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Move over Dostoyevsky Sarah Onyshko ‘12 “Move over, Dostoyevsky – Mila Austin has arrived!” says a reviewer of Earrings for a Black Day, Mila Austin’s ’05 novel about life in Russia before and during Perestroika and the 10-year war in Afghanistan. Austin immigrated to the United States in 2000 after spending years developing software for Soviet military defense systems. She continued her education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. No matter where Austin went, people peppered her with questions about life in Russia, so she began writing short stories to elaborate on her answers until she eventually compiled them into a screenplay. In 2007, her work reached the semifinals in the Monterey (Calif.) County screenplay competition. One of the San Francisco’s producers asked Austin to add more details; the screenplay grew in length and depth and become a novel. Austin believes she never would have written the book if it were not for the others — and their curiosity — pushing her. Earrings for a Black Day is a work of fiction that is based on the real events the author witnessed during her life in Soviet Union. Austin said she felt that it was her mission to explain Russian history and culture in a way Americans could understand, showing the life of the Soviet people and distinguishing their feelings and actions from those of the government. “When I came to America, I was amazed – the propaganda on TV here and in Russia, it was the same,” she observed. “I wanted to deliver the ‘insider’s’ view and share with Americans my love and pain about my country by telling a sincere story.” One of the points she emphasizes strongly in her novel is the opposition of views about perestroika in America and Russia. She illustrates how and why many Russians feel that Gorbachev was sent by Satan to destroy their country by taking away their dream of Communism, a dream costing 70 years of hard work and countless sacrifices and lives. Using the characters of young beautiful girl Lena and Afghanistan veteran officers Victor and Sergey, the author shows how the Soviet people achieved a new spiritual growth and transition from atheism back to Christianity in a search for purpose in life. Austin now lives in California. She says, “I love both countries. I believe that people in America and Russia have a lot in common and should live in peace. No mother wants her son to die in war. “It wasn’t easy for me to write the book in my second language, but I had to do it, because it was the only way I could explain some specific concepts and words that simply don’t exist in English. I hope this book will help illustrate the Russian mentality.” Austin invites readers to share their opinions on the book by writing to her at fall 2010 UNCW Magazine 41

UNCW Magazine Fall 2010

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