Alexei Ivanov Explains How to Write a Historical Novel
The meeting with the acclaimed writer was organized as part of the ‘Literary Wednesdays’ project
The public discussion between Alexei Ivanov and Maya Kucherskaya, Academic Supervisor of the MA programme ‘Creative Writing’, began with the history of the latest novels by Ivanov. The writer said that, in the process of working with a historical narrative, he does not consult with the historians, but reads academic literature. Furthermore, he does not always consider it necessary to be precise, as the text has a truth of its own. The writer likes to travel to the places where the events of the novel unfold, collect unknown facts and consult with local ethnographers. In his historical novels, Alexei Ivanov depicts the scene, life, and time in detail, as well as the appearance and speech of his characters.
Dozens of characters have featured in his novels, but the writer remembers them all perfectly – just as we remember our friends. When working on historical prose, Aleksei Ivanov compiles vocabularies of various social and national groups and uses this language in his texts.
In addition to the process of creating a historical novel, meeting participants discussed the interaction between a writer and a film director. Alexei Ivanov noted that, if a screenwriter creates a script, he has the right to interfere in the creative process when the film is being made. By contrast, when a writer gives a film company the rights to his novel, he does not this freedom.