Interview with Eva Blaskovic
Eva Blaskovic was born in Prague, Czech Republic, grew up in Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where she raised four children. She has a passion for music and numerous musical genres, has played eight instruments, and spent many years immersed in Taekwondo and Karate. She also enjoys summer festivals and excellent coffee.
What got you into writing, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember—since I was two or three. Nothing specific got me into writing; I just always created stories. When I went to school and learned to write, I wrote them down. I wanted to write well and took the craft seriously, which led me to my studies in writing and editing with industry professionals when the Internet made that possible.
I enjoy the creative process of giving substance to scenes for the first time, but I also like revision. Unlike many writers who claim that their internal editor conflicts with their freedom and creativity, my internal editor helps rather than hinders the process.
With all writing, I like to perfect and tighten the wording. The word choices, pace, flow, and rhythm have to be right. In addition, with fiction I enjoy characterization, dialogue, pacing the dialogue, and crafting the scenes. Most of all, I find enjoyment in bringing a story to life—getting it out of my head and giving it permanence.
Which writer influenced you the most?
Many writers of books have influenced me, as have many movies. It’s not a question I think about because I get writing ideas from everywhere. But any writer who writes particularly well, either fiction or non-fiction, will capture my attention. For example, Kenneth Oppel’s writing in his award-winning novels is beautiful—the verbs, the eloquence, the wording. I have always loved J.R.R. Tolkien, even though people say he is wordy, but Lord of the Rings was the first book I remember reading where I ceased to be aware of words, only the world they evoked.
Over the last decade, the skillful crafting of Mark Spencer has become a model for me. The writing in his recent novel, Ghost Walking, took my breath away with the beauty of its sentence construction in prose, dialogue, and tag lines, as well as the tight wording, brilliant verbs, vivid imagery with all senses engaged, and stunning characterization.
What turns a good story into a great one?
That’s the question all writers seek to answer, isn’t it? I believe it’s characters, depth (layers), and believability. Whatever world you’re in, whether realistic, fantasy, sci-fi, historical, or other, it has to feel natural. It must also be relatable, tie into the psychology of the human condition in a way that resonates with readers, and pose questions and dilemmas. When a writer encapsulates humanity by showcasing human desires, flaws, acts, interactions, and consequences, the story has the potential to be great and to endure over time. William Shakespeare comes to mind, but there are others.
When you’re living the story rather than reading about it, that’s not only a great story but a well-written one because of its seamlessness. Nathaniel Hawthorne nails it with “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”
On the editing front, after word choice, style, and structure, part of what turns a good story into a great one is punctuation and mechanics, which help us navigate the sentences at the pace and with the expression the author intended. People sometimes undervalue their importance, but they are to written words what body language is to speech.
The story that lingers in the reader’s mind long after reading must in some way be great.
How do you balance your schedules and artistic goals with everyday life?
The truth is I don’t. Writing is much more than a full-time job these days, and I can’t survive on writing full time, as much as I’d like to. I try to do the shorter things—the promo, the write-ups, short stories, articles—on a near-daily basis at any time of day that I can. The novel writing, which is the part I want to do most, is a real challenge, and virtually all holidays and days off are sacrificed for that purpose. Sleep is always sacrificed, and sometimes social events and fitness as well.
What do you aim to evoke in the readers of your books?
If readers see a part of themselves or can relate the story to someone or something in their lives, then it becomes meaningful to them. I like to present personal or societal problems, but balance them with solutions, either direct or inferred, and temper them with hope (except for a couple of my short stories, where the message lies in the demise of the protagonist). In all cases, I want readers to feel something, some kind of empathy with the characters. After that, there are many themes upon which to reflect should readers be inspired to do so.
Please tell us about your latest work, what inspired you to write it, and the research involved.
Ironclad, a novella with short chapters, was inspired by pictures and written for fun. Once I had the idea, I researched the structure of several mines and mineshafts, but the exact locations and settings the protagonist encounters are unspecified and fictional.
Can you give us a story outline of your book?
When Emilio is denied an odd piece of jewelry promised to him by his late uncle, he rightfully suspects there is more to the iron box and his broken family’s poverty than his mother wants him to know. He sets out to uncover his family’s secret, even if it means disturbing a grave.
What was the most difficult part of writing this particular book?
The most difficult part about writing Ironclad was a sudden, unexpected lack of time to complete it soon after its inception, leaving me scrambling months later to remember what I had in mind for the story. Usually when I embark on a longer project, I make notes, but Ironclad was caught off guard, never fully verbalized, and the best I had to go on were a few keywords and phrases hastily inputted into a cell phone and a link to a picture that was to inspire the latter part of the story. Furthermore, I had readers suddenly requesting the next chapters, so I had to deliver.
Can you tell us about how you had your book edited, published, and its cover art created?
When Ironclad undergoes production into a paperback and e-book novella, it will be proofread by a qualified editor and have its cover art done by one of two professional companies. Dream Write Publishing is releasing the second edition of Beyond the Precipice, a novel, in late fall of 2016, and I will be submitting my other books, including Ironclad, to this company.
What made you ultimately decide between self-publishing and conventional publishing? And will you use the same structure for your next publication?
I’d mentioned earlier that writing—all components of it—amount to more than a full-time job. I can contract out for professional services but I simply do not have the time to learn every detail about production, printing, e-book programs, and posting the book on various sites for sale alongside a day job. Social media is also saturated and, in spite of the promo efforts I put in, my reach is limited. Working with a publisher gets my books out faster and gives them broader exposure. Even so, I have too little time for writing, but in this way, I ensure I can continue to complete books.