When did you start writing stories? When did you decide to become a writer?

Like many people at my secondary school I “was into poetry”, however, it had nothing to do with literature, as such. I first wrote short stories, when I was twenty. Of course I didn’t dare consider myself a writer; my greatest ambition at that time was to have a short story published in Mladé svět (Young World) or the Saturday supplement of the Mladá Fronta newspaper. I didn’t even start dreaming about publishing until later, when fifteen or twenty short stories were in print. In the 1980s, I wrote three novels, but the first two were rejected for being unsuitable due to the so-called external academic evaluation, which was compulsory at the time. It was the third novel, Názory na vraždu (Opinions on Murder),which was published as an official debut at the end of 1990.

 

To what extent is your fiction autobiographical?

Without a doubt, I belong among those writers who prefer to write about things they at least partially experienced themselves. I don’t, in any way, deny the semi-autobiographical nature of certain motifs, characters or scenes; however, the core of all my novels and stories is pure fiction. Even the seemingly most autobiographical books are, for the most part, fictitious. I consider personal experience an authentic starting point for fiction writing – however, a mere starting point – some kind of springboard for the storytelling.

 

How did you like the film adaptions of your books?

As is probably the case with every writer who has had his work made into a film, I have a number of various objections, especially when someone else wrote the screenplay. At the same time, my relationship to all my films remains almost inexcusably sentimental. I honestly like them regardless of their mistakes.

 

For many years now you’ve been publishing a book per year – isn’t that way too fast?

No. I’ve been working as a full-time writer for years now, I can fully pursue writing. Given the fact it takes me four months to finish a novel (in the past it took only two months), it meants I can spend the rest of year thinking about the next one. That doesn’t seem rushed to me.

 

Would you like to write a book one day “purely for you” and not for commercial reasons?

For me, it is a false dilemma. Of course, when I write, I think about my readers and I welcome any possible commercial success, however, at the same time I have never published a book which would be of no interest for me. Everything I have written so far has been written “for myself” for that matter. If I were to follow only commercial aspects, I would not have published collections of “intellectual” literary parodies, newspaper columns, or a psychological novel called Lekce tvůrčího psaní (Lessons of Creative Writing) – this is a title which only a quarter of the usual number of readers buy. Just to give a specific example, Román pro ženy (A Novel for Women) has sold over 100,000 copies, whereas the sales of Lekce tvůrčího psaní stopped at 24,000. I can anticipate it beforehand, but still I commit this kind of “marketing suicide” willingly over and over again. Who else should I do this for if not for me?

 

Why do you dislike President Václav Klaus?

Because unlike Klaus’s blind supporters, I cannot merely content myself with his undeniable intelligence, diligence and elegance, however, I also listen to what he has to say, which seems often politically immoral, shamelessly populist or demagogical. After all, I am not the only one – there are many “left-wing intellectuals" sharing similar views.

 

What is it like being famous?

Celebrities do have certain advantages in life – it would not be honest to pretend that celebrities have only disadvantages, but I would say that the negative aspects of popularity slightly outweigh the positives. In my opinion, the biggest problems are the loss of privacy and the questionable interest of tabloids.

 

Why are you suing the tabloids? There were times you were giving them interviews.

You need to differentiate between the “soft” and “hard” tabloids. I did a couple of interviews for Blesk (Flash tabloid) back in the days when most of its pages consisted of harmless gossip. Since then they have become somewhat harder – in the direction of the daily tabloid Super (which has since disappeared) – and have gone the way of bad taste and scandal. Since then I have not done any interviews with Blesk or any other “hard” tabloid. As a matter of principle, I no longer co-operate with even serious magazines whose owners happen to publish “hard” tabloids – for example Reflex (published by the owner of Blesk) and Týden a Instikt magazines (published by the owner of Aha!). The legal dispute is primarily a question of principle: whether Czech tabloids are allowed to lie about any celebrity with practically total impunity. Unfortunately, so far they are.

 
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