Tanja Radman is a real pearl in the ‘Pearl of Adriatic’. This young writer born in Kutina currently lives and works in Dubrovnik and takes the best of it – inspiration. Two years ago she published her first book ‘’Republic of Stone’’, that is now available in English! Because of that we decided that we just have to talk to her and see Dubrovnik through her eyes – like a city full of magic.
How did you get an idea for the Republic of Stone? I came to Dubrovnik 6 years ago in April, looking for a job. It was raining heavily, and my friends took me to the Old town for the very first time; the idea was to knock on every door and ask if anyone needed a waitress. I remember I was so amazed and enchanted by the beauty of the place, I could hardly even concentrate. Finding a job was on the bottom of my list after stepping on Stradun! I kept coming back to the Old Town, just to walk and enjoy it's mesmerizing streets, while reading and learning about it's past as time went by. Since I've been writing my whole life just for myself, I found something in one of those stone corners, just waiting to be recognized. I had an immense urge to tell those historical tales and let people know what treasury Dubrovnik holds, but people aren't very keen on learning historical facts, years, styles etc., so I did what I thought was best – I merged history with magic. I wanted to make something that celebrates and glorifies Ragusa, but in a fun and different way. Two years later, I published a historical fantasy book, first of five.
What readers can expect when reading it? I did my best to make people question what in the book is real, and what is pure imagination. Since the basic idea was to interest people in the medieval Dubrovnik, I had to balance historical facts and fantasy elements. For example, Marino Ghetaldi was a reputable psychisist and mathematician in the 16th century, and we're familiar with his work, but don't know who he was. So, I combined his real life work with my idea of him as a person; I gave him characteristics needed for a man, husband and a father, but as a sorcerer, too. He has the leading role in a magical confliction waiting to happen against the tyrant Rector who, in my book, is a monster thirsty of power and blood while in real history, that name was a mere title for a one-month-long mandatory. Or, another example would be the Slavic mythology I briefly brushed upon at the very beginning of my story, where we get to know the main characters due to a pagan celebration of Spring – which really occured in these areas. As you can see, I combine history with fantasy as they hold hand in hand and flirt with one another, to the extend one must explore what really happened, and what I imagined.
Why Dubrovnik? Because Dubrovnik has a rich and complicated history, and because we're fortunate enough to enjoy it's heritage. To this day, whenever I visit the Old town, I feel like someone threw me into the 15th century – ignoring the restaurants, stores and crowds in the summer, the Old town kept it's original form and defies time itself. I am utterly enchanted by the historical marks, tales and treasure Dubrovnik is lucky to have.
Is Dubrovnik never-ending inspiration? It is. I'm already afraid of how much energy and love I'll need to focus on another subject when I finish this series because Dubrovnik had all of it, deservedly.
Were you surprised by the reactions of readers? I was very surprised. I knew this combination was quite rare in today's literature but I must admit, I was quite frightened at first since I had no idea how will Dubrovnik's residents react on me twisting their history as I please. To my luck, it turned out very, very well. I found out they're both curious of what I made, and grateful I'm celebrating their history to this date. Also, I always emphasize that my book has fantasy and magical elements so that people had fun while learning history and so they wished to learn more after reading it.
When did you decide to become a writer? I don't think I ever decided I wanted to become a writer, it's just something I always gravitated to. As long as I can remember, since early elementary school, all I ever wanted to do was write.
Is it hard to be a young Croatian writer? What are the challenges? It's extremely hard to become AND stay a writer in our country. There are so many problems with our literal and publishing society, I don't even know where to begin...so it's best I don't event start with it. The struggle is more than one could take; so many closed doors and refusals will come your way but if you're determined and if you don't want anything else in life but your hardcopy, you'll get your name on it. I guarantee it.
What are your future plans? Currently, I'm working on the third edition of the first book since we've sold out the previous two. This fall I'll release the sequel which has a working title 'Republic of Mortals' but I tend to change my mind a lot so that's not definite. I'll start promoting it after it's published, while working on the third book of this series – I've announced five books, and called the series 'Lex Legis'. That will keep me busy for several years, even more so since I gave myself the challenge to be as original as you can be in the fantasy genre, by creating my own magical creatures, beings, animals, and even magical herbs. Sometime between the third and the fourth book, I'd like to surprise my readers and myself with a completely different genre, such as a romantic, a thriller or a children's book, just to keep things fresh and challenge myself a bit. I'd love to stay in historical fiction though, because I consider combining history with magic extremely fun and educational.
Did you hear any negative comments about the book? I haven't had any negative comments or negative encounters so far, but I'm aware not everybody will like my books. I'll be happy as long as people READ, that's my biggest concern - to never stop growing as a reading and learning society.
Where can we get the book? The Croatian hardcopies are available at Stradun's bookstore 'Algebra' in the Old Town, the online bookstore 'Superknjižara' and on my FB page Tanja Radman, from me personally. The English e-book is now available on Amazon for Kindle, and we'll add the hardcopy in a couple of days. Except from that, we'll sell English hardcopies in Dubrovnik, also in 'Algebra' and personally, we just have some details to finish.