Q & A with Kristen Loesch, Author of THE LAST RUSSIAN DOLL

Q & A with Kristen Loesch, Author of THE LAST RUSSIAN DOLL

Kristen Loesch’s debut novel The Last Russian Doll published on March 14, 2023. Kristen grew up in San Francisco. She holds a BA in History, as well as a Master’s degree in Slavonic Studies from the University of Cambridge. Her debut historical novel, The Last Russian Doll, was shortlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award and longlisted for the Bath Novel Award under a different title. After a decade living in Europe, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and children.


Synopsis of The Last Russian Doll from the publisher:

In a faraway kingdom, in a long-ago land… a young girl lived happily in Moscow with her family: a sister, a father, and an eccentric mother who liked to tell fairy tales and collect porcelain dolls. One summer night, everything changed, and all that remained of that family were the girl and her mother. Now, a decade later and studying at Oxford University, Rosie has an English name, a loving fiancé, and a promising future, but all she wants is to understand–and bury–the past.

After her mother dies, Rosie returns to Russia, armed with little more than her mother’s strange folklore–and a single key. What she uncovers is a devastating family history that spans the 1917 Revolution, the siege of Leningrad, Stalin’s purges, and beyond. At the heart of this saga stands a young noblewoman, Tonya, as pretty as a porcelain doll, whose actions—and love for an idealistic man—will set off a sweeping story that reverberates across the century.


Kristen answers some questions that I posed to her about The Last Russian Doll:

1.  Can you share something with me about your book that is not in the blurb?

The novel contains several subtle allusions and hidden references to Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, which is my favorite novel of all time. (I’d love to hear from any readers that spot one or more!)


2.  Do you have any say in what your book cover looks like?

Great question! Yes, I did have a say. I was presented with the design and color motif, which were utterly beautiful from the outset, but I wanted one thing added (the cityscape) and one thing removed (the woman was originally wearing a hat). As you can tell, I got what I wanted! I absolutely love the cover of The Last Russian Doll; I find it mesmerizing. The design team did a phenomenal job and I’m really grateful to them.


3.  What is the most difficult part about writing for you?

 Letting go of the manuscript, and recognizing that it’s ready to go off into the world. I think it’s especially difficult because editing is my favorite stage of the writing process, and in theory at least, you can edit forever. It takes a real moment of reflection, and a few deep breaths, to let the book move on without me.


4.  Are you working on anything at the present that you would like to share with me?

I’m in the midst of edits on my second novel, which is a speculative murder mystery set in 1930s Shanghai and 1950s Hong Kong. It was originally based on a tiny 200-word story I wrote for the online literary journal FlashBack Fiction (the story now appears in print in Best Microfiction 2022) about a young woman who swims from Shenzhen, China, to Hong Kong.


5.  Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.

I often listen to the same piece of music on repeat while writing – hundreds, probably thousands of times over – to the point that just hearing the first bar of that particular song will instantly make me feel like I’m in the universe of my novel.


6.  What are you reading now and what have you read recently that you loved?

I’m currently reading the historical novel Night Angels by Weina Dai Randel, and it’s shaping up to be one of my favorite reads of the year! I’ve also recently enjoyed the thrillers Wrong Place, Wrong Time  by Gillian McAllister and Things We Do in the Dark  by Jennifer Hillier.


Order The Last Russian Doll from Bookshop.org.