If you are an American, the chances are good you know little, if anything, about the eastern Russian city of Magadan.
But if you’re a Russian of a certain age, you would think of it as a remote place where dissidents were sent to live under Stalin.
"I decided, I’m not going to set my stories in some random cold, isolated Russian town," says Melnik. "I’m actually going to set them in Magadan, because I can do some research, and I can try to paint a portrait of this very specific, very unusual, unique place that I have this connection to."
Melnik immigrated to the United States as a teenager, and now lives in El Paso, Texas, where she joins us via Skype from Anchorage, Alaska.