Thursday, August 21, 2014


Author Interview: Anca Rotar

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About the Author:


What made you want to become a writer?
Well, I guess here I should say something about how I’ve always loved stories and poetry, and that is what I usually say because it’s the short answer. The truth is that I don’t know. When I was a kid, I’d get vivid images in my head and at one point I guess I began to wonder about the context of these images and try to observe them and see where they’re going. It’s a bit like lucid dreaming, I guess. And here you can picture me doing a Keanu Reeves impersonation and going like “Whoa, duuude! I get, like, these images and they’re, like, in my head, dude, you know? And it’s like whoooaaaa!”

I’m just kidding.

With poetry it’s different because poetry is the medium I use to say things that, for some reason or another, I can’t say directly. It’s a very personal process. You want to reveal yourself, but at the same time you want to conceal yourself, so you say these things using symbols and associations. So they are being said and they are out there, but people don’t really know what went through your head when you came up with a particular poem and they’re free to make their own associations and come up with their own interpretations and I think that’s wonderful.

Where do you get your inspirations from?
For “Hidden Animals” it was mostly mythology, as well as a wonderful book by Jorge Luis Borges called “The Book of Imaginary Beings,” which is more like a compilation containing descriptions of – exactly what is says on the tin – imaginary beings from various mythologies as well as excerpts from works by other authors. So I wanted to create a sort of “bestiary” of the heart and associate feelings and emotions that, for some reason or another, cannot be openly and directly spoken of, with images of mythological beings.  As for my upcoming projects, mythology is still a great inspiration, but the truth is that anything can inspire me. It could be a movie or TV show, a painting, a song or music video or even a cool picture I see on the internet. I try to train my brain to absorb as many things as possible. I’ve said it before and will say it again – there are just too many cool and interesting things out there and hardly enough time to discover them all.

Other than writing books, what else do you do in your free time?

I read a lot – which is the obvious answer. I also like to go out for walks, but only as long as it’s in a city, and I do a lot of shopping of the thrifting kind (I don’t blame Macklemore though, I take full responsibility for it!) Oh, and I’m learning Japanese. On my own. It’s great because I’ve already had a thousand moments when I went like “I can’t learn this!” but I never gave up. 

If you could work with another author, who would it be?
Probably Neil Gaiman because he’s heavily influenced by mythology and because he’s Neil MF-ing Gaiman! Or maybe Chuck Palahniuk. Is this combination too strange? But I would very much prefer to work with a visual artist – a photographer, director or animator – because my stories start as images in my head and I’ve been told that my writing is very visual, so I’d love to see it translated into images that other people can see as well. It would be someone who has a dark, yet stylish vision, like Tim Burton. Or Aurelio Voltaire, who also writes, because apparently he can do anything.

What are major themes of your work?

You know, someone once told me that I need to figure out a main message that could sum up the entirety of my writing. I kept thinking about this and then I saw a picture of several Disney villains playing cards with the caption “Life is all about finding people who are your kind of strange” and I thought “That’s it!”

What do you think people look for in a book?
I don’t think it’s my place to make assumptions about what other people may look for in a book. Speaking as a reader, I’m not even sure what I look for in a book. I guess it depends on the book. I want to be entertained and charmed, but I also want to be moved and made to wonder and think. As a writer, all I can say is that if someone is ever touched or motivated by something I’ve written or if it makes them feel less alone, then “I shall not live in vain.”

Are there any recent works you admire?

I absolutely loved Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus.” It’s one of my favourite books of all time – beautiful, elegant and subtle, but at the same time quite dark. Aurelio Voltaire’s “Call of the Jersey Devil” was also a fantastic surprise. It was fun and unconventional and contained plenty of allusions to Goth bands I listen to. I also loved Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” I like some young adult literature too, but, perhaps surprisingly, I prefer the type of young adult literature that does not contain fantasy elements. I like John Green. And “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell broke my heart, it was so sweet!

Questions About the Book (Hidden Animals):

Which character in the book do you think you can relate to the most?

There’s one story in “Hidden Animals” called “The Gryphon” (I prefer this spelling to “griffin”) which is a retelling of a dream I had. So I guess the narrator in that one actually is me.

How did you come up with the character's names?

I think coming up with character names is the most difficult and challenging aspect of my work as a writer, especially when I’m writing a story set in a fantasy universe. I have a werewolf story in “Hidden Animals” which I managed to write without giving the characters any names whatsoever. They have titles instead. But I’m working on this. I’m slowly getting over my fear of naming characters!

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