Interview With Author Dr. Stjepan K. Kračun

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

My name is Stjepan K. Kračun, and I was born in 1982 in Zagreb, Croatia. 

I’m a chemist by training and a scientist by profession, with a PhD in Health Sciences; I work as a research and development scientist. 

Since 2009, I’ve been living and working in Copenhagen, Denmark, where I’ve moved because of my wonderful wife, who is Danish. 

On a more personal level, I write poetry, novels, and short stories, and I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. I was even writing before I knew how to write – filling endless sheets of paper with doodles neatly arranged along the guidelines.

I don’t consider writing to be a hobby, as it has always been something I felt I needed to do, just as much as I needed to breathe. As if all my thoughts and feelings at a given time had matured, and I would give birth to them by writing them down. If I didn’t, they would cause me great discomfort, suffering even. My writing has always been a way of dealing with this human condition. At first, I thought that I was just trying to understand it – but as time went by, it seemed to me more and more that I was trying to overcome it. To some degree – I have succeeded; to some degree, I’ve failed. And as my life goes on, so does my writing and my journey through my mind and this world. Every letter of every word that I write – is a milestone from that journey.

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

Inspiration is something that cannot be forced, and I strongly believe that. It can be anything that inspires me. Ideas pass through my head at the strangest of times, but funnily enough, never when I want them to. I will always do my best to have a notebook and a pen handy. It will also often happen that I send myself scribbles in a form of emails. 

One thing that inspires the maturation of ideas, in my personal case, is just sitting down with a cup of tea in my garden while smoking a big cigar for an hour or sometimes longer. It helps me relax, and most importantly, it removes all the distractions from my mind, it gives it ample space to be imaginative enough but it also gives it a magnifying glass to focus better. 

# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

Regarding the subjects and objects that inspire me, I’ve always found simple everyday life to be the best inspiration. Sometimes the funniest (and sometimes the scariest) stuff is the stuff you hear or see on the train on the way to or back from work. Some of my characters are based on people I know or knew, some are entirely fictional, and some are strange blends of traits from different real people and imaginary ones. It’s nice to draw inspiration from real people, but it’s not exactly important how many liberties one takes in interpretation if you’re writing fiction.

# How do you deal with creative block?

I wait until it goes away. If it doesn’t go away for a long time – I try writing about something else – my blog is a very good vent for such efforts. Sometimes I need to take a break from writing – by writing something else.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

Personal satisfaction all the way, and I don’t even try to balance the two. If someone else liked my book – I’m always pleased to hear it – but I’m more interested in why they liked (or disliked) it. 

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

They don’t affect me at all. I’ve received some pretty harsh feedback on my horror books where people got scared, which was the point, but I suppose it was a little too much for them – and that’s okay. The worst reviews I’ve received are when people told me that the book was “okay”. That’s when I knew for a fact that not only did they not like it – they didn’t “get it” either. I’d rather get a substantiated and elaborate negative review than a shallow positive one. 

Either way, I don’t get swayed by positive or negative reviews. There is nothing short of my losing my hands that will stop me from continuing writing, and even then, I’d probably still do it with a voice-to-text generator. 

# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

Writing for anyone else than yourself. I have heard most authors say that they write for their audience, to change the world, to raise awareness, to help people, or any number of other things. I’ve heard people say nothing other than “if no-one ever read my books – I would stop writing”. I can’t even begin to understand this perspective on writing. 

I’m not quite certain whether they are just being humble in avoiding saying that their motivation for writing is predominantly self-serving or if they are genuine in their remarks. If they are, then I would daresay that their efforts are those of an entertainer, not an artist.

The entertainer entertains the audience. The artist not only doesn’t need an audience, the artist “cannot help but create” in a way. I don’t call myself an artist, but I’m not an entertainer either: I simply write because I like writing! I enjoy it even during my regular job where formulating emails and writing reports is yet another avenue that allows me to do what I enjoy doing. Sure, the reports may end up being longer than what other people would write, or they may include a bit of fanciful verbiage typically not encountered in technical writing, but I’ve never heard anyone complain about it, instead, my colleagues have come to appreciate it.

I strongly believe that writing for yourself – in a way that reflects who you truly are – is the only way to write. Yes, the editors might hate your book, the copywriters might want you to re-write 50% of it, and even after all that – it may not even sell well.

Still, I will rather have written a book that is me and never sells a single copy than have a bestseller that’s a farce. It’s a matter of honesty – but not to the would-be audience, instead – honesty to oneself.

The entertainer will entertain to earn money, amongst other things. The artist will create for the purpose of creating – “ars gratia artis” in its pure form. There’s nothing wrong with being an entertainer, but there’s nothing wrong with being an artist either – but I think it’s quite important to figure out which one of the two you are before setting out with your writing endeavors – it might save you a lot of frustration that’s due to nothing more than mismatched expectations. Getting a book to sell is a lot more work than just publishing it and putting it on a shelf, virtual, or in a real bookstore. I’ve dabbled a little bit in advertising, product placement, and marketing to figure out two things: one, it is a lot of work – even more than actually writing the book, and two, I hate it! So, I stopped doing it and focused more on my writing instead.

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

The title of the book is the first thing that I come up with when I get an idea about a story. The title and the chapter titles, or titles of poems, somehow set the frame for what they’re going to be about. Then it’s just a matter of fleshing these titles out. For me – this helps with structuring my writing better and keeping track of where my story is going versus where it’s supposed to go. I easily get distracted with details that are fun to write about – but they actually end up taking away from the main storyline and are better suited somewhere else in that text, or sometimes, the matter for a new book altogether. 

Regarding covers, I am lucky that my wife is the most amazing artist I’ve ever met, and I often use her artwork for my books. On other occasions, I use my own drawings for the covers. It’s important to me that my covers are personal and, to the largest possible extent, my creation or my wife’s creation. I could never use a cover repository – free or commercial.

# How has your creation process improved over time?

One of the main reasons for my publishing my books was not to start selling them but to bring my writing to a higher level of quality. I did not want to just have drafts scattered over several versions of the manuscript; not edited, not completed. I wanted to really polish it and make it shine. The advantage of self-publishing is also in having the opportunity to make the cover yourself, choose the layout, and many other aspects which raise the bar even higher and, ultimately, add even more layers of fun to the creation process.

# What were the best, worst, and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

The absolute best thing is to hold a printed copy of your book in your hands.

One of the worst things that still amazes me is how many times I can edit and revise the manuscript and still miss typos and grammatical errors. Sometimes I feel that the very process of redaction introduces additional errors where I change one thing, but that messes up another thing. I’ve learned how to write it once, edit it twice, and let it be, just to prevent this repetitive process from wasting my time. There’s always this feeling that “something could have been written better,”. And as true as that may be – if I focus on that too much -nothing would ever get done. Sometimes it’s important to just say – “for better or for worse, now it’s done” – and let go!

# What role do emotions play in creativity?

Emotions play a big role in my creativity. I’ve noticed that whichever mood I’m in – pours directly into whatever I happen to be writing. If I’m in a good mood, I’m more likely to take the humorous and uplifting approach. If I’m in a bad mood, my expression will become more dreary. Depending on what I’m writing at the time – I’ve discovered that it’s best for me to focus on light and humorous texts when I’m in a good mood and leave my bad moods for my horror-themed and texts awash with sarcasm. I would not say that being in one mood or another is a problem. In fact, I’ve found ways of harnessing whichever mood I’m in as the emotions really get those fingers moving as long as the mood matches the text I want to write, of course. Trying to match opposites, in my case, is not a good idea. It’s sort of like matching your clothes to the type of weather kind of thing. 

# Do you have any creativity tricks?

No. But I know that if I start overthinking my writing – it will turn out badly. One thing that I try to avoid like the plague is thinking about what someone else might think about what I write. My focus is on my writing – how someone else will read it – that’s outside of my control anyway – so why even bother? 

The feedback that I’ve received on my books proves this: it’s ranged from “I loved it” to “I hated it” and everything in between. It’s actually quite curious to see how people’s own psychological makeup reflects itself in one’s writing – how a book that they read and what it makes them feel – says so much more about the reader than what the author actually intended to convey. This is precisely the reason why I don’t focus so much on trying to picture the opinions of others while I’m expressing mine. 

I write about what I like to write about – I don’t write about what others want to read. Sure, this may not be the soundest of “business plans”, but then again, for me – writing is not a business. If it was, if my writing was my way of earning a living, I’m almost certain that it would hinder my creativity. There’s nothing wrong with writing for a living, of course, but it’s bound to have a significant impact on one’s personal expression. I have the luxury of not having to worry about that since writing is only a hobby for me and I make my living working as a scientist. 

# What are your plans for future books?

Write until I kick the bucket. How many books that will amount to and which one of them will fall into the proverbial bucket – only time will tell. 

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

The quirkiest fact about me is that there is nothing about me that isn’t quirky. This is not a self-assessment or a self-diagnosis – people tell me so.  Five minutes after being acquainted with someone new and they will say: “you’re a little crazy, aren’t you?”.  I also collect functional bladed weapons, which, considering all the other quirks, is probably the most normal thing that I do. 

Links

My books on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Stjepan-Kre%C5%A1imir-Kra%C4%8Dun/e/B07HYZHYNS

Mental Eclipse Blog (about published books):
https://skkracun.blogspot.com/

Pipey Dogga’s House (writing just for the sake of writing):
https://doggadog.blogspot.com/

Scientific Publication Record on Google Scholar:
https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=2xx-mcsAAAAJ&hl=en

Online CV:
https://1drv.ms/b/s!An-y7x8CiC0hkpdnWwIbVL-jzjNOfQ?e=XKIIYz