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Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Interview with Author Branka Cubrilo
what inspired you to write your latest book?
wrote a short story “Pia’s Poem” and the character, a mysterious young woman
never left me alone. She had a much more complex and longer story to tell me
than the one I had fit into a short tale. When I obeyed her plea one early
morning and sat at my desk ready to hear what she had to say, she started to
narrate a story I knew from a long time ago. She was just a catalyst for my
memory to take me down the path of the history of two powerful families - three
generations back, to their uprising, their political influence and might,
numerous misdeeds and their inevitable fall, through their journey of peace and
war, love and hate, bitter revenge and ultimately - loss.
do you hope the reader will be left with after consuming it?
reader will be left with deep thoughts about their own choices, their own
existence and the awareness that every choice has its own consequences that can
shape lives. I want the reader to think about the importance of ideas and what
they’re worth, on a social conscience level and on their own personal and
spiritual level. The reader will be confronted with questions about one’s
nationality – is that pride and feeling of belonging yet another way of
manipulating emotions and minds for someone else’s interests and gains?
challenges did you overcome to pen it?
greatest challenge was the thought that I might be called out as someone who
dared to portray the truth about the war in ex-Yugoslavia in a very different
way. In my view it was portrayed in a fairly balanced and objective way, as I
am a writer who writes without mixing my own emotions in the story or taking
sides. I am a passive but honest observer and interpreter of a period of time
which I witnessed myself. It wasn’t distant history that I learned only from
history books, but it was something that I had witnessed. Though it is not a tale
of war, there are chapters where my character went to war with prejudices. His
awakening was a bitter pill that he had to swallow, as many did!
challenge for me is writing in English, as I am not a native English speaker. I
love English and the challenge to express myself in a different language.
do you love about writing books?
I have been writing books for the past 30 years and so far, I have published 8
novels and just finished my second book of short stories. I write in two
languages and I do translate my own work. I love the feeling of creating
stories, someone’s life and destiny, I love that creative process when I am in
control of every word and comma, yet I love that helpless feeling when I
understand that the character has decided to disobey and show their own will,
takes that control out of my hand and leads me through unknown avenues. I love
that wonderment – Where are we going and what’s next? I love and hate that
anticipation and anxiety when the book comes out – How is it going to be
received? I love everything about writing books!
advice for struggling authors?
A writer needs sound knowledge of the topic they are writing about, hence
good research is needed, talent, daily practice of their art and lots of
discipline. If you put all those ingredients together, you still need a good
portion of luck. Well-established writers follow their own pattern and
associations, while new, aspiring writers, probably need some advice. It isn’t
easy to give advice to anyone – as there are so many aspiring writers who
consider writing to be an easy task, but it isn’t, really. Especially when it
comes to something ‘deep and meaningful’, one has to be in tune with one’s own
being, well read, well informed and equipped with all sorts of worldly experiences
not to mention great imagination. If someone really aches to be a writer, then
one must count on many rejections, which means developing a strong, steady
character, and not taking everything too personally.
For the novice: weigh it, then put your heart where you think it yearns to be
and sharpen your tools; we are always delighted when a new, well-written story
or writer dawns.
trends do you see in your genre?
never really know how to answer a question in regard to my genre. I don’t
really think I stick to any type of genre to be honest. I think the more writing
and literature progress, we see a blurring of genres, and we lose more of the
rigid structures of genre. I think my own writing has some very similar themes
as the undercurrent throughout my books, but I can’t really say what trends are
people buy only one book this spring, why should it be yours?
has everything in it: it is a historical novel covering some episodes of WWII
and some episodes of the recent civil war in ex-Yugoslavia; there is an unusual
love story with an absolutely uncertain journey; there is lots of mystery as
well in the book as the protagonists are dispersed all over the world in search
of a ‘better life’ or just because of pure adventure. The characters are varied
and situated in different parts of the world, from the shores of the Adriatic
to London, Sydney and Japan; they clash, mingle, love and hate one another as
they all struggle in their search for their place in a world that seems so
broken. Naturally, not everything is quite so bleak, but it is a fast-paced
novel with many twists and turns, and with moments that make you cry and laugh