Ksenija Kušec was born in 1965, in Zagreb, Croatia where she still lives as a writer and music teacher. She studied saxophone at the Academy of Music at the University of Zagreb and has published close to thirty stories in various short story collections and on literature portals, and received various awards. Her short story “983, 982” was a winner in the contest Karlovački književni krug and the story “My Grandmother’s Theory” was honored in the Nađi uru za literaturu contest. Ksenija's story "Svjedok/Witness" won a spot in a short story collection Ispod stola/Under the table, published by Transparency International Hrvatska in 2011.
Published books. Children’s books: Priče iz Sunčeva sustava/Stories from the Solar System (Profil, 2010), which later was adapted for theater as Space and opened on March 1, 2014 at the theater Puppet Factory. Janko i stroj za vrijeme/Janko and the Weather Machine (HDKDM, Zagreb, 2013), is a book about addiction to gadgets. Prozirna Lili/Transparent Lili, (Evenio, 2015), a children’s book about a child who becomes transparent because her parents don’t pay attention to her. Short story collection: Reci Mi Sve/Tell Me Everything (CeKaPe, Zagreb, 2013) Novels: Sobe/Rooms (CeKaPe, 2014).
What are your sources of inspiration?
My sources of inspiration are always people and their foolishness. When I see some stupid behavior, or manners that I cannot understand, I immediately have a story in my head. For example, I see a mother who is screaming at her little boy: Don’t run! Running is the natural state for children, like swimming for fishes, or flying for birds. You can't tell a bird not to fly! So, this is a good start.
Describe your creative process.
Then I sit and write a story on my PC. It is the first text. After that point starts my work. It is not hard to write a story, but it must be good, interesting, it must have a rhythm, humor, sadness, happiness, a message, an end. What I do is similar to a sculptor. My rough story is written, but I have to work on it, to make it perfect. Sometimes I change words, sentences, or even a beginning for a whole month just for one short story.
Where do you write? Do you have any writing rituals?
I write in my living room, after all my people (husband, daughters) go away, and I am alone. It can be in the morning, afternoon, evening. The only requirement is that I must be home alone. With a cup of coffee, of course.
What are you reading now? Do you read literature that has been translated from other languages or just Croatian books?
I read both. I must and I want to read Croatian authors because I have to be connected with my surrounding. It is embarrassing when a Croatian author doesn’t know anything about other Croatian authors. And, I read what is translated, of course. It is also strange not to be in touch with the world.
What are you working on now?
I am writing my second novel. The working headline is At home is the best, but it might be changed. It is about people who are lazy. Currently, in Croatia we are all talking about the “crisis,” about lack of jobs and money, but still you can find people who sit at home and do nothing. They receive money from their parents, or wives, and they are fine with that. Generally it is not good to be featured in my books. Often, my friends ask me: When will you write about me? Honestly, if you enter in my book, it means there is something terribly wrong with you.
Do you have a favorite English writer?
Yes, Kurt Vonnegut is my king of writers.
Which Croatian writers or books do you think should be available in English?
There are many authors who deserve to be translated. I have my favorites, but it is strongly my opinion, it is not objective. I fell in love with a book of Martina Aničić (she passed away recently), her book Nebeska košarka/Heaven basketball is my liebling, and of course I have a desire for my books to be translated. We have many young authors who are very good and fresh, but you must be an editor or a publisher to decide such things. If I mention one or two, it would be not fair to mention others. Then, there are also many old authors, who have written beautiful books, maybe one hundred years ago, but the language is modern and the problems are still relevant today.
What makes Croatian writing unique?
If I speak of young authors, it is, like I said, the freshness of their language, the freedom in themes. There are no taboos, no borders for young authors today. I like it very much, and I am happy to be in such a group.