Interview with Alina Rubin, Author of “A Girl with a Knife”

Frank Brichetto

Your Chicago Correspondent

June 10, 2022

Interview with Alina Rubin, Author of “A Girl with a Knife”

Alina Rubin has written a book. It took her exactly one year to write, re-write, edit and publish her manuscript.  The result, “A Girl with a Knife” is very good, so good that it’s a Finalist of the Soon To Be Famous Illinois Author Manuscript Contest.  The Ukrainian born IT analyst, wife, mom, and now author, is already working on her second novel. I don’t know how she fits it all in, but she does and agreed to meet to discuss her life and her work. Our talk rambled on for over an hour, touching on various subjects in no particular order, so this post has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Her family moved from Ukraine in 1991, shortly after the breakup of the USSR. Her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, so Alina’s great-grandmother, who was already living in the US, sponsored them so that she could get better medical treatment than what was available in Ukraine. Her Jewish parents also found their careers limited by their religion, so her father, a trained and educated engineer, was seeking better opportunities for himself and his family and found them here. Her mom did not survive her breast cancer and passed in 1994. Her father also died at a young age, and she was raised by her maternal grandparents.

She grew up, went to school, began her career in IT and has progressed to an analyst position with a large, local corporation. She also met her husband, Vitaly, who is a chemist. They were married in 2002 and they have a daughter, 10-year-old Elanna. Alina enjoys hiking, yoga and traveling.

When the Covid-19 lock-downs and work-from-home orders came about, she found herself with several extra hours each day that weren’t spent in the car. After a few months of watching TV series set during the Napoleonic Wars, then binge reading similar novels, she started dreaming and thinking about writing her own. She started writing and found that the processes of writing a historical novel were both challenging and fulfilling.

“Writing is an adventure”, she told me. She described how the course of the story changed as she learned more about England in the early 1800s, well before germ theory was acceptable, or even testable with the tools of the time. Diseases were believed to be caused by exposure to “miasma”, bad vapors that somehow created diseases. Hospitals were therefore unsanitary, doctors and nurses worked with unwashed bare hands, and patients frequently died of infection not related to their diseases at all. Alina directed me to a particular book that was key to her research; “The Butchering Art”, by Lindsey Fitzharris, wherein she learned that it wasn’t until 1850 that Dr. Lister (of “Listerine” fame) succeeded in making cleanliness a hospital priority.

Through the course of discovering all of this, Alina was developing her characters, giving them each a distinctive voice and manner (no small accomplishment for any novelist). She originally intended to ignore the ban on women doctors and write Ella as a female doctor. But since women were expressly forbidden from medical school at that time, that premise seemed too unbelievable, so she went back and re-wrote everything, disguising Ella as “Alan Parker”, and the story now concludes just as Ella and her schoolmate and best friend, Oliver, finish medical school and begin to plan their futures. The chronical of these intense two years is entitled “A Girl with a Knife” and is available on Amazon, in paperback or Kindle versions.

The novel evolved into the first of a series, entitled “Hearts and Sails” with the second volume well underway. With her obvious talent and thorough research and attention to detail, I have no doubt that the entire series will be a success.

Her book can be found here:


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