Interview with Yuriy Lukanov, Author of Reporter Volkovsky

Interview with Yuriy Lukanov, Author of Reporter Volkovsky

What inspired you to start writing?

A very funny story happened to me during the war in Ukraine. Back in 2014, in the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, liberated from the Russians, I accidentally met my friend, the Polish journalist Piotr Andrusechko. We had free time in the evening. We decided to buy some dry wine and drink it at our leisure. We bought wine, but found that we did not have a corkscrew. And we, two men who covered wars and mass riots, did not know how to uncork a bottle without a corkscrew. We went in search of a corkscrew to the military. They also did not have a corkscrew. But they were able to uncork the bottle for us using a ramrod.

Interview with Yuriy Lukanov, Author of Reporter Volkovsky

The story is funny. But you can’t include it in the report. There is a lot that happens in war that is not described in the articles, but it still deserves attention.  Moreover, the stories are much more tragic than the one I wrote about. And they can be “placed” all in one place. And to fantasize something. This makes the narrative more compelling than a media report. And I decided to write prose. I first wrote a short story called Corkscrew. And then decided that the topic deserves more. It was there that the great text “Reporter Volkovskyi” about journalists during the war was born. Before that, I mainly wrote reports for the media. If I wrote a fiction story, it was only as a hobby. But the war motivated me to do more.

How long have you been writing?

I wrote intermittently. I went to war. I was gaining impressions. And I continued to write. If you exclude the breaks, then in general the writing took me one year. Dramatic events that took place during the war often made their adjustments.

When did you start writing?

In Ukraine, the concepts of journalist and writer are separated. Journalists write reports for the media, and writers write prose. I’ve been writing reports all my life. It’s been so long that it’s scary. Many years ago, I covered the liquidation of the consequences of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Sometimes I wrote short stories. But it was like fun. And I started writing “Reporter Volkovskyi” in 2016 or 2017. I wrote intermittently.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Without experience, a writer is zero. Gain experience and only when you feel that you have something to say, sit down to write.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Experience plus imagination. The combination of these two elements can become an explosive mixture. Writing style is also very important, but it is not in the first place. Style can be developed. But without experience and imagination, style alone will not bring success.

What comes first, the plot or characters?


How do you develop your plot and characters?

The plot and main characters, if they are viable, have their own logic of self-development. In the process of writing, new scenes and twists are born.

How do you come up with the titles to your books?

By profession and name of the main character. But the surname of my main character is Volkovsky. It is not accidental. My grandfather Pavlo Lukanov was shot by the communists in 1937. It was a terrible Stalinist era in the former Soviet Union. My grandmother, his wife, was also imprisoned and tortured. She did not write a single bad word about her husband. I studied their cases in the archive. I saw with my own eyes. She was sentenced to 8 years in Gulag camps. Her name was Olga Volkovska. My main character has her last name.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I realized myself as a journalist after school. I first went to work as a worker in a shoe factory. And there I started writing for the factory newspaper.

Describe your writing space.

Now I am writing lying down. I had a spinal injury in 2015. I was bedridden in the hospital for a month. But I had to work. And my wife bought me a special table for a laptop. I liked it so much that even now, when I am at home, I write lying down. And on business trips — of course, at the table, or holding the laptop on my lap.

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

One reader wrote on Facebook that she was so fascinated by my characters that she drove through her subway stop. My readers, responding favorably to my texts, all evaluated my main characters in different ways. I am very satisfied with it. After all, this means that I did not write black and white characters.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have written three documentary  books. Three books of political epigrams. One book of prose. The war prose “Reporter Volkovskyi” is the most dear to me. Another documentary about the occupation of Crimea. “The Press: how Russia destroyed media freedom in Crimea”. Two of these books have been translated into English. The book about Crimea survived two editions.

Do you have a favorite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special.

Reporter Volkovsky is partly me. But only partially. When the war came to Ukraine, Ukrainian journalists received new challenges. They had to answer new questions. For example, should a journalist from a country under attack be completely neutral? My main character is looking for answers to these questions. The experience of many other Ukrainian journalists, who were looking for answers to new questions, was concentrated in Volkovskyi.

Where can readers purchase your books?

On the website of Amazon and Defiance Press. My book “Reporter Volkovskyi” received nine reviews in Ukraine. If you really want to know, you can google it and use google translator. There was one review in English

What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

The world still largely looks at Ukraine through the prism of Russia. He reads Russian literature, in particular, about Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukrainians have their own powerful literature. And my book is the view of a modern Ukrainian on the terrible war waged by Russia. The reader can at least partially understand how Ukrainians differ from Russians and understand that they are by no means one people, as Russian propaganda has convinced many.

Excerpt from Reporter Volkovsky

Interview with Yuriy Lukanov, Author of Reporter Volkovsky
Reporter Volkovsky Yuriy Lukanov

Ivan called Dorota right after saying goodbye to his daughter.

“Madam wanted to drink tsytrynivka with me next time. But why should we postpone it till the next time? I want to offer to meet you today. Deal?”

“Deal,” answered Dorota.

After thirty-five, women get that special sensuality, when they want true pleasure and maybe even more than emotional warmth. And when a woman like that gets both, she is ready to make love like

crazy. That was exactly what Volkovsky experienced for himself.

“Tomorrow, you will leave and forget me,” she whispered in his ear.

He didn’t answer and just laughed softly and happily.

“You will go fighting with those damn Moscals. And you will do the right thing. If Moscal was here, he would get into our bed and start telling us how we should make love.”

“Of course, they would also set a curfew for us. Making love is only allowed till 11 p.m. You and I wouldn’t stand that, though. We’d violate the order and get ourselves shot. But that’s what we’re fighting for—for you and me to be able to make love wherever we want and as much as we want.”

“I want to do it again.”

After the fact, she continued as if they had never broken away from their conversation. “There’s no way out. You need to fight. But for that reason, you’re going to forget me. You’ll forget about everything except death, blood, sweat, and tears. Tell me, is it scary out there?”

“When I was under fire for the very first time, I completely forgot where I was and what was happening to me. At the special training, they taught me that I should fall down and look around to see who’s shooting and from where. And then crawl away to the cover. I did fall down. But then I forgot about everything. I thought that the end had come. I was lying motionlessly. When everything calmed down, I realized that I was alive, and it surprised me. I thought that it was impossible to survive in that Hell. Later, it happened a couple more times, so I got used to that and kept my head cool.”

“Promise me that you will never go under the enemy shells again.”

“I promise.”

“You’re lying,” said Dorota, covering his mouth with her lips.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin

Leave a comment