How many of the stories are based on real events/true stories?
All of them. For example, the story It’s Marlboro is based upon observing the drunken gravediggers at the cemetery where my grandfather is buried.
Why did you add the poems?
Originally, I had two projects going. When it was suggested that I turn them into one I chose the poems that had Romanian subject matter. I like the way the poems and stories complement each other.
Do you prefer writing prose or poetry?
I’m not choosy as long as it’s edgy and vivid.
Who is this book aimed at?
Everyone. But don’t expect a lighthearted Hollywood ride.
There seems to be a political undercurrent to these stories and poems. What can you tell us about that?
Politics is something you don’t talk about but it’s buried in the psyche of every Romanian. Every Romanian is aware of the obscene level of corruption or how many aspects of the system don’t work. I make covert points.
Who are your favourite writers and why? What effect did their work have on you and your writing?
I’ll go with Hemingway. Reading Hemingway had a drastic effect on my writing. I knew immediately that I wanted to be precise and cutting, with both character and landscape.
What does writing mean to you? How has writing informed your own character?
Writing is a job. It can also be much more than that. If you’re lucky. It’s made me the miserable little sod I am.
When did you start writing creatively? How has the process changed over time?
I wrote my first story when I was eleven. My great friend, Don Pavey, edited it in red pen. There was red everywhere but it was very exciting. Now living comes into it and all that other head scratching stuff so it’s no longer as exciting, the hours seem shorter and the mind less fresh.
How do you view other writers?
Competition. Wanted dead or alive. Hopefully dead. I’ve been lucky to come across some decent writers with acceptable personalities and great expression. I’ve also met the other type.
What’s your opinion of writing for a market?
Didn’t understand it at sixteen, still don’t understand it at thirty. What good is a book if you decide for whom and for what it’s for before you’ve even began? I don’t write How Tos or DIY manuals.
What does publishing mean to you?
Hopefully a way to meet like-minded people and work towards having our work read by a wider public. That was my drive behind Honest.
How do you feel publishing is developing? What is your opinion of eBooks?
I first used POD in the year 2000. It was quite new then and nobody was aware of what it could do. Now it’s matured somewhat but it’s still a bit raw. But the fact that people like us can almost share the same space as a company like Penguin can only be a good thing. Electronic books need a few more years before the technology can catch up with the demand and ideas.