Famous Ukrainian traveler and writer Maxym Kidruk shared impressions with Eastbook.eu about his new novel and also identified problems of Ukraine: “My biggest dream is that in 10 years the border between the East and the West will move from the western Ukrainian border to the eastern one”.
Yulia Lyshenko: Maxym, where did it all begin? What inspired you to become a traveler, writer, because by education you are an engineer?
Maxim Kidruk: I always say that if you are good at something that doesn’t mean that it is the core of your life. I never liked to work as a “programmer” or by profession, as an engineer. I wanted to be a writer. It all began with a childhood hobby – reading adventure books by Gerald Durrell, Thor Heyerdahl, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Jack London and others. While studying in Sweden, I understood that traveling can be cheap and I started to wander. First around Europe and then, in the summer of 2008, I took the first big trip overseas – to Mexico. So it all started. Travelogs were first, now I slowly turn to writing techno-thrillers, this is the genre in which I’ve wanted to work on from the start.
YL: You write in a new genre for Ukraine, “Travel” – how difficult is it to be a pioneer? Are Ukrainian readers ready for such kind of literature?
MK: It is always hard to be a pioneer. In any field, not only in literature. Although in the fact that you go first, there is also an advantage. In fact, I created my own niche and I filled it.
As to whether readers are ready: of course, yes! They were not only willing but eager to read this kind of books, because until 2009 in the modern Ukrainian literature travelogs did not really exist.
YL: Give us your opinion on the state of the native literature in general. In my view, we are slowly but surely reviving it, or am I wrong?
MK: There are a few problems, but, as you said, we are moving in the right direction. We already have top authors who sell up to 100,000 books in half a year (Shklyar, Dashvar Luzin, etc.). This means there are readers, so we just have to fight for them. I think that in 5-10 years the literary market in Ukraine finally will be formed. Personally, I do all my best for this.
YL: How many countries have you been to so far?
YL: Which trips were the cheapest and which ones the most expensive?
MK: The cheapest? I can’t even remember now. Some kind of a trip in my student days to Stockholm. Apparently, to the World Cup Biathlon in Ostersund… And the most expensive was the last trip to Angola and Namibia.
YL: Please tell us about some of the most extreme – or maybe tricky – situations that occurred while traveling abroad.
MK: There are so many. And almost all of them are described in my books. For example, I was swimming with piranhas in the Pantanal (Brazil), was a witness and an unwilling participant in the Egyptian revolution (two weeks spent in the center of Tahrir Square with demonstrators), and in Damascus, I have been arrested for refusing to bribe Colonel’s secret police, threatened (the situation was resolved only through the intervention of the Foreign Ministry and personally Ukrainian Ambassador to Syria). As I said, quite a lot to tell.
YL: Which countries are the most similar to Ukraine: by their political situation, linguistic features, culture, mentality, etc.?
MK: No one is similar. Ukraine is unique. In fact, just as any other country. Each country has its own particularity – and this is, in fact, the main charm of travel. If you compare people, say, Ecuadorians and Peruvians, they are very similar to Ukrainians in their hospitality.
YL: What’s missing in Ukraine and how to fix it ?
MK: Tough question. To answer in a few sentences in a one interview is rather impossible. Generally speaking, we have been already moving in the wrong direction for 20 years. Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – after the collapse of the Soviet Union – immediately took the lead, quickly reorientated and were able to take its proper place in Europe. Ukraine is still marking time, torn between the East and the West. The problem is that the state leaders are still people who grew up, were raised, made a career in the Soviet Union. It is not their fault that they do not know how to manage the state effectively. It just needs time for them to finally leave the political arena. And that time is not far.
YL: How do you see your motherland in next 10 years?
MK: A normal, democratic and developed country. Part of the European community in every sense. My biggest dream is that in 10 years the border between the East and the West will move from the western Ukrainian border to the eastern one. I hope you understand what I mean…
YL: What will Maxym Kidruk tell us, his readers, in his new book?
MK: My new novel comes out on September 20. It’s techno-thriller ( the most famous techno-thriller in the world is “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton) titled “Bot”. “Bot” is an extremely multi-element novel, which combines modern technology, human psychology and pure Hollywood “action”. The events in the book are fictional, but all the rest – places, objects, equipment, weapons, physiological characteristics of living organisms, etc. – are quite real.
While working on the novel I consulted with a PhD in chemistry, doctor-psychologist and a psychiatrist. All of the techniques described in the novel are real. To deal with them, I worked for about a hundred scientific articles on nanotechnology, microbiology and human brain. The main character of the book is an ordinary young Ukrainian programmer from Kiev, working on the development of game bots. Tempted by big money, the guy goes to a remote laboratory where he becomes a member of the international research group.
This genre is wildly popular in the world (Crichton himself sold 200 million copies of his books during the life), but in Ukraine for some reason none knows about it. The situation is similar to what has been with travelogs until 2009. I hope that after the release of “Bot” the situation will change.
Feature photo: Railway in Donetsk, Ukraine, by markdabombcrimes1
Translated by Maryia Aukhimovich