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ANNA and I made our way by taxi to the city center for an early evening meal — and free vodka shots — at the Idiot , one of St. This five-room basement establishment, located off St. The Idiot was designed to resemble a Dostoevsky-era apartment: old oak furniture, Singer iron-pedaled sewing machines, clunky typewriters, shelves of antique books and the occasional, anachronistic bust of Lenin. We were joined by Mireille Massip , a French author who was in town to attend, among other events, a big White Nights gathering of returned St.

Petersburg nobility. Hundreds of White Russians — descendants of both the pre-revolutionary aristocrats and the anti-Bolshevik military officers who fled to Western Europe and the United States during the consolidation of Bolshevik power in and — have returned to the city since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Some have taken up residence in the same apartments their families lived in in czarist Russia. Over a bowl of borscht and a glass of Chablis, Ms. Massip, who had recently finished a biography of a White Russian exile in America, told us that she returns to St. Tipsy after our round of vodka shots, Anna and I left the Idiot and commenced a White Nights ritual: the downtown walkabout through the area around the Moika.

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Peter died in , and the capital that he founded rapidly expanded. In , Peter II moved his seat back to Moscow. But four years later, the Empress Anna again made St.

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Petersburg the capital of the Russian Empire. It remained the seat of the Romanov Dynasty for nearly two centuries, until the Bolshevik Revolution of We turned left along the Moika and crossed a short span nicknamed the Drunk Bridge, a rickety iron crossing from which assassins threw the still-living Rasputin — the faith healer to Nicholas and Alexandra — into the river in Along the nearby Nevsky Prospect, the new multi-ethnic Russia — sushi bars, Middle Eastern shisha bars, Chinese tea rooms — was drawing a crowd of customers from around the globe.

We found our way to Rubinstein Street, a trendy boulevard that has exploded in recent years with curio shops, theaters and ethnic restaurants. View all New York Times newsletters. Here, at a newly opened Georgian restaurant, we discreetly fortified ourselves for the night ahead with a bottle of sweetish red Georgian wine, officially illicit, because Georgian wine imports had been banned by the Russian authorities since before the war in the south Caucasus, in which hundreds of soldiers and civilians died.

Knight Fall (The Reminiscent Exile, #3) by Joe Ducie

It was still too early for most Russians to sit down to dinner, and we were the only guests in the spartan place. The owner and her daughter tended to us solicitously, as traditional Georgian folk music played in the background. They served up a nonstop procession of heavy, exotic dishes: lobio, a thick red bean soup; piles of meat-filled dumplings, known as khinkali; a cheese and herb bread called khachapuri tarkhunit; and spicy meatballs called abkhazura.

It was around 11 p. The sky was streaked with fiery wisps of cloud. Hundreds of people had gathered in the plaza, one of the most popular vantage points to watch the raising and lowering of the four drawbridges. All eyes were focused on a juggling team that tossed flaming sticks in the air, their acrobatics accompanied by the rhythmic beating of tom-toms played by musicians clad in billowy Ali Baba pants. The look, Anna explained, was inspired by the traditions of the Indian state of Goa, an increasingly popular destination for young Russians on holiday. THE Neva itself was abuzz with activity: People took in the view sitting on the stone steps that ran down to the river, splashed from time to time by wakes from a constant stream of sightseeing vessels.

For 4, rubles, visitors can enjoy — as I did the following evening — an hourlong private cruise , sipping wine and gazing at sites like the landmark Mariinsky Theater on the Kryukov canal. Bobovnikov, the antiques dealer, told me. The energetic scene on the plaza — illuminated bridges, teeming crowds, stands selling ice cream and American-style hot dogs, the pungent smell of diesel fuel, the hypnotic drumbeating, riverboats fighting for space on the wide Neva — reminded me a bit of the scene alongside the Nile in Cairo, with a similar sense of energy and controlled chaos.

We found a large riverboat restaurant called the Flying Dutchman , its wooden-plank deck providing a panoramic view of all four main spans. The sky was darkening, and a huge, butterscotch half-moon loomed just above the Hermitage. Then, as we sat on a couch on the restaurant deck in the gathering dusk, sharing a shisha and drinking vodka tonics, the Troitsky Bridge beside the museum began its slow ascent.

It rose to a degree angle above the Neva, and then, one by one, at minute intervals, each of the three other spans followed. The graceful upward movement of the bridges, each following another with what seemed like perfect synchronicity, the sense of anticipation that suffused the crowds, the interplay of lights and water, all conveyed a magical effect. Traffic ground to a halt, people gaped from promenades along the river, and then the first of what would be many barges, coming from the Gulf of Finland, swept into view.

In near darkness now, Anna and I sipped our drinks and savored the scene — the moment when all of St. Petersburg seemed to stop and enjoy a brief respite from the endless whirl of its summer nights.

Many events take place at the Mariinsky Kirov Ballet and Opera Theater, but there are operas, ballets and concerts at performance halls all over St. For the full schedule, check balletandopera. The luxurious, year-old establishment with an ornate facade and a prime location has played host to a procession of European monarchs as well as to many great men and women of culture, including Tchaikovsky and Pavarotti.

The Hotel Astoria 39 Bolshaya Morskaya;; www. Owned by Sir Rocco Forte, it has grand, old-Russian style interiors and another excellent location on St. The rooms and 42 suites at Hotel Astoria start at 20, rubles. The Idiot 82 Moika Canal; , popular among both expats and St. The menu features excellent Russian and vegetarian cuisine. Khutor Vodogray Ul. Karavannaya 2; is a handsome restaurant with whitewashed walls and dark beams suggesting a Ukrainian cottage. Ukrainian delicacies include homemade sausages, and black bread with salo, a traditional dish made from salt-cured pig fat.

Simeon and St. Anna through its large picture windows. The wine list includes top-flight reds and whites from a dozen countries, and the menu features Italian and European food. Recommended are the pizzas topped with rucola. Tell us what you think. Please upgrade your browser. Find out what and fix it. I am a fan of both models — whatever gets my stories out into the world. VC: Do you do much marketing for your books? What have you found to be the most effective tools for this?

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Perhaps I should, but again the stories regarding such marketing options are positive and negative. Maybe one day, when I start taking this writing business seriously. Oh, I lied a touch above — I have paid for a few Facebook boosts on links to my Amazon page and such, but the cost there is negligible, less than a cup of coffee. VC: When it comes to self-publishing, how important do you think the cover design is in helping your books get noticed?

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For any and all the readers walking out onto the eBook fields. The very first thing a potential reader sees is the cover. Of course, the cover is one thing — the next step is having a story within worth reading. And then repeating the trick, ad infinitum.

Find out more about Joe and his books at joeducie. Joe is also the editor of a number of anthologies. It is only available in eBook format at the moment but will also be available as a paperback very shortly. Lost Grace is book 4 in the Reminiscent Exile series. While waiting for the release of the paperback edition you can check out the full wraparound cover design below. Crossroad Press have acquired the rights to publish the ebook editions of a number of Robert McCammon novels in all territories outside the US and Canada, which will be available from all non-US and non-Canada Amazons.

Crossroad Press publish both fiction and non-fiction for all ages over a wide range of genres from mysteries and thrillers to sci-fi and fantasy to new age and metaphysical titles, and include books by authors such as Clive Barker, Jay Bonansinga and Joe Lansdale. This is my cover design for the Subterranean Press signed limited edition of Emily St. It will be out in December but is available for preorder now. Below is the full wraparound artwork for the dust jacket.

The story centres around Mardie Wickett and her estranged sister Mili Wickett, a brilliant former Scotland Yard detective, who although both now dead one residing in heaven and one in hell are brought together again by Lucifer when he finds a headless corpse on his own front porch. Now they must put their differences aside to unravel this mystery of a murdered man slain among the damned….

Yee for Abrams Books.


This one underwent quite a lot of development. When Abrams approached me about this project, they already had finished cover art, but at the last minute that they decided they wanted to go in a different direction with it and wanted a new image. The art director wanted to see sketches for three concepts; she sent me her quck roughs which you can see below for two ideas that I was to re-conceptualize in my own way, and also wanted me to come up with a third idea that incorporated the entire girl, silhouetted, and destroying the type. And here are my roughs….

The team decided they wanted to go with the third approach and wanted me to develop it further. They wanted to see some different options for the title type, something more modern-looking and less blocky, and to try some Chinese deco elements within the type itself.