Interview: Larisa Walk

Today I have for you an interview with Larisa Walk, the author of A Handful of Earth, which I enjoyed a lot! She's got a new book out, A Witch Without Magic.

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Larisa Walk writes paranormal fiction. Several of her short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines. See her latest short story, "The Blue Dahlia", in the Expanded Horizons online magazine.
She has more short stories coming to e-book stores and is currently working on an urban fantasy novel about an agoraphobic, ex-prison inmate witch that must fight an evil sorceress whose power comes from a datura plant nymph she enslaved.

1) Hello Larisa, thank you for joining us today. Could you please introduce yourself? 

Hello, everyone. My name is Larisa Walk. I was born and raised in Russia and moved to the US when I was 19. I have always been a dreamer who perceived wonder in mundane things, like a starry night, a flowering weed that sprouted from a crack in a sidewalk, the crunching of snow under foot. This naturally led me to write fantastical and paranormal fiction.

2) I really enjoyed your book A Handful of Earth. What inspired you to write it? 

I always liked Russian medieval history, especially the period of the Mongol invasion and domination. The meeting of East and West and how they learned to coexist, first starting with much violence and bloodshed then blending together appealed to me. I wanted to document an experience of a young woman being taken into Mongol slavery and learning to get along in a culture completely alien to her. As I mentioned above, I immigrated to the US, so my experience is not dissimilar to that of my heroine, Yaroslava.

3) Do you think you're a lot like the main character, princess Yaroslava? 

I'm not a lot like her, but there are certainly similar traits. As I mentioned above, we both had to get used to living in a completely foreign culture. Just as she, I have broken a few cultural taboos and longed to return to Russia where things were more familiar.

4) What is your new book, A Witch Without Magic, about? 

Cursed by an insane nymph that stole her magic, Belladonna now must find more mundane ways to earn a living. After all, she has a slew of house-mates to support: a ghost, a house guardian spirit, and twenty-one cats. Then there is also a man whom his evil wife turned into a cat and who came to Belladonna to seek protection.   When everyone on her street except her begins to age at an alarming rate, she gets the blame. To save her neighbors and prove her innocence, she must travel to the Otherworld where her worst fears will come to life.

5) Your favourite Russian folk/fairy-tale? 

My favorite Russian fairytales are The Gold Fish, Maria Morevna, and Baba Yaga.

6) Your favourite Slavic folklore figure? 

Maria Morevna - she is a warrior, which probably gave me some of the inspiration for the character of Yaroslava.

7) What's your favourite myth? 

I love myths about goddesses of different cultures. The idea of divine feminine appeals to me as a woman and because goddesses tend to be connected intimately with nature which I love.

8) Who are your favourite writers and what are your favourite books? 

Mikhail Bulgakov is my most favorite mythical writer of all time. I re-read his Master and Margarita probably at least 15 times. I also like Dean Koontz for his super detailed writing and vivid characterization. My favorite book of his is The Taking. I like Laurel K. Hamilton (her Merry Gentry series for its wonderful weaving of Celtic mythology with modern day American life).
9) Your favourite place in the world? 

Ireland because of its ancient history, mythology and a general atmosphere of mystery and magic.

10) What is it like for a non-native speaker to write books in English? 

It is actually not as hard as it was when I just started out my writing career. I'm more of a native English speaker now, since I've lived in the US for about 22 years and I even think and dream mostly in English. I do try to make sure I don't forget my native Russian by making myself think in Russian, translating my English thoughts into Russian and browsing Russian websites.

11) Anything you'd like to add? 

Yes, one of my most favorite quotes of all time by Mikhail Bulgakov: "Manuscripts don't burn". It is from his most magical book, Master and Margarita, and to me it means that a writer's books always stay with her, because she created them and they are her own mini-universes. I can so identify with this.

Quick questions: 

Spring or Autumn? Oh, definitely autumn with its magnificent colors, a sense of upcoming restful sleep and abundant harvest.

Mokosh or Baba Yaga? Actually, both. I admire the goddess in her Mother and Crone and Maiden forms.

Harry Potter or LOTR? I'm not that crazy about Lord of the Rings, because it is high fantasy, which is not one of my favorite genres, generally speaking. I prefer a greater dose of real life in the books I choose to read. So, Harry Potter it is.

City or country? Definitely country. I prefer villages and small towns - people are friendlier there.

Coffee or tea?  Tea. Jasmine green in particular. When you are fortunate to find a really good one, it is like drinking flowers.


DMS said...

What a great author interview! I really enjoyed learning more about the author. I prefer HP to LOHR and I find it amazing that she is able to write in English when she grew up speaking Russian. WOW!


Petra said...

Thank you. :)
I prefer HP, too! :)

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