Issabelle's Posts

Russian History Trivia with Cate (In Which I Pretend to Know More than I Do)

(Quick note before I get into the post: Congratulations to Corrie for winning Katherine’s Tell Me You Love Me book giveaway! Be on the lookout for an email from her.)

Heya, TWNers. I am SO stoked for this post. In celebration of the upcoming release of my debut historical thriller set in Soviet-era Russia, I’ve been doing several fun posts on Teen Writers’ Nook with other authors. So far I’ve done an interview with teen writer Deigan Marie and had my publisher and the author of the Daughters of the Seven Seas series, Grace A. Johnson, on with a guest post about being an author entrepreneur. Today I am excited to do a collab with Cate, author and blogger at The Southern Story Scribbler! Cate is pretty much my soul sister and we quickly became friends after realizing we had so much in common. Cate is a history buff like me, especially interested in Russian history which is why I knew I had to have her part of Don’t Let Me Go‘s celebration, AND she’s a Skillet Panhead, as well. She is also both a writer and a blogger, and if this sounds like someone you would like to learn more about, go ahead and subscribe to her newsletter (I promise, that even though we have a lot in common, she is MUCH more sane than me. 😉 ).

For today’s post, Cate and I agreed to test our super awesome Russian history knowledge with each other by doing a fun trivia. However, I probably didn’t seem all that impressive in my responses to her trivia questions as we both have studied more in two different eras of Russian history. She is very interested in the time of vikings and the beginnings of the Russian nation while my studies has stayed more from mid-1800s Russia through the Soviet era and into the present day. (I honestly never intended to set out to write books about Soviet Russia or be known for any knowledge of this time period, in fact that was one of my initial hesitations into writing Don’t Let Me Go because I wasn’t sure I would have any interest in the history of the Soviet Union and had planned to focus more on Tsarist Russia. But when Maksim’s story took full force and eventually I had a publishing offer, I guess I must accept that it seems like I’m starting to be known more for this. The Internet is strange in deciding what people will associate you with and what they wont. *shrugs*) Anyways, all that to say I promise we’re both a lot smarter in this than we may appear to be, we’re just not as well-informed in the era that each of us study. But that means we get to learn something new, and you guys get to laugh at my attempts to sound smarter than I am. 

In fact, if you are in need of that laugh now, I highly suggest you check out my answers at Cate’s trivia questions where I stink at remembering dates, you can learn who sold Alaska to the United States, and I may or may not have discovered the best name for a Soviet dog. 

Onto today’s trivia. I have provided the questions and Cate has given her best answers for each one. My questions and responses will be in bold

I: Now, welcome Cate to Teen Writers’ Nook! We’re so thrilled to have you here. Grab a cup of tea, sit back, and enjoy your stay. Here is my first question: Who is the city of St. Petersburg named after?

C: I’m pretty sure it’s named after Peter the Great.

I: I had always thought the same thing as well. However, it was actually named after one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, Peter, who was Peter the Great’s patron saint.

What was Joseph Stalin’s First Five Year Plan introduced in 1928?

C: I don’t remember what the plan was (I didn’t study this bit), but I read a book last year called Red Famine which basically talked about one of the primary consequences – Ukraine experienced one of the worst famines in their history.

I: Yes, Red Famine is such an eye-opening read about the intense famine Ukraine suffered due to Stalin’s forced collectivization programs. In 1928 Stalin intiated the first of many “Five Year Plans.” At the turn of the century, Russia found itself behind industrially in comparison to other European countries, and this was one of many motivators behind the Revolution. Stalin’s plan was that in five years he believed he could grow the Soviet Union industrially and economically and because the majority of Russia’s economy relied on agriculture, this was where he focused on. It was what set into motion the collectivization of peasants and farmers onto collective farms called kolkhoz, sometimes this would even be through the use of terror. My novel briefly touches on this moment in history.

Who did Russia ally with during World War 1?

C: I can tell you it was not with Germany, as evidenced in the “Willy-Nicky” letters, where the cousins Wilhelm and Nicholas tried to smooth things out. I think they sided with Serbia, but I’m not entirely sure.

I: I was just going to accept the Allied Powers (composed of Russia, France, Britain, and Japan; later including Italy in 1915 after it swapped sides and the United States in 1917) but yes, you are correct. Russia did side with its ally Serbia, bringing it into the war.

What was the Time of Troubles?

C: Darn it… I did study this in Russian History. XD It was after the Mongol invasion, I know that. I think this is when Novgorod and Moscow were vying for power. It had to do with the conflict for Western vs Easture culture.

I: So, I honestly don’t know as much about that, but what I was talking about occurred between 1598 to 1613, after the death of the last member of the Rurik Dynasty, Fyodor I. This sent the land into political troubles as different members fought for power and control of Russia, eventually leading to the start of the House of Romanov in 1613.

Who was Alexander Pushkin?

C: The name sounds vaguely similar…

I: Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) was a famous Russian poet. 

Why was St. Petersburg’s name changed in 1914?

C: I think it was a centennial/bicentennial of his birth. I’m honestly surprised it got changed, as that was around the time Lenin was really making waves with dismantling the Romanov throne.

I: Yeah, the whole story about St. Petersburg’s many name changes is pretty crazy and interesting. So the name was changed in 1914 because of the outbreak of World War 1. Though St. Petersburg’s name was originally derived from Dutch, it sounded too German and would seem like they weren’t supporting the war against Germany. The name was changed to the more Russian-sounding Petrograd for a time. (It was changed one other time before returning to St. Petersburg in 1991).

Who was the first Romanov tsar?

C: Mikhail Fedorovich… arguably not an actual Romanov. 

I: Correct! Mikhail Fedorovich ascended the throne in 1613 at the age of sixteen, beginning the House of Romanov.

When was Christianity brought to Russia?

C: I don’t know the exact date, but I know the story behind it. The first Russian ruler, Vladimir, was trying to find a religion to unite the empire, and thanks to his Christian grandmother’s influence (Olga converted when she visited Constantinople), he did that via Orthodox Christianity.

I: Great job! I didn’t know the exact date either and had to look it up, the year that’s most accepted as the official adoption of the religion is 988. I think the story behind the why is so fascinating!

What was the Crimean War?

C: Crimea was annexed by Catherine the Great. It was part of her work to expand the borders of Russia. The reason it was a war was because the Crimeans weren’t exactly okay with Catherine marching in and taking over, and so they resisted her expansion.

I: Though I was actually talking about the war from 1853-1856, I’ll accept this answer as well! I think this shows how close history does repeat itself as Russia’s annexing of the Crimea in 2014 we now have watched it lead into the current Russo-Ukraine war.

Can you name this Russian emperor?

Paul I of Russia - Wikipedia

image credit

C: Aw, so cute! No clue, so I’ll guess Alexander II.

I: Hehe, I mean maybe there might be some small resemblance. XD This is actually Paul I who ruled from 1763-1801.

Bonus: Give us a fun Russian history fact!

C: Russia almost became an Islamic nation. When Vladimir was looking for a national religion, he managed to narrow it down to Islam and Christianity. Then the Muslims said that the Vikings couldn’t have alcohol, and that didn’t sit well with him. He said, “Drinking is the Joy of the Rus, we cannot exist without that pleasure…”, and promptly nixed Islam for Christianity.

I: Okay but like why does that sound so Russian??? XD

C: For real though XD

Well, there you go, readers! There’s a bit of fun, interesting Russian trivia you can go use to impress your parents or friends with. (Seriously, tell them the story about how Russia almost became an Islamic nation and see if they don’t get a laugh out of that one!) And if you found this interesting, then be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you can stay in the loop and be the first to know about all the publishing details ahead as we get closer to Don’t Let Me Go‘s release. And make sure to follow Teen Writers’ Nook as I have more fun games and awesome writers to share with y’all soon!

About Cate:

Cate VanNostrand is a college student and freelance editor living in the South with her three siblings, her amazing parents, and her imaginary pet phoenix, Lasair. Cate’s life’s goal is to honor God with her writing, wherever He leads her. She can often be found scribbling down words in a notebook, or frantically typing them into coherent form on her laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s probably singing to rock music, pretending she can play the piano, and binge-reading YA novels like there’s no tomorrow. Find out all about her and her latest work at the Southern Story Scribbler.

Visit her website right here!

Ready to take your writing to the next level? Check out her editing services she offers right here!

About Don’t Let Me Go

When truth is a crime…

Soviet Russia, 1929: Maksim Lenkov is tired of his past haunting him. An ex-Bolshevik and supporter of the revolution over ten years earlier that toppled the Romanov dynasty, Maksm has never forgotten his guilt over not saving the Tsar and his family—especially a certain beautiful grand duchess. Tatiana Romanova had stolen his heart before the Bolsheviks took her life.

Maksim has spent the last ten years hunting down her killers to no avail and doing anything possible to resist Soviet rule. This is why when a young, spunky British girl appears out of nowhere, claiming she has the Soviet secret police on her heels and needs help escaping the country, Maksim is compelled to aid her. Especially since she says to have information that would ruin the USSR’s push for influence on Western Europe and, more importantly, information that connects to one Bolshevik whom Maksim knows well. A man who was there the night of Tatiana’s murder.

This could be his chance to finally avenge the Romanovs and find peace with his past. But is his new ally all she claims to be or could she be an informer for the secret police? When the OGPU draws closer, how far will Maksim go to serve justice? Inspired by true events, Don’t Let Me Go is a gripping, page-turning novel that explores the power of hope in the midst of darkness and the strength of love over evil.

So let’s chat! Did you know the answer to any of these questions? Do you have any ideas for what my next fun DLMG-inspired post should be about? I want to hear all about it in the comments below!

Issabelle Perry is a proud Jesus follower, an extroverted writer, and a homeschool graduate. When she's not writing, you can find her reading, jamming to Skillet, studying history, hunting for Narnia in wardrobes, or envisioning herself wielding a magnificent sword (but due to her clumsiness, let’s hope that never happens). This self-proclaimed exclamation mark enthusiast can be found hanging out at Teen Writers’ Nook, a community of teen authors Issabelle co-founded in 2020. She is the author of Don't Let Me Go (Sky's the Limit Press 2024), May We Make Them Proud (2023), and a co-editor for two anthologies. What she’s probably doing right now is fangirling about her favorite books to random people or scanning the pantries for chocolate.