Friends of the Tsar is inspired by your personal experiences and your family history. Why was this an important book for you to write?
The diversity of my knowledge, which was given to me by spirit, was something too important to have lay dormant. The knowledge I accrued from many camping and four wheel driving trips was gained through life and death situations I encountered. If, by getting this information out to the world could save just one life, then I will have had good reason to write it.
The many miracles that kept my family and I safe on these learning adventures were so profound in that they were logic-defying, and I thought what better way to tell of my miracles than through an Australian character who entertained the Zuckschwerdts, my grandparents, with the narratives while snowed in.
What were some things that you felt had to stay true to real life and what were some things you took liberties with?
I felt that the horrific conditions in which my grandparents were successful in decamping from Russia had to stay true to life, also their personality.
I took liberties with the negative aspects of their plight because it would have been too depressing for a reader to continue reading. Too many family members were murdered by the Bolsheviks.
I also wanted to honour them with an acknowledgement of their plight after which they were positive in the rebuilding of their future together.
I felt like faith and family were important in the book. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this book?
The pivotal themes I wanted to capture were miracles, spiritual awareness, hope, danger awareness in nature, remembering ones heritage, and faith and family.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
My mother, on the other side, wants me to write children’s books. My previous vocation as artist allows me to illustrate the books myself, and my eagerness to encourage young people to speak up when put in danger, especially when dad’s driving is too scary, strengthens my resolve.
It won’t be until this time next year that a book would be ready for publication, should I decide to do so.
1917–The Russian Revolution. Danger and chaos abound, and the aristocratic Zuckschwerdt and Orloff families are desperate to escape to safety. Enter Blue, an Australian cattle-breeder with a big heart. Blessed by a heap of miracles from the Outback and beyond, he shares his gripping adventures with the snowed-in families. Blue has survived everything from bushfires to crocodile attacks.
With wolves and winter nipping at their heels, the Zuckschwerdts prepare to depart for the lucky country. Plunged into hostilities and espionage in Petrograd, they make a break for the high seas, only to find themselves in a deadly game of bluff with a German U-boat skipper.
Blue is in a predicament of his own when three of the Orloff daughters fall for his red earth charms. Will he find true love with one of them? And will his Aussie anecdotes help the family understand that awareness and preparation can spell the difference between life and death? As miracles begin to unfold, the Russian refugees discover the power of faith.
Inspired by Jon de Graaff’s personal experiences and his grandparents’ family history, ‘Friends of the Tsar’ is a thrilling tale. Spiked with humorous twists, tragic turns, perilous encounters, and life-saving lessons of survival. It offers spiritual insights into forgiveness and unconventional love.
Posted in Interviews
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In the early 1900’s in old Russia, the beginnings of the Russian revolution are forming. The aristocrat class is in danger and families are making plans to escape before the war takes not only their homes and properties, but their lives. Olga is a young doctor and the only daughter of Natasha Vishnievsky. Her father arranges for her to escape, unfortunately things do not go as planned. Seven Days in Lebanon is a book filled with history and based off the real life of Olga Von Eggert Khadjieff, Eleanor Tremayne’s grandmother. The book covers three generations of women’s lives in the family and is weaved together through journal entries, memories, and an ambitious well off artist looking for meaning in his own life.
The story starts out in Russia, but quickly moves into Olga’s escape from the Bolshevik army and the journey she takes is not an easy one. Fate kept her alive on more than one occasion and her skill as a doctor kept her alive more than once as well. The beginning of the book goes into detail about her escape from Russia and, eventual marriage to Prince of Kiva, through journal entries and stories that Olga is telling her granddaughter Anastasia. Olga’s mother Natasha kept a journal of notes, family history, and memories meant for Olga. However, it was never reunited with her and ended up in the hands of Damian Tolbert a rich French artist that writes and shoots photography.
The story’s point of view jumps around a lot, going from Olga, to Anastasia, sometimes her parents, and to Damian. The time lines are also mixed and mingled, it is not told in a linear fashion rather just like it would be listening to a family member, bits and pieces here and there and you have to assemble it all together in order in your own mind. It is confusing at first but soon you realize that the writing style is slightly different for each point of view. It draws you in despite the jumps. Knowing this novel is based on real events that took place in the life of the author’s grandmother, Olga, makes the story that much more interesting. These are first hand events and stories passed down from one generation to the next, a lost tradition.
There are some harsh topics and some graphic details involving death, and rape, and murder. However, they are told from the perspective of facts and not in a sensational manner. It is just how things were back in that time. There are times the stories feel like a history lesson and times like a day dream. The mix of styles makes this book intriguing and you want to keep reading it. The sad and brutal events are mixed with hope and promise of a better future.
Aside from the history element, seeing Anastasia discovering her heritage is probably my favorite part. How things from the past, little things like that raven imagery all start build a bigger picture for her and she grows into her heritage that prior to Olga’s death she said she didn’t care about. This is a great telling of a family and their history told in a manner that is fun and engaging and not like that of an autobiography or history book. This would be a great choice for anyone looking for a book club book or discussion group.
Pages: 386 | ASIN: B07NJJTGYJ
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On a frigid winter morning in St. Petersburg, Russia 1917, eighteen year old Olga Von Eggert must leave her country and family. The Bolshevik army is on a mission to destroy all aristocrats. When Olga fails to join her entourage at the designated rendezvous, Prima Ballerina Mathilda Kschessinska notifies the Khan of Kiva, a mutual acquaintance. The Khan’s son, Prince Razek Bek Khadjieff, defies his father’s orders and sends his strongest Cossack soldier to save the young Baroness. Nearly ninety years later, Damian Tolbert, a Frenchman living in Paris bids $100,000 on an antique diary with the initials NV on the leather cover. Once the journal is translated from Russian to French Damian is determined to find the rightful heir to this antique keepsake. Several years later, by coincidence, or perhaps fate, Damian discovers Anastasia Sullivan, the only living descendent to the journal, in an odd town called Lebanon, Ohio. Rather than answers, Damian finds more missing pieces to his puzzle. Will the “Mind Marauders ” finally leave his psyche? And, who is this mysterious artist, Anastasia Sullivan? This historical novel is inspired by true events of the author’s grandmother, Olga Von Eggert Khadjieff.
Posted in book trailer
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