Short, Sharp Interview: Renato Bratkovic

Renato Bratkovic, short sharp interviews

PDB: Can you pitch your latest publication in 25 words or less?

My first short story collection Don’t Try This At Home was just published a month ago, as a free eBook, by Genija, a Slovenian publishing house.

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

Well, I’ve been on vacation for two weeks, so I managed to read your Red Esperanto, which was a great read, Our Man On Terrain by Croatian writer Robert Perišić (his writing style is in my friend’s opinion similar to mine), God Save Us From Greater Evil by another Croatian author with a great sense of humour, Goran Tribuson, Mocking Desire by great Slovenian author Drago Jančar, White as Milk, Red as Blood by Italian Alessandro D’Avenia, The Caveman by Daniel Wiechmann, and two non-fiction books about advertising.

I’ve seen two great films, Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike, and Iron Sky, which was directed by Finnish director Timo Vuorensola, with the music by the greatest band from Slovenia – Laibach.

I almost never waste my time watching TV.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

I guess it’s hard to be 100 percent objective, when you also try to write. The great story can drag you in so that you forget about the author’s style, unique use of words, or mastering the description and dialogue – but even then you can end up asking yourself, how come I haven’t thought of that?!

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

As an advertising creative I’ve written some radio and TV ads (and directed a couple of them).

As a student of Slovenian and English language and literature some twenty years ago I took part in a student screenplay contest, and I was an extra in a movie adaptation of Drago Jančar’s novel Ringing in the Head in 2001. I can’t be seen in the crowd, but I can be heard: I yell “Bravo, Keber!!!”, when Keber (the main character) breaks a TV set and causes the riot in the prison.

I’d like to write for film very much, yes.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

As much as I feel it’s necessary. In the  Don’t Try This At Home stories there was no research needed, I just wrote an outline and then followed it during the act of writing and editing.

Now I’m working on a novel (Catchaser), where rats are the main characters, so I am in the middle of the research about rats – did you know, that rats actually enjoy sex and like to drink beer? And religion – there are certain cult followers taking control over the rat’s society, so I found the need to  research Catholicism and Islam and totalitarianism … but I shouldn’t reveal too much!

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

I mainly use Facebook and Twitter to promote my blog and writing, and to express my views and feelings about where this world – and especially my country – is heading to.

I’m on LitReactor and Goodreads, as well, but not as active as I should be.

PDB: What’s on the cards in 2012?

Well, as I said I’m working on a novel about rats, which is going to be fun for me to write, and I plan to translate Don’t Try This At Home into English (an American e-publisher has already shown interest in seeing my work in English).

I would like to do more in the publishing field, too. In Slovenia it is hard time for books – there are only two million people speaking the language, maybe half of them are reading, and couple of hundred actually buying books. We have a Public Agency For Books, that provides financial help to publishers and is financed by the state, but it’s future is very, very uncertain. So I’d like to do more to promote good writing and to persuade young people, that reading is cool.

Right now I’m working on a series of literary work by artists, that made their name in music, film, painting, etc … The first book is Edward Bunker’s Stark and it needs to be published by the end of the year – Bunker was a great crime fiction, but many remember him acting as Mr. Blue in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, or as Jonah in Konchalowky’s Runaway Train, amongst others …

Find out more about The Big Bratkovski here and here.