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Daniyar Sugralinov: Challenges are part and parcel...

30.06.2023 1717

Daniyar Sugralinov: Challenges are part and parcel of professional writer’s journey 14+

Daniyar Sugralinov: Challenges are part and parcel of professional writer’s journey -

The Literary portal recently managed to get an interview with a talented and popular Kazakh writer Daniyar Sugralinov, who is currently living abroad.

- Hello, Daniyar! How are you doing? How is life in the States?

- I’m doing great, thank you for asking. Life in the States is quite different from Kazakhstan in many aspects, but it has been a rewarding and enriching experience.

- Could you tell us about the changes in your career over the past three years? And what influenced it?

- Over the past three years, my career has experienced a significant transformation. Not only has my writing style matured, but my work has garnered the attention of some large video game studios and streaming services, who have shown interest in adapting my books.

While I can’t name them specifically due to Non-Disclosure Agreements, this interest has had a profound impact on my writing. The promise of seeing my work adapted to different mediums is both exciting and humbling, and it has certainly influenced my approach to writing.

I’ve found myself considering more how my narratives might translate into a computer game or a visual storyline on screen. Living in the U.S., with its close proximity to major entertainment and tech hubs, has undoubtedly helped facilitate these opportunities.

- About children’s literature. You have recently published a post on social media about the release of your first book for children called ‘Crafter, or The Mysterious Game’, could you tell more about that, how did the idea of writing the story of a certain Vasily and his cat Vasya come, why those names, and what is the main message of the book?

- ‘Crafter, or The Mysterious Game’ is not just another book for me; it is an exciting project that intertwines my childhood and my career. I had the honor of writing this book as a headliner for the new series, Fantasy Metauniverse, commissioned by none other than the Children’s Literature Publishing Co., whose books I grew up reading.

‘Children’s Literature’ is the oldest and first specialized publishing house in Russia that publishes books for children and young adults. Its rich history dates back to 1933, when it was founded based on the children's sector of the publishing house ‘The Young Guard’ and the school sector of the ‘State Fiction Publishing House’.

Ever since its inception, the publishing house has been a beacon of literature for young minds, with its books winning several prestigious awards, both domestic and international. Their contribution to promoting literature among Soviet children and developing their reading habits is invaluable.

Thus, you can imagine my excitement when I was asked to write for them. It felt like coming full circle. The idea of writing ‘Crafter, or The Mysterious Game’ came from this nostalgia, this connection to my past, and my desire to inspire the younger generation the way I was inspired as a child.

The characters of Vasily and his cat Vasya are very dear to me. They represent simplicity, familiarity, and the warmth these names bring. Through their adventures in the magical world of the game, I wanted to inspire children to embrace their unique abilities and to understand that they can achieve anything if they use their creativity.

The Children’s Literature Publishing Co. continues to play a significant role in shaping young minds. Their relentless efforts in promoting reading among schoolchildren through various projects and events resonate with my vision for this book. I wanted to contribute to this mission, and hence, ‘Crafter, or The Mysterious Game’ was born.

- Continuing the conversation about the children's book, could you tell about the second volume of the book ‘Crafter’, its highlights or concise contents, and plans for continuing to write this series of books and books for children in general?

- The second volume of ‘Crafter’ is already well underway, as it continues the delightful adventures of Vasily and Vasya in the magical world of the game. Their journey is filled with new challenges, lessons on teamwork and friendship, and, of course, exciting surprises.

But the journey does not end with the second volume. In fact, I’m already in the process of writing the third installment of the trilogy, under contract with the publisher. It’s a thrilling project, and I’m eager to see how Vasily and Vasya’s story evolves and what new adventures await them.

As for my journey with children’s literature, it’s safe to say that I have only just begun. The realm of children’s imagination is vast and filled with limitless possibilities. I find myself constantly inspired and awed by their perspective of the world, and I look forward to continuing to create stories that will captivate their minds and hearts.

- Speaking of your life in the U.S., I would like to take this opportunity to ask about your literary life there. Are there any literary communities, do you meet with fellow writers offline where you live, and do you participate in relevant events?

- In the United States, I have had the opportunity to join an active and supportive literary community. I have been able to attend writer's workshops, book clubs, and literary events which have not only provided me with opportunities to interact with fellow authors and readers but have also allowed me to share my ideas and receive feedback from others. This type of feedback has been invaluable in helping me refine my writing craft and develop my skills as a writer. Through these communities, I have also been able to discover new authors and works that have inspired and influenced my own writing. Overall, being part of these literary communities has been an enriching experience that has helped me grow as a writer and as a person.

- In the short description of the first volume of the children's book ‘The Crafter, or The Mysterious Game’, you talk among other things about the importance of personal growth, and this is inherent not only in children, but also in adults. What contributions do you make to your personal development, perhaps taking some courses or reading books on literature?

- Personal growth is indeed a key theme in my book, and it’s also a principle that holds significant weight in my life. I view learning as the backbone of existence and not just within the realm of writing.

I consider myself an eternal student, my interests spanning a wide range of fields. I actively participate in numerous studies related to productivity, financial literacy, the stock market, health, focus, concentration, sports, parenting, and even the science of happiness.

These various topics not only enrich my personal understanding and capabilities but also provide a depth and breadth of knowledge that I can channel into my writing. By keeping abreast of developments and research in these areas, I’m able to incorporate realistic, nuanced elements into my work that speak to the diverse experiences of life.

Furthermore, being a well-rounded learner allows me to depict my characters more authentically, imbuing them with habits, motivations, and struggles that resonate more deeply with readers. This dedication to constant learning and personal development is a value I hope to impart to my readers through my stories.

In my view, every bit of knowledge gained, every skill developed, is a step towards becoming a better version of oneself. This lifelong commitment to learning and growth is what I strive to instill in my readers through my books.

- What are your impressions of being in the U.S. and how has it affected and influenced your writing?

- Living in the U.S. has been a truly transformative experience. The diversity of cultures, lifestyles, and viewpoints has left a profound impact on me and my writing. I find the tapestry of different backgrounds and experiences in the U.S. fascinating; it has allowed me to explore and incorporate a wider array of characters, stories, and perspectives into my work.

What’s more, I’ve never felt like an outsider here. The welcoming nature of the people and the respect for individuality create an environment where everyone can feel accepted and valued, regardless of where they come from or who they are.

One of the aspects of American life that has deeply impressed me is the respect for law, human rights, and particularly the treatment of minorities. The emphasis on equality, justice, and inclusivity is something I deeply appreciate. This has not only influenced my worldview but also found its way into my writing, guiding the themes I explore and the way I develop my characters and their interactions.

This profound respect for law and human rights, the consideration and reverence for minorities, is not just about legal mandates or societal norms - it’s about fostering a sense of shared humanity, understanding, and empathy, principles that I try to weave into my narratives. The impact of these experiences in the U.S. on my writing is undeniable, enriching my storytelling with broader themes and more nuanced perspectives.

- Could you also tell about the role of family and friends in your life and their influence on your inspiration, and what inspires you to create such interesting, exciting, up-to-date, and useful works as a whole?

- My creative process is heavily influenced by my family, friends, and surroundings. They provide me with a constant source of inspiration, filling my creative well with experiences, emotions, and ideas. Spending time with them, having discussions, and sharing experiences is invaluable. They help me gather impressions and understand different perspectives, which I then incorporate into my work.

However, writing also requires solitude and silence. Once I have gathered these impressions, I need a quiet space to process them and weave them into a new story. It is during these moments of quiet reflection that characters come to life, plot lines unfold, and the nuances of the narrative take shape. Writing can be seen as a dance between these two states: the gathering of experiences and the solitude of crafting them into a story.

Balancing time spent with family and friends and the solitude necessary for writing can be tricky, but it is crucial for creating authentic, engaging, and relatable stories. I find that the richness and diversity of my personal experiences, coupled with periods of quiet introspection, allow me to create stories that not only entertain but also deeply resonate with readers.

- Are there any pains as someone who has been writing professionally?

- Writing professionally, like any other career, comes with its own unique challenges. While the joy of creating worlds, characters, and stories is immeasurable, there are certainly pains associated with the process.

One of the most significant challenges is the struggle with isolation. Writing is an intensely solitary activity, and spending long hours alone can sometimes feel isolating. Additionally, striking a balance between the need for solitude when writing and maintaining a healthy social life can pose a significant challenge.

Secondly, every writer faces the battle with the infamous writer’s block at some point. It can be frustrating when ideas refuse to flow or when a plotline you’ve been developing just doesn’t work out as planned.

Thirdly, the pressure to continuously create can be daunting. The need to maintain a certain standard and consistency in your work, coupled with deadlines, can sometimes create stress.

Lastly, as a writer, you often have to deal with criticism and rejection. Every piece of negative feedback, while essential for growth, can initially feel disheartening.

However, these challenges are part and parcel of the journey of a professional writer. They teach resilience, patience, and the importance of maintaining a balance in life. Over time, you learn to take them in stride and use them as tools for growth and improvement. Despite the challenges, writing is my passion, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

- What are your plans and desires for the next year or two, or perhaps longer, in the writing field?

- My plans for the next few years are both ambitious and exhilarating. In addition to continuing the series that my readers have come to love, I plan to explore new territories, particularly in the realm of film and video games. I have always been fascinated by the multidimensional aspect of storytelling that these mediums offer, and the prospect of seeing my stories come to life visually is incredibly exciting.

Collaborating with game studios and filmmakers will open new avenues for creative expression and allow my stories to reach and impact a wider audience. My ambition is not only to tell captivating tales through my books but to create immersive experiences that readers can interact with and visualize.

In essence, I hope to blur the lines between different forms of media, enhancing the narrative journey for my readers. While these collaborations are still in the early stages due to non-disclosure agreements, I am genuinely thrilled about what the future holds. Rest assured, I will pour the same passion and commitment into these new ventures as I have in my writing career thus far.

- Are there any people who have influenced you professionally recently, whom you would like to thank, and for what?

- I’m fortunate to be surrounded by many people who have made a significant impact on my professional journey. I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my deepest gratitude to them.

Firstly, I want to express my love and appreciation for my family: my parents, my beloved wife Lena, and our son Kenes. Their unwavering support and love have been my foundation, providing me with the strength to persevere through the highs and lows.

Next, I must mention my readers. Their ongoing support, constructive feedback, and passion for my work inspire me every day. I write for them, and their enthusiasm keeps my creative juices flowing.

I owe a special thanks to my professional friends and colleagues Geneva Agnos, Jez Cajiao, Daniel Schinhofen, and Ramon Mejia. Their support, guidance, and collaboration have greatly enriched my writing journey.

My agent and publisher, Alex Bobl, has believed in me from the very start. His faith in my abilities has been a driving force in my career. Many thanks to Simon Vale for helping me promote my books.

Also, my translators, Simon Hollingsworth, and Alix Williamson, deserve immense credit for their meticulous work in translating my texts, making my work accessible to a wider audience.

Bigeldy Gabdullin, the President of International Kazakh PEN, has been a tremendous source of help and support. I cannot express how grateful I am for his contributions.

To my other publishers, Andrei Levitsky, Sergei Grushko, Marina Ismailova, and Sergei Shapin, thank you for offering me numerous opportunities to flourish in the industry.

A shout-out to Roman Povolotsky and Andrei Sudarikov for introducing me to new perspectives and ideas. It’s opened up a whole new world for me. I’d also like to appreciate Olga Novitskaya for her support, enabling me to focus on creating without being sidetracked by routine tasks.

Working on ‘Crafter’ has been a pleasure, thanks to my editor at ‘Children’s Literature’, Anna Trofimova. Her warmth, expertise, and guidance have made the process enjoyable and rewarding.

Last but not least, I want to thank my editors Tanya Nazarova, Natasha Deeva, Hilary Doda, and Scott Pearson. Their keen eyes, insightful suggestions, and dedication have been invaluable in refining my work.

To all these individuals and many more who have been a part of my journey, thank you. Your influence and support have shaped my career, and I’m excited to continue this journey alongside you.

- And, according to tradition, your wishes for young Kazakh authors and your readers.

- To all the young Kazakh authors and my dear readers, I wish you the courage to dream big and the persistence to make those dreams come true. Writing is an extraordinary journey, and while it’s filled with its own share of challenges, the joy of creation, the thrill of weaving tales, and the excitement of connecting with readers around the world make it all worthwhile.

Remember, writing is an act of courage. Every time you pour your thoughts, ideas, and emotions into words, you’re opening up your inner world to others. It’s normal to feel vulnerable. Embrace it and let it fuel your creativity.

For aspiring writers, never stop learning. Read widely and diversely. Learn from the greats, but also find your unique voice. Don’t be disheartened by rejection. Every ‘no’ brings you one step closer to a ‘yes’. Be patient with your craft and, most importantly, enjoy the process.

To my readers, thank you for being a part of my journey. You’re the reason I do what I do. I hope that my stories will continue to entertain, inspire, and resonate with you. I look forward to creating more worlds and characters for you to explore.

Keep dreaming, writing, reading, and remember, the power of words can change worlds. Enjoy the journey!

- Is there anything you would like to share or clarify?

- I’d like to take this opportunity to talk a little more about the world of LitRPG. When I started writing in this genre, it was relatively unknown and somewhat niche. Over the years, however, I’ve seen it grow exponentially in popularity and recognition, which has been a truly gratifying experience.

One of the things that sets LitRPG apart is its unique blend of literature and gaming. It has opened up new ways of storytelling, allowing writers to experiment with narrative techniques inspired by video games, such as quests, level-ups, and in-game mechanics. This has not only brought a refreshing change to the world of literature but also bridged the gap between two mediums that are often seen as separate - books and video games.

If there’s one thing, I’d like for people to take away from my work, it’s the immense potential of this genre. Whether you’re an avid gamer, a fan of fantasy and science fiction, or just someone looking for something different to read, LitRPG has something for everyone.

In conclusion, I’d like to express my gratitude to all the readers who have embraced my work and the genre of LitRPG. Your enthusiasm and support have been instrumental in my success and the success of the genre as a whole. I look forward to continuing this journey with you and exploring new possibilities in the world of LitRPG.

- Thank you for the interview, and best of luck with all your projects!

- You’re very welcome! Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to share my experiences and thoughts. I appreciate your interest in my work and my journey as a writer.

If you have any further questions in the future, don’t hesitate to ask. Stay safe, and happy reading and writing!

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