My latest guest is Dušan Marolt, a poet, writer and fiction editor at Manični poet (Manic Poet) publishing house. He’s published two collections of poetry, Tulips Wither Away Too and The Experience of Population. And recently he’s also published a short story collection, Chips and Telenovellas, an extremely readable book you can find here.
Hi, Dušan, tell us a bit about yourself, please.
I was born in 1980, I’m happily married (yes, that happens), a Barcelona fan, passionate reader and buyer of books, who’s still amazed by the world. And that’s okay.
You’re a poet, fiction writer and an editor, that means you wear many hats – which part do you enjoy most and what’s the difference between editing texts written by others and those written by you?
I entered the literary space as a poet, therefore this part suits me the most. It seems to me, that poetry still enables you to get to know much more unique worlds and leads to broader insights into an individual’s views than fiction, which carries with it some more boxed outlines. The difference between editing your own writing and writing by others is mainly objectivity, which needs to prevail. With others, you simply can’t allow for the styles and themes you prefer to come to the foreground. You need to disregard them and work on the text through its purpose and message. Of course, there are frictions, but these are constructive matters, which help me and authors grow.
Tell us about Slovenian reading culture.
Oh, that’s always a tough one. We have, of course, a kind of a paradox here – on the one hand, many people are library members, but on the other, there are people who haven’t read a book in years. They are just not interested. And those are the ones we need to motivate somehow, as the regular readers nurture their habits and will continue to do so. At least in the early stage of growing the reading habits are well taken care of through the reading badge and similar projects but in middle school the interest for non-mandatory reading decreases.
Where do you see Slovenian publishing in five, ten years?
Still as a battle between the big and the small. Especially with prices which are exaggerated by the big publishers and lead to smaller book sales.
Chips and Telenovellas is a collection that is like a bag of chips: once you open it, you can’t put it down till you’ve finished. But when you’re at the end, you’re basically at the beginning again. Tell us a bit about the concept of this excellent collection.
Thanks. The concept is basically pretty simple. I wanted to capture and describe the lives and circumstances of common mortals living their day-to-day lives. Nothing too shocking or unbelievable, as I’m most attracted to banalities, which present a special challenge to writing. I didn’t want to drag anything out in these stories, I just wanted to focus on what was essential to the storyline, to lead to the climax at the end of the story. But the connection between the first and the last story in the book is pure coincidence, which happened when I was writing the last story. It’s funny how you can surprise yourself sometimes.
You write poetry, as well – where do you express yourself more effectively?
Poetry enables me to express myself easier, although I put in elements of prose. I’m closer to poetic expression because it gives me more freedom in research and interpretation of my perception of the world and myself in it.
Is there a longer work on its way? A novel?
It’s only in my head for now. I’m playing with an idea to write a young adult novel on current topics.
Ever thought about writing for film, TV or theater?
Sincerely, I haven’t thought about it yet. I don’t see myself there at the moment, although each form presents special challenges. I’ll keep watching films and plays.
Do you have any routine or ritual to get your creative juices flowing?
Until last year cigarettes and coffee were required components. But now I always keep a vaping device and decaf coffee, When I decide to write (I never wait for inspiration), I always write longhand using a black ink pen, and type when text is finished. I’ve always done that. I’ve never sat behind the computer and typed simultaneously. I’m old school in that regard. I enjoy seeing my handwriting first, it’s so basic. The environment is not important, because I’m also capable of unplugging in a bar and do some writing. The notes that I come up with in different situations are my starting points.
How important is Social Media for a writer? Do you find them useful to promote your work and network with other writers and readers?
They are definitely important. They are becoming even more important. It’s basically the first and fastest way to notify others about what’s new. It keeps you updated with other authors’ affairs and news get spread fast, plus your posts are discovered by a greater number of people.
What’s on your work desk at the moment?
I’m finishing my third poetry collection called Women, which should get published this year. It’s written in woman’s lyrical subject and brings poetry from a woman’s perspective in different stages of life.
Who are your literary heroes?
Basically, everyone who writes and has the courage to do it. But if we talk about literary influences there are just too many to list all of them. But let’s point out foreign authors Bukowski, Kerouac, Brautigan, Carver, Salinger, Miller, Ginsberg and Zola, and domestic ones, where I’ll focus mainly on poetry, as we have got many excellent voices worth mentioning, Dejan Koban, Tomislav Vrečar, Katja Plut, Katja Perat, Aleš Jelenko, Jure Vuga, Veronika Dintinjana, Tone Škrjanec, Ana Marija Garafol, Jernej Kusterle, Muanis Sinanović, Mitja Drab, Ana Pepelnik, Urška Kramberger, Veronika Šoster, Sara Fabjan, Vid Sagadin Žigon, Anja Golob etc…
If you met a young writer, what advice would you give her/him?
First, I’d tell them to persist and continue working in spite of rejections. To hone their style and read a lot. This is how writing begins.
Thank you, Dušan.
Thank you, sincerely.