Posted by Literary Titan
SCHLOCK Featuring Russia Cop is a collection of four dark satirical short stories searching for the “Russian Soul.” What was the inspiration for the setup of your stories?
There is a long-standing tradition of films which combine a noun plus “Cop”, such as Samurai Cop, Maniac Cop, Hollywood Cop, Psycho Cop, Kindergarten Cop, etc. This is my favorite genre of film and I wanted to create my own “Cop” story that could join the ranks. I wanted to say “pantheon” here, as in I wanted to create my own “Cop” story that could join the pantheon of “Cop” stories, but pantheon only refers to people. In that case I hope Russia Cop can join the pantheon of famous noun plus Cop characters. Moreover, Russia Cop sounds a lot stupider than Russian Cop and that really appealed to me. Russia Cop is the oldest story in the collection in that its origins date back to around 2018. The idea of Russian Soul is inherently farcical and nonsensical and does little more than to disguise horrible Russian behavior and beliefs as values. Russia is a very schlocky place and Russians are quite fond of what they perceive as their own exceptionalism. The character of Russia Cop was created to be a personification and enforcer of this Russian Soul. The reality is, after 24 February, this story is already obsolete, as what is happening in Russia right now is far more atrocious, pathetic, damaging, and inhumane than any fiction could ever be. For the sake of clarification, I am talking about what’s happening in Russia, not Ukraine. What’s happening in Russia is the death of free speech, human rights, and common sense. As it turns out, Russia doesn’t need a Russia Cop. The Russian people are eagerly and willingly eating up the propaganda and dangerous beliefs all on their own. On a side note, there isn’t really an appropriate place to bring it up so I will mention it here: 75 percent of sales proceeds the book makes in 2022 will go towards supporting Ukraine.
Tsoi Lives was the last addition to the collection, which probably explains why it feels the most different from the rest (as in it isn’t completely farcical). I’m a huge fan of Tsoi’s music and often found myself in frustrating situations where I couldn’t express why his music was so profound to me or those around me simply didn’t care. The book exaggerates a bit in that it makes it seem like nobody in Russia cares about his music at all. That isn’t true, he is still quite popular, BUT, in my own experience, more and more younger generations turn their nose up at his music and see it is something to be embarrassed of. I’d always wanted to write something somehow connected with him, but a straight up biography would be boring, it seemed more appropriate to write about how his music affected others rather than making a story about the man himself.
I am far too ashamed to explain the origins of the remaining two stories.
Did you create an outline for the characters in the stories before you started writing or did the characters personalities grow organically as you were writing?
Typically, I don’t create outlines for characters. I write as many pages as I can of a given story until I hit a wall and from there, I’ll start outlining the story (not the characters) to see where it goes. I never let plot get in the way of character growth though. Even if I want the plot to go one way, I consider what choice a character would make at a given intersection and let the character dictate what happens next.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Themes always come later. I never set out with themes in mind. I am simply trying to tell stories. With The English Teacher, it essentially condenses all the frustrating and terrible aspects of living in Russia into one night. As the stories came together, themes of frustration, yearning, alienation, propaganda, xenophobia, etc. appeared. I suppose the most blatant themes come in Tsoi Lives, in which one person experiences the frustration of being obsessively passionate about something that nobody else seems able to grasp.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m debating between starting a new endeavor (which will likely be an unreadable and unwieldy behemoth only I find interesting) or resurrecting my first book which I never got published. Both works have science fiction elements and are quite different from my previous two works.
Posted in Interviews
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