OFF_BLOG #5 The Next Big Thing




The poets Wioletta Grzegorzewska and Maria Jastrzebska have introduced me to The Next Big Thing project, where I write about one of my books – Damn the Source – then link it up with more next-gen literary superstars.


Where did the idea come from for the book?


Real life stories of migrants are always going to be ripe narrative material. I decided to redux the idea behind Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Dekalog films and set ten stories of ten different characters from Poland in various parts of the UK. Give them all knives. On the same day before Xmas. Then see what happens.


What genre does your book fall under?


Contemporary fiction.


What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?


I want to adapt all ten stories for the screen and have film schools in Poland and the UK collaborate on turning them into short films. Casting is an art, like so many overlooked “behind the scenes” creative processes. So much rides on it in making films a success.


What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?


“Ten stories, a dozen Poles living all over the UK, each life somehow changed by a blade – a surgeon’s scalpel, an artist’s knife, an antique bayonet – each based on a true story, revealing something about the experience of modern exile.”


How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?


A decade, at least. I am a slow burner. Not good for beauty pageants, but writers should mostly keep quiet before 40, work in different jobs, as editors, translators, teachers. Only then do they ripen.


Who or what inspired you to write this book?


Ten people who I met in my 30 years of living in the UK – their portraits will be included in the book. As for writing influences, it must be Sam Shepard, the old Sam, when he was on speed and on the run from his own myth. He has given up that race since, but Andrzej Stasiuk too, and Annie Proulx. Geniuses, the lot of them.


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?


The stories cover lots of ages, locations, some funny, sam dark as hell. Putting a knife of some sort at the heart of each tale is playing with stereotypes (Poles being violent and wild), but it was also a challenge when writing. Not to force the device, but to make it natural. Setting the stories on the same day also gave it another layer of complexity. Other than that, they should be fun little odysseys. Something in there for everyone. If I had kids, I would have them read the book, even though it has sex, death, drugs and all other kinds of modern madness in it. Beats school any day.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?


Both. I run the press which is publishing Damn the Source, in spring of 2013. Want a job done well…



My five writers for next Wednesday are:


Marta Marciniak


Sam Taradash


Melissa Mann


Suzy Joinson


Jarred McGinnis


Jakobe Mansztajn


Przemek Gulda


Ula Chowaniec