European Union Prize for Literature

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15 March 2018

Interview with Ina Vultchanova

On 15th March, Ina Vultchanova will present her award-winning book at the National Palace of Culture (NDK) in Sofia and answer the questions of Svetlozar Zhelev. At this occasion, she has answered a few questions for EUPL. 

I imagine this is a great experience, being able to read your own book in another language

What made you decide to write the story of your EUPL winning book?  

I think I never decide in advance what kind of story I'm going to write. In my case things do not start with a clear project. They start from an idea that provokes my imagination. In that case it was the slightly paranoid idea that someone could watch you without you knowing it. And if he watches you he will learn nothing about you because every person lives in his parallel universe. I was curious as to where this would lead me and just started writing to see what would happen. I never know what will happen before I write it.  

Which of your book characters do you find most interesting? Why?

I started writing this book with the voices of two different women narrating. Obviously, at least for the people who know me, one of them is more like me although most of her life is invented by me. To my great surprise it turned out that writing with the voice of the other woman is much more interesting to me. I really had to create her entirely from scratch and this was a challenge. While I invented this woman, who is almost my complete opposite I gradually became hesitant in my original idea and I began to understand that people were actually much more alike than different.

What’s the language you would love to be translated into? Why?

I am really happy that the first translation that will be released in April will be in Croatian because half the story in the novel is set on a Croatian island. I am very curious about the reaction of readers in Croatia because I describe their country through the eyes of a foreigner and this may be of interest to them. Otherwise I dream of seeing my novel translated into the languages that I can read: French, Russian and English. Not only because they are world languages, but also because I could read these translations. I imagine this is a great experience, being able to read your own book in another language. Unfortunately I haven’t been offered such translations yet.

Which part of yourself did you bring to the story? (Biographical facts, a friend or a family member has inspired you for a character, etc.)

This is a very difficult question that I often have to answer. I have already written three novels. It is obvious that the characters in them are different and that the stories that are told are different. I do not write autobiographical novels because I think it’s more interesting to invent. What part of me is in them? Definitely a great part. Because the only material that a person has when writing is his own inner experience. Otherwise there are almost no real prototypes except two episodic characters in my first novel (one of them recognized himself but was not offended - I had described him with much love). There are also no biographical facts from my own life, but there are feelings I’ve experienced that found place in the plot.

Is there a specific topic that you would dream to write about, or a specific genre that you would dream to write in?

I have no idea what I dream of writing. The next thing that provokes my imagination. I dream of experiencing this adventure again and again because I like it very much.

Has EUPL opened new horizons for you? (Literary events in other countries, selling rights for translations into new languages, networking with other winners, etc.)

This prize opened up new horizons for me that I had not even dreamed of. Currently I have contracts for translation into Croatian, Albanian, Dutch, Serbian, Macedonian, Italian and Hungarian. I am negotiating translations in Polish and Spanish. This, of course, means some money, not a lot, but for me it mostly means meeting new readers who will look at my novel from a different and unexpected point of view, it means trips and meeting people. I think the point of writing is making these meetings between people possible. I am very grateful for this award.

Have you had a chance to read books by other EUPL winners – from 2017 or earlier years, especially those coming from your own country?

I have read the books of Kalin Terziyski and Milen Ruskov, of course, the two Bulgarian writers who have won this prize. I think they are extremely good and it is my honor to be able to compare myself to them. Last year in May I brought from Brussels a book with English excerpts from the twelve prize-winning novels. I found them very interesting and I hope I can read them in Bulgarian.  

What kind of reaction did you get from your readership when they heard that you got the EUPL Prize?

I cannot judge what the reader's reaction is. I have received many congratulations, but I have always been careful not to believe congratulations and praise too much. From time to time a strangers tell me they have read my novel and liked it. I appreciate these reactions the most. The last time it’s happened to me was today. There is a big film festival in Sofia and I'm going to the screenings. I was searching for my ticket in my bag and I could not find it. The boy who checked the tickets recognized me and told me that he read my novel and liked it very much. He let me in before I could find the ticket. And my ticket, of course, was at the bottom of the bag. I really had a ticket for this show.

20180315 Bulgaria - Ina Vultchanova - Written interview.pdf