Ivana Hruba specializes in writing bold, quirky and outrageously entertaining fiction. So she says.
Shelagh: When did you first begin writing and in what genre(s)?
Ivana: I’ve been writing stories since childhood; first in my native Czech, then in English. I don’t have a particular genre I write in; for me, it’s the plot that influences the genre of a particular story.
Shelagh: When you started to write, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?
Ivana: I have always wanted to entertain with my stories. As a reader I am most drawn to deeply human, meaningful stories told with a good dose of humor, and that’s what I try to accomplish in my own writing.
Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?
Ivana: A Decent Ransom is a story of a kidnapping gone right. It’s a stand-alone thriller told in multiple perspectives.
Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?
Ivana: A Decent Ransom deals with a kidnapping in which nothing happens according to plan when a woman gets kidnapped for ransom which never arrives, creating a moral dilemma for the kidnappers who are left with the kidnapped girl. Everyone’s motives are gradually revealed to the reader through the multiple points of view. And just as you think you’ve got it all worked out – here comes the surprise ending.
Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting?
Ivana: For me, character development is a gradual process. It is something that happens as the story progresses, although I do have an idea how to position the characters from the outset. I like complex, morally sound characters who are, nonetheless, capable of great evil if properly motivated. I usually have a good idea of the setting as I need to be able to start the story from there.
Shelagh: Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?
Ivana: In A Decent Ransom the most likeable character is the young kidnapper Phoebus. He’s the one true innocent in this story. Phoebus is a fifteen year old boy who’s been forced to take part in the kidnapping. He’s then charged with taking care of the kidnap victim and has to cope with all the unexpected turns in the situation.
Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?
Ivana: In this story, the multiple perspectives move the plot along from one event to another. It keeps the reader engaged and the story moving at a quick pace.
Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?
Ivana: I like to tell a story ‘after the event’ rather than ‘in the moment’ as it allows me to draw conclusions and show consequences. In A Decent Ransom each of the four main characters who get to ‘speak to the reader’ have a particular style – some are telling the story in past tense, others are showing it to the reader as if it were just happening. In my new novel, I have an omniscient narrator ‘telling’ the reader rather than ‘showing’ the action.
Shelagh: How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Ivana: We all draw on our experiences to make meaning of our lives. It is inevitable that a writer will draw on their own environment when writing a story; not so much in terms of plot, setting or action, but certainly in character development. I find that my ‘heroes’ are essentially the same person, imbued with pretty much the same characteristics – witty, good-natured, a lot of fun to be around but with a dash of the unexpected thrown in. When I’m developing a character, I spend a lot of my time in that person’s company so I like to give them the human qualities that I like.
Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.
Ivana: I’ve been lucky to have got some great reviews for A Decent Ransom and I’m grateful for them all, but my favourite line is … “Told in multiple character points of view, the author somehow has designed a story that elegantly presents each character’s viewpoints without the need to label or overtly lead the reader.” I love the ‘somehow’; to me it show that the reader grasped the story but couldn’t quite work out how I did it, which is exactly what I had intended to happen. To read this review and others, please go to my website listed below.
Shelagh: What are your current projects?
Ivana: I am currently finishing a novel based on my life. As a child I lived in then communist Czechoslovakia which my family left in 1983. We escaped by walking across the Alps from the former Yugoslavia to Italy and we stayed in a refugee camp in West Germany before eventually ending up in Australia. The book is about my childhood, the escape and the refugee camp, and our resettlement in Australia. I am also developing a comic book series for children. For all the details, please see my website.
Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Ivana: Currently, the best place is my website www.ivanahruba.com . I hope to see you there. Otherwise, A Decent Ransom is available in lots of libraries worldwide.