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Author Anne K. Howard Tells All About Her IRDA Winning Book

Escape From Mariupol: A Survivor’s True Story was the winner in the BIOGRAPHY category of the 2023 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.

Following find an interview with authors Anne K. Howard.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Escape From Mariupol: A Survivor’s True Story was published on December 6, 2022.

What’s the book’s first line?

“I’m trapped inside a catacomb. The vaults above take a direct hit from Russian projectiles and erupt into flames.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

Escape From Mariupol is a horrifying true-life survival tale of Adoriana Marik, as she flees death and destruction in her native city, Mariupol, Ukraine.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

I have known Adoriana Marik since she was a little girl. When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 22, 2022, I contacted Adoriana’s sister who lives in America, and asked if Adoriana was safe in Mariupol. Her sister could not connect to Adoriana’s phone. It turns out, Adoriana was not safe. She was hiding in a basement beneath a high-rise building in downtown Mariupol as aerial bombs dropped around the clock and gun fighting took place in the streets above. When Adoriana escaped Mariupol and arrived at a refugee shelter in the Czech Republic, I contacted her and asked about what happened to her in Mariupol. I felt her harrowing tale of suffering and escape begged to be written and shared with the world. Western journalists don’t have access to the Russian-occupied port city.  Adoriana’s story offers an eyewitness account of the crimes against humanity committed by Russia in Ukraine.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character? Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

Adoriana is stubborn and resilient. Those two qualities helped her to survive an otherwise hopeless situation. She is like the badass women we watch in action films: Uma Thermon, Charlize Theron, and Sigourney Weaver are great examples.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

Escape From Mariupol offers readers insight into the horror of Russia’s war in Ukraine. It also depicts the hardships of being a war refugee. Imagine having everything stolen from you in one instant: your home, your city, your friends, and your family, and moving to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. It’s a real head trip.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

The role of Adoriana Marik should be played by Mila Kunis, who is also Ukrainian and speaks Russian, like Adoriana. Mila and her husband Ashton Kutcher have generously donated millions of dollars to Ukraine.

When did you first decide to become an author?

Around the age of eight or nine, when I started reading books without pictures. I instantly fell in love with the written word.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

No. I wrote the nonfiction His Garden, Conversations with a Serial Killer in 2018. Escape From Mariupol is my second nonfiction. I also write paranormal historical romance under the pen name, Anika Savoy. My book, The Ghost in Her, was published in January 2023. I also wrote several historical romances before going to law school in 1998.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?

If a traditional publisher “came calling,” of course I would accept the offer! However, they don’t initiate the process. Rather, an author must spend months, even years, simply trying to find an agent, and even an agent does not guarantee that a traditional publisher will be interested in your work. Since my books are time sensitive, I need to get them out to the public asap. For this reason, I only send queries to Independent Publishers.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?) I simply love to tell a great story. That said, I do entertain fantasies in which Escape From Mariupol wins in the category of Best Feature Film at the Oscars!

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? We need to learn more about Russia’s war in Ukraine, with the understanding that freedom is not free. People must fight to preserve democracy.


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