Andrej is my latest literary guest. He’s a writer of the younger generation, he’s a merciless realist, who gives his characters a soul with a healthy dose of humor, and his texts are read in one sitting – he has created a buzz with his first novel In The Black, the Teachers followed, and his latest novel is titled Future Ltd. He’s an author of books for kids about a little girl, called Mici, in collaboration with Slovenian cult illustrator, Marjan Manček. He’s also a journalist writing about culture.
Hi, Andrej – can you introduce yourself shortly in your own words?
Ha, my most recognasible characteristic is a tendency toward preserving the state. I struggle to get out of bed in the morning, while there’s no way you can make me go to sleep at night. I rarely manage to have a breakfast, but I can’t stop eating my lunch until I’m filled to the brim. I’m also having trouble to persuade myself to exercise, but when I start I just can’t quit, so I’ve ran a few marathons, kayaked the Adriatic Sea and climbed a couple of alpine routes. The tendency toward preserving the state preserves my disability to complete many tasks, such as having a beer with a friend, jump into the sea, or introduce myself shortly in my own words.
I’ve literally read In The Black in one sitting and it seems you’ve written it in one sitting too. The story is fluent, juicy and full of events and characters I witnessed myself as a kid. You’re being equally honest in the Teachers. How much sincerity can or should a writer afford in his writing?
That’s a good queston that pokes right into the essence of writing. I personally defend a standpoint, that you need to be brutally sincere, so your relatives blush, wrinkle their forheads, are shocked or offended when reading. Of course I distort certain characters and circumstances for the good story’s sake, but basically it’s me. The reader feels it instinctively. I find a comparison between writing and dance felicitous. Both the writer and the dancer outgrow the raw comunication and mere movement the moment there’s nothing false in their moves, when they totally surrender to their expression, the flow, and are therefore able to respond to their spectators or readers. I know it sounds strange for the writer to be able to respond to his readers, but anyone who’s published more than one work can feel that. It’s the writer who is usually the first reader holding the mirror. Bluffers love to get naked at poetry evenings, but you can see they devoted more time to their hairdo and chosing the right jacket than to the words they keep spitting into our faces.
Do you have any special rituals to keep your creative juices flowing when you write?
When I write at mornings I’m usually Mr. Healthy Food, teas, classical music and fresh air. My texts are then sharp and deliberate as a good game of chess. The evenings mean partying with some blues in the headphones, cans of beer or a bottle of wine, and a full ashtray. I’m usually forced to bed by my wife’s outraged face. The stories are wild, unpredictable and smudgy, and it takes a day or two for me to be able to read them. Most of the writing is unusable or needs fixing, but something can be caught anyway, plus I’m having infinite fun with it. That’s my kind of writing.
What is, in your opinion, the mission of someone who’s dealing with literature today?
I don’t feel any responsability for anything but for writing itself. Neither for the language, nor for the people, society, religion, when I write I just don’t give a damn. What’s important to me, is the success of the story, that the right words come out, the right solutions, and the most important – surprise, when characters start living their own lives and I suddenly become an observer. I admire writers who have a responsible attitude, state-forming highbrow writers, who weigh their thoughts and serve them to us with the example of their own beautiful souls. Their compressed expressions fill the space with authority and responsability. And their mission.
It’s obvious your novels are inspired by real life – what about other art forms, music, film, visual art, …?
The quality of life is measured by your ability to enjoy every given minute. It’s hard to see people galloping through life with their minds in chains, blind for the beauty around them. They need fireworks and celebrations in order to be happy, they need porn magazines to be able to fuck, and ads so they can comfort their inner longing by buying things. Art has different means of expression and is itself an extension of nature. Rilke describes in Duino Elegies our incapacity of grasping and awareness of beauty, I’m sure there are many different forms of residence and the arts are the bridges. There’s a lot of clutter nowadays, as anyone consider themselves an artist after putting on a beret, but the true one is not difficult to find. Nature is the greatest and the most magnificent cathedral.
You’re also a journalist, which means you made it to actually make a living writing. Is your approach to writing for a paper any different from writing literature?
Journalistic writing can easily become a routine, especially regarding your style. Sometimes I type all day long in the editorial office, and then at nights I write for myself. I notice that my journalistic communicativeness leaks out to my personal style. I perceived it as a contamination at first and tried to get rid of it, but now I accept it as a part of myself, and it’s a lot easier now. All in all it would be insincere if I kept covering this part of my personality, I’m a sponge sucking dirt too, when it comes near enough.
If you didn’t write, you would…?
Play guitar more often.
Have you ever wrote (or dreamt of writing) for the theater, film, TV?
I wrote a film script, which is in a developing stage, and I also conceived a TV series that is almost finished. I’ve read a few books on scrennwriting and the anatomy of a story. It struck me. There are guys, who actually understand a story as a body you throuw under the scalpel and analyse. Their rhetoric is basically reasonable and it’s certainly welcome for the film. No doubt there are rules about how people understand stories and, to be honest, we prefer to listen the same stories with slightly changed characters. In spite of everything it is a craftsmanship. In the world of film they usually form teams of people, who shape out stories together, make characters deeper and decorate them with detail. Personally I’m very protective of my characters and I don’t like them being thrown away because they did not appear on the right part of the story arc.
Who are your literary heroes?
I don’t have any real literary heroes, and even if there is an author close to me, it doesn’t mean I’m going to read everything he’s written. At the moment I’m enthusiastic about Isaac Asimov and Jonathan Ames.
Your third novel has recently found its way to the readers. What’s on your work desk at the moment?
I started writing an erotic thriller, this is unexplored waters to me. I enjoy writing genre text and sharpening my claws on ticklish content.
Do you find Social Media important for your work, promotion and networking with other writers and readers?
My wife keeps telling me to be present online and publish, publish. I suck even in small talking so it’s no surprise that I’m clumsy on web platforms. My taste is usually too extreme to enthuse people. It’s true though, that I enjoy other people’s disgust. I have very little contact with other writers, and readers as well.
If you meet a young (or not so young) writer, what advice would you give him?
The best way to write something is, to write something.