Today I am on the Blog Tour for Invitation From a Mobster and I am here with an author interview for you all.
Before I share that though, here’s some information on the book.
Title: Invitation From a Mobster Author: Jiri Ovecka Publisher: Clink Street Publishing Published: 24th March 2022 Format: Paperback Source: N/A Summary: Invitation from a Mobster is inspired by real events. It tells the story of one of the most important and feared journalists of the 1990s and is set during the Wild West Gold Rush era of Czech politics following the Velvet Revolution.
Vitas is a journalist who uncovers injustice and crime in the chaos of democratic beginnings in a formerly Communist nation. He works in an environment in which all things are affected by the pursuit of money and all human values fall to the wayside. Vitas uncovers various scams involving by one of the biggest mobsters in the Czech Republic, Kromen.
The story moves to Tibet and its forcible annexation during the last century by China. A young girl is being raised in a monastery of Tibetan Buddhists near the Indian border. No one in the monastery has any idea that a destiny of great historical significance lies in wait for her. Because of the girl the monastery becomes a significant source of interest for Chinese officials.
What is your favourite thing about writing books? Writing books enables me to exist in another world. I care very little about pastimes in the present, or exotic cuisine. To toy with characters, and create games through narrative is what appeals to me. I’m overwhelmed by this other, separate world and I’m enamoured with the feeling it gives me.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why? My favourite character is Cypros. Although, in one sense, this is a person without any character at all. Only the basic, almost idiotic perception of life and of the world. Even so, it was (for me) a great feeling to invent the plots that surround this person, mostly narratives drawn from life, though altered from other real persons and situations. But at the base, this character is essentially evil – everything you could imagine in a person you would never want to actually meet – while at the same time a kind of comic relief. It’s very easy to get a sense of him and then begin to suddenly feel sorry for his strangely pure life.
What is your favourite drink to consume while writing? Wine, wine, wine. But cautiously. I have to be absolutely sober during the start of the writing process. After some hours I can start to drink, slowly. By this time, I am in the very late hours of intensive concentration and already isolated in my “other world”. If I was to drink from the start, I’d be completely unable to concentrate and mostly cease writing altogether through lack of ideas and a stupified brain.
Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing? I can’t pin down my bad habits (but I have a lot of them in my life otherwise). Although, if I’m desperate, lost for ideas, I take a bath. All my best ideas come to me in the bath. It’s there that I talk aloud with the characters of my book. And while writing I must listen to music. The blues – Melody Gardot, Norah Jones, Diana Krall and others. No written word happens without this music…
How did you research your book? The European section of my book is a story based on true experience, so there was no research in the academic sense. But the section that takes place in East Asia is entirely fictional – I studied the regions I was to write about at the Charles University in Prague, with the Far East Institute. It was there that I studied the religion, as well as the flora and the fauna, not to mention the history. And it should be mentioned that I read widely on the topic of China and Tibet…
Are you a plotter or a pantser? It’s clear I am a plotter. Many years passed before I was ready to write. I had to have a clear plot, a structure. That said, once I had started writing, I quickly became a pantser – then it was only a question of fantasy and “playing the game”. However, all of this occurred under a known structure understood in advance.
If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why? I am satisfied with my world, even though I am very often not satisfied with myself. So there really isn’t any other world I’d want to live in.
If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why? Even though he isn’t fictional, I would like to befriend the Dalai Lama, or another figure of his vein in order to better understand the meaning of life and death. And not only to understand – as I already studied this topic in depth – but to be able to deal with and process the worst moments of life. And yet I know – it is only a dream. Truthfully – fiction or not – there is only the desire to escape…
About the Author
Jiří Ovečka is a novelist, documentary film-maker, publicist and film-director. During the so-called ‘Wild-Nineties’ of post-communist Czechoslovakia, through to the early Millennium, he covered some of the most difficult economic cases, including those with the involvement of organised crime syndicates, as an investigative journalist. Prior to this, he was an actor in numerous regional Czech theatres, over a period of eleven years. He studied drama and theatre at the Academy of Performing Arts. Although he was initially enthusiastic about drama and the stage, he found himself drawn away from the act. As such, he became a journalist following the Velvet Revolution, ultimately placing him in a tête-à-tête with major figures, including gangsters, mobsters, policemen, politicians and lawyers, many of whom shaped the course of his life in a permanent way. He received several awards for his journalistic and filmic career.
Throughout his career, Ovečka found himself in incredible situations numerous times, many of these encounters giving rise to the motifs, themes and scenarios in his novel Pozvánka od Mafiána, now translated to English as: Invitation from a Mobster. Multiple of the novel’s scenes and characters involve almost-direct imitations and quotes drawn from Ovečka’s journalistic experiences, of which he says that most readers do not believe true situations, but on the contrary, believe the imaginary ones. For reasons of discretion and literary necessity, many characters from the real world find themselves combined and transformed into one single actor or another in the novel. What’s more, the protagonists’ narrative, which spreads from Europe to Tibet, is not simply an extended arc or setting. It is in itself a reconciliation with notions of universal and invincible evil. Although, as the author himself says, “… it is not possible to give only horror and terror. I must also give hope…”