The Croatian cultural scene has not had a star of Cristian Novak’s caliber for a very long time. The former professional karate player published two hit novels, delighted the critics, but also raised a lot of noise he might not have wanted. His first novel “Črna mati zemla” has agitated some conservative associations, and the other, “Ciganin, ali najljepši” was controversial even as a title.
‘I didn’t want such PR. In the end it turned out the way it turned out. We live in a time when one statement can destroy a person’s life. When someone accuses you of promoting pedophilia, that is the worst qualification you can get. Interestingly, I never write to provoke somebody but somehow someone is always angry at me, “Novak said during the panel at the Weekend Media Festival which was named after his second novel.
Novak also spoke about his creative process on the panel.
Writing is difficult in itself. I don’t make a difference between creative and non-creative writing. When I write, I’m doing a deep introspection and then I’m returning back to the social level. I feel the need to dig into myself. Of course, this is not an autobiographical novel, but introspection process itself is nauseating. Those horrible stories I have in myself, after reading the novels, are now also in other people’s heads, so we’re in the same pot, ” he said.
He wrote “Črna mati zemla” before he had kids, so he took 3 hours every morning to write, and in the evening, after work, he would write for another couple of hours.
“When I was working on “Ciganin”, Lana was with us. I wrote whenever I had the time. It’s just important to have a drive. You need to survive that tough period, after which you will have a story you’ll be very proud of. “Črna mati zemla” is an intimate book, but “Ciganin” is about people that are not like me. I spent two years researching it, what with the Roma people, the Kurds and learned about human traffickers. After that I had graphs, notes, data. That’s when I started writing. When I started to create Sandi’s character, I realized I really didn’t know much about the Roma people even though I’ve seen them my whole life. I don’t know much about their aspirations or their suffering” stated Kristian Novak.
He also revealed how many copies of the book he sold. “”Ciganin” sold in nine thousand copies, “Črna mati zemla” in seven. Mostly, domestic novels sell between 500 and 600 copies, so once you reach a 1000 copies, you automatically have a hit”, explained Novak.