Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gabriela Popa Interview

1: What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?

Mornings, usually.  I wrote most of my novel "Kafka's House" one bit at a time, from 5 to 6 AM, three pages a day for many, many months.  During evenings my critic is ferocious - I do not even try.  I read, though, during evenings, to appease it

2: Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?

I can concentrate better writing in longhand - that way the page disappears and I am alone with my thoughts. 

3: What do you draw inspiration from?

I do not want to write a lot of books.  I know there are people who measure productivity by the number of books.  I want to write a few very good books.  If I am able to do that - we will see, but this is my desire.  I would rather have my readers say, why did she not write more?  So, to get back to your question, I draw inspiration of what I can not forget, of what does not go away. 

4: Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count?

Not really.  Although - after reading a large number of "How to" books on writing and going through periods during which I faithfully wrote 3-4 pages every morning, I came to be a strong believer in discipline.  But I do not count words; I rather estimate the number of pages I do per day.  If I can do three pages per day during periods during which I write, I am content.

5: Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?

I am a published author.  I write "Kafka's House" in English, then translated it into Romanian and had it published by Cavallioti in Romania in 2007.  The original English edition was published by my own Publishing House, Pixiphoria, in 2010.  I am a strong supporter of the indie movement.  I believe that, with the emergence of all these digital platforms, writers have the opportunity to take charge of their careers like never before. 

6: What drives you to choose the career of being a writer?

Looking back, now I see that I tried quite successfully, for a long time, to stay away from writing.  Writing must be truthful, and there are things that are not trivial to explore.  You know how the Romans put it: Hic sunt leones...  And so, I went into science, which I love; I did a Ph.D., followed by many years of postdoctoral work.  I even tried the nuclear option: I switched to another language, by coming to US from Romania.  Bottom line, now I see all this dancing around was rather futile.  I don't think you can truly run away from writing if you are a writer.  You can postpone, though - and hopefully mature a bit in the process.

7: Do you own an e-book reading device?

Yes, I have a Kindle 3, and I adore it.  I go everywhere with it.

8: Who are some of your favorite authors and what are you reading now?

My favorite authors are Rick Skwiot, a great writer who was my creative writing professor a number of years ago here in St. Louis, Paul Auster, Norman Manea (Romanian writer who teaches at Bard college), Lorrie Moore, Michael Cunningham, Bacovia (Romanian poet, symbolist),  Junot Diaz, Tobias Wolff. 

9: What do you think of book trailers and do you have any plans to have any?

I believe some are great and most are amateurish.  Book trailers are not among my top priorities.

10: How did you come up with the title of your latest book?

My latest book is "Kafka's House", describing the life of a child in a totalitarian society.  The title is a metaphor for confining spaces, exemplified by Kafka's House on Zlatne Ulite in Praga.  This is one of the houses Kafka lived in for a few years, and its pitifully small living area contrasts with the vastness and magnificence of Kafka's work. 

11: What are you working on now that you can talk about?

I am in the process of structuring my next novel, in which I would like to address spirituality vs. modern life.  I have started working on it, mostly by interviewing candidate characters in my dreams.  

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