Oleksandr Havrosh: "People will not make legends about losers"
Two publishers submitted works of the children's writer Oleksandr Havrosh for the contest "BBC Book of the Year".
"Dido-Vsevido" is a book of scary stories and "Pintya the Rogue in the Damned Town" is an epic based on the Carpathian tales.
In an interview with BBC Ukraine, the author told about inspiration for his books, where he takes his fanciful images from and what he wants to convey to the reader.
BBC Ukraine: What are your books "Dido-Vsevido" and "Pintya the Rogue in the Damned Town" about? I'm talking not about content, but about the ideas that you have tried to put there.
Oleksandr Havrosh: Those are different books. In "Dido-Vsevido" I wanted to remind about our Carpathian folklore, because humanity is changing rapidly, and it should be presented in a different way to every new generation. So I tried to be close to the source material - folk tales.
Especially since scary, mysterious stories is not very popular genre here. Besides "Viy" by Gogol, which was also based on a legend, an average reader would hardly remember anything else. So it was a kind of a filling a folk niche, but at the level of literature.
"Pintya the Rogue in the Damned Town" is a purely author's book, a kind of "erector set" of the Carpathian epics, the pieces of which are popular characters or locations. Using this (often obscure) material, I have constructed a separate and complete picture. Because a "great folk tale" is also a vacant niche here.
BBC Ukraine: How did you manage to combine all the Carpathian tales in one story?
Oleksandr Havrosh I do not know. Perhaps I have wild imagination.
BBC Ukraine: No doubt that, while writing books, you were imagining your reader. Describe how exactly you see them: their style, habits, interests, preferences.
Oleksandr Havrosh: I think that every reader is largely similar to the author. That is they share the author's view of the world, of human virtue, his or her manner of communication or reflection. When I write, I do not imagine a reader, but rather their heart. It is similar to mine.
BBC Ukraine: Pintya is a noble robber. Is such thing possible in our real life? Why did you chose this image?
Olexandr Havrosh: A "noble robber" is a well-established literary stereotype. In the book, I am often ironic about this. Although, decent people can also become "outlaws". Just look at what is happening in Ukraine. Therefore, some robbers became folk legends. After all, people will not make legends about losers.
In Ukraine, there was hardly any such kind of prose for children. In the world it is developed quite well. I decided to try and fill this gap. I hope that came out well.
BBC Ukraine: In the West, children's novels is a very well established business. Just think about the success of Harry Potter... In our country, they are only beginning to sow this field, particularly with your books. Why has there been a gap in this genre?
Olexandr Havroch: Well, here we have unfilled niches left, right and center. Our literature has only begun to develop in the environment of creative freedom. So the harvest is far away. But there has been some achievements in recent years. In addition, the literary work requires a lot of concentration, but here it almost never allows one to make a livelihood. Therefore, there is no significant number of works. This work is rather for enthusiastic amateurs than for professionals who live off it.
BBC Ukraine: Did you come up with scary stories for "Dido-Vsevido" yourself? What will today's young readers find interesting in the stories that took place either at the beginning of the twentieth, or even in the nineteenth century?
Oleksandr Havrosh: I was looking for these stories among the folk tales of a century ago, to make a book of them. I had to browse through dozens of publications.
Of course, not every story is interesting to a modern child. I borrowed some from Hnatiuk, some from Fintsytsky, there are so-called "travelling" stories that are found in the literature of different nations.
For me it was important to preserve this long-forgotten treasure and present it to modern readers free of superficial things. After all, it was just folklore records. This has been done before by Charles Perrault, Pushkin, and Franko, who would take already well-known stories, but thanks to their skills elevate them to a higher level.
BBC Ukraine: What books inspired you?
Oleksandr Havrosh: The book of Ural fairy tales by the famous Russian storyteller Bazhov was a good example for me. In this book, as well as in "Dido-Vsevido", one of the main characters of the story is language. It gives these books a unique flavor of the native land.
Александр Дюлович, Ты молодец так держать. Про Порошково что-то напиши.
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