This November we’re publishing the urban fantasy novel A Town Called River by the award winning author and translator Igor Rendić. We sat down with Igor and asked him a few questions about himself and his writing so you can get the chance to learn more about him before his book gets out. And he delivered his answers beautifully, almost like a story.
Tell us something about yourself. Who is Igor Rendić?
Ah, introducing oneself to strangers, a great task for someone who doesn’t consider themselves particularly interesting.
I’m a writer and literary translator from Croatia. I’ve always enjoyed fiction in most of its many and varied forms (long ago I would have said first films and then books and then the rest, but for a long while now it’s been books first and second), and now that I’ve been getting published for over a decade and a half, I can’t really imagine a world where I never became a writer.
Although, if things had gone a bit differently at several points in my life, the part after ‘writer’ could have been “tour guide” or “criminal psychologist”.
I had at one point been a very keen pub quizzer (gave it up because I stopped having fun although I’ll still play quizzes at cons) and a conrunner (gave it up because 14 annual cons in a row is a nice number to retire after).
I enjoy hiking and I enjoy pizza, and those two things have so far been in a kind of equilibrium.
How long have you been publishing your work?
Since 2005, when I visited the local gaming&comics shop and on a pin board next to the cash register I saw a printed out call for submissions for an anthology to be published by Istrakon, one of Croatia’s sci-fi conventions. I told myself, “Why not” and wrote two stories and sent them both (you could send up to three back then). They published both and that was it.
What’s your favorite book you’ve translated?
Oooh, that’s a tough one, but after thinking hard about it I think it’s Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time which is to me top notch science-fiction—big ideas, great worldbuilding, compelling (non)human characters and fluent yet not simplistic prose. It was a pleasure to both read and translate and I’m glad to have done my part in bringing it to Croatian readers.
Have you published anything before in English, or was it all in Croatian?
Yes, in fact the first time I ever submitted a story in English, I managed to get it published! Back in 2014 I saw a submission call for a steampunk anthology. Once again I said to myself “Why not” and got to writing. The theme was not just steampunk but also “other worlds”, i.e. specifically not set on Earth. So I wrote a story titled “Ayelen”, about steampunk-technology level humans colonizing other worlds through portal-type cracks in reality. The plot was set on a world that is mostly archipelagos and vast oceans, and my characters were the crew of a small military vessel patrolling the seas against pirates and such—but since I love mashing up subgenres, I combined steampunk not just with a high seas adventure but also supernatural horror.
I’ve also published several stories in Croatian fanzines that have done issues in English, but those were all translations of stories originally written and published in Croatian.
Where can we read your stories? Give us the links!
Here you go, all the links in one handy place. Most of it is online or free to download.
What sort of stories do you like to write? Are there some particular (sub)genres you prefer more than others, some topics you like to revisit and so on?
I don’t usually think about this, so your question actually got me thinking and browsing my folders…
As far as the three genres making up speculative fiction goes, I don’t think I have a strong preference between fantasy or science fiction, but I do lean a bit more towards those two than towards supernatural horror.
But that’s a boring, statistics answer.
I’m definitely into heroes and people doing heroic stuff, but I’ve also over the years developed a taste for worlds and plots where their victories are bittersweet at best. My worldbuilding has been increasingly involving settings where the current world is built on the ruins of one or several older ones. I like the blurriness of the line between SF and fantasy, and the equally blurry line between science and magic it creates. I’ve challenged myself to write darker stuff, but even when I make a grimdark downer, there’s still a glimmer of light in the distance. My early works were strong on plot and worldbuilding and ideas, but weak on characters—through hard work I’ve managed to eliminate that weakness, and I know this because several of my stories that resonated most with readers in the past years were character pieces first and foremost, either dealing with interpersonal relations or people facing personal challenges while simultaneously tackling external problems.
You already have a few awards for your work. Other than that, what’s your favorite story you’ve written and what are you most proud of?
It’s a story that, when I finally finish the translation, will be titled “Snow, as if dusted with glass”. The original, in Croatian, won an award and it’s the story most people have told me they like, but the reason I’m most proud of it is, well, it’s a story that lives and dies on character and emotion, two things which had for a long time been my weaknesses as a writer and that I’d been working on for years—paying attention to good and bad character and emotion work in other people’s writing and learning how to recognize the flaws and problems in my own writing. It’s also the story I consider a significant roadmark in my development as a writer, as I can honestly say that only a year previous I would not have been able to write a version of it that was 20% as good as the one that actually came into being.
What can we expect from your first solo novel A Town Called River?
You can expect a man coming back to Croatia after more than two decades living abroad and discovering he’d inherited not only his recently deceased Grandmother’s apartment but also her magical powers—as well as her enemies and problems. There’s also witches and other magical creatures, dreams and nightmares, great local food and a lot of the main character’s flailing about in the very deep end of the pool he’s been dropped in against his own will. It’s definitely dark in places but emotional in others and there’s also (I hope) moments of humor and interesting character interaction. There’s talking and discovering secrets, and there’s fighting and thinking your way out of troubles. And, if I’ve done my job right, you should by the end be interested in visiting Rijeka.
What are your plans for the future?
The sequel, definitely, because my editor and publisher expect it. Seriously though, a sequel (two, in fact) to A Town Called River was always on the table, since the very early days of plotting and worldbuilding for ATCR.
There’s a list that has, over the past 20 years, been regularly updated, expanded and contracted – novels, novellas and stories I would like to write. Some of those will definitely be written in the near future; in fact just the other day, to get ATCR out of my head for a bit, I wrote the introductory chapter to a fantasy novel that’s been on my mind for a few years now.
Other items on that list will probably never move past the “title and a few sentences of an outline” stage, which is, I’ve been told by older, more experienced and accomplished writers, the way it always has been and always will be.
Where can we find you online?
I have a website, which can be found here.
And I have an Instagram, which is mostly the books I’m currently reading, photos from my hikes and walks, and food.
What would you like to say in the end to our readers and other writers?
If you like writing, write. If you want to be a writer, write. Carve out the time exclusively for it, be it minutes or hours. Build discipline; give yourself a mandatory daily minimum of words or time spent writing. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to write, to be creative. They certainly wouldn’t wait for yours. Also, don’t wait for “the right time to start”. Time definitely doesn’t give a toot about you and your writing.
And, if you’ve been identifying with those “writing is a chore and misery” and “I don’t like writing, I like having written” posts and quotes and find yourself liking and sharing them and scrolling through them instead of writing, please, ignore them and block such pages, and not just because they’re taking you away from actually working on something creative. Writing is work, definitely, it’s discipline and it’s very often bashing your head against obstacles, but it’s also supposed to be FUN, from outline to draft to final edits.
We literally get to create worlds and people and creatures and magic and technology and adventures of any kind you could possibly imagine. If you’re not going to have fun doing that, why do it at all?
A Town Called River is out this November. Learn more about it here. Add it on Goodreads and The Storygraph.