SPS-322: Writers Without Borders – with Anton Eine

In a special episode of the Self Publishing Show, Anton Eine calls in from Ukraine to discuss the ongoing war and how it has affected his writing and publishing process.

Show Notes

  • An account of how the invasion has affected Anton and his family
  • Why he’s now putting aside years of writing fiction to focus on non-fiction instead
  • How the war has united Ukraine and changed people’s priorities
  • How authors around the world can help support Anton and his community

Resources mentioned in this episode:

ANTON EINE’S BOOK is available here.
UKRAINE: Find out how you can help here.
PATREON: Self Publishing Formula Show’s Patreon page.
MERCH: Get your SPF hoodies and t-shirts in the SPF Store.


SPS-322: Writers Without Borders - with Anton Eine
Speaker 1: On this edition of the Self-Publishing Show...

Anton Eine: After several days of war, I just realised that I don't care anymore about those books. Some of them probably I will have to rewrite after war because the world has changed and I need to align my books and some stories in them to the changed situation.

Speaker 1: Publishing is changing. No more gatekeepers. No more barriers. No one standing between you and your readers. Do you want to make a living from your writing?

Join indie bestseller, Mark Dawson, and first-time author James Blatch, as they shine a light on the secrets of self-publishing success. This is the Self-Publishing Show. There's never been a better time to be a writer.

James Blatch: Hello, and welcome to the Self-Publishing Show. A special edition of the show, no less, with me, James Blatch.

Mark Dawson: And me, Mark Dawson.

James Blatch: We don't normally record right up to the wire, but this is just a few hours before the deadline, really, for editing and getting this podcast out on time. And I hope you can tell, I've tried to change my colours to blue and yellow lighting.

Mark Dawson: Good.

James Blatch: Sort of working like that, because, well, Mark, you can tell the story really, but we have a very special guest this week.

Mark Dawson: We do. Yeah. So obviously we're all paying attention, doom scrolling or whatever, to the situation in Ukraine over the last three weeks or so since the invasion started. In one of my doom scrolls, I came across a slightly more, uplifting is the wrong word, but an article on the BBC website featuring an interview with a writer called Anton Eine.

I'm going to probably get his surname wrong, but Anton, a science fiction writer in Kiev, and it was about parenting in wartime. Anton, I'm not going to scoop the interview that's coming up, but the gist of it is Anton was talking about what it's like to have a child and to explain to them what's happening. He's writing in shelters and sitting on concrete floors with his laptop and trying to do some writing. Obviously not being able to do very much at the moment because there's other things to worry about.

So I had a look online. I found his website and I emailed him because like all of us, I feel slightly helpless at the moment. What we're seeing is horrible on all possible ways of describing it. I just wanted to see if there's any way that we could help Anton in his situation, given that we have a lot of authors who listen to this podcast and are a part of the SPF community. And I have a lot of readers who I think would be interested in helping out. And of course, all of the other authors in the SPF community, nearly 200,000 now, they all have readers as well. So it seemed to me like a way that we might be able to help.

So I said to Anton, "Look, what could we do? How could we help?" And he said, "The only thing really that would be helpful right now would be just to spread the word a little bit about his science fiction collection." So we did that yesterday. I posted in the SPF community. I also emailed my list in my monthly newsletter, and Anton's collection started the day in the millions in terms of the ranking, and finished, I think the highest I saw it in the UK was 150. And in the US, I think it got to about 800, which obviously was wonderful. So without asking Anton, I suspect, given what I know about rankings and sales, that's probably meant he's at a thousand books yesterday across all markets, which is wonderful.

We've invited him into the community. He's now a member of the SPF community, and I thought it made lots of sense to get him on the podcast, which is why I said, would he be up for it? He said, yes. And then the SPF podcast operation swung into movement and James has interviewed him.

We're going to edit it quickly. We've written an email that will go out on Friday and we've got the artwork within like an hour. So that's the gist of it. But the short answer is it's our way to try and help, in a very, very small way, one writer who's finding himself in a situation he probably couldn't have imagined a month ago.

James Blatch: When you listen to the interview in a few moments, you'll know right away that we have fallen on the right person, somebody who is there to help other people. He's doing what he can, he's staying in the country. His brother is still in Kiev. He's got himself out to the west of Ukraine to Lviv with his family, his wife, and a three-year-old child. But yes, if we can, for now, it's not much, but for now, we all buy his book, and there's a link. In fact, I've asked John to set up a link. So if you go to, that will forward you to his book in whatever your territory is, and you can buy that.

But I think what we talked about in the interview is the next stage, because there's so much rebuilding to be done in Ukraine, even if the war suddenly ended today, which probably is certainly wishful thinking. There's years of reparations and recovery for that country. And I think that's the stage at which Anton's idea of pulling together, getting together with other writers who he can discover through our community in Ukraine, writing a non-fiction book about their experiences, what they learnt through the war, how they changed, and that book itself, that will probably be the big one in the future for us to all rally around and get resources into the country.

At the moment, when they're in the middle of everything, Mark, and a lot of the conversation was about the logistics, about what's going on, the usefulness of resources, what we can do.

We talked everything, actually. We talked about what he thinks about his comic turned president, Zelenskyy, what he thinks about NATO's position, what he thinks about... We talked about the very topic he was interviewed about on the BBC, about what you say to a child. And we talked about his writing as well. Lovely, lovely bloke, really pleased we've made contact with him. It's a really good interview and insight into everyday life. I'm going to throw to the interview now. I recorded this a few minutes ago from the Ukraine. It's probably going to be no more than about 48 hours old by the time you are watching or listening to this. So if we play the interview, now this is Anton Eine.

Anton Eine, thank you so much for joining us on the Self Publishing Show. There's such a lot of concern and worry and heartache for what's happening in Ukraine around the world. And it feels like a privilege to speak to you today.

Why don't we start off by just talking about you and your safety, where you are, and what's happening where you are?

Anton Eine: Normally we are living in Kiev but when the situation was getting worse and worse, my family has decided to flee to the west. Part of the family with kids, they have left Ukraine, and my wife and my son, actually, my wife decided not to leave me here, and we found a safer place in Lviv, western Ukraine, where our family is living. So I would say there is no safe place in Ukraine these days because the missiles are reaching every city daily and you never now know when or where it can fly to. But Lviv is much safer than Kiev today because Kiev is under attack from two directions. And my brother is left in Kiev. He decided to stay and to volunteer and to help other people.

So we are quite spread these days between the cities and the countries, but my wife and son with me in Lviv and it's a relatively safe place, and we have pretty good conditions comparing to people who are in cities that are in siege, cities that do not have electricity and water or food. So I would say we are feeling fine. We are not in need. We are able to help other people around to support them with some money or some help, sending something they may need around in the regions they do not have it.

I think most of the people in the Ukraine volunteer now to help others. This is something incredible happening to people in this country. They got united. They've never been such a strong, solid nation, united before Putin's invasion. He did exactly the opposite he wanted. So he created the nation and made them strong together, fighting for each other and helping each other. And this is fantastic and this is very touching.

James Blatch: That's good to hear, but it's also a moment of desperation for the country. The author community has come together as best as it can and the link to your book is going around the world at the moment. I just had a quick look at it. It's at 240 something in the UK charts. It's in the top 1000 in the United States. I think you've said to us, you've been very honest and said that your family is in the west at the moment, although that's not guaranteed safety, but it's obviously at the moment okay.

You are in a position to start helping others with any resources that come your way, which is why we are doing this.

Anton Eine: Yes. And I'm very grateful for this. Even without this, we do our best to help others. We have enough money to do it because now money means nothing. Many people today say that if you can spend your money to help others, this is the best way to spend your money. And we also do it.

This support, first of all, of course it gives some extra resources, but it also gives some idea of what I should do after this war. Because I feel that this warm welcome of the writing community in the world, it can be spread to other authors as well. I want to find many authors here in Ukraine. I do not know them at the moment. I want to find many of them. And I think it's worth thinking about some collection of stories from Ukrainian authors because there's a lot of talented people here, and spreading the word about them will be very good thing to do after we win.

James Blatch: Yes. I know that Mark has been in touch with you and has offered his help. The whole community, I think, is on standby to help because, of course, we pray that there will be some resolution soon, a cease fire at some point. But in the months and years to come, there's so much repair work to do in Ukraine. There's so much rebuilding. People have lost their homes.

You will go back to Kiev and it won't look like it did when you left. So I can imagine a book, you write a community coming together in Ukraine, you do the writing, we'll do the rest, and we'll do everything we can to funnel funds into the writing community and into Ukraine in the time ahead of us.

Anton Eine: Thank you very much.

James Blatch: Let me just ask you a couple more questions about the situation. So your brother is in Kiev. I should say Kiev. We used to pronounce it Kiev, but everyone now says Kiev, which I think-

Anton Eine: It's okay. We call it Kiev because of the Ukrainian pronunciation, Kiev, but in English it sounds almost identical.

James Blatch: All the same. Okay. So in Kiev, your brother is there and of course, as a man of your age, and I would be the same, I wouldn't be able to leave the country because they want the men to be available to volunteer.

Is your brother volunteering on the kind of social side or is he, you may not want to answer this by the way, is he more active in the resistance?

Anton Eine: No, he's in social volunteering. He's delivering some goods, some people helping them. Because at the moment, situation in Kiev was that we have army and we have what probably is to be translated in English as militia. It's the civil volunteers who support army as militaries. Now they become almost equal. So both of them did not need people who do not have a solid military experience or did not serve in the army. So there were much more volunteers to serve in army than army needed at certain moment.

Yesterday, they announced in news that they will be the second wave of mobalisation when they would need, even those who do not have a military experience. It's a bit different in different regions, but because of the high population in Kiev, even including people who decided to flee Kiev did not recruit people without military experience, so far.

James Blatch: It's unthinkable to me sitting where I am in the UK, that I could be in a situation where in the next few weeks I would have to put on combat uniform and go out with a gun. But that is the situation that you and your brother are in, it's a possibility.

Anton Eine: Yes.

Jams Blatch: How does that play out for you? How do you think about that? Is this something you'd ever envisage would happen?

Anton Eine: No, but it changes mindset when this happens. When you see, when you hear all those explosions and sirens daily and nightly, it changes something inside. When you see this in news every day, every night, the terror happening all around. I think every man comes to this decision that he is ready for this.

People do not want it, but many people go for it. They go volunteering, maybe in the second wave they'll call to arms most of men. It would probably depend on Russia's behaviour. They now have very serious short of military equipment, tanks, machines, machinery, and I doubt they will go with just troops with the guns running like during the second world war, but they can. In this case, they have so many people in Russia. I think in this case, we'll have a global mobilisation all around Ukraine, I hope it'll not happen.

James Blatch: We're hearing stories of the Russians running into trouble and convoys bogged down in mud, an incredible fierce fighting and resistance from Ukrainians. Are you seeing any evidence that there's a change of tone amongst the Russian recruits who've been sent into this situation? Some of whom might be just like you, might just be writers who are suddenly finding themselves, invading a country at someone else's orders.

Anton Eine: It's hard to judge because Russia is cutting communication channels to prevent the proper information flow. But we see every day more and more Russian celebrities and some Russian authorities resigning or protesting. In my book about this war, I quote a lot of Russian rock singers who used to protest against the Russian invasion to Crimea and Donbass since 2014. Those guys I used to listen since I was a teenager and the ones I still have a lot of respect towards, and they protest a lot. They're now forbidden in Russia. Their concerts are cancelled and forbidden because they support Ukraine, but we see day by day, much more of them. But at the same time, we do not see a significant race of protestants among the people around Russia, they are scared, they are misled with this terrible propaganda and I doubt they will all go to streets.

When we had a revolution of dignity in 2013, 14, and students were beaten by police. More than 1 million of people came to the centre of Kiev in several hours, from all around Kiev and suburbs and other cities, they were coming by buses, trains to protest and millions of people supported this. And that's why our president of that time was traitor and Russian, he escaped to Russia.

But in Russia, this doesn't happen. I don't know why maybe because they live in this atmosphere of propaganda pressure. Maybe they did not get this protestant spirit and the taste of freedom as we had during all the years of independence. But I don't think that it'll happen and they will start their own revolution. The more probable scenario is that oligarchs and economical elite together with the military top brass will finally find a way to arrest, to eliminate Putin and in his bunker. And they will make a coup and start some new course for Russia. This scenario is very probable, but I think it's technically very complicated.

James Blatch: I'm sure he's well surrounded. That's the ridiculous thing here is that Russia is a huge country rich in natural resources and could play a full part as a superpower in the modern world but it's being constantly dragged back to its old Soviet dictatorial roots and it's such a shame.

On the other hand, Ukraine has the same history, it was behind the iron curtain, it was part of the Soviet union and yet, you are a country that's constantly looking towards the democracies and the institutions of sort of a more freedom and market economies.

Why do you think that is? What is it about the Ukrainian people that's led them to look this way and the Russian people, as you say, to either be passive or look east again, or internally?

Anton Eine: That's a very difficult question, it probably takes a lot of long historical considerations of both nations. Ukraine, even in the times of Tsarist Russia, Ukraine used to be independent to a certain period till the mid 19th century, if I'm not mistaken with the date. Russia was always empire and they always had Tsar. I think it's a historical determination that they need Tsar and they need those imperial ambitions.

Ukraine used to be in between fighting sometimes with Russia, sometimes with Turkey, sometimes with Poland during all those turbulent centuries. And it was always pretty independent, but at the same time, putting the wars apart, Ukraine was always very peaceful nation because we are a very agricultural country and our culture does not have military heritage or military pride. We were always proud about our peaceful development and some achievements. So probably this difference in the mindset is something that has defined this gap probably now a chasm between the nations.

James Blatch: Yeah. Well, one of the figures that everyone's looking towards is this Volodymyr Zelensky, the unlikely man, who's become your president. He's seen as some sort as a hero around the world and he's very photogenic and he's put on his flak jacket and he's led the sort of resistance and the charge.

Is he looked at the same way in Ukraine?

Anton Eine: I think so, these days. I will be very open, I did not vote for him. I was very much against him because I never took him seriously. And it's not just my dislike of him, it was a very serious and conscious decision to be against him because he was not the right candidate for the presidentship. He was a comic and not serious, not enough educated and most of the educated people never wanted him to be the leader of our country.

But it happened that after the war started, he showed something he either did not have, or did not show before. He stayed in Kiev. He stayed in Ukraine while having opportunity to escape. And he became the symbol of the resistance of the nation, showing that he does not give up, that Ukraine does not give up. And he appeared to be a right politician for this very moment and situation. He got my respect.

I don't know, what happens further what would be the next election. Will I vote for him again or not. But he definitely deserves my respect with his action and with the image he's showing to the whole nation and the world community. And this is something I have to admit, it's not that my mistake I did not vote for him, but it's something that I changed my mind about our president during the last three weeks. I see many friends of mine who also were very much against him as a president now support him and show their respect in the social media, sharing it and it's incredible. Something happening in three weeks that is changing the attitude of many people towards our country leader.

James Blatch: There's an old Shakespearean quote, isn't there? Some men are born to greatness and some achieve greatness. And there's just had this moment where he's stepped up and the world is grateful.

I can imagine Vladimir Putin hates every aspect of him because he comes across in every way that Putin is not.

Anton Eine: Yes.

James Blatch: Which is wonderful. Let's have a quick chat about writing Anton. So when did you start writing? And I know you've got this one or two books out so far, but I know you want to do a couple of novels.

When did you start writing and what is it that you would like to write?

Anton Eine: From childhood I was writing some poem, but I do not take it seriously. Now, then in teenage period, I started writing some songs, but they also look quite ridiculous right now to me. And some trials to write something in prose also were not serious.

Just less than 17 years ago, I started writing my first big novel. It was called, I, Jesus, Rock Star. And it was the story of Christ's second coming to earth nowadays. I finished it last November, and edited a bit during the recent couple months, December and January, preparing it for translation. I was about to send it to my translator in London, in February, but life has changed.

During the time of working on it, I never had time to write because I was very busy with my marketing career, always on business trips, working for multinational companies in many regions. I never had enough time to focus on my writing. I was writing in aeroplanes, airports, trains, taxis, sometimes in the office, at home, at night. But the novel was huge and very ambitious, and I needed to focus on it to keep the storytelling solid.

After I had quit corporate marketing, I decided to focus on my novel. It was in 2015, and during this period I have written a lot of other stuff, because when you are in the creative mood, your brain generates a lot more ideas and you want to park them. You start parking, and you start writing, and you cannot stop before you finish. I have written a lot of short stories, some novella, and I have started two more series in different, fantastic fiction genres.

Now, I have several works in progress. This novel is finished. It's book one of two, about Jesus. And I have a science fantasy novel, it's absolutely different genre to anything I have ever read. It's a world where the magic and science are the same, and programmers magicians, I call them code majors, they are writing the code for spells and instal them in the artefacts to imbue them with the certain properties. It's a detective story about the old seasoned programme age who is investigating some cases and he's assisted with first artificial spirit in the world. It's kind of an artificial intelligence in their magical world. And she's awesome, she's the most intriguing character in this series.

I was about to start querying to literary agents on the February 24th. And they had ordered their printed copies of Russian edition and they were waiting for me in the post office on the February 24th. Probably they're still there or stuck somewhere in between, or maybe they are lost. Does not matter much, because after several days of work, I just realised that I don't care anymore about those books.

Some of them probably will have to rewrite after war because the world has changed and they need to align my books and some stories in them to the changed situation. Like in the novel about Jesus, he's not able to travel to Russia for certain reasons. I don't want to spoil it, but he's not able to go to Russia, but he's able to go to Ukraine, to judge the Orthodox church and their behaviour in time of his absence between two of his comings. But now, this would be impossible and I need to align this story to the reality to show it. But I just realised that I don't care about those books right now, because I want to write some nonfiction book documentary about people during the war time in Ukraine.

James Blatch: The idea you had of gathering writers' experiences during the war, I think would make a terrific book and one that we could rather around again.

Anton Eine: Yes. My working title is The Thin Yellow and Blue Line Between Love and Hate. Because I don't want to focus on war action, on statistics and fights. I want to focus on people and their feelings, emotions, their stories how they were living during the siege, during how they were escaping. Or they lost someone or they were caring about their kids. During the interview and with BBC, I have found out that this topic of kids and parenting during war is the most sensitive for the people worldwide. And it's also very sensitive for us and we do our best to not only to make our kids stay in the physically safe surrounding, but also to care about their psychology because they definitely will have some trauma and PTSD. The older they are, the more they understand and the more trauma they get.

My boy is just three years old, but he understands something. From the very beginning, we decided to tell him truth. We're not lying to him that this is game of quest escaping from home. We're telling him the truth. It's war. Which is a new notion for him, but we are also telling him about bad soldiers who attack us, good soldiers who protect us, the ones with Ukrainian flag. He's asking questions. We try to tell him the truth adopted to his age. It's a challenge. And many parents choose different approaches. Some people choose lies and psychologists say this is a wrong way because sooner or later it'll have its consequences to the children psychology. And it's better to tell the truth.

Jams Blatch: And children pick up the truth anyway, don't they? They hear, they see. Incredible conversations you're having to have with your children.

Anton, what can people do to help? We're urging people to buy a copy of your book, and that's going very well, and we'll give the link out again in a second. Let's talk about the big thing, first of all, which is I know on the ground lots of people in Ukraine will be frustrated that NATO and the West are not physically there fighting the Russians.

Is this something you understand the position of the West and the risk of that? Or would you rather see the West and NATO in particular move in?

Anton Eine: From one hand, I clearly understand why NATO is keeping away from it. We are very grateful for the support with all the financial military support and supplies from all the countries around the world. But of course, we understand that NATO is not able to join this fight because NATO is purely protective alliance and protecting the members of NATO in case they attack. So, NATO does not have a right to jump into this fight.

But from the other hand, this situation is something which never had happened before, since NATO was established. And it's not only a question of Ukrainian security, it's a question of security of the whole Europe and probably the world, because Putin is absolutely insane. His actions are irrational and no one knows what he can do next, because he doesn't have a clear vision and strategy what he wants to achieve with this war. He's just destroying Ukraine, killing people, destroying infrastructure, houses, hospitals, schools, nurseries, and production factories. But there is no logic behind it. It looks like pure emotions and maybe some sick brain because many experts say.

The problem is that they're playing now with the nuclear grenade. They joke about the monkey with the grenade. They're playing with is the nuclear grenade. And it's not only about his claims about threatening the whole world with the red button of the nuclear missiles. It's nuclear terrorism they do now in Ukraine. They have captured Chernobyl nuclear station and they are trying to... I don't know how to explain it. They're trying to destabilise it. And they're keeping the personnel of the nuclear station as hostages. They cut the power and power energy specialists to renew the power supply because they were working on the diesel generators. And they had 24 hours reserve of the fuel couple days ago.

The thing which is even more dangerous that they have already captured the Zaporizhzhia nuclear station, which is the biggest nuclear station in Europe as far as I know. It's 10 times bigger than Chernobyl. And when they were attacking it, tanks were shooting directly into the energy block of the nuclear station, which is actually bulletproof. But they were shooting with the weapons that were able to break the external shell. And now as they have captured it, they also keep all the personnel as hostages. They torture them and they send their energy specialists to this nuclear station and they try to destabilise it as well.

Two days ago, they did a huge explosion of the ammunition next to the walls of this nuclear station. I cannot understand what they try to achieve with it because this is a suicidal mission for them. And not only for people who execute this, but also for the half of Russia or maybe half of the world. Because if something happens to this nuclear station, there will be no safe place in 1000 kilometres around, or maybe worldwide. This can be the largest nuclear disaster in the world ever.

James Blatch: Terrifying.

Anton Eine: I think this is something that NATO, European Union, every country around, should take care about, and closing the sky above Ukraine may be part of it. Sending peacemakers to the nuclear objects in Ukraine can be good solution because this is not a matter of safety in Ukraine, but huge threat for the whole world community.

James Blatch: Almost as is there's a reason for the West to go in, that's not them taking sides and fighting Russia. It's to go and protect an asset. Okay. I mean, it's a complicated situation. That's really well explained. Thank you.

For those of us that feel a bit helpless around the world, is there something we should be doing to help you?

Anton Eine: To help Ukraine?

Jams Blatch: Yeah.

Anton Eine: I think all the current sanctions and the military supplies are providing great help and giving us an opportunity to destroy big columns of Russian tanks and aviation. More anti-air systems would be great because they're attacking us with their missiles massively, and with the aviation. And yesterday United States announced that they would provide serious anti-air military support.

James Blatch: And on an individual level, Anton? We can donate to, I think there's some in the UK, they've set up the DEC, which is like a charity you can donate to that's organising relief to Ukraine. Is that something that we can do, or should we be collecting toothbrushes and stuff and sending it over?

Anton Eine: It's hard to say. I am afraid I am not quite informed what are the current needs. I know that in many regions, there is a lot of humanitarian supplies and a lot of funds that are providing some financing to people. But as I told before, money means almost nothing now, because you can hardly buy something in many regions.

I think the best thing for today is helping Ukrainian refugees in many countries because the neighbouring countries already unable to accept them, Pole and Czechoslovakia. And the infrastructure is not able to deal with such a huge amount. Today, I have read that 3 million people already cross the border of Ukraine. Three million people, it's more than the population of some small countries.

And of course, it's a huge load on the infrastructure of neighbouring countries. And I think many other countries can extend this help and accept refugees for the times of war. And maybe some beginning of renovation of Ukraine, because only in Kharkiv, 600 houses were destroyed during this three weeks. 600 houses. It's like a small town in many countries. And all around Ukraine, I think it's thousands.

Also some humanitarian help and financing, some funds that are providing their help is great because a lot of volunteers gather to do it there on their own, and they may need some extras donations. But I think it should be made centralised, not chaotic way. And a lot of people now provide informational support of what people can do, how they can help others.

I can contact my friends in informational resistance, asking them if there is a centralised database of organisations and communities that help and who may need those donations. I think that can be also very good way of support.

James Blatch: And we'll do our research as well and put some links below. Anton, it's been brilliant speaking to you. Our hearts go out to you and your family, particularly your brother in Kyiv still. And just thinking about Kharkiv and Mariupol, isn't it, in the south, which has been absolutely battered with horrific things going on.

You know that you have our support and our prayers. We hope there was something vaguely optimistic from Zelensky this morning about the peace talks. And that's all we can hope for is that Putin realises he needs a way out and something will happen soon. But in the meantime, we are here for you. Okay.

Anton Eine: Thank you very much. Thank you. And I really appreciate all the support I got during these days, and it's fantastic and very touching. Thank you.

James Blatch: I did forget to ask him how to pronounce his surname, Eine. But it probably is something else, but German for small, is that? I don't know. And that's Kleiner, isn't it? Eine is A, anyway.

Mark Dawson: That's me. I'm terrible with names.

James Blatch: There you go. Now, Mark, you are disadvantaged. You haven't had a chance to see the interview yet, but it's, even as a journalist, normally I speak to being interview people after an event. But at the moment, who knows what's going to happen in the next few weeks.

The west of the country, if you look at Ukraine, I think most people are aware of this. There's a line down the middle and the west of the country has been more or less left alone by Russia, as it stands at the moment. Particular cities, like Mariupol in the south, are being battered because Russia was already in the Crimea area and they're coming in from the north as well.

Kharkiv is another city that's undersiege. And of course, Kyiv is the big jewel for the big prize that Russia wants, if it continues, but nowhere is safe. And being with your family, your three year old son, even in Lviv, is terrifying at the moment what they're living under. It's like speaking to a historical figure from a war gone past. Air raids, threat of soldiers, the possibility in the next few weeks of him putting on combat jackets and being handed a gun. We talked about all of that. Incredible.

Mark Dawson: It is horrible and everyone, Lucy and I have been like everyone, we are no different from anybody else. We've been shocked. I found it very unsettling over the last month or so. And again, I'm not special. Everyone's feeling that way, but the government in the UK is very slowly, but we've got them in the end. We've opened up now so that it's easier for refugees to come in.

Lucy and I have agreed that we have a space and it's actually beneath where I'm recording this, a bedroom that you might be staying in on Friday, James.

James Blatch: Yes.

Mark Dawson: See, that we are prepared to take on a refugee and a family to get them here, if that's necessary. I don't know. I don't want to speak in too hopeful way. But what I'm reading this morning is that both sides seem to be getting a little bit closer to somewhere that they might be able to settle on.

Maybe, let's be really hopeful that in a week or two, maybe this horrible thing will all be over. But in the event that it isn't, we'd like to take one or maybe even two families, to give him somewhere safe. Because at the end of the day it's, I've got two little ones. I've got a 10 year old and an eight year old and they're both asking questions about it. Samuel's eight and he's asking about. He's not a fan of Putin now, as I suspect no one outside of Russia is. And Freya is 10, and she's asking questions. Actually, very excited about the prospect of having another child in the house that she might be able to help.

Everyone comes together in this. Well, we are privileged in tonnes of different ways, but we are very privileged in the sense that we have a big community of writers. And I knew that the response would be generous and openhearted. And that's absolutely proven to be true. You just see those books or see Anton's books shoot up the charts yesterday, from nowhere to being number one in lots of different categories.

That's just a testament to how kind this community. And it's not going to be a tonne of money for him, but it's not the point. I think it's so lovely that we can all, in a really small way perhaps, but it all just shows him and those he's with, that they're not forgotten him. And we're all thinking of them.

James Blatch: Yes, absolutely. And if you haven't got yourself a copy yet or put it onto a newsletter, we have set up that link, And there's a universal book link or a genius link on there. So that will send people to their various territories or set up your own link to that page.

It's interesting because when I talked to him about what we can do towards the end of the interview, we did talk about anti-tank weapons and stuff. Obviously, and I can't deliver those, but he said there are, you can imagine, suddenly every citizen in the Ukraine is very well aware of the precise nature of weapons and military hardware material that's going into the country from the west that's incredibly valuable to them. And they're very grateful.

But what can we do? And one of the things he said is there's 3 million people. Their families who've left the country will need somewhere to stay. That is definitely something that we can do in the west. And we are seeing what we can do as well. Probably not in our house here, unfortunately. But I do have access to a house with rooms in it of a close relative, and we are having discussions there. We'll see what we can do.

Good. Okay. Well, a special edition, rushed out. I want to say a huge thank you to the team. I've got one little admin note, which is, this is unrelated to Ukraine, but if you're interested in the podcast production process, I do get emailed fairly regularly by people asking what equipment we use and so on. I am actually on a podcast about making podcasts on March the 23rd. Chris Cookley has interviewed me. It's You can go and listen to that interview. And Chris, I think is a good person to follow if you are interested in getting into podcasting.

We'll speak to Anton again. I've absolutely no doubt about that. And I didn't say in thing on the interview, because it's just too far in the future, but if he's listening, if we can get you to London in June, Anton, you will be our special guest.

Mark Dawson: Yeah, I was thinking that myself. Absolutely.

Jams Blatch: We'll see what we can do. All right. Thank you very much indeed, team in the background for working so hard and diligently. And thank you to our special guest today, Anton Eine, out there in Lviv, in Ukraine. That's it. I'm not going to do the usual handoff. It's too jocular. Let's just say goodbye.

Mark Dawson: We always say goodbye. We say good luck to Anton. I hope stay safe. And if Anton needs any... If there's anything we can do. And also, I don't know, there's a very good chance we have other Ukrainian writers listening to this podcast. And I would extend the same offer to them as well. You can get us at [email protected] or just find us on Facebook.

Jams Blatch: That's it. Thanks, Mark. Bye-bye

Mark Dawson: Okay. Bye-bye.

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