When Current Events and History Cross in the Ukraine: Nik Krasno

One of the interesting 3-beer conversations I have with other Historical Fiction writers is: when does a novel become “historical”? How long ago does the setting need to be? Take the fall of the Berlin Wall…. a critical event in history, but not that long ago and the reverberations are still being felt today. It can also lead to some controversial opinions about those events (I remember getting a lecture on Balkan and Cold War history from a Serbian friend that still makes my head hurt.) That leads us to Nik Krasno, co-author of the book “Rise of an Oligarch Book 1: The Way It Is.”

Nik is a semi-retired lawyer, who after long years working in former USSR republics has some downtime to dedicate to things that matter, like writing books.

Nik Krasno
Nik Krasno

So what is it about your background that drives your writing?

As a commercial lawyer you learn from your own angle different industries and trades, so you can become half real-estate developer, one-third aviator, one-forth medical facility owner and so on and get exposed to intricacies of each business. During previous, more turbulent years of my career, I witnessed, heard and learnt stories and events that can easily inspire a dozen of thick thriller books. Some of my observations, experiences, thoughts, imagination and facts I use in my Oligarch series, which combines real historical events with imaginary plot-line and characters and casts light on the atmosphere preceding the Big Bang of the USSR and follows the extremely difficult transformation of Ukraine from Soviet socialist republic to a Wild West capitalistic pseudo-democracy.

So what is Rise of an Oligarch about? (Obviously the rise of an oligarch, you know what I mean.)

Rise of an Oligarch describes the path of a fictional Ukrainian tycoon from modest Soviet teenager to a mighty billionaire with considerable political influence against the backdrop of a young Ukrainian state striving to live up to its statehood through economical, political, psychological and existential troubles. Something like ‘The Godfather’ Ukrainian style -:)

My initial assumption is that people are curious about those who made countless fortunes, be it Mark Zuckerberg, Steven Jobs or William Gates. While their stories are truly amazing, those of their Eastern peers, in my opinion, are much more thrilling. Although I write about a fictional magnate, the same or similar schemes and shenanigans could easily have happened in the real world.

I am guessing that you still have some very fresh memories of this time period. What is it about this that you think others would be interested in?

The sense of historical phenomenon unfolding in front of my eyes. To see that sharp a turnabout in one place and not to expose it to the world just didn’t make sense. The country and society evolved into opposites in almost every aspect: from the place where initially a private property was almost a curse it turned to a place where few individuals amassed billions of dollars and hundreds of assets in a meteoric spell from historical perspective, from the republic which was never independent it needed to cultivate its own national idea, identity and aspiration, from austere Soviet propaganda to a chaotic freedom of speech, from iron curtain designed primarily to keep everyone inside to a global dispersal of its impoverished citizens seeking decent wages for their left- home families…

Rise of an Oligarch based in history, set today
Rise of an Oligarch based in history, set today

Here’s an unfair question: what’s your favorite part of the book?

Pretty hard to single one out. When you write a book you endeavor to fill it with good scenes all along. But if I have to, I’d go with the transition periods in the book: from communist era to Wild West anarchy, from illicitness to glamour after the ‘Orange revolution’, from hype to 2008 financial crisis, because these periods of extreme turbulence necessitated immediate adaptation to new, previously unknown conditions and only the most apt managed to utilize them to their benefit…  

Where can people learn more about you and your book?

They can find my Amazon author page, with links to the various countries sites here.

My Goodreads profile is also available here

And my Facebook page.


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Wayne Turmel

Wayne Turmel is a writer, speaker and co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institue. Originally from Canada, he now lives and writes in Chicago. He lives with The Duchess, Her Serene Highness, and Byron, the world's crankiest cockatiel.