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.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Sergei Kourdakov – I Stumbled on Your Blog

Checking my email, I found two interesting topics in the subject line.  The first email subject stated that a couple was awarding me $1.5 million.  Oh, nice.  I delete that one immediately.  But the second email?  That was truly a one-in-a-million surprise.  It was from the daughter of the nurse in Canada who helped save Sergei Kourdakov’s life after his near-death swim to freedom when he defected from the USSR.  Reading her email gave me goose bumps.  I wrote back immediately saying that I was thrilled she contacted me after finding my blog.  Through a twist of fate and circumstances our lives are now connected on a more personal level.

Part of her email:

“I stumbled on your blog . . . and then I saw your email address.  I grew up hearing about Sergei Kourdakov.  My mom was a nurse on the Queen Charlotte Islands.  (We lived in Tasu when I was little).  She had many stories of her adventures there.  One of the stories I grew up hearing about was the time a young man washed up on the beach.  A Russian sailor who had jumped ship.  In her diary she writes about running behind the ambulance to go help revive him.  She laid all his photographs out to dry and was the first person he saw when he opened his eyes . . . . It wasn't until I grew up and read his book [The Persecutor] that I understood the full significance of his story.  Until then, I didn't know what his past was, what he was escaping, or who he had become . . . .”
—Sincerely, Sheila U.

Part of my response:

“. . . without your mother’s assistance, Sergei’s story might very well have ended on that beach on the Queen Charlotte Islands . . . .  Your mother held Sergei’s life in her hands, and yet she also knew to save his photographs.  In my book, when I wrote about holding those very photographs, I said that it felt like I was holding Sergei’s entire former life in my hands.  Your mother knew those photos were important to him.”
—Sincerely, K. Kidd

I still marvel at how the Internet provides connections that were never possible before.  I truly enjoy hearing from people, and I love finding out how Sergei Kourdakov touched so many lives.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Sergei Kourdakov - An Unexpected Encounter

It was an unexpected encounter.  I had no idea who the muscular young man was standing in front of my desk at work.  My boss introduced him as Sergei Kourdakov.  The minute Sergei smiled at me and spoke in his heavily accented English; I realized he was the Soviet KGB defector my boss had told me about earlier in the day.  My first thoughts were, he’s young, he’s very handsome, and he’s still holding on to my hand after the introductions.  That’s where my story began in the fall months of 1972.

More than forty years later, that unexpected encounter turned into my book, A Rose for Sergei.  A story I planned to keep to myself turned into a story I ended up sharing with the world.  The decision to write this book did not come easily.  It only came about when I learned that no one was speaking up on Sergei Kourdakov’s behalf after the movie documentary Forgive Me Sergei disclaimed his former life in the Soviet Union.  I discovered that controversy makes a great motivator and began writing.

Through blogging and writing this book, anyone doing an internet search about Sergei Kourdakov or his book, The Persecutor, should come across A Rose for Sergei.  Just recently my book became available in a few public libraries.  I was shocked when I found out how it was listed in WorldCat, the world’s largest network of library content and services.  What I considered a romance/ love story is filed in their system under:  Kourdakov, Sergei + Persecution + Soviet Union + Biography. 

It was an unexpected outcome.

* * *

On the Library Shelf!
Ask your local library about stocking this book.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sergei Kourdakov - Embassy Row

(Sunday Evening – August 2, 2015)

For as long as I can remember, Sunday evenings always brought on a slight case of the blues for me.  I think it’s because I never wanted the weekend fun to end.  And when Sunday evening hit, it meant the weekend was over…time to get back to school work when I was younger, or time to get ready for work on Monday when I was an adult.

Ding.  Ding.  Two emails on my cell phone.  My friend was sending me some notes for a project we had been discussing.  The first email contained the notes I expected.  The subject line in the second email read:  Sunday Night Blues?  This will perk you up!   Upon opening the second message, I discovered it was an advertisement for a weekend getaway at a hotel on Embassy Row in Washington DC.  I figured my friend sent me the ad because one of the chapters in my book, A Rose for Sergei, is titled “Embassy Row.”  It wasn’t from her!  This random ad struck me as rather strange.  It was as if someone knew I had the Sunday blues and sent me a message, picking up on my thoughts.

With that in mind, below is a short excerpt from my book.  Please note my coworkers called me “Sam!” 

* * *

A Rose for Sergei

Chapter 13
Embassy Row

Fall 1972

When Sergei returned, I offered to pick him up from the Christian Fellowship House in Washington DC.  The expensive cab fare back and forth to my apartment in Arlington was adding up quickly, and I wanted to try and help out a little.  The problem was I never drove in DC unless it was a dire emergency, which translated to I didn’t know my way around at all.  I had only ventured a trip there alone once, maybe twice, before.  I dreaded driving there because I was sure I would get lost.  And when I get lost I panic.  And when I panic all common sense flies out the window.  Yes, I dreaded driving there…but the reward would be well worth it.  Seeing Sergei was a dire emergency in my mind because I missed him tremendously.

My friends and coworkers knew I never drove in DC, and we often joked about it.  They always offered to drive, and I was grateful to them.  Mr. Logie [my boss] knew I would be picking Sergei up after work on Friday and he went over the directions with me several times, assuring me that I would not get lost.

“Sam, it’s easy to get there from Rosslyn,” Mr. Logie explained.  “You just take the Roosevelt Bridge into DC.  I know you know where that is!  You will swing around the Kennedy Center and it’s not much further past that.  Sergei is staying in a nice part of town right by Embassy Row.  You won’t get lost.”

I was a clock watcher all day on Friday, and 5:00 couldn’t come fast enough.  I was really anxious to see Sergei, and my stomach was jumbled in knots.  With Mr. Logie’s words of encouragement and my resolution to face my fears, I jumped into my Mustang and headed into DC.  I was glad there was still a little bit of daylight left as I veered onto the Roosevelt Bridge, over the Potomac River and into the District.  Friday traffic was horrible, almost complete gridlock.  I was oddly thankful for that though since I didn’t know where I was going and it gave me time to read my notes from Mr. Logie and time to find my bearings.  I passed the Kennedy Center and then the Watergate buildings.  Not too much further, I thought.  I reminded myself what an amazing, wonderful historic city it really was in an effort to steady my “I am sure I am getting lost” nerves.

Without a single wrong turn or mix up I finally arrived on the right street and was relieved when I was able to find a fairly close parking spot near the Christian Fellowship House.  Before I got out of the car I took a minute to check my surroundings.  As I sat there, looking up and down the street, I suddenly realized that the sun had set and that it was now totally dark.  I had been so concerned about finding my way through the crazy traffic that I totally forgot that it would be nightfall when I arrived.  What I thought just a short while ago was an “amazing city” had somehow morphed into a very scary “dark part of the city.”  For some reason, I have always been afraid of the dark…a carryover from my childhood.  I glanced at the secluded sidewalks and streets from my car and didn’t see anyone anywhere.  There were hardly any cars driving by either.  This is so ridiculous.  With a burst of newfound confidence, I hopped out of the car.

Early winter was definitely in the air, and you could feel the cold blustery winds rolling in from the north.  A sudden strong gust of wind whipped my long hair across my face temporarily blinding me.  I pulled up my hood to keep my hair out of my eyes as I hugged my wool midi-coat close to me to fend off the evening chill.  I quickly looked around again then ran down the street in my high heels, leaping up the steps to the Fellowship House.  I didn’t care how safe Mr. Logie told me this part of the city was.  Walking, or in my case running, down a dark secluded street alone at night in a big city was literally my worst nightmare.