For this story, I envisioned the clock maker/repair shop that Natalie’s grandparents owned as one of the many underground enterprises that flourished in Russia outside of State control in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.
While researching Russian organized crime—facets of which grew apace with the underground economy in those decades—I dug into the backgrounds of various crime bosses. They ran the gamut. Some had advanced degrees; others were political activists. One had even become a TV producer. With such real-life variety, I felt comfortable portraying a gentleman clockmaker (one with a violent and dark past that he specifically glossed over for his new-found daughter).
Lastly, I can’t take credit for Sevastyan’s vodka/wiper-fluid import idea. This scheme was based on true events.
To write the smoothest possible story for the largest number of readers, I had to fudge some things (kind of like bending grammar rules to make for more realistic dialogue).
For instance, when Paxán asks Natalie to call him Dad, he translates this as Bátja, which is a stretch. She would most likely call him Papa. However, I couldn’t imagine a character like Natalie saying Papa (unless John’s came immediately after). It took me out of the story every time I read it. So Bátja it was.
I also took some liberties with certain rules of address to keep the prose as streamlined as possible.
I hope you enjoyed THE PROFESSIONAL. Thank you all so much for your readership! And play on . . .