Viktor Kowalski: It is easier to write in tandem. Thankfully, I am constituted of multiple personalities
Tina je reporterski izašla na teren, ulovila Viktora Kowalskog i napravila razgovor koji nije stvaran. Bar ne na način na koji smo navikli.
Fantastika nikad nije bila moj žanr. Čemu zamišljati nepostojeće svjetove kad je ovaj naš već dovoljno čudan i zanimljiv? Realizam mi opija dušu, svakodnevni ljudi i njihove brige i radosti. Sva ta bića, vile, zmajevi ili – još gore – svemir, vanzemaljci, ma što li već (osjećam kako se diže kosa na glavi svim ljubiteljima i poznavaocima žanra) nikad me nisu mogli osvojiti. Međuzemlje, Avalon, Kraljev Grudobran… Molim vas.
Jedino što mi je gore od čitanja fantastike jest čitanje na engleskom jeziku. Hrvatski volim, hrvatski živim i ne mogu se uživjeti kada čitam nestručne tekstove na engleskom pa sve da mi život o tome ovisi (vidim pomahnitalu rulju kako baca stvari u mom smjeru). Da, vrlo sam usamljena u toj čitalačkoj navici/odluci.
Kako sam se onda zatekla radeći intervju s Viktorom Kowalskim, autorom uspješnice Madmen all the same, koji piše fantastiku na engleskom jeziku? Odgovor je jednostavan i očekivan – Viktor je neopisivo zgodan, pa sam, zatekavši se na predstavljanju ranije spomenute knjige u Narodnoj čitaonici, zgrabila priliku da mu se približim. Odjednom sam i sama poželjela upoznati dotad neistražene svjetove, baciti prsten u Mordor, igrati metloboj, boriti se za kuću Stark, družiti se sa Spockom, reći Lukeu tko mu je otac i šta ti ja znam šta. ☺Ah, prijetvornosti, ime ti je Žena!
Pročitala sam nekoliko uvodnih rečenica knjige, pravila se oduševljenom, obukla najljepšu haljinu koju posjedujem i našla se s Viktorom jednog ljetnog predvečerja na piću. Ali hej – nije Viktor od jučer i ne mogu ga smesti jeftini ženski trikovi, pa mi je na moja pitanja odgovarao na engleskom i vrlo brzo shvatio da sam od knjige vidjela samo naslovnicu. Jao, propast, završila sam kao Sean Bean u svakoj svojoj ulozi, Viktor je samo prezirno otišao na kraju intervjua, ostavivši me da sama platim račun.
Zaključak je jasan – nitko se ne igra s Viktorom Kowalskim! Njegovo ime ne izgovara ni sam Voldemort, njega se ni Martin ne bi usudio ubiti! Srećom, uspjela sam zabilježiti dijelove intervja koje vam donosim u nastavku. Uživajte, čitajte, svakako nabavite njegovu knjigu i – nikada se nemojte pretvarati da ste nešto što niste.
Viktore, ako ovo čitaš – nazovi me!
(P.S. Uvod i intervju s Viktorom nisu stvarni. Viktor je zapravo dvije osobe – Vedran Božičević i Teo Kos, a više o samoj knjizi kao i autorima možete pronaći na http://viktorkowalski.com/ )
Predstavi nam malo sebe, tko si, čime se baviš, radiš/studiraš…?
My name is Viktor Kowalski, and humbly put, I am a gentleman renowned for his expertise in the noble field of writing, as well as a savant in literature and a supreme arbiter of taste, whose affluent knowledge in these matters is rivaled only by the most exalted scholars and similar personages.
At times, I certainly feel like there are multiple persons contained within me, each with divulging interests, pulling their own way; the situation being so, I can take up many vocations and pick up several highly diverse studies, all at once. My current place of higher education is the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka, where I am striving to become an erudite polytechnician, with a keen interest in the science of computers. I think of the children, naturally, and therefore aspire to become a teaching specialist for theoretical and practical subjects in vocational schools; that is, an educator and mentor to the younglings whose aim is to bring about a better world. Meanwhile, in the Polytechnic of Rijeka, a higher education institution, I have enrolled in the Professional Study of Entrepreneurship to help me further my chances of achieving my life-long dream, which is to possess money. Large quantities of it.
My other interests, besides art, abound: philosophy, psychology, a bit of politics, social studies, religion even, spirituality... but that, alas, is the subject matter of a conversation destined for another time. Closest to my heart, the one activity where I excel the most and find myself at my best, is the noble occupation of wordsmithing.
Kada ti se i kako rodila ideja za pisanjem knjige?
Ah! Now the distant tides of memories crash against the shores of the conscious mind, and in these fleeting moments of remembrance I recall the many notable events in my life which have nursed and kindled the passion I had from the earliest age: the passion of creation and artistic expression.
As a mere schoolboy, I have dabbled in the comic books, drawn by a child’s unsteady hand and written with mostly infantile wit, with an occasional moment of mature brilliance which to this day brings a chuckle to my lips. Later, I have replaced the creation of comic books with that of penning screenplays. This affinity persisted, blooming and maturing into what it is today: the writing of prose, and in time, I hope, even poetry.
The specific moment in question, when the idea of writing became something actual and of substance, was after I had read a particularly abhorrent novel set in the Warhammer 40, 000 universe so dear to me. Since I truly am no debased scoundrel, I shall not stoop so low as to give name to the author in question, and thus bring what little remains of his reputation tumbling down. Let it only be known that the man should not be allowed to take up the pen ever again, which to my knowledge he thankfully hasn’t, and that every copy of this particular novel of his should be thrown into the blazing pyre to be consumed and obliterated utterly, with the ashes scattered to the four winds to be swept away into oblivion and far from the eyes of the poor unsuspecting reader. Ahem, yes…. It seems I digress. In any case, after reading the said horrific novel, I raised a significant finger in the air, and cried out: “Well, this here sure is a monstrosity! But, if such subpar excrement of words has been judged worthy for publication by the editors and the publishers… well, damn me if I don’t try it myself, only much better!”
And so I did.
Čitaš li i privatno fantastiku, je li ti to omiljeni žanr? Kakve knjige voliš čitati, imaš li omiljenu knjigu?
My private library is truly vast and diverse, albeit the majority of it is now in electronic form for although I have once counted myself among the staunch supporters of the paper novel; I have now come to embrace the advent of new technologies, such as that of the electronic book.
I indulge in fiction and non-fiction alike. In fiction, I take most delight in the realms of fantasy and science-fiction. However, I won’t shy from a well-written drama as well. Let us say I am a man of many tastes. I can enjoy mindless action romps, as well as deep and contemplative pieces, and like them equally for what they are.
My favorite writer and poet is Robert E. Howard, Conan’s creator and the father of the sword & sorcery genre and a truly fascinating individual. A note to all – read Robert E. Howard! It will do wonders for your soul. Among my favorites I also count the masters of short stories, Anton Chekhov and H. H. Munro aka Saki. Then there’s Oscar Wilde and his unsurpassed wit; Jack London, known mostly for his dog adventures but in reality a jack of all trades; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who should be renowned for so much more than just his Sherlock Holmes yarns; H. P. Lovecraft, the absolute master of cosmic horror, and in his other moments when age-old daemonic gods were not involved, beauty of poetic expression; just to name a few more: Robert W. Chambers, Marjorie Bowen, C. L. Moore, Arthur Machen, …
Amongst the ranks of the more modern writers, I admire George R. R. Martin profoundly, not only for his celebrated A Song of Fire & Ice saga, but his novellas and short stories which are truly wonderful. Dan Abnett is another criminally underrated name, probably one of the better science fiction authors of this day and age. Stanislaw Lem and his Solaris; Robert A. Heinlein with Starship Troopers and his other works; C. L. Werner, who makes both the fantasy and the sci-fi universes of Warhammer a better place; I must mention the group of authors to which I’m indebted for keeping the beloved weird fiction genre alive: Thomas Ligotti, Laird Barron, Simon Strantzas, … and last but not least, Nic Pizzolatto.
Regarding non-fiction, I cannot give enough praise to the works of Robert Anton Wilson, who should have been given a Nobel Prize for intelligence. Man and His Symbols from Carl Gustav Jung is also required reading.
I think that should suffice for now.
Kako izgleda tvoj proces pisanja?
My writing process is rather simple, really. I am usually inspired by something that appears trivial – a song, a sentiment, perhaps a line I read in a certain publication, a sentence or an off-hand comment made by someone in my vicinity… a vague idea then forms in my head. However much I would like to say that from there on it is, as they say, a breeze – I cannot, for then I would be telling lies. I confess to struggle with bringing about the details of the main story, or, to put it allegorically, to put the flesh around the bones. I am very self-critical of my work, and therefore each yarn I write undergoes several revisions at least… occasionally, the number of revision soars into the two-digit area.
Misliš li ponekad da bi ti bilo lakše da pišeš udvoje? Jesi li razmišljao o nekoj suradnji?
Of course, it is easier to write in tandem. Thankfully, I – Viktor Kowalski – am constituted of multiple personalities, and I utilize them to work in unison and to complement one another. Kowalski #1 puts something to the paper, and forwards it to Kowalski #2. Back and forth, back and forth goes the correspondence, and through this process the manuscript takes a rough form which. The last part before publication is the polishing: trimming or thickening of the material, depending on the need, re-arranging sentences, substituting some phrases, or shuffling certain words around to achieve the desired effect on the reader.
Kako to da si se odlučio pisati na engleskom jeziku?
Ah, again, a very simple reason: I did it for the money, which, if you recall, I dream of possessing. To put it succinctly, the English market is much larger than the domestic, and thus the chance of achieving fame and fortune increases substantially. But in truth, that’s only half of the reason. In addition, the English language is indeed the most proper of all languages on this Earth.
Jesi li ikad razmišljao o pseudonimu?
As a matter of fact, I have, indeed. And also as a matter of fact, I use a pseudonym, an avatar of sorts to be the middleman between the real Viktor Kowalski and the general public. The use of pen-name is purely because of practical reasons. You see, even though the English language reigns supreme, that cannot be said for some of the people who speak it. Even in the fairest countries of all, Great Britain, there are individuals whose mental capacities are sometimes limited. And just as most people cannot read the pictorial writings of Chinamen, nor pronounce their names, so the English folk struggle with the real names of the entities that make up Viktor Kowalski. To remedy this unfortunate affair, the name ‘Viktor Kowalski’ was coined.
The ‘k’ in the name – that is, Viktor instead of the bastardized form, Victor – gives off a whiff of that aforementioned class and elegance. The meaning of the name is significant: in Latin, it means ‘champion’ or ‘winner’. Now, the last name Kowalski hints of Eastern Europe, the one part which is familiar to English-speaking people – namely, Poland. It is a Polish last name, meaning ‘blacksmith’. It also helped that Clint Eastwood, the Man with a capital ‘M’, was Walt Kowalski in the film Gran Torino; also, Kowalski was the rebel driver in the masterpiece Vanishing Point. So, it seemed to me that cool and awesome and gentlemen were named Kowalski, and therefore the choice.
Koliko priča odbaciš jer nisi zadovoljan s njima? Ili odlučiš objaviti sve što si napisao?
I never toss or completely discard any yarn of mine. Naturally, I am not always satisfied to the fullest with what I have written. Such yarns – let’s call them “inferior” for want of a better term – are not scrapped, however, but merely put aside for a revision which will come at a later date, when I have advanced my wordsmithing skills. Madmen All The Same, which is my first every collection of short stories, is made up of just a small percentage of my overall literary output. The selection of stories to be included in the collection was based mostly on the desired mood I wished to feature in the said work. Sadly, that meant that many a gripping yarn had to be left out, not because it wasn’t of satisfactory quality, but simply because it didn’t fit the collection’s theme. I have in mind, at a certain point in time, to publish those tales, too; in addition, I am producing new and exciting yarns all the time, so there will always be plenty of material to choose from for publication.
Koja ti je najdraža priča iz ove zbirke?
Choosing a favorite from the collection is a delicate task, given the diversity of the yarns contained therein. But if I were forced to pick, I would choose The Thing in the Dark. I think it is one of the best because the end result is probably the closest to what I actually wanted to achieve when setting forth to write it. On the other hand, Dead Man’s Hate is my other favorite because of its utter pulp-like simplicity. Oh, and Behind the Silver Veil. The verbosity and eloquence in that piece simply astounds me!
Koju bi priču preporučio za čitanje nekomu tko nikada nije čuo za tebe?
Seeing as my own favorite picks weren’t that well received by readers, I would probably recommend The Curse of the Red-Handed God, or perhaps The Missing Fox. For some baffling reason beyond the comprehension of my usually quite astute faculties, these seem to be the favorites of the public.
Koji bi savjet dao nekome tko, poput tebe, piše u fantasy žanru?
Advice, eh? First of all, read good literature. This is absolutely crucial. Then, try to copy that same good literature. Finally, when you are more or less apt at copying, adapt it to your own personal style. You take a few tidbits from everyone: writer A is proficient in vividly evoking settings and atmosphere, writer B just does these marvelous fighting scenes, writer C excels at character development, and so on. So you take some of A, add a little B, mix it up with C, weave it together with your own touch – and voila! You are not just a writer, but a damn good writer!
You know, it is not just a coincidence my own writing style resembles Robert E. Howard’s or Lovecraft’s… ahem.
Heed the warning, though! Choose your influences carefully. It won’t do you any good to copy from a two-bit hack. To avoid this pitfall, start with some of the Lords of Language I had mentioned earlier. Cannot go wrong with them.