Interview with Hrvoje Butković


1-How do you schedule your life when you’re writing?

I do my best writing in the early morning, while I’m feeling fresh and my mind is clear. I tried writing in the evening after work as well, but was too tired to achieve the kind of concentration that writing demanded.

I would get up at 4 AM (3 AM before the pandemic) so that I could spend 2-3 hours alone in darkness and in silence, dedicated to writing, before other people got up and family and work took over.

Even on weekends, I found that I couldn’t write productively for more than a few hours per day.

2-What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

When I started writing this book, I had some characters and plot points worked out, but others were unclear. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to flesh them all out beforehand, so instead of writing sequentially, I started writing from the parts that I understood best. As I wrote, other parts became clearer, until the whole story came together into a coherent whole.

This came with its challenges, but the benefit was that I never suffered from writer’s block. When I got stuck, I just moved on to some other part of the story where I knew what I wanted to write.

3-Where did you get your information or idea for your book?

I wrote a self-help book back in 2010, which used fictionalised examples to illustrate its points. These became my favourite parts of the book, and made me realise just how much more impactful and memorable a carefully crafted story can be.

My interests also moved on from self-help to the question of individual life purpose, especially as expressed in the work of depth psychologist Bill Plotkin.

The only story I was aware of that utilised the full power of a fantastical setting to bring such themes to life was Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle. I decided to write a story that went much further with exploring the same themes, and was aimed at adults.

4-What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

My life purpose crystallised on the pages of this book during the writing process.

For the story to be authentic, I had to put a lot of myself into the main character. This included describing her gift of seeing other people’s dreams, and imagining how it would affect other people and her.

Every time I read one of these passages, it brought me to tears. It didn’t matter how casually I read it, or how many times I’d read it before. No other part of the story affected me the same way. This made me realise that there was something unique about the main character’s gift that applied to me as well.

5-What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Now that the book is done, my next project is to bring the same themes to life in the medium of gaming.

Playing around with strategy game designs, and trying out their mechanics in the tabletop setting, is something I’ve been doing for years. My new goal is to use these skills – guided by the clarity that I gained from the writing of the book – to create something similarly unique and personal in the gaming space.

2 Comments on “Interview with Hrvoje Butković

  1. Loved reading this interview, especially after reading A Wizards Dream. Now I understand how it felt that as a reader I wasn’t just along for the journey, I felt as if I was a part of the journey. This is a book that everyone should read at least once.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A “self-help fictional work.” Probably the best idea I’ve heard in quite a while — which means I’ll give the author a fabulous compliment: I’m going to steal it! When I (eventually) do, I’ll give Mr. Butkovic[+accent mark] due credit.


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