Please introduce yourself and your book!
Hello, my name is Tom Kubiak and my novel is “The Traveler”, a historical fiction book, set in the winter of 1989/1990 in Switzerland and in Canada.
A young banker is tasked with a business trip from Geneva to Montreal, which seems routine. With time he finds himself entangled in business dealings between the mafia and Russian intelligence as a proxy in an all out conflict. He starts playing the events his own way, surprising both sides with his resolve and skills, all the way to the explosive ending.
The day after that, an old Russians diplomat in Ottawa finishes his Sunday breakfast in a restaurant at the Rideau Canal, and when he walks home the last snow of the winter begins to fall covering the dirt and old sins, making the world white and innocent again.
What are the real-life stories behind your book?
There are several: Russian intelligence with a retired general giving Putin power in the country at the end of the book. The mafia milieu in Montreal, the Don just released from a Colorado prison and the war on the streets of this great city are all based on facts.
Finally, the big transition of Eastern Europe, where the ownership of entire economies changed hands within a short time creating dangerous dynamics.
What inspires your creativity?
Words, faces, events, in that order.
How do you deal with creative block?
I take long motorcycle rides in the North of Ontario and think intensely how to move a scene forward. It usually works, if not, I just leave the writing until I feel the need to come back to it.
What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Not being visual enough. A writer needs to display attention to details as they impact the plot; same like details impact the real life situation.
Also, using too many words to describe a scene. I like to work on every sentence until it is composed in a most concise way.
What is your writing style?
I’ve followed Kurt Vonnegut’s advice that a writer should start the book as close to the end as possible. I work on a scene until I am convinced that there is not a word left to add or to deduct. I am happy to complete 4-5 pages in a month.
Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
The visual effect of the cover should be as intriguing as the title, but I realize, this is easier with historical books.
A good title is extremely difficult to come by, and it can be worth as much as the entire book. Take “Unbearable lightness of being”, it could mean something different to every person reading it. It stimulates imagination big time, as a title should.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
The review of “The Traveler” by Kirkus Book Reviews was very positive.
I have not encountered any negative feedback yet.
How has your creation process improved over time?
Two things happened: first I realized that it became almost impossible to snap back from the creative thinking to my day job. I knew that I am hooked and I need to focus 100%, because writing is my life.
Second: I learned that I have the freedom to compose words in a way that I think will be interesting for readers, not necessary following conventions.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book?
I learned quite a bit about myself when writing the book. Inevitably there are traits of my own personality built into the characters.
This likely stands for the best and the worst.
Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
I do my best to make the readers think: “I wonder what he is going to say next?” Every chapter has to be original. I think this approach connects these two and makes the book a page-turner.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
Well – whose emotions? I try to follow the emotions of the characters as they move forward, I try to imagine them.
For my part, the entire creation process is emotional; it can’t be any other way.
How do you keep in touch with your audience?
I publish weekly essays on a variety of subjects on my author website tkubiak.com, and enjoy substantial international readership, frequently some feedback
What are your plans for future books?
I would like to write a stage play next.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself.
I was born and raised in Eastern Europe, spend my formative years in America and for the last few years I live in Switzerland.
Home for me is Toronto, but in my soul I’m an Eastern man.
I like fast motorcycles, dislike routine and I like my music strong and slow.