The launching tournament, in December 2018, of Nemira publishing house brought to Cristian Cluj the new book of Cristian Englert, Pyramid.
The pyramid offers us an open door to the indigenous writing world. Good, especially bad. With quarrels, dislikes, relationships and backstage games.
The focus of the book is the understanding between two writers, one successful, anointed with all the life and a beginner. The understanding between them is that each of them write a novel and then publishes it with the other’s name.
Cristian Englert is the second book in Romanian, after Candidate for Crime, published in 2001 at Pandora Publishing House. As an engineer, he currently works at the European Space Agency and writes books despite this formation, because the Pyramid is a satire of society, but also a love story and a police novel. He has also published short prose and short stories in English and declares himself a fan of Asimov.
Cristian, how did the book start?
Slow. About 7-8 years ago I had a concept that came to my mind completely at random, during the day – riding a bike (did I tell you that I was in the Netherlands?). The concept was about two writers who decide to publish their books crossover. I started to write; I wrote the first 30 pages a lot, then I went into a dump and … I left everything out. I basically forgot about this concept. Probably my mind was working in the background. I came back about 3 years ago – with a solution to the problem that had prevented me from continuing in the past – I started writing again and I didn’t stop.
Would you agree to do this dew, like your character from the book?
It depends on the motivation. In my case, the challenge itself, the typhoon gave to others, would probably be motivating enough. In the case of my hero, she is a more serious one. He is absolutely disappointed with the feedback he receives (or not received) from publishers and feels he has nothing to lose.
How does the creative process go? Do you have any stockings?
For me, the challenge is two-fold. Once there are service constraints – I work in a technical profession – when I start writing (especially when I need continuity) I have to dive into a non-technical atmosphere. The second challenge is that I work in English, I read mostly in English, and when I want to write in Romanian, I have to reset myself: I start to read Romanian books, I somehow “extract” from everyday life, I manage to get here, in writing provision. Then the effervescence begins and that means I come up with ideas at any time of the day and night. I have a notebook that I keep near the bed, in which I write even in the dark (I write so ugly that the difference is not felt). I have it with me now, in this tournament (n.red December 2018).
How do you balance the technical part with the literary part?
Of course, I also looked for synergies. As a child, I write SF. If I were to write SF, what I do at work would help me. Otherwise, I write in spite of my field of work.
About Probability: Any book you write is, to a certain extent, an autobiographical book. Writing about yourself is the recipe for maximum sincerity.
I knew I needed her as a character. When I described it in chapter two, I felt the need to get to know her better and then I spent two whole days searching the Internet for photos that resembled the description I had made and which would make me realize it, to give it to me. transforms from a simple fiction into something more tangible, more real. From the moment I had the picture I found it much easier to act (just as a puppet would act as a puppet).
Of course, for a man it is easier to describe the inner world of a man. There are things we know about women and things we only guess. And we can guess wrong.
What does Cristian Englert read?
We buy desperate books, me and my wife. We have about 5 peaks that increase, decrease. In rather random order: I read a lot of SF. By the way, I was reading James Corey before coming to Romania. Today I went through an antique shop and took an Italo Calvino that I had not read. Recently, I read Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus. It is a book that I love deeply.
When I see a book I like, I often order it from the Internet. Living abroad, Romanian book fairs, Gaudeamus for example, are forbidden to me. I spend time in bookstores on any meridian I would find, but most online.
What writing plans do you have for the future? A continuation of the Pyramid? Maybe an elaboration of Damian’s novel?
I have a lot of plans! I do not think (at this moment) that I will continue in any way “Pyramid”, although I have just used (as a leaf!) Alexandru Damian as a character in a story. I have a series of stories written in Romanian, to which I want to add the translation of a selection of my stories written in English, and from which a volume – maybe two – of stories can result. And no, it is not at all easy to translate your own stories, because, in addition to the structural differences between an Anglo-axon and a Latin language, each language has a set of common expressions and places that seem more suited to a description; for this reason, translation becomes a permanent battle between the desire to keep, to be faithful to the original, and the instinct to improve.
Once this job is done, I would again build a novel – I don’t know the subject yet, but I already have a long list of things I want to say in it. And stories I write constantly, as my ideas assault me.
I can, therefore, promise to hear from you soon.