This week we meet author Renata Stankova as she talks about her debut novel. Sirma. You can order Sirma at the following:- https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07R8G21KJ/ https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sirma-reni-stankova/1137061555 https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/ebook/sirma https://books.apple.com/us/book/sirma/id1514522187 Hi Renata, let's start with you telling us a little about yourself. Hi, I live in Bulgaria and work as an SEO Monday to Friday. Outside of working hours, I write action-packed stories with lots of romance and drama. When writer’s block strikes, I go on a mountain hike. What got you into writing? My parents told me that when I was a baby, they gave me a tray with different objects on it. It’s that old tradition that whatever the baby picks will be the baby’s path in life. And I picked up a pen. If destiny is real, then the moral is, whatever we become, it’s because we chose it as babies. We have no power beyond that. So, when I was little, I used to watch movies or read books and think “This shouldn’t be like that,” or “I would have made this unfold differently.” Yes, I was that insufferable child. One day when I was 15, I thought, maybe I should create something just the way I want it. And, I started writing. That's an interesting tradition. What’s the main thing you love and hate about writing? Writing gives me purpose. I’ve heard other authors say the same, and I can relate. When the story and characters click in just the right way, I feel like I was put on this world to do just that. My life has meaning and I’ve found it. I thank fate and all gods and goddesses for allowing me to make something for the world. Other times, when things don’t work and I can’t find a solution, I want to bury myself and never look at another human being. All this hard work, and in the end, I’m producing garbage. Then my mind would go even further into Depressed Vile and I won’t even be able to look at my work for weeks on end. Another thing that makes me happy is when I read organic reviews. So far, I’ve only had a few, and all of them have been positive. I know that not everyone will have the same response, but the notion that my creation has made people smile is irreplaceable. It's nice knowing people appreciate your work, isn't it. Who is the worst villain you’ve ever written, and why? I’m not good at villains. My creations are mostly Man Against World storylines. I follow the journey of my protagonist as they navigate through a world that is against them for a completely non-personal reason. There usually is a final villain in the end, but the villain is simply another part of the environment. My villains are nothing special, I hope my readers focus on my protagonists. I once wrote a story where I had this personal conflict between two characters. The villain started as a love interest and thorough the story they turned into an evil person. I planned to have a final battle between the two leads, where one would kill the other and then kill themselves. But this bummed me out so much, I ended up deleting the entire project. That's tragic deleting an entire project, I feel for you there, what is next on your list to write/publish? I’m working on a high fantasy book, which is a big deal for me since I have no experience with the genre. Worldbuilding is taking most of my time, and the way I see it, it might turn into a trilogy. But I can’t make predictions at this time. I can only say that I’ve had an extreme strike of inspiration when I started this new story. The same inspiration I experienced when I started “Sirma”, so I think it will turn out good. Every author knows that you can’t control the muse, it comes whenever it wants. But once it’s here, you have to grab it and squeeze it for every creative drop it has. That’s what I did and I keep working hard. Who is your favourite author, and why? My favourite author is Maurice Leblanc, who wrote my absolute favourite series about Arsene Lupin – the gentleman thief. These books created one of my favourite characters of all time and the more I read, the more I was inspired to create my own characters. I can mostly thank him for kickstarting my creative writing development. I hope you're as successful as he is! Who encouraged you the most to write? No one. In the beginning, no one takes you seriously when you say you’re writing a book, so you have to encourage yourself. I’ve decided to stop writing several times, but I ended up coming back. Not because someone else told me to but because it simply didn’t feel right not to write. This corresponds with that feeling I mentioned – the feeling that you’re put on this world to write. Which is tragically comical. I stopped writing because I wasn’t producing anything good, and it hurt me. But it also hurt not producing anything at all. So, the only solution was to create something good. Which at that time seemed like it would never happen. But the good news is that every writer gets better with time. That dilemma Renata is something every writer faces, I'm happy you pushed past it! Are you as avid a reader as a writer? Unfortunately, it’s been a while since I’ve read any books. I’m still working a fulltime job. A big chunk of my spare time goes to writing, which is an anti-social activity. And reading is anti-social too, so I decided to sacrifice it in the name of personal life. My friends and family are a priority, so I won’t be reading new books for the time being. But, that won’t be forever! I intend to make time for reading books once I check all my current project tasks. With some luck, I might be ready by the end of the year. Small goals are always best! You sound very organised so when you do read, what’s your favourite genre? I don’t read non-fiction and when it comes to age category, I prefer Adult books. Middle Grade and Young Adult are so distant to me, like a different dimension. I simply can’t get into the characters. Maybe, because I’m old. Also, when a book is categorized as Adult, but the main character is acting like a teen, that’s a turnoff. Another thing is that I’m not into tragedies, I need my happy ending. Beyond that, I don’t have a preference. I enjoy contemporary and historical fiction, sci-fi and fantasy, thriller, and mystery. My favourite part of any book is the romance between the two lead characters, so as long as there’s a well-developed romantic subplot, I can read any story. Bonus points for sex scenes. Even when they’re cringy, I love them. Do you listen to music when you write? Epic movie soundtracks. Instrumentals only, because when I hear lyrics, I’m not able to focus. I usually go on YouTube and play a 10-hour long compilation of movie soundtracks. It does wonders for my productivity. This may seem a silly question, but f you could interview any famous author who would it be and why? My favourite author, of course – Maurice Leblanc. It won’t be possible though since he’s dead. I would be interested in how he came up with Arsene Lupin, especially in the books that also included Herlock Sholmes. (Yes, it’s Sherlock Holmes, but since Conan Doyle did not approve of using his character, Leblanc changed the name). Those are my favourite parts of the series. The conflict is epic, lighthearted, funny, and made my 17-year-old self so happy. So tell me a secret that none of your fans know! I watch animes. :D Lol, that's a safe secret! Tell me what your main character would say about you! “Why are you torturing me so much?” If my characters were alive, they would hate me for making their life hell. Then again, if I have to compare myself with other authors, I think I’m going easy on them. I might be killing their best friends, burning their village to the ground and make them see a decapitated comrade, but I always give them the most satisfying romantic relationship. I’m a benevolent god. Finally, any words of advice? Write about the things you want to read. If you view writing as something spiritual that can bring you emotional satisfaction, this is the best advice I can give you. Write to make yourself happy, and you can be sure your work will make other people happy as well. In every story, there is text and there is paratext. The text is what you write and the paratext is the meaning every reader takes from between the lines. If you’re writing with love and positivity, the reader will notice. This is the best you can give from yourself. Thanks, Renata, for sitting down and interviewing for us! If you want to find out more about Renata please look or her at the following links:- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReniStankovaAuthor/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorrenistankova/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/renistankova/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19105728.Reni_Stankova Disclaimer. The opinions and views expressed in the article are the interviewees and may differ from the interviewer/general public. The works and images published here may be subject to the Authors copyright, please do not copy the images or claim them as your own.