I started writing poems and short stories soon after having learnt how to write. However, for many years, periods of creative writing were followed by rather long breaks. I suppose there were two reasons for that. First, I just didn’t sufficiently believe in my capacities. A small critical comment was enough to discourage me. Second, I devoted a lot of time and energy to the studies. I am a linguist, currently teaching and doing research at a university, and academic career, at its early stage, didn’t really allow me to concentrate on writing. I started to write regularly only after having completed my Ph.D. dissertation. Then I first concentrated on poems. These were often ironic retellings of old fairy tales. Then I turned to short stories, which, again, involved an interaction of humor and fairy tale motives. Then one of these stories suddenly became the first chapter of a whole novelette. And then, finally, the stage of novels came.
I uploaded chapters piece by piece, as I was writing them, on a Russian website of the Wattpad and Royal Road type. Yes, I write in Russian, which is my only mother tongue, even though I left the USSR at the age of 13. Interestingly, I write linguistic articles and books in English, which is my main professional language; however, when it comes to novels, it has to be Russian.
At first, I had few followers. When three readers started to comment on the chapters regularly, I got very excited. People were reading my book! They were waiting for continuations! They discussed my characters as if these were real persons (and, of course, this is precisely how an author feels towards his or her heroes)! I always replied to the comments. I loved communicating with my readers, and I love that till this very day. The next book had many more followers and eventually became quite popular.
I did nothing for promotion purposes. I just wrote what I wanted to write, did what I enjoyed doing. And it turned out that other people, too, needed those stories, those fairy tales for adults, which I invented. This was quite unexpected for me and made me very happy.
Publishing was the next step. Interestingly, when I tried to send some of my earlier novels to editors, I received no reply (which essentially means a rejection.) But afterwards I received an e-mail from an editor proposing to publish one of my novels. He represented the Russian publishing house which specializes on sci-fi and fantasy literature. That was the beginning, and I still remember how happy I was. Somehow this gave me a feeling that now I was a ‘real’ writer. Now I have published 13 novels (a somewhat scary number, I admit, but the 14th one is on the way) in four major publishing houses of Russia.
Not very long ago one of the Russian editors gave me the idea of translating my books to English. I had no clue as to whether this would work but decided that I MUST give it a try! So one of my books, a historical fantasy romance ‘Half a Step Away from Love’ (more romance than fantasy, I would say), has been translated to English several months ago. This is where I am now. At the very beginning of a new journey. It is simultaneously strange and scary and exciting to become an indie author again. I wish I could say what will follow, but meanwhile, I have no clue.
As I have mentioned, I work as a linguist, and I love my job. I love LANGUAGE and enjoy both investigating it and using it for creative writing. I also used to enjoy learning foreign languages very much, but now I have absolutely no time for that. My son is growing bilingual, and it is quite interesting and exciting to observe the process of his acquiring two languages.
I also have two hobbies related to my profession. One is animal communication. What communication systems do animals use, how different are these systems from human language, do parrots understand what they say when they copy human speech? and so on and so forth. Cognitive and communicative skills of apes are, of course, of a particular interest, and that is why I found the picture on this website so attractive! My second interest lies in the domain of humor creation. As it turns out, people play with linguistic rules quite creatively in order to achieve a humorous effect. Once in a while I teach courses on each of these topics.