Interviews

‘I Like to Call Myself a Planster’

Indie author Tamuna Tsertsvadze was just seven years old when she wrote her first ten-page story. And since then, there has been no looking back. The Georgian author, who primarily writes in Georgian and Englishes her works, says that although writing was a hobby of hers for a long time, she eventually decided to make it her career. ‘When I was fifteen, I self-published my first book, The Young Pirate, on Amazon. And I have been self-publishing my books since as well as pitching short stories to various websites,’ she begins, speaking to the Literary Express in an exclusive interaction. ‘Besides that, I’m a game writer and a screenwriter. The main genres I write are juvenile fantasy, Sci-Fi, and historical fiction,’ she lets us know.

Tamuna Tsertsvadze

The Beloved Symbol 

Talking at length about The Young Pirate, she says that its cover, comprising a blue-sailed ship with an orange background, became her main symbol and icon, which she now has as her profile picture on all of her social media. ‘I wrote The Young Pirate when I was vacationing in Batumi in the Republic of Georgia, my homeland. The book is largely inspired by Pirates of the CaribbeanThe Black Corsair series by Emilio Salgari, and Treasure Island by Robert Luis Stevenson,’ she tells us.

Stating that Batumi is a seaside city where her grandparents once owned an apartment so she, along with her family, could visit them in summers, she lets on that her grandfather loved themes of pirates, cowboys, and the like. ‘He was also fond of movies such as The Magnificent Seven and Pirates of the Caribbean,’ she says. ‘He would retell fairy tales and myths to us when we were young, so he was one of the major inspirations for my falling in love with fairy tales, legends, mythology, etc.’ 

NOTE: You can purchase The Young Pirate by clicking on the book’s cover image below.

The Desire Now Awakened

That’s precisely when the author, now twenty-two, fell in love with Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. ‘I was eight years old at the time and accompanied my brother and grandfather to the cinema to watch the newest installation, that is, “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”. Since then, I have been keenly interested in pirate history and legends,’ she explains. 

Her returning to Batumi at fourteen and seeing the seaside again aroused a desire to write about pirates, and that is how The Young Pirate came to be. ‘I myself Englished it and later self-published it on Amazon. I have been a writer since,’ she says with a smile. 

A Book That Honours Her Grandfather

Her latest book Galaxy Pirates too, we learn, features pirates. Ms Tsertsvadze tells us, ‘I wrote and published it last year. It has gained mixed ratings from the public, but most of the reviews on Goodreads were four-to-five stars. Ironically, I wrote it when I visited the seaside again, but this time, in Venice, where I went on a university exchange program. I wrote that book also to commemorate my grandfather’s legacy, who greatly admired my idea of the “Galaxy Pirates” back in 2016 when I first came up with it. Thus, I dedicated the book to my late grandfather.’

Sharing with us that Galaxy Pirates is inspired by its predecessor The Young Pirate, as well as Pirates of the Caribbean, and Disney’s animated movie, Treasure Planet, she goes on to state that the story primarily revolves around space pirates. 

NOTE: To buy a copy of Galaxy Pirates, click on the book’s cover image below.

Not Just a Plotter

On the question of whether she tends to plot her stories, Ms Tsertsvadze lets us know that more often than not, her creative process includes a mix of both pantsing and plotting. While she does plot out details and characters after she gets a general idea, she tends to go with the flow after.

‘Every time I had to plan characters deeply, they changed by the time I wrote, so I decided to not go with that strategy,’ she underlines. She adds that she knows some writers who prefer to plot out every single detail to the point that they even make their characters’ personality tests to get them right. ‘That, unfortunately, doesn’t work for me,’ she laughs. ‘I prefer to let my characters live within the story, engage in dialogues and events on the spot, and then edit as it fits the story better. That way, I unravel the hidden mysteries of the characters and the plot while writing, and it becomes even more exciting for me as well as the readers. I agree to the rule that if a writer does not undergo emotions while writing, the reader will not either when they read,’ she explains. ‘So, I enjoy pantsing and plotting at the same time. I prefer to call myself a plantser,’ she adds with a smile.

Many Minds, Many Kinds

Be that as it may, we learn over the course of the discourse that there are many writers from whom the author, who wishes to spend the rest of her life writing, draws inspiration. She lets us know that she ‘absolutely loves’ Astrid Lindgren, Jack London, Victor Hugo, Thomas Mayne Reid, Jules Verne, Emilio Salgari, Mary Norton, Murasaki Shikibu, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. ‘Astrid Lindgren, Thomas Mayne Reid, Jules Verne, Emilio Salgari, and Mary Norton are writers whom I read as a child. I enjoyed their books when I was a kid, and they got me into reading. Now, they continue to inspire me to write children’s books,’ she says.

Furthermore, she tells us that Victor Hugo, Jack London, and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry are three of the many writers who inspired her in her teen years and changed her way of looking at life in more ways than one. ‘Therefore, I often get back to them for inspiration. Some of their notable works that constantly recur in my books are The Hunchback of Notre DameLes Misérables, and The Man Who LaughsThe Little Prince and The Wind, Sand, and Stars. The symbolism featured in these books is impeccable,’ she shares with us. 

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There’s More!

The list, nonetheless, doesn’t end. The author, who is currently pursuing Bachelor of Arts in English Philology in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, says that Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Murasaki Shikibu and the other court ladies of Heian Japan, like Izumi Shikibu and Lady Sarashina besides Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley are writers that she has been reading since her adulthood. They continue to inspire me in terms of their marvellous use of language. The translations of the aforementioned Japanese writers are beyond beautiful while Mary Shelley’s English is extraordinary. As well as the symbolism and the writing styles she incorporates,’ says Ms Tsertsvadze, who tends to write when she has an urge to do instead of following a schedule.

Some manga writers too have inspired her throughout her writing journey, including well-known faces like Masashi Kishimoto, Hiromu Arakawa, and Kōhei Horikoshi. ‘As is evident, I’m a lover of anime, but I rarely read the manga. These three writers are, however, an exception. Needless to say, their works have greatly inspired me,’ she lets us know.

‘Juggling Studies and Writing Is Hard’

Conceding that juggling studies and writing is not a child’s play, the author says that she is now able to write more since the lectures are given online on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Nonetheless, the lectures are very informative in terms of literature and language, so they’re useful to me,’ she tells us.

Moving on, she underscores that many writers don’t understand that writers are always working on their writing. ‘As the movie-making has pre-production, production, and post-production stages, writing a book too has pre-writing, writing, and post-writing stages,’ she says, adding, ‘Pre-writing, on its part, can include everything from daydreaming to exploring new areas, having fun with friends, or learning new material. Every emotion we undergo and everything we experience is processed by our brain and later can return to us as a new book idea. So, every moment of our life is important when we are writers or artists of any kind.’

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Mythology, Folktales, and All That Jazz

The author whose hobbies include reading, playing games, learning new languages, and indoor gardening, says she is fond of mythology and folklore of various cultures, including Norse, Greco-Roman, Georgian, Chinese, Japanese, Native American, Jewish, and Celtic. ‘History, languages (both old and modern), folk music and modern folk compositions, Far Eastern martial arts, philosophy, psychology, astrology, nature and space, theology, spirituality, symbolism, alchemy, ufology… All fascinate me,’ she smiles.

Weaving Several Yarns

Letting us know that she has recently finished another book on Wattpad entitled ‘The Prison of Deviants’, she says she is planning to publish it on Amazon after December when The Wattys Contest on Wattpad is over. ‘If I am lucky enough, my book might as well win the contest. They’ll then publish it on Wattpad as paid work,’ she lets on. 

Talking about The Prison of Deviants, which happens to be her new experiment, Ms Tservadse says it is her first book written in first person present tense, like most of the modern YA novels are being written nowadays. ‘I’ve included several features of romance, retaining many of my writing styles and symbols. It is a book about humans infected by magical creatures such as werewolves, vampires, merpeople, fairies, etc. These magical creatures are called deviants. Those who are born as magical creatures are called inborn deviants and live in their kingdoms in nature while humans live in their cities and villages. However, the humans infected by deviants get rejected by their families since the latter ones fear getting infected too. They are then sent to the “prison of deviants” where they get locked up for the rest of their lives,’ she explains. 

A Story ‘Inspirited’ by COVID

The protagonist of the story named Theo Sinclaire, on the side note, is an eighteen-year-old female protagonist. ‘She is daring, free-spirited and determined just like many female YA protagonists these days. She is a human infected by vampires, who wishes to regain her freedom, so she decides to ally with the fellow prisoners and organise a break. But for that, she will have to oppose the warden – the strongest inborn deviant in prison, whom few have seen, yet all are terrified of,’ she tells us.

And what inspired her to write such a story? ‘I guess the main inspiration for this kind of a story should be the current COVID-19 situation since it has caused all of us to get locked up in our homes. Just like everyone else, I can’t wait for this disaster to get over. No doubt, 2020 has been a hard year.’

‘Success Demands Consistency’

Upon being asked if she has anything to tell budding writers, she states she would only probably ask them to not give up. ‘If you truly feel this is your path to take, you must keep at it. Writing can be a hobby or a passion, but when you want to make it a career, you need to spend more time and effort on it, as well as be determined to succeed no matter what the odds are. Arts and literature is never an easy path to take, but in the end, one succeeds if they don’t give up halfway through. Only those who keep writing can get better at it. As I often say, practice makes perfect. If you want the truth, I needed to wait two whole years before my books got enough attention, but eventually, they did because I persevered,’ says Ms Tsertsvadze, who is also well-versed in Italian, French, and Russian.

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The Final Word

When asked if there is something that she would want to be changed in the world, she responds as quick as lightning: People’s attitude

‘A lot of negativity is being spread. I wish people were more positive regarding their future and life in general,’ she tells us, asserting that if a person stayed positive and kind no matter how tough the situation, their lives would change for the better all on their own. ‘That’s just how life works. You have to see the best around to feel good within,’ she pronounces.

Notwithstanding, she also tells us that her sales skyrocketed after she began participating in #WritersLift events on Twitter. ‘I have found amazing people who share the same interests as me. We interact daily and have lots of fun. We also learn new things regarding our craft. I’d been searching for writing communities for a long time, but most of them, especially on platforms such as Facebook, are very negative, rude, and disappointing. The Writing Community on Twitter is a whole nother level – they’re very positive and helpful. So, if you’re having a hard time and want to find like-minded people, you’d better get started on Twitter!’ she emphasises with a beatific smile, before bidding us adieu. 

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