Saturday, December 14, 2013

Eva Stachniak Chooses Her Own Adventure Interview!

CYOAI is an interview series with authors, where I send them 10 random questions, and ask them to answer whichever they feel inspired to tackle.  The questions are generally about the author's opinions and personal experiences, but are meant to be light-hearted and a window into a person's creative nature. 

This month's interview features Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace! A big thank you to Eva for humouring me in answering my questions!  Let's see what Eva’s answers were!

What's your first book/reading/writing-related memory?
I must be four years old. I’m in Wroclaw, Poland, holding a book of fairy tales my mother used to read to me from. I leaf though the pages until my eyes catch one title and I realize that I can not only recognize the letters, one by one, but I can string them together: *Braciszek i siostrzyczka — Brother and sister*, the title of one of Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

I will never forget the thrill of knowing I can read by myself.

Have you ever gotten a book hangover from a book?  If so, which one?
It happens very often to me. My first “book hangover” was with *Pipi Longstocking* by Astrid Lindgren. For days I could not read anything else, and that’s saying a lot about a voracious reader. I recall forcing my brother to play Pipi’s games, like getting around the room without touching the floor. It involved jumps from table to sofa, then to our bed, climbing on top of a wardrobe… the neighbours downstairs must have been wondering what we were up to.

I think Pipi was more real to me than any of my friends for quite a while.

Is there one word or turn of phrase that you've felt compelled to work into your writing?
“I would take you in my arms and tell you…”

What book by another author do you wish you had written?
*Wolf Hall* by Hilary Mantel. I loved this novel, loved how it allowed me to live in the mind of Thomas Cromwell. Through him I could see the court of Henry VIII, the streets of London, the inside of Tudor houses. Eavesdrop on conversations. Witness how political decisions are being made.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
In other books, mostly. I love novels based on historical characters, and I read many biographies and memoirs. The heroine of my second novel, *Garden of Venus*, Sophie Glavani, was well-known in the eighteen century Poland, and in addition of a biography by a Polish historian, I found many mentions
of her in contemporary memoirs. Catherine the Great was also the subject of many biographies, and—in addition—her reign changed the course of Polish history, so she was always looming important in my life. I’m always on the lookout for extraordinary women who intrigue me….

Do you reread books?  If so, which ones?
Yes. I re-read books that I admire, to observe how they were written, to learn the craft of fiction. I have re-read the historical novels of Penelope Fitzgerald many times, observing and admiring her use of significant details. I re-read Chekhov, Alice Munro, Bruno Schulz, Hilary Mantel.

If you weren't a writer, what would you do as a profession?
A journalist, perhaps. But writing and reading would have to be part of my life.

What's your opinion on Shakespeare?
“…not of an age, but for all time” as Ben Jonson famously declared.

Use the word 'cabal' in a sentence.
A cabal of vicious gossipmongers has ruined her reputation.

**If you’re an author that would like to participate in the Choose Your Own Adventure Interview series, please contact me at**

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