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Stefan Kisyov: “I am cosmopolitan who loves his homeland”

October 3, 2012 by · 1 comment

Best Selling Bulgarian Author Stefan Kisyov Talks with Lauren Sophie Kearney

Stefan Kisyov

Where are you from?

I was born in Stara Zagora, a beautiful city founded by Emperor Trayan, a city with very rich history. This fact impressed me so much in my childhood.

When I was playing as a child I was very often finding a lot of old objects, coins, human skulls and all sorts of historical monuments – tombs, pieces of ancient statues, skeletons… I made a real small children’s museum in a box under my bed.

When and why did you begin writing?

When I was a child I enjoyed reading. I read all day, sometimes 200 pages per day. But anyway, good books always ended. So, I started wanting to write, to create the same sensations as those of reading, to continue fantasizing as much as I want, that for me was reading. So from a reader, I became a writer.

What inspired you to write your first novel?

I started writing literature consciously when I was approximately 12. Even then, I decided to write novels. But I considered my writing skills to be not yet matured and started with poems and stories. I had already gathered enough confidence to start with my first novel when I was 24.

Then I said to myself: “It may not prove successful, but it is important to write it, to feel what it is like writing novels.” It was not so important for me whether my first novel was good enough. It could take one, two or three books to write until I learned writing really good novels.

Actually, my first novel never saw light. But it was very important. After writing it, I gained experience and confidence. I realized that I can continue doing it. This feeling has remained ever since. Whenever I write a novel I say the same thing to myself – it may not prove successful, but it is important to do it. If it proves to be good, I will publish it. If not – I will break it up.

Is there a message within your novels that you want readers to grasp?

Yes, I always have a secret message in all of my novels. All of my novels are actually a secret of mine that I want the reader to uncover, which is not possible every time. But when I meet a reader who has understood the secret, I feel happy.

Are there any books that have influenced your life or writing?

Yes, there are several books that have influenced me very strongly. The first one was Martin Eden by Jack London and, indeed, many of his other books. Hemingway influenced me a lot as a writer also; J. D. Salinger as well and his Catcher in the Rye.

Generally, the American literature has influenced most of my style of writing. In this sense, I have always felt American in some way as a writer. But also a Frenchman, Russian, German, Polish, Italian, and Spaniard…

Out of all the novels you have written, which one did you enjoy writing the most?

The Secret of the Knight Capuletti gave me the greatest pleasure, perhaps because while writing it I combined fantasy with history, which is also my favorite pastime.

Have you traveled much concerning your books?

I traveled a lot precisely when working on The Secret of the Knight Capuletti, which is actually a novel about Romeo and Juliet. I explored Italy and visited Verona, Venice, Milan, Bologna, Florence, etc. I explored many cities, museums, cathedrals and streets. Italy fascinated me very much and I fell in love with Italy with all my heart.

What is the difference between writing novels and short stories?

There is not much difference. Writing is always writing. The difference is in the quantity. The novel is like fifty stories united by a theme, a few main characters and an idea.

How has living abroad changed your view of the world?

Even before I left Bulgaria, I had actually lived everywhere in the world – in Paris with Julien Sorel and Madame Bovary, in Saint Petersburg with Raskolnikov, in New York with Holden Caulfield, in London with Oliver Twist, in Missouri with Huckleberry Finn.

Thanks to the books I had ideas about the world and the people. Traveling later was a sort of illustration of my ideas of the world. Traveling was a supplement, because the great masters of literature had before created my ideas. I am very glad that it happened like this. The power of literature is proven. The most exiting trips in my life were my trips across literature.

Would you ever return to Bulgaria?

Yes, of course. I feel wonderful in Bulgaria. This is the land of my childhood, of my family, of my native language. My country is always dear to me. I am cosmopolitan who loves his homeland.

What projects are you working on currently?

I am working simultaneously on two literary projects – a historical one and a contemporary one. But I prefer not to share any details, because one of my rules as a writer is never discuss with anyone what I am working on.

Do you have advice for aspiring writers?

I could share my experience. I am not good in giving advice. I myself never listen to advices of others, thus I would rather say: “Do not listen to any advice, think with your head, no one can tell you better than yourself.” But would it be helpful?

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