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, November 14, 2018

Sergei Kourdakov | Bitter Cold War Realities

Fall eBook Promotion
A Rose for Sergei
$0.99 on November 14-17, 2018

In my true story, A Rose for Sergei, I reveal a side of Soviet defector Sergei Kourdakov that few people ever saw.  Looking back all these years, I still think...did I really know what I was getting myself into.

I always appreciate it when readers take the time to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.  Thank you, K.T. for the following Five-Star review on Amazon Canada—you did a great job summarizing my book.  I'm honored by your kind words.

A Touching Memoir

“Had it been a work of fiction, A Rose for Sergei would have been a really good read.  That it is memoir makes it great.

The story is told in an easy, unadorned, confident style that reels the reader in. A Rose for Sergei does a great job of invoking the 70s—the cold war, the relative simplicity of life, the fact that a 17-year-old, fresh out of high school, could get a job with the government (with clearances, no less).

At its core, it's a love story between two vastly different individuals—a young government secretary and an equally young Russian defector.  One is innocent, just taking her first steps into adulthood, while the other, an ex-KGB agent, is considerably less so.  Despite these differences, they hit it off, and what ensues is a sweet romance.  Unfortunately, bitter cold war realities lurk in the shadows.”

Highly recommended. K.T. McColl

Monday, October 1, 2018

Sergei Kourdakov – A Mystery That Needs to be Resolved

One has to be adventurous to date a Soviet defector.  Add the letters KGB to the mix, and intrigue and mystery take over.  Sergei often told me he was being watched and followed.  I accepted that.  There was also a part of me that didn’t want to believe him.

Ruggedly handsome and tall with huge broad shoulders, Sergei Kourdakov had a weight lifters build.  By the age of twenty he’d already lived a life that most could not imagine.  The physical scars, bullet and knife wounds from tough-guy fights and bad decisions in the Soviet Union were hidden under his shirt.  The unseen scars, the ones that make us who we are, were the reasons for defecting.  He dreamed of freedom and a new life in the United States.

Sergei was an ex-KGB Soviet defector who, through the strangest turn of events, showed up in my Federal Government office in the fall of 1972—a year after his defection.  Me…I was twenty-one, petite, and worked as a secretary.  I was known as “Sam” at my office.  It was a nickname that was hard for the Russian to comprehend.  “But you are girl,” Sergei noted when he shook my hand.  I noted that he didn’t release my hand when he held onto it.

We saw each other as often as possible over the next few months.  I quickly learned that Sergei had to “sweep” my apartment in Arlington, Virginia each time he entered.  He wouldn’t be able to sit down and relax if he hadn’t inspected every possible hiding place for unwelcome intruders.  There were other safety checks, tricks of the trade, or as the intelligence community called it…“tradecraft.”  In response to my questioning looks, Sergei always simply stated…“Even you could be spy.”

Our plans to spend the Christmas holidays with my family fell apart due to unforeseen circumstances.  My parents were living on a restricted U.S. Air Force base and Sergei would be denied access.  Not wanting to keep me from family, Sergei made arrangements to visit friends on the West coast.  Broken hearted, Sergei and I said our goodbyes and planned to meet up after the New Year.

The phone call came on New Year’s Day.  But it was not from Sergei.

What really happened?  Those three simple words have haunted me for the better part of forty years.  It wasn’t a dream.  He existed.  We existed.  This I know for a fact.  But what actually happened in the end leaves me wishing it were nothing more than a dream…for this is a mystery that needs to be resolved.

Sometimes, when I try to put the pieces together it comes out more like a game of Clue—it was Colonel Mustard, with the candlestick, in the library.

In reality it goes more like this.  There was a body.  There was a gun.  There was an unlikely accident.

* * * * *

This short story (nonfiction) about Sergei Kourdakov is one I wrote for a local writing contest.  Since the contest is over, I’m free to publish it on my blog.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Sergei Kourdakov | Mystery and Contradictions

One question I’m often asked by readers is, “Was Sergei Kourdakov really a spy?”  My answer has always been to respond, “As far as I know he wasn’t.”  However, it’s a known fact that the Russian trawler Sergei was aboard, at the time of his defection, was skirting along the U.S. coast “eavesdropping” on us.  In that regard, Sergei was technically spying on us.  For more clarification, I decided to check in with a retired Soviet Analyst.

“FYI, a spy is someone who betrays, i.e., spies on their native country, or who passes himself off as something he's not to get information.  The ship Sergei was on was a "spy ship" because it pretended to be a fishing trawler when it was actually collecting intelligence.  Agents are people who work with spies or spying systems like the trawler to get the information out.  I know that concept gets twisted in popular literature and the movies.  Technically, Sergei was an agent on a spy ship, a defector, and an informant.  He was not actively spying on the Soviets while he was working for them.

Sergei worked on his military duties as an intelligence agent on a spy ship and with people involved in the same kind of work.  Someone like myself could never be hired to work on a Soviet trawler (intelligence signal collector) off the coast of Canada and the US.  Sergei was hired because he was trusted by that system and had acquired the necessary skills.  He had been born there, went to school and the military there, knew people from childhood, and had a long record and connections within the system.  He probably knew people in his job who he knew from previous jobs or school.  How could I or anyone not in that system fake it?

Some people might say that since Sergei was not actively employed by the Soviets at the time he was talking with us that he was not a spy.  Many defectors don't provide information.  It’s probably more correct to say informer and former KGB.” Keith Kenny

Mystery and contradictions surround Sergei Kourdakov’s life and death.  There is still a lot to unravel.  But Keith’s answer is very telling—Sergei could not “fake” his background.
"Even you could be spy," Sergei whispered.

 A Rose for Sergei (eBook)
is on sale
 April 18-23, 2018

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Sergei Kourdakov … He Promised Me

It happened a lifetime ago, forty-five years to be exact.  January 1, 1973 is the date that Sergei Kourdakov’s life tragically slipped away from a single gunshot to his head.  It is also the date that strange stories began to circulate about what really happened that night.  Some of those stories contradict what I personally know about Sergei, and they don’t add up.  Apparently I’m not alone in my thinking.

Journalist Emma Best recently published a fascinating and informative report about Sergei Kourdakov.  Part Two of her report discusses Sergei’s death: FBI file reveals numerous contradictions in the curious case of Sergei Kourdakov.  At the end of the report you can read the actual FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

After reading all of the released documents and newspaper articles, a few things jumped out at me. The female skiing companion in Sergei’s room the night he died is referred to as Sergei’s “fiancée.”  If you follow my blog, you’ll know that Sergei and I openly dated while he was in Washington, DC.  We planned to spend Christmas together with my parents, but they were living on a secure Air Force Base in Massachusetts, and access for Sergei was impossible.  As a result, Sergei planned a ski trip in California with friends.  Before Sergei left he gave me the telephone number of the family he was staying with so we could talk on Christmas day.  It would be highly unlikely for Sergei to give me the phone number of his “fiancée.”

Another part mentioned in the article is the Russian roulette theory.  I don’t know what really happened the night Sergei died, but I do know he would never have taken his own life.  He would not have foolishly waved a gun around.

Excerpt from A Rose for Sergei

Chapter 18 – Home for the Holidays

December 1972

We spent the rest of the afternoon curled up on the sofa talking and trading stories about our lives.  Sergei always loved to talk about his life in the United States; everything was new to him.  He avoided discussing his life in the Soviet Union.  We were comfortable, holding hands and kissing, trying to enjoy every single minute we had.  It seemed like no topics were off limits.  I asked him something that I was wondering about.

“Sergei, do they really play Russian Roulette in the Soviet Union?”

“Yes, they do,” he replied as he looked at me curiously.  “It is very dangerous game.”

“Have you ever played Russian Roulette?”

“Yes.  Why are you asking me this question?”

“Because I don’t want you to ever do that again, that’s why.”  He looked perplexed and was non-fazed by my comment.

“It is okay, I played Russian Roulette in the USSR when we had a lot of vodka to drink.  I was very stupid then.  I am not stupid now,” he casually replied as he seemingly brushed aside my concern.

I was not satisfied with his answer because he didn’t seem to be taking me very seriously.  “Sergei, please listen to me, I’m serious.  Please don’t play that game again.”


He still hadn’t convinced me so I punched him lightly on his arm with my fist so he would look right at me, see my concern, and know I was serious.  “I really mean it, don’t play Russian Roulette again,” I managed to say as firmly as I could.  He grabbed his arm and rubbed it dramatically, pretending I had mortally wounded him.

“Why is this concern?” he asked as he tried to hold back a smile.

“Because I love you, and I don’t want anything to happen to you.  That’s why.”

“Okay, I promise.  I will never do that again.”

* * *

 A Rose for Sergei (eBook only)

will be FREE

 on Amazon from January 4-6, 2018 

Click Here to Link to Amazon US