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Advice from IR Approved Author Pavel Sanaev: “Learn screenwriting. Whether through books, seminars or film schools, screenwriting will teach you story structure.”

Bury me Behind the Baseboard received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Pavel Sanaev.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

The title of the book is Bury me Behind the Baseboard. It was first published in 2003 in Russia by a small publishing house.  It sold well and in 2007 was reissued by the major Russian publisher AST. That year it became the top Russian bestseller.

What’s the book’s first line?

My name is Sasha Savelyev. My mother abandoned me for a blood-sucking midget and hung me around Grandma’s neck like a god-awful heavy cross.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

Eight-year-old Sasha lives with his grandparents and is going to rot away by the age of sixteen – or so his foul-mouthed Grandma claims. He is not allowed to sweat, run or see his mother too often. Yet living with his mother is all Sasha really wants. His grandmother’s hard love brings about tyranny – scandals rock their house daily. The only thing that saves Sasha’s mind is his humor. He manages to see catastrophic family relationships in a funny way and a story that might have been a tragedy becomes a sidesplitting comedy. Many people favorably compare the novel with Three men in a boat not counting a dog by Jerome K. Jerome. With a pinch of Dostoevsky.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

Many families in Russia have mangled relationships. The soviet regime did a lot more than kill millions in prisons while building up a powerful but unhappy country.  It twisted the mind and soul of the entire nation.  It atomized people and totally evaporated empathy. I wanted to write a book that explores how traumas of the past can devastate love in the present and how twisted love can be a “weapon of mass destruction” in families.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

Many people in the world suffer from bad family relations, but it’s not acceptable to air a family’s dirty laundry out of the house.  People feel alone, believe that nobody in the world understands their pain and feel that life treats them unfairly. My book breaks down the wall of loneliness for those people. They see something of their own life in the pages and it cures them. I believe the book became a bestseller because people found consolation in it.  Additionally, the book helps people better understand contemporary Russia, revealing how a developed European nation can start a terrible war in the 21st century and feel OK with that. Imagine while reading the book that grandmother is Russia itself, the boy is Ukraine, the mother is the European Union and the mother’s boyfriend is the USA. You’ll understand the “mysterious Russian soul” and see the hidden psychological strings of that war. I’m not kidding.  No exaggeration.

When did you first decide to become an author?

I began writing my first short stories in seventh grade, which brought me success among classmates, parents and parent’s friends.  For a short while I persisted just for that kind of praise that any teenager would appreciate. Of course, it was nothing serious. I didn’t consider writing seriously until I was eighteen.  I enrolled in the screenwriting department of the film institute, which really helped me.  The book definitely wouldn’t have come about without that education.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

I’m also a screenwriter and film director with five films in my filmography.  In addition, I have turned my biggest hobby into a business; I’m an audiophile and sell high end audio gear.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

I usually write for three days in a row, spending 8-9 hours at the desk. Typically, I’ll procrastinate 2-3 hours and then return to 5-6 hours of intensive writing. I consider procrastination as my brain warming up and feel OK with it. After three days of writing, I’m a vegetable for a day or two, and then the cycle repeats.

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

Learn screenwriting. Whether through books, seminars or film schools, screenwriting will teach you story structure. Many talented authors fail only because they don’t have that storytelling craft. And write a story that excites you personally.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

My motivation has changed over time. Initially, it was to prove to others that I was worth something. With my second book, which became a Russian bestseller, it was to capture the epic collapse of the Soviet Union that I had witnessed. Now, my primary desire is to share ideas that can elevate our planetary society. I witnessed how a colossal country collapsed, and I know how easily wars can begin. It’s high time people cultivate responsibility, not only for their own lives but for the entire planet.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?

The hardest part is that until you get your book published and promoted by a powerful publisher, you can’t feel like a real writer. It took twelve years from the day I finished my book until it was published by AST and became a bestseller. The best part is feeling your whole life could change. Currently, I’m writing a sci-fi novel, The Illisionator under the pen name Paul Ross. I see it as my chance to become a writer on an international scale. It may or may not happen, depending on many circumstances, but the prospect is exciting!  I’m very thankful to those who’ve created fantastic tools like KDP and IndieReader. They are wonderful contributions to the world.

Which book do you wish you could have written?

Romen Rollan’s Jean Kristoff is my beacon in the genre of realistic literature. And Gerbert Wells’s “Time Machine” is a fantastic example of social sci-fi. I hope to succeed in writing novels in both genres. The Illusionator, a novel I’m currently working on, is my “Time Machine”.


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