Author Montefiore turns from history to fiction

Tue Nov 4, 2008 12:52pm EST
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By Natasha Elkington

TORONTO (Reuters) - British author Simon Sebag Montefiore is well known for biographies and historical works but the critically acclaimed writer has now turned to fiction with a new book set in 20th century Russia.

The author of "Young Stalin, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar," which is being made into a film, and "Catherine the Great & Potemkin" has just launched his first novel "Sashenka," an intimate family story about a woman and her children.

During a visit to the annual International Festival of Authors in Toronto Montefiore, 42, spoke to Reuters about his love affair with Russia and switching from fact to fiction.

Q: What inspired you to write the novel?

A: "I wanted to write a novel that told about the women and the families - the intimate story rather than the story about power. So this is the result. I have always wanted to write it. It's a plot I have been mulling over for years. The background is real and accurate but the story of the women and the children are all invented characters."

Q: What is your fascination with Stalin?

A: "My fascination is really with Russia and the Caucasus . The Caucasus is where Georgia is, and where Stalin came and it's the most sort of wild, romantic, chivalrous, violent fascinating crossroads, border lands between the Muslim south, the Persian Ottoman empires and Russian empires. So it is a very exciting place, that's what I love to write about."

Q: How has the experience differed from writing history books?   Continued...

<p>Author Simon Sebag Montefiore poses for a picture at an International Festivals Of Authors (IFOA) party in Toronto, October 29th, 2008. REUTERS/Natasha Elkington</p>