Off-line interview with science fiction and fantasy writer Sviatoslav Loginov
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"OFF-LINE  interview"

Usually, at the beginning of an interview, the correspondents say a few standard phrases. Something like: "Dear Sviatoslav, I'd like to ask you a few questions". The great thing about an Internet interview is that there are quite a number of correspondents. Therefore, the standard phrases will be said by my own self: Dear correspondents, I'm looking forward to answering your questions.

-- Dear correspondents, I'm looking forward to answering your questions.

Sviatoslav Loginov.

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I always enjoy your books, both in print and electronically. Thank you so much.
Please answer the following two questions:
1. Since you are so well versed in the culinary arts, why is it so rare to see one of your heroes cook?
2. Will there be a re-issue of "The Well"? Everyone keeps borrowing it, and it's impossible to find it in stores.

Andrey Zdobnikov <>
Simpheropol, Ukraine - Tuesday, December 29, 1998 at 15:23:28 (MSK)

Thanks for the question, considering you are the first participant in this interview.

Yes, I am a good cook, and I actually wrote a couple of "cooking" articles. And sometimes, my heroes come across a "cooking" situation. In one of my early stories, "Sergei Petrovich", the hero cooks oatmeal, and the story even offers the recipe. In the story of "Apple from the Apple Tree", Yefim loves to fuss around the kitchen. He cooks a variety of dishes, and a recipe for baked apples is included in the story. We also have a Chef-Genius in the story of "Many-handed God of Dalayn". Of course, his dishes can't be recreated for the lack of bread grass and tuivan fruit. In medical chronicles "More Precious then Most" (not published, but in the files) we have preparation for a feast for cardinal Tyron.

Maybe, it's not so much if compared with the rest of written by me, but I am very afraid of self-repeating in my books. However, in the next novel, if I write it, there will be an amateur cook. He is required for the storyline.

Unfortunately, I have no good news regarding "The Well". However, the contract for that book just expired five days ago, and I haven't had a chance to think about re-publishing it. I hope it will happen.

Question: What hobby/job would you take up if writing didn't take up so much of your time? What are you sacrificing?

Taras Tir <>
?, Russia - Tuesday, January 05, 1999 at 03:08:37 (MSK)

Sacrifices consist of walking in the woods and gardening. So if I weren't writing, I don't know what I would do in winter! When I was a kid, I always counted seconds left before summer vacation, the first morels. Since then, I'm in the habit of saying "Eighty six thousand, four hundred", meaning "Summer will be here soon"

I am a man of a very bad discipline, the need to go to work every day kills me. If it didn't, I'd probably be a school teacher. (Some of my students still call me sometimes)

Also, of my huge list of jobs I warmly remember the half of year I spent as a worker in "Lenmelioration" trust. It is always good to work with soil.

Question: What would you say about my crazy idea of becoming a publisher? What advice would you give regarding this subject? What is involved in being a publisher? How about becoming an editor?

Taras Tir <>
?, Russia - Thursday, January 07, 1999 at 01:15:25 (MSK)

A. A tricky question to answer. Ideally, a writer and publisher should have a common goal, however, now, it's more the case that everyone is out for themselves. My advice - hold on. If a contract is signed, it means that both the author and the publisher are satisfied by the conditions. Then, it's a matter of "honor" that both parties fulfill them - completely and timely. Can't really say much about an editing career.

Publishing advice: Your first worry should be about selling books that are not out of the print yet. Lots of great books haven't been sold because people didn't know how to sell them. Currently, the price for a book is determined by the independent seller, which increased serials' market and nearly killed the genre of short story. You can understand the seller -- he needs to get his return. So if you have an independent way of selling books, you can hold the monopoly on publishing good quality books.

Question: So what are you writing now?

Moscow, Russia - Wednesday, January 27, 1999 at 21:11:32 (MSK)

A. Funny how the simplest questions can become the ones most hard to answer. When I'm in a middle of a big project, usually I have no new story ideas, so when I finish, I have somewhat of a creative "crisis". To add to the dilemma, my previous novels were in the fantasy genre, so if I start another project in the same style I'll be "rephrasing" myself. Which I don't want to do, and frankly, am afraid of doing. So, here's four months that I'm in limbo. I wrote a small cooking article, and am working on two more, but in our times, no one pays anything for them. I wrote something called "Living Souls" but it's not really a story, more like a philosophical essay. I'm also working on another "weird" story idea. It will be very short.

I'm toying with two major ideas. One of them looks like a novel, but nothing is definite yet, so it's hard to describe. It won't be Sci-Fi nor Fantasy, but something so crazy that I haven't allotted it into a genre yet. A possible title is "Light in the window".

I also started a fun space opera, got done about half a page. Which is too small to know what's it is going to lead to. Working title - "The Player". Original, isn't it?

Question: Slavochka, hello. Finally, we were able to reach you.
We have two questions, both about a beard.

Serezha's question: How does your lack of beard influencing your productivity? Do you perceive the world differently? Your genre? Can we classify your works by presence of/lack of beard?

Marina's question:. Slava, you have such a wonderful singing voice. Where did you study singing? Did you ever have to use your talent? Do you think if ever the hard times come, you'll earn your living by singing? Comment by Duches: So what if you have a beardů Now if you had a tailů

Marina and Sergey Dyachenko
Kiev, Ukraine - Saturday, January 30, 1999 at 22:45:43 (MSK)

Of course, the beard plays a vital role. Usually, presence of a beard signifies longer stories, and lack of - shorter. I noticed, sans beard, it's easier to come up with ideas, but with a beard - easier to write.

About singing voice - I have none! My Mom, in the late forties, sang in a Choir of Sandler, and my sister... When she came to to Sandler's auditions, he came up to her and asked her how she was related to my mom! Now that's a voice! I just squeak.

There is just a family tradition -- to sing. In weekdays and weekends, in evenings instead of watching TV, during the day when doing common work. You'll appear to have voice even if you don't want to

And the tail comment - what's so unusual about a tail? When I was a student I had a whole bunch!

Question: I'd like to know what happened with Der-Nast, Hiyci who didn't like to wear clothes, and other characters. Will they ever live again?

Danila Kovalev <>
SPb, Russia - Friday, February 05, 1999 at 20:18:31 (MSK)

Since the novel is finished and I am not planning a sequel, these guys are pretty much done. Of course, I have a huge chunk of a sequel laid out at the page, but 70% isn't 100%, so until the story is published, the fate of these characters will be unknown. But, I'll tell you this; Der Nast will live, though nothing good will happen for him. This powerful mage has one human quality: he has pride, and won't bow even before the gods. And gods don't like that.

Let the rest be a mystery. Otherwise, no one will want to read it.

A huge Thanks for "Of Grafs and Graphomaniacs"!
Writings of Tolstoy really are impossible to read. (As are writings of Leninů)

Dima <>
Moscow, Russia - Monday, February 15, 1999 at 22:41:28 (MSK)

Thank you! I tried really hard. Sometimes, one does come across those negative responses. In the almanac "Day and Night" (they published one of my articles) were printed letters from two readers. Both of them suggested forced psychiatric help. One was title "Medical Aid Necessary," the other "The Demon of Vanity"

As we can see, ideas of Lenin and Tolstoy are still aliveů

Question: What's up with "Black Whirlwind"? It wasn't in the bibliography, and the fragment in "books" stops mid-phrase. Is it out or not? And if not, when is it going to?

Dima <>
Moscow, Russia - Monday, February 15, 1999 at 22:51:58 (MSK)

"Black Whirlwind" - as are other publishing projects in the country - is experiencing a crisis. Actually, in the past couple of days, there was some movement. EKSMO gave a final price, and Anri the illustrator drew some nice pictures. (I like especially the back covers). Now we are just waiting for it to come out

Question: Your style - especially early works reminds me of works by Lev Vershinin. Is he related to you? Are you even familiar with his works?

Vsevolod <>
Kiev, Ukraine - Monday, March 01, 1999 at 22:10:05 (MSK)

Dear Vsevolod!

A. Unfortunately, I have to disappoint you: Lev Vershinin is not a relative. He is a good friend of more then twelve years. So of course, I'm familiar and very much respect his work. I never noticed our works were similar however.

But even if they are, we never know who influenced whom. I'm older then him by ten years, and started writing fifteen years before he did, so a couple of my early works were published when he was still in school.

I'd like to know what you would write if you were writing simply for pleasure, for yourself? What does your heart yearn for? Will you have a sequel to one of your books?
And besides, what do you prefer, fantasy Sci-Fi or historicals?

Chelyabinsk, Russia - Saturday, March 06, 1999 at 15:39:13 (MSK)

I myself often wonder the same exact thing. You see, I always write for "pleasure", never anything I wouldn't want to write. Now, I want to write a little space operetta - a genre no one really experimented before. Space opera is rather boring, but an operetta...

I really don't know what I prefer more - sci-fi fantasy or historical works. Historicals require lot's of "technical" work, and sci-fi really works the imagination. It depends on the mood, I guess.

Question: Hello again. Simple question: How do you feel about books in files?

Moscow, Russia - Tuesday, March 23, 1999 at 16:03:26 (MSK)

I don't really have any feeling about it. Sometimes, rarely, I read from the screen - I prefer an actual "live" book.

About distributing my works online: a lot I uploaded myself, a lot were uploaded with my permission. Unfortunately, now, it's impossible to publish anything new that has gone through the Internet. Which means I have to hoard all my written works. Hopefully, it will change soon.

Question: In "The Many-handed God of Dalayn", the one published by Azbyka, there's an afterword by Balabukha where a possibility is presented of a sequel. How do you feel about it - have you ever seriously thought of a sequel?
p.s. By the way, what's up with Azbuka? Lately, they haven't published anything at all! Perumov says it is on it's last breath, is that so?

SPb, Russia - 04/10/99 14:58:07 MSD

Actually, I did have a couple of thoughts about a sequel, and actually started writing down a couple of things. Then I discovered that I was bored with it. The title is "Sitting on the Edge" and though it's supposed to be fresh and new, it feels somehow stale. So I put it off, and as it turned out, a lot of sketches were included in "Black Blood" and "Earthly Ways". So, I may now definitely say that I won't have to walk the oroihons again.

Perhaps I'll put online that chapter that I wrote, but I'm afraid I'll be immediately bombarded with "What happens next?"

Don't really know anything about Azbuka - I haven't been there for almost a year.

Can you clear up something? On the cover of "ManyHanded..." there's a blurb how you won Beliaev's prize for the novel in 1994, yet, in the footnotes by Balabukha, it says 1995. Which one was it?

SPb, Russia - 04/10/99 15:00:49 MSD

The novel was published in 1994, and I received the award for it in 1995.

"Black Storm" and "Earth clouds" - are those fantasy and will they be published soon?

SPb, Russia - 04/10/99 15:05:14 MSD

Yes, both are fantasy, but I have no idea when they will be published. It was supposed to happen last year, but haven't yet. For two months, all I'm hearing is "They're coming out in a few weeks".

Question: Do you have any plans to continue your partnership with Perumov and also, do you think you'll write a sequel to "Black Blood"?

SPb, Russia - 04/10/99 15:07:50 MSD

It was very interesting to work with Nik Peumov, and I would love to renew our working relationship. Unfortunately, he has more projects then he can physically do, so even though a sequel has long been though about, I was doing it solo. (It's that same Black Whirlwind that somehow can't get published.

Question: About your assumption that Socrates was poisoned with hellebore is not based on anything. Somewhere I read that he was most certainly poisoned with hemlock. It is more poisonous than hellebore and the taste is abominable - (konine alkaloid). But it is not really important - one guess is worth another.

Stratmore, Australia - Saturday, May 01, 1999 at 19:28:05 (MSD)

The assumption that Socrates was poisoned with hellebore is not mine, someone of the great humanists wrote about it - Rable or Erasm. And since I don't consider hemlock a poison for many years, the words about hellebore appeared to be a good ending for the article.

Question: This question has been asked for a hundred of times, but is "Black Blood/Black Whirlwind" going to be a trilogy? At least after the Whirlwind I had an impression of the story stopped at halfword.

Moscow, Russia - Wednesday, May 12, 1999 at 20:31:03 (MSD)

No, there won't be a sequel. The story of Romar with no hands, and Unika with her husband and son is finished completely. On purpose, I didn't elaborate how Unika go back to her homeland- the reader now has to do the work and imagine it! The book is over, I said all I wanted, now the reader has to work.

Question: I finally started reading Black Storm. Didn't think you could do it without Perumov, but you're really holding your own! I couldn't help it, I looked at the end to see what happens, and immediately figured out that you cut it at the most interesting part! Pretty sneaky. Meaning you'll have another "Blacků something". Just please, don't touch Romar. Let him stay immortal. It'll be boring without him.

Aleksey Kolpikov <>
Rostov-upon-the-Don, Russia - Wednesday, June 09, 1999 at 13:33:48 (MSD)

I really did work hard on this one. But just because it ends right at most interesting moment, doesn't mean there will be a sequel. I really put down everything I meant to put down.

When you read something good, it doesn't end on the last page, you can still think about what happens after the written story is over. I always did that when I finished reading something. So no, there won't be a third story, but the second ended in such a way that the reader can still "play" with the heroes, since their fate isn't at all finalized.

A rumor reached me about an atheistic project of fine city of Saint-Petersburg, and someone called Loginov was going to participate. :-)
Please tell, at what stage is the project now and is it possible to see parts of it by Internet/Fidonet?
PS: Anti-religious discussion from "The Well" does impress.

Michail Gituljar <>
Moscow, Russia - Sunday, July 25, 1999 at 00:55:05 (MSD)

Not all rumors are true. As far as I know, there's no such "writers'" project. Not everyone writing messages in Fido or Internet is a writer. I really did receive some kind of an invitation, but very politely declined it.

My refusal does not at all mean a refusal of my own views. I was a militant atheist and I remain one, but any propaganda has to find those to whom it is directed to achieve its purpose. And even in a nightmare I can't imagine anyone in our time read rotaprint atheistic brochures. So, this kind of publication would be a waste of time.

I believe, a book written with atheistic or god-fighting position in mind is far more successful, than the most rageous of the publicistic essays, but I don't refuse to work on essays either. Anywaym all atheistic propaganda of Soviet times is firmly forgotten, while the books of atheists like Mark Twain or Leo Taksil are live and keep battling the obscurantism. Who remembers atheistic articles of Vladimir Tendrakov now? And "The Marvellous" will be read for a long time.

To the best of my ability, I try to act similarly. Atheistic position is present not only in the novel "The Well", but in the "God of Dalayn...", in "Earthly Ways" novels, in the "In your name", "Miracle of an ordinary day", stories, in "Equal to a god", "Living souls" short stories. I think, such propaganda is much more effective than writing articles for emaciated brochures. At least the books will be read and the word heard by real people.

Question: So what is your profession? I read your bio - Cook, teacherů What do you do, really?

Yekaterinburg, Russia - Monday, August 16, 1999 at 18:24:40 (MSD)

I'm really a writer. Meaning, I don't work anywhere, and live on the royalties. They aren't too big, but I don't really need much. Plus, this way, I can write, write write...

Q. I just read a great article (Of Grafs and Graphomaniacs). How we all just accept popular opinion. A hundred years ago someone decided that Lev Tolstoy is a genius. Fine, let him be one. And no-one considered the fact that his books are impossible to get through. I love Gogol (I even liked his stuff when I was young and he isn't exactly a writer for youths!). In school, we read Turgeniev's stuff - didn't have much of a problem. Of people I know, at least one loves Dostoevsky, some love Pushkin and Lermontov. But no one could get through "War and Peace" ! Everyone tried butů I thought it was because of his "geniuses" - not everybody. But after reading your article, well, it made sense. One more "complex" I got rid of. Thank you so much!

I loved "Many-handed God..." The vocabulary there is just great! You can make a Tenger dictionary. And it was such a great easy read (well, maybe except the first ten or so pages). When I read Tolstoy, I never really felt for the heroes, I didn't really care for them one way or the other. So not to take away attention from t he "meaning" of the book, some would say. I can only imagine what Tolstoy would write of fantasy Sci-Fi. Thank god, he didn't live to see it! By the way, Efremov the Soviet writer can hold up a candle to Tolstoy - i n terms of hugeness and sheer boredom of works. (Andromeda Nebula... yuck!)

Your books are wonderful! But we can't buy them anywhere! I downloaded an abstract from "Earthly Ways" from the Net, but I can't find "The Well". Can you publish more in the Net??

1. Where do you work now?
2. Hard to formulate what I want to say: great bulk of fantasy consists of good vs. evil, good winning, evil stepping back only to return. Yet, your books are very original. Really make you think about live, and the meaning of it, and
3. How do you come up with different worlds and heroes like Dalayn, Many-handed, Shooran?

Sergey <>
August 17, 1999 at 9:52 (MSD)

Sergei, Thank you for the letter. I'm glad I was able to get rid of a childhood "complex" . I'll try to answer your questions. The history of "Many-handed God Of Dalayn" is documented in the article by Andrey Balabukha. A lot of it was child's play, and the Mongol Dictionary. That world took thirty years in the making. "The Well" was a paradox: no-body could find it anywhere, but they sold it for two years here in St. Petersburg. So we couldn't publish more because they weren't out of stock, but no one else could find it. I'm trying to get it republished. We'll know the answer in a few months. How does a book combine sound plot and work of thought? I don't think it can exist otherwise. If a hero get's up and runs away, I'll need to know why did he and where is he running. I don't believe the villains are simply villains - they need something human that pushes them to do those villainous deeds. And a hero being a hero simply because he is "good" is boring. So you need to feel for both and understand what drives both. About where I work: I don't really work anywhere other then being a writer. Finally, the question I don't really know how to answer: I don't know where those worlds and heroes come from. All of a sudden there's a bunch of people talking about something and getting into such mess you don't know how to get them out. So you don't really "make up" stuff - you simply write the truth about them. In this case, sci-fi and realism are very similar.

Question: I love your books. Where are your parents from? What kinds of songs did they teach you?

Vienna, Austria - Thursday, August 26, 1999 at 22:24:16 (MSD)

Both my parents were born in Leningrad, with my mother's roots in Volhov, and father's in Riazan and Austria.

About songs: no-one really taught me, they were just sung a lot in my family. We sang everything - ballads, soviet lyrical songs, college amateur songs. Mom did some arias from operas, and Grandma and Grandpa sang Russian Folk Songs. I still like to sing, especially when I mess around in the kitchen.

If you really think that, you don't really understand anything. And if that's your way of getting attention, you're a bastard.

Toronto, Canada - Monday, September 20, 1999 at 07:58:26 (MSD)

It's always interesting to note the politeness of those who defend Tolstoy.

Question: I read your articles - pretty interesting. The "Graphomaniacal" essay even inspired to throw a little stone into your garden. And if it's really necessary to observe the purity of a language, please note your spelling of "Fantasy" as you have written it in the Cinderella article. Excuse me, it's a bit nit- picky, yet very noticeable. Or is not your error? If I remember correctly you did some translations of T. Dish and he is an English-speaking writer...

Slava <>
Saint-Petersburg, Russia - 05/16/00 23:10:20 MSD

I fully admit it - the mistake is mine. I'd like to correct it but I don't know how to do it on an internet published article. As for my translating career - I don't understand a single word in the English language, having studied French in school and getting a C at that.

The real translator in the work you are referring to was Misha Pchelintsev, and I just "prettied" it up. Marshak once said that "Translations are like women - they are one of the two: true or beatiful. It was my job to see that the translation was written in a normal language, so choosing between "ugly" and "flighty" I chose pretty. Some readers, especially those very familiar with English and not so well in Russian don't like those types of translation. To appease these people, I'd like to note that I haven't done any sort of translations in a while.

And finally a Russian proverb from Dahl - "it's not a thief who steals, but who translates".1)

(In Russian, "to translate" (a text) and "to shift the blame" are the same word. - D.L.)

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