Saturday, 8 April 2017

Diana talks to E. J. Bancesco

Author’s interview – 2017. Diana talks to...E. J. Bancesco, author of Adrift and The Scarf

Hello, it is lovely to have this chance to chat with you. Let's begin ...

First things first I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it!

Q: Why do we write? Haven’t we learned how hard and unrewarding an undertaking this is?

A: I don’t know why. Perhaps, we don’t care about the pain and the ensuing disillusions, and all we’re after is the elation of having created an universe of our own.

If your latest book The Scarf was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?

Maybe someone like Logan Lerman—but younger—who is both cocky and vulnerable, brave and fragile, and has a physiognomy that betrays his emotions easily.

What made you choose this genre?

I’m not sure I chose literary fiction. That I write within this genre is because this is what I’ve always gravitated toward, as a reader.

How do you get ideas for plots and characters?

From people who impressed, intrigued, scared or inspired me; from people whom I fell in love with, or hated with a passion. Every character I use in my stories must have at least one trait, either physical or personality-wise that stands out, that is memorable. And honestly, since I expect I know myself best, I am only in my stories  under one guise or another,

If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!)  you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?

Historical fiction, without any hesitation. In fact I started one but lost it in a computer crash, and have felt so inconsolable after that, that haven’t been able to tackle it again.    (I feel your pain )

Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.

I was eighteen, but never saw myself as  a writer. I wrote because I yearned for my childhood years, and wanted to read about it as if it weren’t mine. The notion of being a published author only crossed my mind very recently—some four decades later.

Marmite? Love it or hate it?

I don’t hate it; truth is, I couldn’t care less.

Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??

My schedule makes it hard to develop a routine. I write mostly late at night, knowing full well it’s the wrong thing to do, for when I used to write in the morning—some years ago—the inspiration and productivity were there, humming and buzzing through my whole being. Now I rely on weekends to ponder on plot and character development and sometimes I will come up with something that serves as material to be developed during the following week nights. As for music, yes, it’s the baroque—opera and orchestral alike.    

I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?

The least necessary strictness is to keep family at a distant bay while writing. The ideal is, family is absent.

Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?

I’d like to travel for a living. I do like my day job—I am an architect with projects all over the world, and I do get on the plane once in awhile—but traveling without business partners and pre-scheduled meetings would be ideal; a professional traveller that, is, like Burt Wolf, Rudy Maxa, Rick Steves …

Coffee or tea? Red or white?

Coffee when writing – like Balzac. Wine comes after.

How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?

I think a great deal about the back story, because I want my novels to have one. At this point in time I approach plots from the standpoint of an innocent who is gradually sinking into the depths of the past. So yes, I start writing following a plan—trying to define that past and its main characters. But nothing is definitive; it’s all open-ended. This is a problem for me because it invites the nefarious writer’s block. 

If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?

Times New Roman is fine.

Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?

Gesta Hungarorum – telling of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin at the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries; revealing historical facts (or interpreted facts) concerning the history of Transylvania—and the Romanian people

Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!?

What a timely question! Here is what I just wrote to accompany a Facebook post, just minutes ago:  Do you ever find your plot rebelling against your quill, claiming to know the path of the narrative better than you, the mastermind behind it all? Humour the unruly plot and tag along for a bit and you may find yourself facing a piece of writing that scares you. As a dear friend says “by Jove” this is good. I daresay, the best writing is raw with intense emotions. The best writing is scary.

How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?

I do research and yes, I travel with that purpose though it is shared with visiting my homeland. Other research takes me to books. I buy a lot of books.

Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?

Plenty. Each character has an alter ego in reality. The ones that qualify for a prominent place in my stories have gone through a prep session. From the least significant detail of their appearance to their principal defining feature, every trait will undergo and intervention, mostly an exaggeration, and enhancement. Sometimes the physiognomy of one will be given to someone else, etc. Alas, too often, much of that meticulous work proves a waste of time (save for its ‘lesson learned’ merit), because you’re right—I mean your question is  a very good one—some of them, once plugged into the story feel like interlopers, and either their welcome is short-lived, or indeed curbed on arrival.

Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?

I must be prepared for such situations, for next to style, the story is what makes a book readable—and admired. The way I deal with this, is, I place the action inside a fictitious realm and am suddenly free to chose the extraordinary, the poignant and the frightening, dimensions which sometimes reality does not provide; I am free to experiment with lying. After all, isn’t fiction the lie through which we tell the truth?

Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred?

Yes. Often. When I am deep inside my story (after my family has been sent to a far shore) fiction is the reality within which I exist, and just as reality is in turns hurting us, delighting us, scaring us, demolishing us, etc., so does the fiction I am creating, to a point where I feel myself a product of that fiction. Once this has happened, I get hurt, delighted, scared or demolished by it, just as happens in real life.  
(What a moving and poignant observation. Thank you for sharing that.)

Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?

Yes. In fact, if I don’t fall in love with them—with her (let’s not beat around the bush), I simply cannot write. It’s like hating a character. How am I going to provide the passions and the hatred and all those others primordial emotions to my readers if myself do not feel them toward my characters? 

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?

British Edwardian and Victorian dramas, medieval history and fiction set in medieval Europe, contemporary fiction such as the work of Anita Brookner and John Fowles, and works by the titans of Russian literature.

What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?

Cornas by Auguste  Clape (a shiraz from the Cotes du Rhone)

Last but not least... favourite author?

John Fowles
About the author
E.J. Bancesco is a practising architect, an accomplished fine artist, and a passionate writer. Born in Bucharest, Romania, he and his wife immigrated to the United States in 1983 and now reside in Chicago, Illinois.
Adrift is his first novel, published by All Things That Matter Press   in July, 2016.
His second novel, The Scarf, was released in August, 2016, by Hyperborea Publishing
© Diana Milne January 2017 © E. J. Bancesco, 23 March, 2017








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