Moscow native J.M. Sidorova adhered to a time-honored routine while working on The Age of Ice: “Research, research, research—write. Repeat.”

The result is a romantic, historical thriller laced with fantasy about Alexander and Andrei Velitsyn, fictional twins born in a real-life palace constructed entirely of ice in St. Petersburg in the 1940s. When Alexander learns that his body is immune to the cold, he embarks on a globe-spanning quest to learn the truth behind his condition.

“At the very beginning, I made a pact with myself that I would adhere to actual historical events as much as possible,” says Sidorova. “For me, this made Alexander more credible, and it turned out to be remarkably gratifying because at every turn, it seemed as if historical facts answered my needs. For example, when I needed Alexander to go on an Arctic expedition, not only was there one actually taking place at the right time, but it was also well-documented by three independent eyewitness accounts.”

The ambitious scope of The Age of Ice caught the eye of Scribner editor Paul Whitlatch, who received it from Seth Fishman at the Gernert Company. Whitlatch says, “I get excited when authors go outside themselves and pick a far-off person, setting, or problem that fascinates them, and craft a novel around it. It doesn’t hurt that Julia is both an immigrant and a biologist.”

Rights have been sold in Russian, and film/TV rights have been optioned by Boris Yeltsin (grandson of the late Russian president) and D. Matt Geller.