Ulyanovsk writer Kir Lukovkin: "During the pandemic, we'll learn a lot about each other"

Kir Lukovkin, a writer from Ulyanovsk, is known not only as a social fiction author but also as the author of “underworld movement” and thrillers. The “Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature” website spoke to the prose author about how the world would change as affected by the pandemic, what goes on in Russian literature, ghetto literature, the new novel’s central character, etc.

- People always pay attention to the books of science fiction writers: sometimes their texts come true. How do you treat the COVID-19 global situation? Has it had any impact on you or your writing?

- Not just yet on my writing. Sure, the situation is pressing. People should display the utmost diligence and responsibility what, unfortunately, many people lack. Currently, I see two imaginary “camps” – panic mongers and mockers. The former tend to dramatize while the latter prefer to ignore the problem. I believe that the attitude towards this pandemic is an effective test for humanity. In the immediate future, we'll learn a lot about each other. Human beings will reveal themselves for real.

- Many people say the world will never be the same after the pandemic.

- The world will change for sure. Much can be speculated about and be wrong. We would really appreciate it if the world turns for the better while the above situation serves a good lesson for mankind. But, unfortunately, we know that people have a bad memory. It takes a genuinely good reason to change anything in mentality. Human beings are born immune to exposure of theories and the writings on the wall unless they are convinced of the truth of the matter with their own eyes, though it is too late when it happens. I'm usually one to hold dark views of our future. By no means, I believe that we perish from different causes as it described in apocalyptic novels but life will turn for the worse. Firstly, self-imposed isolation of people will impact on the economy and can cause a recession or even crisis subject to the pandemic's persistence. In turn, the latter may become a cause of social woes. Control over persons’ movement and their health condition will be tightened up. Social rating is likely to be introduced so that we all will find ourselves “on the hook”. In parallel, it will give rise to a rapid increase in remote technologies, virtual reality and unmanned means of transport. Manufacturers will reconsider supply chains while countries will opt for self-isolation. But all this is only conditioned upon long-term effects. If everything ends up smoothly, we will take better care of our health.

- How does the writing process emanate? Do you really enjoy it?

- Creative work must bring only enjoyment. If I do not feel like writing, I do not do it. I'm not bound by obligations with publishers and, therefore, I write freely whatever I want. I have no plan for writing a text of a definite amount. I may drop writing for a year or two. It does not really matter. What matters is that what has been written - already exists, while anything to be written - inevitably will be published.

- When you were a boy, did you have a feeling that you would be a writer? 

- I did not think of it at all. Simply, I have always liked reading. And then I understood that writing comes naturally to me.

- Is there anything in common between your lecturer's work and writing? What does it feel like – to be a lecturer and to be a writer?

- Hard to tell, I can’t get to the bottom of the matter myself. But the combination is useful. I have always tried to learn the new, study up on anything and share my knowledge and experience, and the best results you get if you are far from boring when you tell.

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- What trends can you draw attention to in modern Russian literature? Which ones of them delight or alarm you? Are there any new inflections and subjects?

- Russian literature embarks on a course of simplification. Writings become shorter and simpler against the background of an enormous number of writing professionals. It is problematic to intercept something qualitative in this multitude. We have an old-established separation in genre literature, considered as a certain ghetto, and “great” literature, considered as elite. Nowadays, the lines between the two are blurred, and that pleases me. I dislike stiff limits at all. Furthermore, I like it when there are no barriers between author and reader. Nowadays, any author can be posted via social media to win readers there. A multitude of advanced platforms has appeared with this purpose. A paper publication becomes a rewarding but not a required bonus.

Among positive changes, it can also be noted that we have certain genres on the rise. For example, formerly horror fiction was not very popular, and now there is a whole wave of young authors, writing well enough along this avenue.

But what I really don't like is a total drop of authors’ literacy. I can understand when a person makes spelling mistakes, but five misprints on each page mean a writing level problem. Furthermore, certain genre subjects raise eyebrows as well. 

- Could you state three distinctive features specific to contemporary fantastic fiction?

- Business, trash, hoopla.

- You said, now you work at a new novel. Is it possible already to disclose any details? Who is its central character? 

- It is my seventh novel and the second part of dilogy, issued from my pen. Before I have had the experience of writing a trilogy, I managed even to have two of three books translated into English and published by ”Magic Dome Books” (available on Amazon Kindle), hence the work is following past practices. A planetary fiction novel, location – a major planet of quicksands. It is a story of revenge. Once having lost his mind, the central character is trying to cast the mind back, assembling himself bit to bit like a puzzle. By contrast with a previous trilogy of the ”young adult” genre, this story is rather cruel. That is to say, it reveals not only friendship but death, betrayal, and intrigues. I have not made up my mind whether I should publish it out of hand or sent it to the novelistic workshop.

For reference

Kyrill Lukovkin was born in 1985 in Baku (Azerbaijan). Then in 1990, he and his family moved to Ulyanovsk, Russian Federation, where he lives up to the present day. In 2007, he graduated from the Ulyanovsk State Pedagogical University named after I.N.Ulyanov with a degree in legal studies. He works as a university lecturer. Scope of creative search – fantasy and its sub-genres, a literature of underworld movement” and thrillers. His debut novel “The Citadel”, written at the interface of anti-utopias and Post - Apocalypse, was issued by the “Э” publishing house in 2016. The main character escaped native Commune to discover the truth about the surrounding world – space of the high-technology Thermopolis.