Julia Hirsch began her career in Hollywood where she worked for ten years as a story editor. Her book, The Sound of Music: The Making of America’s Favorite Movie (McGraw-Hill, 1993) sold over 100,000 copies. She has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, and New York Magazine. After raising two children, she began writing and producing television commercials in the advertising field, winning numerous awards for her campaigns and commercials. She’s written two novels: WHITE RUSSIAN and MERMAID AVENUE.
Julia, in this excerpt from White Russian Sophie finds herself in a Belarusian prison cell for spurious reasons, where the fact that she’s American doesn’t easily provide a get-out-of-jail free card. Can you explain for readers how Sophie ended up such a predicament?
Sophie’s eighty-one-year-old father, Sam, was a proud American Communist in the 1940s and 1950s and remains an unreformed political agitator looking for one last fight. He travels to his homeland, Belarus, to join an underground political theater company whose goal is to overthrow the country’s dictator, Alexander Lukashenko. (This company is based on the “Free Theater of Belarus” who perform political plays all over the world to spotlight what is happening in Belarus.)
Sophie gets a call from Yelena, the director of the theater company, who tells her she has to come to Belarus and retrieve her father because his tactics are getting the theater group in trouble with the KGB (Belarus’ police still use that name), and Sophie has to bring her father home.