.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Persecutor by Sergei Kourdakov | Controversy


Controversy is defined as a prolonged, public and heated disagreement.  It is also a powerful motivator.  For those who are new to my blog, here’s a very quick synopsis to catch you up.  For those who know my story, I have some new information about Sergei Kourdakov.

This story begins with Sergei Kourdakov’s book, The Persecutor.  Raised in Soviet orphanages, Sergei was plucked from obscurity to work with the KGB in breaking up Christian meetings of “Believers.”  After reading confiscated religious material, and literally feeling the hand of God hold him back from beating a woman, Sergei had a change of heart.  At age twenty he defected.  His leap to freedom from a Soviet trawler (1971) left him battered and close to death on the rocky shores of Tasu Sound in Canada.  A year later he came to the United States to work with a group called Underground Evangelism.  During that time he wrote his story in a book that was published under three titles:  Sergei, The Persecutor, and Forgive Me, Natasha.  Published in several languages, his book is still a top seller around the world.

The story doesn’t end here.  Sergei’s book about becoming a Christian brought hope to many who read it.  It even inspired the making of the documentary film, Forgive Me, Sergei.  It was not the original intent of the film to discredit Sergei . . . but it did.  In part, interviews done in Russia cast some doubt about Sergei’s story.  For me, it cast some serious doubt about the Russians who were interviewed.  How likely were they to admit on film that Sergei was a KGB defector?

End of story?  Not yet.  This is where I come into the picture.  I met Sergei at my Federal Government office in Washington, DC.  In the Fall of 1972 we were both twenty-one.  I heard Sergei’s story first hand, in the privacy of my apartment.  I would have known if he was lying.  I saw the countermeasures he took when he suspected we were being followed.  That’s why I was perplexed when I watched the documentary film.  The controversy surrounding Sergei and his book motivated me to speak up.  It was at that point that I felt compelled to write A Rose for Sergei—a story that I had essentially kept a secret for forty years.

Now the story takes another turn.  The Russian interviews in the documentary film also caught the attention of Christian blogger Dane Cramer.  Aside from being an author, Mr. Cramer is trained in deception detection.  He states, “From the first time I watched the documentary, my trained senses had caught bits and pieces of information that suggested a conflict in what was being said.”

In his February 8, 2017 blog post, titled Sergei Kourdakov and the Quest for Truth, Mr. Cramer assesses each Russian interview in the documentary film.  He provides a fascinating and detailed report based on each interview.  Mr. Cramer’s quest for the truth is a must-read for everyone who is interested in Sergei Kourdakov’s life.






Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sergei Kourdakov | A Rose for Sergei | Classic Cold War Story


It intrigues me when people read the very same book, yet have a completely different understanding once they reach the end.  I appreciate all views that readers take away from my book.  Some like the romance aspect in my story and have written that they could feel the love, fear, and heartbreak.  Other readers value the historical side—Sergei Kourdakov’s life with the KGB and his defection from the Soviet Union.


When I wrote A Rose for Sergei it was important for me to show a different side of Sergei—one of truthfulness and honesty.  Whereas some newspapers, magazines and films portrayed Sergei Kourdakov as a fraud, I needed to show readers what he was really like.

Forty-four years ago on January 10, 1973, Sergei Kourdakov was buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington DC.  On this anniversary, it is the perfect time to share one reader’s take-away from this true story.  The following review, written by “Avid Reader,” captures the unique and courageous side of Sergei Kourdakov.


* * *

Classic Cold War Story!

Wow.  Just - WOW.  What a beautiful book!  I couldn't have guessed that a story of a KGB agent defection would be one of the most uplifting stories I've ever read. But it was.  Those of us who live in middle-class comfort - who have warm homes and food stored in the pantry, who have the freedom to travel, spend time with our loved ones, and choose our own work have much to be grateful for.  The character's humanity, sense of morality, generosity, kindness, and integrity - his ability to find joy in the little treasures in the United States are truly inspiring.  A Rose for Sergei makes me really conscious about using all the good in my own life - and not wasting a single moment of it.

I find it hard to believe that Sergei’s death was an accident.

—Review by Avid Reader







Monday, November 7, 2016

The Persecutor and A Rose for Sergei | Companion Books


I love it when I hear from readers.  I’ve found from reader responses that A Rose for Sergei appeals to people of all ages—teens included.  Part of my book’s attraction is because the story “reads like fiction,” and doesn’t fall into one category.  A Rose for Sergei is a mix of several genres: Memoir, Romance, Mystery, and Cold War Thriller.

Several readers were excited when they discovered that the “Sergei” in my book is the very same person they know and loved from another book.  That real person is Sergei Kourdakov, a Soviet KGB defector, who told his fascinating story in his autobiography, The Persecutor.  My story picks up on the latter part of his life when it touched mine.

I wholeheartedly agree with my followers.  Our true stories, The Persecutor and A Rose for Sergei, make great companion books.

* * *

Thank you SD for your wonderful “Five Star” review on Amazon!
I am honored by your kind words.


ENGAGING MEMOIR

“I stumbled upon this ebook and before I finished the introduction, realized I had read its companion, The Persecutor, over 30 years ago.  I was so happy to discover more information on the fascinating life of Sergei.  A Rose for Sergei proved an engaging book and I applaud the author for sharing her tale.  This, along with The Persecutor, is a must read for students of the cold war or any with an interest in that era or 20th century Russia.  In addition, it's a touching love story.  Thank you, K. Kidd.  I highly recommend this memoir.  Like Sergei's autobiography, it may stay with the reader for 30 plus years!”
—SD



Both books available online from Amazon.




Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Never in My Wildest Dreams | Sergei Kourdakov


A search for independence and a career with the federal government led me on a journey that far surpassed any expectations.  I was twenty-one when I met Soviet KGB defector Sergei Kourdakov at my office in Washington D.C.  The moment we met, the immediate heated attraction surprised us both. ''Even you could be spy,'' he whispered.  How quickly I learned that love makes its own choices.  A Rose for Sergei chronicles my real-life relationship with Sergei Kourdakov—a man who gave up everything for freedom.

Sergei defected from the USSR in 1971, a year before we met.  One of his jobs with the Soviet Police was to break up meetings of Christian “believers.”  When he came to realize how wrong that was he planned his escape.  He barely survived the leap from the Soviet trawler Elagin and his treacherous swim toward freedom in Canada.  It was nothing short of a miracle.  (See September 28, 2015 post – The Nurse’s Diary)

There were times when Sergei and I were together that I felt like we were in a movie.  It didn’t seem real…Sergei was always looking over his shoulder, watching for “them.”  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would meet, let alone date, a KGB defector.

* * *

A Rose for Sergei can be purchased online from:

eBook and Paperback

Paperback

Paperback




Monday, August 22, 2016

A Rose for Sergei | True-Life Cold War Romance


I always appreciate it when someone takes the time to read my book and write a response/review for A Rose for Sergei.  I’ve mentioned this before—reviews don’t have to be lengthy, they can be just a few words.  Reviews can make a difference, and lead others to discover the last part of Sergei Kourdakov’s story.

* * *

A Rose for Sergei

Thank You Readers for the
Amazon US & Amazon UK Reviews 


True-Life Cold War Romance (4 Stars)
This is not at all the sort of book I would normally read, but as a Russianist I was fascinated by the premise.  It's the true-life account of the author's relationship with Soviet defector and ex-KGB agent Sergei Kourdakov, one of the more unusual figures in the Cold War.  The book is billed as reading like a romance novel, and it certainly does, capturing the giddiness of young love as the two main figures fall head-over-heels for each other at first sight.  I also found it very interesting to read about the author's experiences as a young woman making a career for herself in government service in the early 1970s.  This is a bit of a hybrid book, combining as it does the genres of memoir, romance, and cold war thriller, so purists of any of the genres may not know what to make of it, but I found it a quick easy read and an interesting take on one of the hotter periods of the Cold War.
— Laela Ae


Four Stars (4 Stars)
Liked the book very much.
— Dorene Casey


Truth Really is Stranger than Fiction - and Better (5 Stars)
This will be a book I read more than once and I can't say that about most books.  I lived through the author's story moment by moment, until, like hers, my heart was breaking.  Thanks to the author for sharing her extraordinary, true story.
— Hullaballoo
    





Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sergei Kourdakov | Young, Free and in Love…


Recently I exchanged blog interviews with fellow Indie Author, Kevin R. Hill.  Interviews offer a different platform in which writers can connect with readers.  In turn, readers learn about the author’s character and individual style of writing.  One of the surprising upsides of our interview exchange turned out to be the camaraderie between two authors who have never met.

The interviewee obviously knows the Question & Answer portion of the interview in advance.  Anything else the interviewer writes about you is usually unknown until the blog post is made public.  So when I saw the headline Mr. Hill posted on his blog for his interview with me, I couldn’t hold back my laughter.  From experience I knew what to expect when you mention a certain three-letter-word publicly.  Uhhh oh, I thought, he doesn’t know.  I wondered if I should alert him, but then decided to let it go.

A few days later Kevin emailed me wondering about Russia’s sudden interest in his blog.  “It’s the word ‘spy’,” I informed him.  “It causes the blogosphere to go crazy.”  He lightheartedly emailed me back, “…that was just a wee little bit of info that may have been useful prior to publication!”

Excerpt from the Blog of Kevin R. Hill:

“Young, Free, and in love with a Spy--A real life Romance!”

In 1972, author Kolleen Kidd found herself involved with a Soviet defector, Sergei Nikolayevich Kourdakov, a former KGB agent and naval officer.  I met Kolleen on Goodreads.com, and wanted to bring her on the blog for my readers to experience the intrigue she lived.
A Rose for Sergei - Available from Amazon 

1. Kolleen, please take us to that world of excitement.  You were young and flirting with a defector, a former enemy.  Was it exciting?

Yes, it was very exciting.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love mystery and intrigue.  I was sixteen when I found summer clerical employment with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington DC.  I couldn’t tell anyone what I did or even the location of the building where I worked.  It was one of many secrets I would have to keep.

The Soviet Union was our enemy.  I still remember the practice air raid drills—hiding under my desk in elementary school in preparation for the unimaginable.  When Sergei and I met, at my Federal Government office, we were both twenty-one.  He shook my hand and would not release it.  The heated attraction between us was immediate, in spite of the fact that our countries were adversaries.  We were young, single, and on our own in a beautiful and powerful city.  It was both exciting and frightening…we were watched and followed.  Each thought the other was a spy.

2. Why did you write A Rose for Sergei?

Read the complete July 14, 2016 interview on Kevin R. Hill’s Blog


* * *


I love the newest cover for The Mayan Case!



Monday, July 25, 2016

Author Interview | Touching Spirits with Kevin R. Hill - Part 2


Continuing from last week…Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with author Kevin R. Hill.  I mentioned in Part 1 that I had a feeling Mr. Hill was full of surprises.  Little did I know that the title and cover of his book we were discussing would change between my blog posts!  I’d like to think it’s because I had such wonderful questions for him and he was inspired.  All joking aside, one of the best parts of being an Indie Author is having the flexibility to make all the changes you want.  Therefore, I’m honored to announce the title for “Touching Spirits, The Mayan Case” has been officially changed to “The Mayan Case.”  The last part of this interview ran a little long, but I assure you Mr. Hill is a very entertaining writer.

Let me explain why I changed the title and cover.  It was a difficult decision to make, but several readers contacted me and in their email they mentioned they nearly didn’t bother with my book because with the ‘Touching Spirits’ title, they originally thought it a new age book.  That simply wouldn’t do.  I wondered how many had been put off by the title.  So, I had my designer create a cover that left no doubt as to the type of book. With the new badge and gun, it is clearly an action/suspense novel.

Kevin, I enjoyed reading your book, The Mayan Case.  The way you describe main hero Cody’s reactions to the ghosts were insightful and real.  Did you ever have any personal encounters with the supernatural?

So, you’re asking if I want to go on record as having a screw loose.  I laugh.  ‘I think not.’  However,
Kevin R. Hill, Author
I don’t laugh at those who believe in the existence of ghosts, but rather listen with a writer’s ear for good fiction.

Let me relate an example of good listening.  I lived in a Mayan village on the Caribbean in the mid-eighties.  There was one tin roof market in town.  Most of the houses were built of jungle poles and topped with palm fronds.  It was a slow, magical life.  I wore sandals, shorts and a tank top, all day long.  The bank opened at 9am, or closer to 10am if the clerk who opened the doors stayed in bed longer than usual to get a quickie.

If you were at a party and the host ran out of beer at one in the morning, no problem.  He just jumped in his car and drove down the one road to Ramone’s house, and got him out of bed to open the liquor store.

A friend’s mother-in-law ran a small hotel at one end of town.  One of four cabanas that sat on the beach was haunted by the Alux, or so said the mother-in-law.  The Alux are a mythological creature said to reside in the area, and described as fun-loving, black leprechauns.  Although she tried a hundred times to rent the haunted cabana, customers would always come to the front desk the next morning, or during the night, if they dared walk up the dark path along the beach, and ask to change rooms.

She said they never specified why they wanted to change rooms.  Most would mumble something like: ‘It’s just a feeling I get.’  Vacationers could feel something in that room.

So, is there a creature known in Yucatan as Alux, or is it nonsense?  While I was there I was commissioned to write an article for a tourist magazine.  The title was to be, ‘Who were the Ancient Maya.’  So I borrowed a bunch of history books and began reading about the ancient Maya.  At some point, days into the research, I read mention of a text that describes a black dwarf with magical powers that helped build the Mayan city of Uxmal.  That stopped me cold.

I put two and two together.  I had locals telling stories about black leprechauns, and now mention of a black dwarf with magical powers.  Was that dwarf an Alux?  It didn’t matter whether I believed in their existence or not.  What mattered was it was great stuff for a book.

Those stories of the Alux found their way into ‘Touching Spirits, The Mayan Case,’ my most recent book.  I use the Alux to create suspense and intrigue.  So, to answer your question: Where fiction is concerned I’m willing to say, What if….

What part of Cody reflects you?

Cody is dear to my heart.  I lived in the house I describe in the book, with the frog named Ralph in the toilet tank, a feral cat who hunted lizards in the house while I typed, and spiders larger in diameter than a golf ball!  But with the sound of the surf drifting through my window, those things didn’t matter.  Often I awoke in my hammock singing, carrying from a dream the melody.  It was Writer’s Paradise!  I was paying $40 a month for a house on the Caribbean, spear fishing daily and eating free lobster.  I hope the love I have for my special village, for my abandoned house, comes alive in my book.  Part of me does live in Cody.

Do you hear from your readers much?  What kinds of things do they have to say?

I found getting email from readers to be a scary experience.  Although my magazine articles are highly commercial, my fiction has always been a rather private endeavor.  But suddenly, after I published ‘Touching Spirits, The Mayan Case,’ readers were contacting me and I didn’t know what to do.  I had fans!  Who were these people?  It took time for me to adjust to being read and liked for my fiction.  Some readers loved the cooking I described, and wanted recipes from Yucatan.  Others loved Cody’s pet cats.  Most, however, went on about the village, the quaint little village I lived in and loved.

Of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite?  Why?

I guess my favorite was my first, about a group of people I call travelers, who gather on a farm in Switzerland to harvest apples.  It is dear to me because for many years I was a traveler and roamed Europe, Africa, and the Middle-East.  I harvested apples in Switzerland, hay in Denmark, and taught English to German businessmen while living in a tent beside the Rhine.

Travel is education.  It frees the mind of social constraints imposed by society.  We all know what is expected of us to be good Americans, how to act, what to do.  But take any American and plop them down in Cairo, Egypt, and suddenly their sense of self is shaken.  How should they act?  They are liberated to try new things, thrilled by new ideas.  Haven’t you felt that thrill of being in a new place when you go on vacation?  It affects a person deeply.  Now imagine traveling with only a back pack, hitch hiking from country to country for years!  I experienced that exuberance.  That is why the first book, which I am now rewriting and preparing to publish, is dear to me.  I lived it.  “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”—St Augustine

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?

‘Stop being so serious!’  Life is great, even when it’s shitty.

Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?

Writing is craft.  Study it.  Practice makes perfect; practice and about forty rewrites.  I’d also like to add something a bit controversial: Writers, study plot and the formula for genre fiction.  Then, decide what you want to be as a writer.  Do you want to add to the world’s collection of a million mysteries, or another genre novel, or, heaven forbid, do you want to write art?  Do you want to write fiction that people stay up all night reading, frantically turning pages, racing through action or suspense or romantic scenes, and forget your name by the end of the week?  Or, do you want to try to write that rare book that readers lovingly brush with fingertips as they pass it on the shelf, or don’t want to finish because they feel as though reading it is like being with a good friend?  You decide.

If you choose the latter, remember that above all else, writers are entertainers.  If you don’t entertain, no one will read you!  So, I repeat, know plot, know the genre formula, the three act structure, because even if you want to be the modern Faulkner, you have to capture the reader, and that is done with time-proven plot structure, and masterful literary devices.  Take for example Arthur Conan Doyle, and his Sherlock Holmes series.  Watson, when you think about him, is there as a literary device.  Because Holmes has to tell Watson how he reaches his conclusions, the reader is informed.  Know the tricks.  Know the game.  Entertain.

Then, take the reader to that deep dark secret you don’t want anyone to know about.  That is not something to hide.  It is the writer’s gift.  Illuminate it with fiction, unless it will get you arrested!  Good luck.—Kevin R. Hill

* * *


* * *

The questions Mr. Hill asked me can be found on his July 14, 2016 blog post titled: