The Best Books of My Time by Elvira Baryakina

Uploaded by elkapalka on 26.11.2012

As a child, when I came to somebody's house, I always tried to seize an opportunity
to check their bookshelves
I was born in the Soviet Union, and good books were scarce.
I was in a constant search for something new and delightful,
and when I found the right book, it was a mixed feeling of joy, admiration and
desperate desire: "I want to be like this author!"
I was like an Ugly Duckling looking with awe at the beautiful swans.
I tried to write my first historical novel when I was in high school.
It was a strange time:
all our textbooks were old,
reflecting the Communist views,
but our teachers told us things
that could have landed them in prison not long ago.
There's a saying that Russia is a country with unpredictable past,
and we had a good reason to believe it.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, I started to ask my first "why?"s regarding history.
I wanted to know what had happen to my country.
But soon I realized there's no a single country's history.
All states and nations are interconnected,
but often the links between the events and outcomes are missed or neglected.
My mission as an author is to show these hidden connections and give a reader
an opportunity to observe the history of the early 20th century
as a complicated but logical process that involved people all around the globe.
I started writing
the book series World Wars and Revolutions
about a journalist Klim Rogov who travels to different countries and witnesses
the most significant events of his time: the Russian Revolution,
the struggle for China's independence,
the rise of Stalin's regime in the Soviet Union
and the Nazi Party in Germany and so on.
It takes me about two years to write a book.
First, I read all available
sources related to my topic,
usually about 200 titles. Then I go to the locations: I have to visit the hotel in Shanghai
where my character will be staying,
or a sunlit café in Buenos Aires he will recall
in the most difficult moments of his life,
or the state bank in Kazan
where the Bolsheviks hid the treasures of the Russian royal family.
I know that most of the people don't care about the little details,
but they are dear to me. I don't like reinventing history, I enjoy restoring it.
Working on my manuscript is like tuning up an intricate musical instrument.
I endlessly rummage my invisible little pipes, keys and strings, retouch, tighten,
and then strike a chord.
I try again and again,
until something clicks inside my head and I just feel it: Here it is!
Why do I do all this?
It's interesting to think of yourself as a character in somebody's novel.
You have advantages and disadvantages, you meet true heroes and villains, you learn something on your way,
overcome crisis, enjoy culminations and outcomes.
And whether your life story will be interesting or not, depends only on you.