Writing pulled me back from the dead. I wanted to kill myself, one foot in the grave, gazing in, longingly, but my therapist said, “No. Don’t do it. Write.” So I did, and that unlocked something, something that soon became a torrent. My native Russian ceded to English and I felt like I’ve found my language, like it was safe to tell my stories in it. In 1998 I fled Moscow, Russia, fled the past and the pain and the filth. Therapy is what writing is to me. Dark beginnings to happiness. Can you call it a career? I don’t know. I call it life. 


Ksenia was born in Moscow, Russia, and came to US in 1998 not knowing English, having studied architecture, and not dreaming that one day she'd be writing. She lives in Seattle with her partner and their combined three kids in a house that they like to call The Loony Bin.

Before quitting her career in 2012 to write full-time, an entrepreneur and social media marketer by trade, Ksenia helped clients establish social media presence as a consultant and ran her start-up Lilipip for 5 years, a company that created animated explanation videos. Ksenia's been named one of the 100 Top Women in Seattle Tech and Geek of the Week of Seattle PI.


The first stories I wrote, I wrote in my head. I was five, maybe six. At the time I didn’t know that’s what it was called, “writing stories.” I was escaping reality. I got very good at it. I could stay in my head for days while my body performed whatever it needed to perform, or was hurt, or was neglected. Later, in my teens, I started writing a diary and in it, poetry. It was a way to express pain, thoughts of death and suicide that I couldn’t tell anyone lest I’d be laughed at so I kept them to myself.

At eighteen I became a mother and forgot all about writing and returned to it nine years later. My grandmother died. I was breastfeeding my son and my international passport was outdated and I couldn’t leave US to go to Russia to the funeral and the grief, the helplessness of it all was agony. I had to get rid of it somehow so I wrote a story about a little girl and her grandmother getting lost in the woods and the grandmother dying and the girl finding a tree of life. I turned it into a screenplay and directed and produced a 20-minute movie. It was bad. Screenwriting wasn’t my medium. I put it aside and got busy being a mother.

Six years later chronic pelvic pain and doctors’ bafflement as to what was wrong brought me back to writing. My therapist told me to journal, to write out the memories, to reprocess them, put them to rest. I did, and it opened a flood. Perhaps I was finally ready to face the horrors stored in my head. They were always there, carefully hidden. They wanted to get out. They insisted. I acquiesced.

I quit my career, sold everything of value I owned, and started writing full-time.

My first trilogy deals with teenage suicide. It gathered considerable interest but in the end every agent turned it down due to the dark and often explicit content. I self-published it and wrote three more novels, self-published them, and am in the process of writing my fourth, fifteen more outlined to be written in the next seven years.

Writing became my lifeline.

In my trilogy I left my e-mail and a plea to anyone who thinks of ending their life to contact me, talk to me. Many readers—many of them teenagers—did. Still do. Every time it happens, my heart sinks. I ask them for their stories and later fold them into mine to let them be known, fictionalized, of course. Always. Always anonymous. That is the purpose of my writing, the philosophy, the underlying concept or drive or whatever other fancy word is appropriate here. I’m still clumsy with fancy words, still having trouble with abstract expression in English, it being my second language, but I seem to have no trouble expressing emotions that often come with isolation, suppressed anger, trauma, split personality as a way of dealing with abuse, numbness, the desire to self-mutilate, depression, and detachment. My books became not just my lifeline. They became the lifeline for others.

That is why I write, to make beauty from ugliness, art from pain, happiness from darkness.

Writing gave me the will to live after badly wanting to die. I only wish that when I was five, or six, concocting those stories in my head, that someone guided me, someone explained to me that it was called “writing stories.” And so it is my hope that I can do this for others, for those who are lost and hurt and disillusioned, those who have no trust and no faith and no love for themselves because all they know is self-hate. If I manage to turn around at least one life, it’ll be worth it for me to keep living, keep giving voice to those who gave up on it and encouraging them to start writing on their own.