Q. Why write about Chechnya?
A. I first became interested in the region as a college student in St. Petersburg. I realized that Chechnya was a place I didn’t know how to spell and couldn’t find on a map, but the ramifications of the wars there had reached as far north as Petersburg, where on a daily basis I saw Russian veterans soliciting for alms in the Metro stations.
I began reading nonfiction accounts of Chechnya and quickly became fascinated. The accounts I read of ordinary people in remarkable situations were the kinds of stories that I felt needed to be brought to life through fiction.