Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Valentine Dmitriev - Lori, Runaway Wife - Author Interview

My thanks to 92-year-old Valentine Dmitriev for stopping by Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways for an author interview about her book, Lori, Runaway Wife.

1. How did you come up with the title?
The title, Lori, Runaway Wife, came to me as a spontaneous outgrowth of the story. In three words it gives the reader the name of the main character, who she is and what she does. From the title we learn that Lori is a married woman who abandons her husband. To find out why she takes the desperate step of running away and what happens to her after she leaves, one would have to read the book.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. Domestic violence is a serious social problem. Statistics show that there are more than 600,000 cases of spousal abuse reported annually. The majority of the victims who remain in abusive relationships, do so because they have nowhere to go and no way of supporting themselves and their children. They lack education and marketable skills. Lori, on the other hand, is a nurse. As a skilled professional she is able to find a new road to freedom and happiness. My message stresses the value of education and the importance of professional as well as vocational training. These are the tools to freedom and a productive life.

3. How much of the book is realistic?

I believe the entire book is realistic. What my characters do or say is intended to reveal an aspect of their personality, their covert and overt motivations and desires.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
The only change that I would make would be to strengthen my message. With a word or a phrase here and there, without being too obvious or heavy-hand I would thread my theme through the book.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part was deciding how to begin the novel. My first attempt was to start the book with a prologue. After writing a number of pages, I realized it was taking me off course and I still had to decide how to open the first chapter with a hook that would catch a reader’s attention. Many books do start with a prologue, but they are not always successful. Personally I prefer reading material that plunges right in with Chapter 1. I must admit, however, that my latest book, Stolen Bride, published two weeks ago, does begin with a prologue that turned out to be a good lead into the rest of the book. In fact I have to admit that I added the prologue after I had already written several chapters. These are some of the dilemmas that authors encounter.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I had already published seven nonfiction books on parenting and child development when I finally had the time and freedom to begin writing fiction. The challenge of creating characters and telling their story fascinated and excited me. Lori, Runaway Wife is my second novel. After the publication of my first book, a lighthearted romance, I wanted to write something more serious. As I worked on my second book, I was learning how to become an author and one thing that I learned was how to use my life experiences as a foundation for plot and character development.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I was home schooled and learned to read at an early age. At first I read poetry. We had a volume of Longfellow’s Poems. Before I knew it, I was writing little poems that were published in our newspaper's "Children’s Corner." I wrote the poems simply because they popped up in my head. I did not think of becoming a writer, not yet. That happened when I was eight years old and had just finished reading Little Women. Perhaps I had been inspired by Jo March, but suddenly I knew, with perfect clarity, that I wanted to become an author and write books.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I admire many authors, both classic and contemporary, but my favorite is Jane Austen. She was a remarkably gifted writer with the talent to portray the human nature of her characters with wit, gentleness and a touch of satire. She has been described as, “One of the superb literary artists of the world.”

9. Tell us your latest news.
The second week of August 2011 marked the publication of my fourth novel, Stolen Bride. A kidnapped nineteen year-old Amish girl finds freedom and love in a new world.The book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book stores.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I would like to tell my readers the following: If you have a dream, a goal you wish to achieve, hang on to it even if you have to put it on the back burner while you are committed to fulfilling other responsibilities. Keep your dream in your heart like the bulb of a flower, until the time comes for your dream to bloom in the light of day.

About the Book
Lori, Runaway Wife

Book Details:
Publisher: Publish America
Published: September 2008
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Pages: 230
Format: Paperback

Pretty, young Lori Becker is a nursing intern at a Queens hospital and is a battered wife. Professionally skilled, she is socially naive. Intimidated by her brutal husband, Lori lives in the fantasy world of romance mysteries, idolizing their handsome author, Ian Damion. A car accident sends Francine Ross, an unmarried, pregnant woman to the maternity ward where Lori works. The distraught man accompanying Francine is Ian Damion. Francine’s full-term infant is delivered. Her casual liaison with Ian is over, and she grants him custody of his newborn son. Ian must return to Washington State. He needs a baby’s nanny. Concealing her identity, Lori volunteers. This is her chance to escape from her husband. Lori matures, develops self-esteem and falls in love with Ian, but when he returns her love and proposes, Lori must confess that she’s a married woman.

Author Valentine Dmitriev learned a lot about spousal abuse when she served as a juror in the trial of a man charged with attacking his ex-wife, torturing her all night, and raping her with the neck of a wine bottle.

As a lifetime educator, the author wove into the plot of abused wife Lori Becker the tale of how the young nurse’s life skills provided for her a means of escape and the tools to build a life of independence and freedom from fear.

Lori, Runaway Wife is a gripping story of a timid, battered wife who finds the courage to run away and the path to a new life. In telling this story, Dmitriev reinforces what social workers know from experience that spouse abuse victims are much more apt to survive if they possess life skills and career skills.

“Education gives women as well as men greater freedom to make better and more desirable choices,” says Dmitriev. “For women especially, an education that prepares them for a marketable skill gives them freedom – the chance to leave a bad relationship with the knowledge they can support themselves and their children independently.”

Boyd called her frigid and her Aunt Hattie called her a slut. She was neither frigid nor wanton. She was a decent young woman with all the normal impulses a loving wife would have in response to a loving husband, which Boyd was not.

Desperate to escape from Boyd, and in her romantic need to remain with Ian, she was plunging, like a heedless diver, into an unforeseeable future. Reality brought a sting of fear. Springing to her feet she began pacing back and forth like the restless waves of an incoming tide.

Unconsciously Lori straightened her back and raised her chin. Esther had called her a professional and she was. She was proud of her work, proud that she knew how to use her knowledge and experience.

Today she had assumed a new identity. Her marriage, her married name were now erased from her consciousness just as she would obliterate obscenities scrawled on a blackboard by impertinent pranksters. She would never think of her marriage again and she could see no reason for revealing it to Ian or anyone else.

Like a bird she was free; flying through the air hundreds of miles away from Boyd and danger. Ian, though entirely lost in his work, sat only a few feet away. He was her rock, her security. The infant in her arms was the symbol of a new life, a new beginning. It was time to abandon her past. Time to unearth and discard the horrors buried in her subconscious.

Hummingbirds darted, feeding on a honeysuckle’s nectar. There was sunshine and rain, perfume and a painter’s palette of color, but still no word from Ian.

Yet she was afraid. She bore too many emotional and physical scars from Boyd’s brutality. Perhaps in the months she had been freed from her husband’s attacks the rawness within her had healed and sex with Ian would not be as torturous to her as she feared. Still it was on trembling limbs that Lori slowly mounted the steps to Ian’s room.

Another man had possessed that lovely body. Another man had enjoyed her tantalizing kisses, her ardent love play. The torture was so great that if he had a sword he would plunge it into his chest to end the agony.
Lori wakened the next morning filled with dread and uncertainty. The devilish imp who pricked at her conscience during her sleep, returned with a vengeance, driving the sharp prong of his fork into her very soul, piercing her heart. A black cloud of guilt enveloped her. She told no lies, but her silence was equal to a treacherous betrayal of Ian’s faith in her.

She was tired of climbing Mayan ruins or paddling flimsy crafts down the Amazon. Most of all she was weary of herding hordes of disorganized, cantankerous tourists on worldwide exotic treks. She had seen enough of ruins and pyramids, snakes and scorpions, apes and kangaroos to last a lifetime.

Since his last e-mail informing Lori that he was sailing for Barbados there had been no other messages from Ian. Every morning and several times throughout the day, Lor9i bestirred herself to go upstairs and check the inbox, hoping against hope to find a message from him. Invariably there were no messages and with each disappointment her dark mood deepened.

Lori had never been to a prom, she had never danced in a ballroom, but since she was eight, up until her father’s death, she had taken piano, ballet and ballroom dancing lessons. With the first step it all came back to her, and she danced with the same skill and grace that charmed her teacher and parents.

About the Author
Valentine Dmitriev

Valentine Dmitriev has a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Special Education and is the published author of numerous professional articles, seven books on parenting, education and child development and three romance novels. For thirty-two years of her life, she worked with both typically developing as well as with developmentally and mentally disabled infants and preschool youngsters.

A pioneer in infant learning and early intervention and a member of the academic staff at the University of Washington, she was the founder and past coordinator of an innovative educational program designed to accelerate the mental and physical development of young children with Down syndrome and other disabilities. Her Model Preschool Program was so successful that the University of Washington, the Program and Dr. Dmitriev received national recognition.

As a result of this recognition, Dr. Dmitriev began serving as a consultant to public schools, developmental centers and universities that were interested in replicating her Model Preschool Program for Children with Down Syndrome and other Disabilities. Over the next fifteen years she traveled widely, giving lectures and conducting workshops in forty cities in America and eleven foreign countries including Australia, England, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Russia and Spain.

Valentine Dmitriev was born in Shanghai, China, of Russian parents who fled from St. Petersburg at the height of the Bolshevik revolution. From China her family, father, mother, maternal grandmother and she, migrated to Canada. After a few years in Vancouver, B.C., they settled in Seattle. Dr. Dmitriev remained in Washington State until 2005 when she moved to a Retirement Community near Hackettstown, New Jersey.

Finishing high school at the age of fifteen, Valentine entered the University of Washington. At nineteen she graduated with a B.A. in English and Creative Writing. Several months later, she married Nick Dmitriev, a fellow alumnus with a degree in electrical engineering.

Dr. Dmitriev's career began in 1950 when Alex, the youngest of their three children (a girl and two boys), was thirty months old. After taking some courses on child development and education, she took a part-time job as a nursery school teacher in a Parent Cooperative Preschool under the auspices of the Seattle Public Schools Family Life program. The advantage of this position was that Alex was enrolled in the same class that she was teaching.

Three years later when Alex entered kindergarten, she was able to accept a promotion within the Family Life program, becoming a Family Life instructor, another part-time job. No longer a preschool teacher, she was now responsible for supervising five Parent Cooperative Preschools. The focus was on teacher and parent training and maintaining the high standards of a superior preschool program.

As time went on, Dr. Dmitriev became increasingly concerned about the plight of young children with special needs, as there were no preschool programs for these youngsters. As a Family Life instructor, she did succeed in establishing one preschool for children with disabilities, but at the same time she realized that she was inadequately prepared to help these children, their teacher and parents. At this point she resigned from her Family Life position to enter a graduate program in special education.

By now her daughter, Cathy, was married, her oldest son, Michael, was in college and Alex was a high school senior. At last she felt free to pursue her new goals. Although Valentine was now a student in a Master's program, majoring in psychology and special education, based upon her past work experience, she was given an academic status and hired to work as a teacher in a developmental psychology experimental preschool. It was there that she began her pilot program for infants with Down syndrome.

Somehow between lectures and workshops and routine work at the University, Dr. Dmitriev completed the required courses, wrote her research dissertation, passed two days of written and one oral exam, and earned her Ph.D. In 1982, she took an early retirement and left the University, however, she continued her travels, frequently giving three-week workshops in one place. Also retired, her husband frequently accompanied her.

One month before their fifty-first anniversary, Nick suffered a massive stroke and died. Left alone, her children married and scattered, Dmitriev sold their Redmond, Washington, home and moved to their waterfront summer place on Whidbey Island, some thirty miles north of Seattle. At last she was able to fulfill her life-long dream of becoming an author. Before moving to New Jersey to be closer to her daughter, Cathy, and son Alex, she wrote and published five books. Comfortably settled in a retirement cottage, Dr. Dmitriev is currently writing her fourth novel.


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