Interview with Kunavi The Writer

When did you first start writing?
I first began writing when I was seven, eight or nine years old. I don't remember exactly. Then I decided to become a writer and wrote my first story. Unfortunately it has not survived to this day, I lost it, but I remembered the plot, so I restored it while writing my first book The Alphabet of Childhood, because I wanted to put this whole story into the book. The characters of the story were different and I changed them to doves and crows, because the dove together with the rainbow is my literary symbol. This is the first book I’ve published on Smashwords.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I’ve just said a bit about that. But I can add more. Writing The Alphabet of Childhood and restoring this White Dove book, I was living "at the end of the Universe". This is how I call a place where I lived at that time. It was one of these dangerous blocks at the very end of Saint Petersburg (some can call it a real "ghetto"). After my house there was just a couple of ones more and then - the end of the city. Just one building was between my house and Neva River and the River Port on the opposite side of embankment - it was always windy there. It was dangerous to walk there at night, so I usually did not. I was sitting in my room in the apartment, which I rented with two other people, writing all the days, not going outside for two-three days. Then - to the supermarket to buy some food and back again to my chair, table, laptop and tons of draft, papers and ideas in my head. I had no Internet. All connections with the world were limited. I was struggling restoring the story and I didn't like how it was going. I had a dove as a symbol for many years before, but I never meant to use it as the main character of my story. And what was more important - I didn't have an antagonist, the enemy. And one day I heard the crows croaking loudly on the trees just outside my window. To say, I heard them many days before that. I hated them, because they started croaking early in the morning when I was still having a deep sleep and continued all the day. I like silence. Especially while I'm writing. I have no radio or TV at home. And it was like a crow's kingdom. It was like this crow's nest from my story. The whole block was like that nest full of crows. I guess they came from the big park not far away. And I was like a little white dove who left his parents' home and decided to start living on his own for the first time in his life searching for freedom. And then this idea came to my mind - crows are enemies of doves. Eureka! Then I made some research about this question and it was really like that. In most western cultures crows are symbols of everything bad and doves are symbols of everything good. And so I wrote this story. I even bought the same squared notebook of green cover which I used to write in when I was a child.
What do your fans mean to you?
Ah... I'm not sure I have funs already. Let's return to this question later. But fans are everything for the writer. I dream to have some fans which will really like my work and not these fans which just follow the market.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have Nook Simple Touch. I like it. I prefer paper books, because it's the whole another level of reading, but when I travel, I can't take books with me, I take just my favorite one, so Nook is perfect. Also like I said I'm using it for some texts which are out of print and you can have them only in an electronic form. It's like with iPod. At home I prefer to put the same old CD. But in travel it's better to have an mp3 player. I just saw a man in the train, still listening a CD player. It was fantastic! I can't do it anymore while I'm on travel.
How do you approach cover design?
My main approach is that book cover should be well looking. It's a very important part of the book. It's like a face of a man. If you don't care about your face (I mean authors who don't care about covers), how then you can share with people something what is inside of you. I don't know... I don't like when designers put things on book covers, like a pen or a cattle or a leaf. I mean when it looks like in reality. I think it's silly. And what covers I like the most? Oh it's easy to answer. I like when a cover of the book is a good photo of some real place or object. Like in English and American traditions of designing books. And there should be a good not too big title and the authors' name. Actually, I like CDs covers the most. And I like when it's the same with the books. Many of rap and hip hop covers are good. Or folk rock. This is what inspires me in making my own covers. But of course the book design is something not the same as music albums' design. In general, I like modern covers more than the old ones.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is absolutely just one simple thing - freedom. It makes me free. This is who I am – a writer. I started as a musician, I could be a cyclist if my parents had to send me to the cycling sports club or still work in advertising, but this is not me. Of course I want to have money from my writings, but it's not my goal to make money. I write to feel that I'm alive, because in this way - putting words on paper, creating ideas - I feel the life itself, my life and nobody's else. And of course I have some little joys like typing, paper and pens, great books both in its content and design, my laptop finally.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Nizhny Novgorod - closed city during the Soviet times 450 km from Moscow. Nizhny in Russian means Lower. Because we have another Novgorod in Russia which is now called the Great Novgorod. What influence in had on my writing? It's not easy to answer. From one side, no influence. The city is not so artistic. The most famous writer from Nizhny Novgorod is Maxim Gorky, but I don't like his writings at all and him as a person. He was under Stalin, not a free man. I was born in St. Petersburg and I more appreciate this city according to literature, because so many-many great writers, musicians, painters, philosophers, scientists were born and lived... and died there. From another side, I decided to become the writer in Nizhny Novgorod, but not in Saint Petesburg. I began to write in Nizhny. All main idead which I still use in my creation, came to my mind in Novgorod. Maybe because of the fact that I began to write in province where it's boring and quite, my imagination worked well and I created my own world.
What is your writing process?
I once wrote something like "Ten Rules of my Writing". Let me check it...
1. I never write on squared paper, only lined or pure one. I hate squared paper since school, because this is a type of paper we used for algebra and geometry, physics and chemistry... I'm not good at hard science.
2. Mostly I like to write ideas on paper and I write them in the computer only if it's a long thought.
3. I never write by hand big texts, only typing, because my handwriting is terrible: small letters, hard to understand something...
4. I never write in Word or Open Office. I write only in Notepad (I have Windows), because it has minimum of bottoms and menus. So it's like a typing machine. Word or Open Office with all these bottoms I don't need make me crazy. I need to have a clear space for my writings. I also use only one font to write – Courier New. Also because it's similar to typing machine.
5. I don't make paragraphs in the beginning. The first draft of the book or any text is like one big thought. Only after I finished writing I put paragraphs to make text readable. And I don't like too many paragraphs in the text. Come on, writers! Let your thoughts be a little bit longer, don't jump from one line to another in the text. It's not a stair. Writing is a couple of big hills you need to climb or get down. It's a long way.
6. Only after the book is finished, I put it in Word and make editing there.
7. I have three or four levels of editing: artistic, grammatical, stylistic... So I read text some times looking only at one aspect of the text at the same time.
8. I make book covers by myself. At least the idea of it. I like that so much! Sometimes it's difficult to find an idea, but when it is found, it's like a miracle. The book cover is very important to me. Like I said before, it's like a face of a man.
9. Finally, I make a pdf or epub file of my book, it depends on the goals. If somebody wants to print my book on his/her computer, they need to have a good readable pdf file. If somebody wants epub, they need a good epub. It's not like you have a text in some form and just send it to your readers.
10. That's it. The book is ready.
I can add that I like to write in the mornings, when your head is clear and has no influence of the world, when it's fresh from the dream, but I can also stay with the book till the late night if I'm really in the book and just can't leave my thoughts half finished. To write ideally I need a very ascetic furniture: just a table and a chair (no armchairs, no writing in the bed!) and atmosphere (no silly posters in the room, etc.). Everything should be very simple. But I like to have things which inspire me to write such as books of other writers, my notebooks around, pens and papers, CDs, even my Nook.
Describe your desk
Right now there is a laptop, a lamp, two postcards showing lavanda flowers and some hills of Provence, south of France, a timetable of the local bus company, a black Pentel (Japan) pen, two dictionaries (Russian-Spanish and vice-versa), and papers with Italian words and phrases I need to learn (so many languages, yeap!), two books: one is Gleanings in Buddha Fields by Lafcadio Hearn (not started to read yet, but the book is well designed, 1927 edition) about Japan and Sahara by Jasmine Viguier - a French author... and a black Moleskine of a regular size of soft cover - my only favorite one. Yeah, and case for my glasses and a bottle of water. That's it.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Nope. I don't remember. But I remember my mom read me The Wizard of Oz (in Russian translation). That was my favorite book in childhood. I even have a photo of that special moment. I learned to read very hard. Until 6 years old I couldn't read and I learned to read only at school.
What do you read for pleasure?
Only non fiction. I don't like and don't read fiction. Some exceptions can be only if a novel is autobiographical. Like The Catcher in the Rye, for example. Or some others. Books about travels are always interesting. I enjoyed Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell, The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin, Travels WIth Charley by John Steinbeck, Green Hills of Africa by Hemingway and books like these.
Who are your favorite authors?
If we don't count my favorite philosophers, I never had favorite author before the last year when I discovered Mariusz Wilk - a polish author living for the last twenty years in the Russian north: on Solovky Islands and in Karelia. This is my homeland, the north, that I haven't seen so much, so I was very interested to learn how it is to live there. And now this is my favorite writer. He's like me. He writes only non fiction. I appreciate it very much. He had book translated in English and it supposed to be the best one (because I'm not sure, I haven't read it, it's out of print in Russia). It called "The Journals of a White Sea Wolf". Check it out.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I don't have favorite books. My favorite philosopher is Seneca, so all of his works. Why? Because I'm a stoic in my mind and nature. And as I have just said my favorite author is Mariusz Wilk. All of his books. Because he writes about traveling in a special way like no other writers do. I liked many books, but the favorite ones I think are the books that you want to read again. And I read again only these two. Maybe I can add here also a Michel Montaighe with his "Essays". This book also had a big impact on me and I'm glad to return to this book from time to rime.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on a project of 4 or maybe 5 books called "The Slogger Narratives". I don't like series, but it's going to be a series, because I have too many materials for just one book. They’re books on three topics: 1. about doing different kind of jobs and difference between work and labor, 2. about hiking and the trails or paths as a symbol of the way of life, but also about riding bicycle, because I like both, 3. about traveling and living in other countries, about people, traditions, myths and legends, games people play or jokes they say... The first book in this series called "The Trail I Paved. Four Seasons in a Mountain Village in the North of Italy", so don't miss it when I publish it on Smashwords and Amazon during 2014.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The day itself. We are creatures of this Earth like animals and trees, oceans, mountains, forests and deserts, everything the rest. When it's a night outside we go to sleep. When it's a day we need to get up and to do something. I only don't like to get up in winter when it's dark and cold. I like to wake up with the sun, because I think this is the right way, the way of nature, you know, flowers do the same. So just the sun.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
See previous question. I like hiking and cycling a lot. Listening to music, watching movies, reading books, traveling, meeting people...
Published 2015-04-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.