Illustration of keyholes


Oleg Veretskiy

Oleg Veretskiy in an open field of sunflowers

The author celebrates his first book launch at the Art Hall in Odesa, Ukraine in November 2021, 3 months before the full-scale invasion.

I was born on May 26, 1975, in Odesa, Ukraine, the son of a high-rise builder and a mother who worked to help support the family. It was my father who instilled in me a love of books, bringing home many volumes every day. I wanted to read them, so as a four-year-old I decided to take matters into my own hands. One day I asked my father to teach me to read. My father drew the alphabet for me, sounded out the letters, and my learning process began.

The end of society as we knew it

After graduating from high school in 1993, I entered the Maritime University to become a naval engineer, but I quickly realized that I did not want to follow this path for the rest of my life.

During this decade, dramatic political and economic changes rocked Ukraine. We experienced the collapse of the Soviet Union and the beginning of independent Ukraine. The country seemed a complete mess (that period remains in my memory as the “crazy 90s”).

About that time, I wrote a series of short stories about my childhood in Soviet times called “Odesa of My Childhood.” I plan to re-publish these stories after the trilogy is finished.

After my children were born, I explored a real estate career and of course wrote a story about it: “The Profession That Doesn’t Exist.” Before the war began in 2014 was a time when I lost so much – including my father and mother from illnesses. Fortunately, my children inspired me and gave me strength to cope with it all. I turned to writing, which also helped in the healing process.

The healing power of writing

About then, the story for “Tales of the Wandering Mists” (Fairy Tale) came to life. It’s a story about a little girl who enters a magical world on a quest to save her ailing mother. I chose a little girl as the main character because children are interested in everything they see; they are sincere & fearless, they are real, they absorb knowledge like sponges. We adults determine whether they will absorb anger and hate, or the positive values of courage, friendship and human dignity. Children make quick decisions when they see someone in trouble. They do not hesitate. I have learned so much from these little heroes.

Ukrainian author Oleg Veretskiy, standing next to a beautiful sunflower.

A career is born

In addition to books, I began writing scripts for children’s interactive performances, which were successfully staged in different cities of Ukraine. And it was also a great experience for me: when you write text, poetry, when your characters come to life on stage, when they speak in your words, it’s a great responsibility. And you look into the audience and see how children perceive every word, every song, every poem. And how your heart flutters when they get up from their seats, hold hands and start dancing with the characters of the play (I still remember one of these performances in the city Berdiansk, when I had tears in my eyes).

In the fall of 2021, the first edition of my book was launched at the Art Hall in Odesa. About the same time, I founded the KPD Literary and Writing Club, which aimed to help people express their creativity, unleash their potential, and gain the belief that their thoughts and experiences can be interesting not only to themselves. We held the Club’s meetings in the Odesa Passage on the corner of Preobrazhenska and Deribasivska streets, and those were magical times.

All hell breaks loose

In January 2022, I received a commission for two scripts: one for children and one for an adult audience. We met with the actors and discussed the details. The night of February 23-24 is etched on my memory. I was working on the final scene of the children’s play, and I had fallen asleep a couple of hours before the first Russian missiles screamed toward Odesa and other cities in Ukraine.

And from that day on, life changed completely. My work in real estate was put on hold. My scripts were put on hold. My books were put on hold. Only the war remained.

From that first day, I tried to understand who I was and where I was amid this reality. I, a person who is absolutely peaceful and far from the army and politics, found myself in the middle of explosions and the suffering of ordinary people. My friends were dying, my relatives were suffering. Russians were inflicting atrocities. Every day the news was more nightmarish than the day before. There was the occupation of Kherson, Bucha, Irpin. There were terrible events at the front, bombings of peaceful cities, destruction of life and culture, unspeakable atrocities.

This video shows some of these Sentinels at the frontline expressing their appreciation for our support.

The greater good

But throughout the country also emerged brave souls who, like the Sentinel characters in my Fairy Tale, defended the world from the enemy invasion, day after day. It really seemed as if the Tale were some kind of prophecy.

Urged on by readers, I kept writing, as much as possible, even while joining the volunteer movement to provide support to civilians, animals, and our brave defenders on the front lines. My friends and I delivering water to Mykolaiv when the Russians cut off the city’s water supply. We created the “NAFO Odesa Squad” team, started helping people in the de-occupied territories of the Kherson region, and supporting the frontline defenders in any way we could.

I am grateful to all the good people in the world who support us every day, we feel it. And I’m grateful to my publisher, Pierce Press, and my translator, Marina Palenyy, who believed that my book should be published in English so that it could be shared with readers around the world.

More magic to come!

I hope you enjoy this first book, and I thank you from the depths of my heart for your support. The second and third parts of the Tales are ahead. And, believe me, everything will be fine. Because real miracles happen at every step. You just have to notice them in every drop of rain, in every ray of sunshine, in every child’s smile.