Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
If I don’t count my early High School plays, I became a playwright and a screenwriter in the early 1970s. Then, being locked up during the pandemic, I wrote 4 prize-winning screenplays and a number of books. Four are already out on Amazon and elsewhere, two more are awaiting final touches and illustrations.
What makes writing your passion?
I can live dozens of lives this way. In my current books I can become the 5 year old Edgar Poe whose parents are killed by a vampire or Alex’s talking cat White Bim. I live through their emotions , joys, sadness and fears. I am every one of my characters. As the great French classic Flaubert said about his heroine Madame Bovary: “That’s me!”
How long have you been writing?
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Feeling of victory and exhalation that I became a published author. Also I was desperate when I realized how much I ended up paying for the promise of glory to my less than scrupulous publisher.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Not enough time and energy to write as much as I would like to; financial pressure.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
I get a little respite and then I force myself to type again, whether the text I was working on before or some other unfinished project (I have several in my desk). Most of all I am trying to force myself to sit behind the laptop and cut the trips to the fridge.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
A burning need to create a work that will make my readers laugh or cry or be scared along with me. I am always shocked by beginning authors who say; I want to become an author but do not know what to write about. If you don't know, that means that you do not have the strong urge to express yourself and rather do something easier. Get a regular job. Become a teacher. a nurse, a gardener…
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
I would have started decades earlier. I just turned 75 and am just publishing my first books.--that means lots of catching up in such a demanding career as a writer.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes, I read most of my reviews. Meantime I have been very lucky, receiving amazing reviews both from journalists and readers.
I know that somewhere around the corner there is a review or two from someone who doesn’t like or doesn’t want to like my special world of imagination. But that’s alright, as they say: All the reviews are just one person’s opinions.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
A feeling of satisfaction that I was supposed to reach into the reviewer’s heart and for at least a short moment share what I feel.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Since my books in the meantime dealt with talking cats, vampires, and mysterious creatures, I can only incorporate my basic feelings of sympathy. But I have a couple of screenplays (including one that recently won a Cannes Film Awards) that can be very personal and difficult to write. This last one, based on a sad episode from my youth, made me use up a large portion of a box of tissues.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
Covers and illustrations are an integral part of a good book. I engage the best illustrator I can afford and often search for many weeks before I find the right one.
At present, my favorite illustrator is the excellent Francisco Duenias Serrano whom I discovered all the way in Quito, Ecuador.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
Once the pandemic is over I would like to organize book signings, readings, (had one meantime) and am discussing a tour of Los Angeles elementary schools where I would talk to the students about writing and publishing a book, and then read them parts of my “Alex and the Amazing Catventures.”
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
Appreciation always gives me a warm feeling inside. As far as being recognized on the street, I would probably find it distracting. Unless the reader finds that my book helped them.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
So many to pick from! But if there is one book that stayed with me since my teenage years and I still re-read it, it is Antoine de Saint Exupery's “The Little Prince '', one of the most charming and wisest books there is.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
I still teach in elementary schools (at 75 probably the oldest teacher in Los Angeles ) and I love the ideas of children’s classics which generations of children are reading every year. I have hopes that my “Alex and the Amazing Catventures” could become one of these evergreen classics. But who knows.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
Probably re-write parts of chapters or tighten the story, but if I have to write the whole story from the beginning, I would just as well write a new book.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
What would you say to your readers?
Dear reader, I hope that reading my books gives you as much pleasure as it did writing them.
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
After being forced to leave my magical city of Prague and my budding career as a film director, I settled in Los Angeles, where I had dozens of jobs. I am the father of two brilliant sons both of whom are well known and two equally brilliant grandchildren.
What is your day job if you have one?
I teach elementary school children (often special ed)
Most of my children love me and I adore most of them.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
Since I worked as a stage director both in the US and in Europe, I love theater and movies.
Did you have a happy childhood?
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
When I was a child my father used to regale me every Sunday morning with long complex fairy tales and stories he kept making up on the spot. That was what made me make up stories like he did.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
I have upcoming sequels to both my Edgar Allan Poe horror fantasies and final chapters in the trilogy about POE and about Alex and his talking cat. Then I started writing a more extensive sci-fi adventure called Golem X2, which starts with the 16th-century Jewish legend about a Rabbi who creates artificial creatures and which ends with a 2025 battle between the Golem and a huge AI robot in the streets of Manhattan.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
As a teacher, I could spend hours discussing the story nature of our education but also talk about some dedicated teachers who try to change the children’s lives.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
What is your favorite music?
I listen to everything from opera to classic rock.
Share a secret with us 🙂
I want to live long enough to enjoy my friends and family for many years and to be able to bring more joy with my books.