- What’s your favorite thing you have written?
If we’re talking about favorite because it gives me chills, then there are passages from my latest book that I keep turning to. If we’re talking about favorite because it’s resulted in my favorite life changes, then it is the series of emails that my wife and I exchanged two years ago, which convinced her I was the one to marry.
- What’s your favorite thing that someone else has written?
Well, just to be sappy, cringy, and fair, then it was the replies to my emails that convinced me my wife was the one for me. But if we’re talking about a book, I just finished Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life.
- What are you working on writing now?
I’m waiting until my next book launches before diving into another literary project. So, for now, I am working on getting my new website layout up and running, and revamping my Instagram page, which once used to be a source of great pleasure for me.
- Do you have a favorite food or drink that helps you write?
I love to drink Yerba Mate (like South American green tea) because it is super ritualistic how you prepare it, and is packed with caffeine and is delicious. As far as food, I’ve found it very hard to eat and write at the same time, but as a treat, I like any big meal full of carbs and protein after I’m done writing.
- What’s your favorite kind of music?
Funny, you ask. As I write this sentence, I am listening to electro-swing. More generally, I enjoy electronic music. Anything that makes you dance. But, also, I have been listening to a lot of classical lately, mostly Khatia Buniatishvili. It doesn’t make me dance, but it makes me feel.
- Forest, country, beach, or city?
Beach! The sounds, the smells, the sun, and the sail.
- What movie can you watch over and over again?
The Big Lebowski. It is one of the few ultra-quotable movies for me (like Rocky Horror for others), which only improves in quality the more you watch it.
- What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?
Like anything in life, do it because you love it.
- When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Oddly enough, a lawyer. Maybe because of all the Law and Order I watched. But I liked the idea of defending people with words and stories, building a case, and presenting it.
……………………………………Some more questions about his book ………………………………………
- In what genre would They Lived They Were be classified?
Contemporary fiction, with a romantic tinge, and a bilingual slant.
- What is the main plot of the book?
A successful indie DJ falls unconscious during one of his sets, after being dumped by his girlfriend and withdrawing from amphetamines. The rest of the book is the summer in which he tries to quit drugs and write the song of the summer, in order to win her back. Of course, by the end, he learns it wasn’t meant to be, dallies in an affair with an older woman, and makes sense of some of the other things wrong in his life that caused him pain from the beginning.
- How did you come up with the idea for the novel?
I wish I could say lightning struck me while I was walking down the street, and that a book sprung of the ashes. But actually, it was a long and strenuous first step forward: a lot of loose ideas, loose interests, which swirled together in my mind for a long time, while I wrote the draft, presented it to readers, then went back to rewriting. To say something concrete, the earliest draft was part of my thesis for grad school.
- Why do you think people read thrillers?
Who doesn’t like to feel the pace of his heart? Thrillers heighten our senses. They make us feel alive.
- Describe the pace of the book?
Quick to read, although little chronological time passes, and the main narrative zigzags from journal entries to recurring nightmares, to footnotes from a future reader.
- What does it take to create a compelling character?
The reader has to see him or herself in the character, in order to feel like they can learn something or enjoy something from the story. There are many ways to create this. You could base the character in real life, from someone relatable. Or you could amalgamate various people you know, in order to assure something someone likes is in the character. Modelling other characters from other books is a great tactic, especially if you are unsure of what makes characters real, or want a certain effect. But, if all these fail, I believe a compelling character does compelling things. So action. (PS to this question, a confession: the protagonist in TLTW does not act a lot, nor is a relatable character: that’s because I wanted to channel regrettable human traits into him . . . does it work for compelling? Let’s see what people say)
- Why do you write thriller/mystery fiction?
Maybe I should. If I were going to write a movie script, it would definitely be a mystery, with some family drama, a dashing detective and a dark damsel suspect.
- What does the writing process look like for you?
Stick to one project, and do anything, everything possible to create something satisfying. Outlines, free association, copy/paste, retellings, rewritings, workshops, beta readers, friendly readers, breaks, bribes, anything, honestly as long as it works to reach a great “the end.”
- What is the story behind your branding logo?
My wife does my marketing! She’s a Ph.D. in it. So she knows magically things about communication that I could hardly even imagine.
- You mentioned earlier about your motivational blog? Tell me about that, and what other content do you have on it?
A few years ago, when I revamped my blog, it became a sort of public drawer, where I posted writing exercises for anyone to peruse. Half of my hope was for me to improve, getting more and more comfortable sharing my work. But the other half was to leave a sort of foot trail for curious readers to see how much I improved from day one. It’s motivational in a sense.
- Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
I have learned to really trust my inner gut. So if something excites me, speaks to me, then I listen. I don’t know where my inner ideas come from (does anyone?), but I have learned that it usually has a great sense of the past, present, and future . . . and usually brings great ideas to the table.
- What about writing a novel? What do you enjoy the most?
The feeling I get after writing a nice passage that makes me say, “heck, yes!” It’s really that feeling, maybe of accomplishment, or of surprise. There is a click inside of me, and I really like that, like telling a good joke among friends or giving a great presentation at work. It’s a high five moment.
- What is the most challenging part of writing a novel?
That the future is so unclear. When you set out to make a cake, for example, at least you have photos of other cakes, you have grandma’s recipe which you can follow or twist. But with a novel, all you have are other favorite novels you do not want to copy or other writer’s advice, which only vaguely hints at what you need to hear. So yes, the uncertainty. It is a deep-sea diving. A whole lot of nothing, and then a big scary monster every once in a while – those are the best days.
- How have you grown as a writer in this process?
I’ve learned to trust myself. To always put everything I’ve got like there’s no tomorrow. And to sincerely believe that every page I write is better than the last because that’s technically true, but it should also feel true too. The longer you work on something, the better it gets. That’s true for books, but also for the process. The more you work on the process of writing books, the better you get.
Iván Brave lives in Bucharest, Romania, where he writes poetry, reviews and novels, as well as promotes language learning in multinational corporations.
He graduated from The New School in NYC with an MFA in Creative Writing, after earning a Bachelor in Philosophy from The University of Texas at Austin. Language, multiculturalism, and love, or anything that connects, are the themes dearest to his heart. In addition to winning prizes, such as the Writing Award from The Vera List Center for Arts and Politics, his writings have appeared in literary publications like The American Scholar and The Acentos Review. Iván’s second novel, They Lived They Were at Brighton Beach, is out June 16th, 2020.
Links to purchase the book:
Categories: Guest Blog