Interview with Bartholomew Korbyn
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
From the top. My name is Bartholomew Korbyn, or so I like that persona, that extension of myself, to be called. A bit of mystery never hurts so I chose the name many years ago as a pseudonym. I’m twenty-four, hailing from Backwater; which is the name I so lovingly give my hometown. If you want to learn a bit more about it and life therein, check out the preview of my book on Amazon. Currently I’m studying for my MA in English and American literature in Kassel, Germany. In my spare time I get into trouble and work my way through the cracks.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
To be honest, I wanted to make something out of my writing when I entered college back in Backwater. Professionally I decided to take my chance when I moved to Germany. It was due to the life I am forced to lead here. A dead-end job, barely any chances of a successful and fulfilling life, I found out that I’m not actually fit for something one would call a “normal life”. It feels like a chain around my neck and being a writer means a certain freedom for me. Not to be tied down by a place or other chains, just to live how I want for once. So, about a year ago was that turning point.
Who inspired you to write?
The one and only “murder of innocence and dreams” George R.R. Martin, with a bit of Homer to go along for the ride.
What was the first thing that you wrote that made you really proud of your work?
That would be the prologue to the fantasy series I was writing back in high school. I gave that thirty page “prologue” everything I got.
What is your latest book about?
Well my latest book would also be my first published one. It’s called “How to Live – A story called: Chasing Tomorrow” and is the first part of a duology; maybe a short novella to serve as an epilogue to the two as well. Now, I could dress up this part in the most pompous wordplay taken right out of the Shakespeare playbook, so I won’t. It’s an honest story about life and feeling trapped in life. It stars two friends who feel uncomfortable with themselves and their position in Backwater so they take everything they have, which is basically just their wish to live a little, and try to see if they can survive on the road. They go on an adventure to learn more about themselves, life and whatever they can steal along the way.
What are the inspirations for this book?
The idea for this novel came from a discussion my best friend and I had back in the golden age of college. We wanted to skip town and backpack through Romania. Just say “to hell with this” and bail. We never did, which does not mean we won’t. So I designed the two leads after my best friend and myself and put them into all kinds of situations in order to show how far desperation and monotony can drive you.
Tell us about publishing and how you chose the route you took.
“How to Live” was originally written four years ago and I sent it to agencies and publishing companies. Granted, back then the book was more of a rough draft than something really publishable, but I just wanted to try. Many of the agencies and publishers shot me down right away, but some showed promise and gave me constructive criticism. Six months ago I rewrote the book from start to finish and tried my luck again with agencies. This time they replied with interest but were all seeking one thing – market appeal. The novel does not exactly fit a category and they wanted me to change as much as possible for the purpose of raking in money. I don’t want that and never will, because I firmly believe the book has enough potential, even the most potential, just the way it is. So I went my own way; the hard way.
What books do you read?
Because I study literature the genres which I’m required to read go off the charts. I started with fantasy and SF, thanks to my father. Today, those two still remain my favorite genres and I tend to always have a personal reading pleasure in between assignments. Currently I’m mostly working with classics such as Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain, Henry James and Charles Dickens.
What is your favorite book?
“Cather in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, and I don’t care! It feels like the author knew me before I was born.
Who is your favorite author and why?
No, it’s no Salinger, but Homer. I spent my youth with the Iliad and Odyssey and have never looked back. His ideal blend of style and substance is amazing. I can analyze his words to the depths of hell and can read them for the sake of the story, which no one will ever be able to match, ever.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Very simple answer. After I graduate I will fake my suicide to launch the book into the stratosphere of popularity while my two best friends are assigned the royalties, with me living on a secluded island somewhere in the pacific or Micronesia. During that solitude I will write books and stories which my friends publish as “found manuscripts” and we all live a financially secure life. I do what I love and with a fake identity can even see the world while we all divide the cash between us. See, simple.
What do you think makes your writing different?
I try to keep my writing in the sweet spot between crude and shrewd. In regards to my first book, one could set it apart because it would technically belong to the long lost “adventure” genre. It has a soundtrack, as each chapter has a song devoted to it, and features a blend of real places and fantastic events; fantastic meaning hard to believe and not dragons. I wanted to mold it that way; to keep a certain sense of disbelief while you read, yet you can still imagine trekking through those places. Each chapter also comes from the first person view of one of the two main characters, so we get insight into how they think and how they see the world. You are not supposed to believe this all happened, but you will wish it did.
How do you feel about bloggers?
I love blogs and bloggers, and I’m not saying this because I’m currently writing for a blog. When the possibility of having your own blog came up years ago I jumped on the bandwagon instantly. During the biggest hype I was a ghost writer for a myriad of blogs and held at least five of my own. Bloggers are a special breed of writers because they don’t follow many rules and are often not bound by restrictions, which makes it ideal for creativity to blossom on their sites and in their own minds.
Are bloggers real writers?
Most of them are. A “writer” can be many things, not only fiction or creative writing need to be taken into consideration. Independent journalism comes to mind; basically everything from personal statements to poetry, if you produce quality and have something to say, in my book you’re a writer. Just because the market does not want anything that does not feature vampires, does not mean it should not be said or written down.
What is the last thing you read?
“Art and Identity: Essays on the aesthetic creation of mind.” I took some time off from reading fiction.
What is the last thing you wrote?
A seminar in linguistics entitled “How to approach translating Ezra Pound”. It was hell on earth and even having to work with Pound did not help the fact that it was all linguistics; which you can probably guess is my arch nemesis.
Do you prefer writing in pen or typing?
My handwriting is a mix between Aztec scripture, Cuneiform script and Hieroglyphs, so I prefer to type, because then people and I can understand it.
Do you read paper books or ebooks?
Nothing beats paper, but I do read ebooks when I have to. One day I want to see my own book in paper. That will be the greatest success of my life so far.
Do you think there is still value in printed books?
Undoubtedly! Printed books are the essence of writing and knowledge. Just because we have the technology to view everything on a screen, does not mean that something as vital to our culture as the book can be forgotten or lose value. This is proven by the fact that printed books still outsell ebooks every day and that people have not forgotten to fill up their libraries with not files, but hardcopies.
Do you remember the first book you ever read?
“The Three Little Pigs” was the first “book” I read back when I was about three years old. First “real book” was “Azure Bonds” by Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb. As a kid I adored the “Forgotten Realms” world and gobbled down everything in the various series.
We would like to thank Bartholomew Korbyn again for being an important part of the Dancing with Fireflies community. YOU ROCK!