August 11, 2013

Blog Tour: Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem – Interview


Welcome to our Tour Stop for

Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem

presented by Soho Press!

We are thrilled to have author, Elizabeth Kiem stop by the blog
and share some of her Top Favs!


They thought they had run far enough…

Marina Dukovskaya is poised to make her debut as the Bolshoi’s prima ballerina, an Artist of the People hand chosen by Leonid Brezhnev’s regime, just as her mother Sveta was years ago. But that was then. Now, Sveta spends her time loudly claiming knowledge of a sinister government secret (that she acquired through “visions,” no less). When she disappears, institutionalized by the government, they tell Marina “It’s for her own good.”

Fearing arrest as Sveta’s sympathizers, Marina and her father defect to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. But it seems the worst of old Russia’s crooks and con men have followed, and Marina finds herself suddenly alone when her father’s entanglement in the burgeoning Russian mob ends in tragedy. Tragedy Marina foresaw. Maybe Sveta’s visions weren’t all in her head after all.

Either way, Marina has a deadly mystery on her hands.

DANCER DAUGHTER TRAITOR SPY, Elizabeth Kiem’s debut novel, draws on the author’s years living in the Soviet Union just after its collapse. Combining the Cold War intrigue of The Americans, the cutthroat atmosphere of the elite ballet academies at the Bolshoi and Lincoln Center, and the frenetic pulse of New York City in the early ‘80s, Dancer Daughter Traitor Spy is a new breed of spy novel.

add to goodreadsDancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem
Publication Date:  August 13, 2013
Publisher:  Soho Teen

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Top Favs with Elizabeth Kiem

You’re home alone, there’s a fire! Top 3 things you’d grab and save from the fire.


My kid. He’s the best thing I’ve ever produced.
My husband. Though for sure he’d be the one to notice the fire. He smells smoke way before fire.
My glasses. (Or do I really want to see all my inanimate possessions go up in flames?)

Top 3 Favorite authors (dead or alive) and why

W.G. Sebald. He left less than six works when he died and I study each of them like they are textbooks. I’m not sure what I hope to learn.
Carlo Emilio Gadda. Because he’s like Faulkner. In Rome. With detectives. And his best novel is called Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana, which sounds more like a thoughtless aside than a title.
J.P. Donleavy. Because he once greeted me at his Irish estate with kindness and not, as the sign promised, with wolfhounds.

Top 3 Favorite snacks while writing and why


Smoked almonds – they are endless. Have you ever finished a bag of smoked almonds? I didn’t think so.
Hard boiled eggs – at least two, sometimes three. With a puddle of salt and a puddle of pepper for dipping. Olives on the side.
Bottle of beer – because that means I’ve written enough for the day that I can have a bottle of beer.

Top 3 Favorite books that inspired you to write and why


The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald. This unclassifiable work of ‘documentary fiction’ (the closest it comes to classification) served as my map when I understood that I needed to write a book about Moscow. That book, which I still read with pleasure, I named ‘The Rings of Moscow.’
The Fault of our Stars by John Green. I read it in one sitting two nights ago and I swear I haven’t stopped writing since. Except to talk about The Fault of our Stars.
A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel. Before her acclaimed ‘Wolf Hall,’ Mantel went after the French Revolution with this massive novel starring Danton and Robespierre. It blew me away. THIS is historical fiction at its finest.

Top 3 favorite songs to listen to while writing and why


While writing DDTS I was never at a loss as long as one of these were playing: ‘All the Rowboats’ by Regina Spektor; ‘Three Hours’ by Nick Drake; ‘That’s All’ by DDT

Top 3 favorite techniques to overcome writers block and why

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Start at the beginning and refine.
Start 15 pages from the block and find a road not taken.
Listen to ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ by Katzenjammer and take the refrain to heart: “it don’t matter what you choose you’re gonna live it…”

Top 3 musicians/bands/groups and why


What – ever? Please. How about today? I’m loving Gorillaz and Sia and The National. I’m also just getting over my utter preoccupation with Channel Orange. Not Frank Ocean, just Channel Orange. All of it. Start to finish. I love a perfect album.

Top 3 favorite movies of all time and why


‘Purple Noon’ – Because it was what was playing that day when I walked out of my temp job at 2pm on a summer Wednesday to go to a movie at the Paris Theater next to the Plaza Hotel.
‘Harold & Maude’ – I think every girl’s first experience with inebriation should include three girlfriends, three bottles of wine, and ‘Harold & Maude,’ rewound three times.
‘The Princess Bride’ – because you can watch it with your eyes closed at this point and miss nothing.

Top 3 favorite movie moments and why


Bill Murray singing karaoke in ‘Lost in Translation.’ Because that’s the moment you believe the relationship. And because it’s Roxy Music’s ‘More than this.’
The ascent of the hot air balloon at the end of ‘Burnt by the Sun.’ It is perhaps the most chilling scene of a golden haired child skipping through bucolic landscape ever filmed. Which is saying something.
Opening sequence of ‘Saturday Night Fever.’ Because it will make you forgive John Travolta all his sins.

Top 3 favorite actors/actresses and why


Gary Oldman – his versatility. When you can study George Smiley and see shades of Sid Vicious without any confusion… that’s an actor.
Paul Dano – his performance in There Will be Blood. No other reason.
Kate Winslet – versatile, haughty, real, flawed (even she can’t do an acceptance speech with class) and glamorous. She’s a movie star. In the original meaning. Like Lauren Bacall. And she hasn’t yet played a faeire queen. Also important.



Elizabeth Kiem studied Russian language and literature at Columbia University and writes novels, essays, reports, reviews, grocery lists and more.​ She has lived in Brooklyn for more than 15 years, and before that she lived in Moscow as it entered a new era, immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Besides Brooklyn and Moscow, her favorite places are Alaska (where she was born), Istanbul (where she understood that all great cities straddle the water), and Haiti (where life itself straddles the water). In Russian, she is Elizaveta Ivanovna. Dancer Daughter Traitor Spy is her first novel.

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