A conversation with Renato Bratkovič

An interview with myself – how pathetic it must sound to you. But anyway, I feel that the time has come to introduce myself in a way I force my guests to introduce themselves in our interviews, and I’m using this opportunity to shamelessly promote myself!
Who am I? An advertising creative making up advertising campaigns and communication strategies during the day, and stories at night. I am a published author of Don’t Try This At Home, my first short story collection, a partner and creative director at the Artizan advertising agency and the editor of this literary blog. My literary work can be found on The Big Bratkovski – in slovene, but some stories are going to see the light in english language soon, as well.

Renato Bratkovič
Well, Renato, go ahead – tell us a bit about yourself!
Well, I’ve told all already … 🙂
No, seriously, I’ve always felt the urge to creatively express myself. I saw myself as a painter and a comic book artist, back when I was a kid. I even published a comic series in a weekly magazine, when I was thirteen or fourteen and made quite a money. But as you are growing, your aspirations change, your search gets more complicated – you need to find your place under the sun.
But I’ve always written. At school, at home … When I was twelve, I got my first typewriter … You know, what the typewriter is? I wrote a crime story about the detective trying to solve a case of a serial killer. I typed and edited and then got it retyped by a schoolfriend, until I got to the page seventy or so and had about twice as many girls murdered, and she said that was it, she couldn’t “work for me” any more … 🙂
Later on I got interested in computers and graphic design, and worked as a designer and illustrator couple of years, then I had some less glamorous jobs until I got hired as an advertising copywriter in 2008 (bingo – I actually made my living writing!). I started to beleive that some kind of the creative muscle exists, that you could build. When you need to provide a story (a print ad, a TV or radio ad, a slogan or a PR article) for a client, the writer’s block is unacceptable. Soon the advertising projects got more complex, and I had to start thinking up campaigns and writing communication strategies and presenting them to the clients. Then I got fired, which was quite a frustration at the time, but after five months I became a creative director at another agency, where I still work. I also co-founded my own agency couple of months ago, which I see as a unique blend of the advertising agency and a publishing house, so my life is becoming more and more interesting.

Why the hell do you write? Don’t give me “I write ’cause I need, I want to make the World a beautiful place …” bullshit?
Well, but I do! At least for myself. I started writing seriously in august 2011.
Working in advertising can be frustrating. You think up so many stories – good stories – that are thrown away or ripped or changed for/by the client, you need a creative outlet to stay sane. It can be anything – writing, painting, knitting, running, drinking, taking drugs, whatever. But if advertising is all you have, you are in big trouble, my friend!
I would like to work more with books – write, translate and edit them, design and publish them … and try to make the World a beautiful place.

You also tweet and share things on Facebook, you’re on Goodreads and LinkedIn – how can you be so anti-social?
I’ve set-up my LinkedIn profile quite some time ago to make connections for my business, and I use Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads to promote my writing and to hang out with international authors. I really think it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to communicate to great people all around the world, especially writers, who sincerely and unselfishly support and promote each other.

You’ve just published your first short story collection?
Correct. Don’t Try This At Home is a collection of nine short stories, published as an ebook by Genija, Slovenian publisher, and is freely awailable for download (in .ePub, .mobi and .pdf). Barbara is the story of a woman, unhappy with her married life, who gets carried away, when listening to the couple having sex. The Tie is a story of an advertising copywriter who gets fired – his boss gives him some money and a tie, but when he gets home, his wife also throws him out of the house. You’re not sitting on two chairs! is the story of a cheating husband, who gets caught – anytime he defends himself, there’s a scene behind that shows he’s lying. The Contract is the story of an impotent guy, who becomes Slovenian prime minister with a little help of Lucifer. Romeo and Juliet is a story of an unhappy couple, the former never finishing his literary masterpiece, the latter sacrificing her dreams to support both of them, no happy end guarantee. The Hitch-Hikers is a story of a couple wanting a ride – she has a strange gift to articulate things that actually happen. High Midnight is a transgressive noir about the blood and sperm and an unatural relationship. Three Days Till The End Of The World is a story about the 19 year old guy, who has three days left to achieve his goal and The Last Wish is about the son who discovers that his father was not, who he thought he was – at his funeral …


What’s next?
Well, Don’t Try This At Home will be published as a paperback with a bonus story by Artizan (my advertising agency and publishing house), and an american e-publisher has shown interest to see my work in english, so we’ll see what happens next.
I am translating great late Eddie Bunker’s Stark into Slovene and it is also going to be published by Artizan in december, and Richard Godwin has trusted me to help him have Apostle Rising published in Slovene, which I’m also very excited about, so there’s a lot going on at the moment, although not as quickly as I would like.
Besides, I’m working on a novel under the working title Catchaser.

Do you have any special method of writing?
I don’t have a method, I just write whenever I have time – I carry my little Moleskine black book and a pen with me all the time, so when an idea arises, I’m ready. Then I do the typing and editing. I love every part of the process.

And style?
I don’t have any special style, either. I just put the story down on paper without thinking too much. Then I think about the sentence, characters, language and so on.

There must be writers you admire …
I love Hubert Selby for what he has done to the novel – his honest tape recorded style of writing without punctuation and quotation marks killed me, when I first read Last Exit To Brooklyn or Requiem For A Dream (no matter if I later read, that he wrote like that because he had left school early and did not learn grammar). Irvine Welsh’s work is great, especially his Scottish dialect. I also admire Charles Bukowski, Kurt Vonnegut, Raymond Carver, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and of the today’s writers I should mention DBC Pierre, David Bennioff, Chuck Palahniuk, Craig Clevenger, Will Cristopher Baer, Stephen Graham Jones, … There are also some Slovenian authors that I admire, Drago Jančar, Luka Novak, Miha Mazzini, Andrej Blatnik, …
Last december I discovered Paul D Brazill – he rocks and his straight-to-the-point stories are really inspirational pieces of literature. He also has a great bunch of writing friends. And yes, I have to mention the rock star writers who appeared (and will appear) here on Radikalnews.com. 🙂

What do you have to say to young and not so young writers?
As the great American philosopher Nike had once said: Just do it! It’s never too early and never too late to start writing. And reading – there’s no good writing without reading.

You’re not expecting me to thank myself for being here?
No, man, talking to myself is weird enough … 🙂

One comment to “A conversation with Renato Bratkovič”
One comment to “A conversation with Renato Bratkovič”
  1. Renato is a highly talented man in many ways, he is an entrepreneur in a country that denies his talent. It is a great country that is being eroded by political malaise. Your list of writers I share. I look forward to working with you.

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