Tom Hadrava is and aspiring Czech writer based in Prague, Czech republic, Europe, teaching English and constantly daydreaming during his lessons. His fiction has appeared in the XB-1 magazine, a Czech science-fiction magazine, and some anthologies from Czech writing competitions. In English, his flash fiction has been published in 365tomorrows and EveryDayFiction. He likes jogging (you can daydream while doing that, too) and playing invisible drums. He lives in a cosy flat with his charming wife and a curious baby son.
1. How long have you been writing and what got you started?
My first published story came out in 1999 in a Czech anthology with a very original name: „Dragonslayers”. I was sixteen then, very keen and very naïve. After some more unsuccessful attempts to break the standings in various Czech writing competitions, I moved on to more interesting stuff – studying Biology and English, doing sport and playing drums. Much later, only about three years ago, an introduction to speculative fiction written in English got me started properly, as I think about it now. I got quite bored with the Czech F and SF scene but when I dipped my toe into the ocean of online magazines in English, I was thrilled. A whole new universe opened up for me. I had to try it myself!
2. What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
Look at words as your tools, get to know them and understand what they can do for you (and when they can´t, leave them in the shed!). Concentrate on what you are doing. Write every day, anything to do with pen and paper/laptop/quill and ink counts.
3. Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
Jeff VanderMeer´s Wonderbook is a great resource for both writing advice and tons of inspiration.
4. What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
I love contemporary fantasy and dark fantasy, far-future science fiction, macabre and supernatural horror and anything in between, really. Most importantly – it has to be clever and gripping, it needs to make me think, feel and see. I tend to value the style very highly. Favourite authors: China Miéville, Ian McDonald and Paolo Bacigalupi. I am also a big fan of Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahniuk and Karel Čapek, to name just a few. Short stories are perfect for my daily travelling with the public transport in Prague, Czech Republic – I really like Theodora Goss, Ken Liu, Damien Angelica Walters.
5. What tips do you have for finding time to write?
We have a lovely and a very active one-year-old son, so finding time is a challenge indeed. I try to write whenever I have a spare minute – sometimes not writing literally, but thinking about the characters, plot development, the logic of the story… occasionally jotting down notes even at work (don´t tell anyone).
6. Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
Somehow I cannot write a story just as it comes. The uncertainty in that „on-the-fly” process is too much for me to handle. I need to know point A and point Z, being (roughly) the end, and then workout the alphabet in between as I go. With the end in mind, I can concentrate on the message and the voice right from the beginning.
7. How do you deal with rejections?
Rejections are part of it, staying humble helps. With the possibility to submit online, the process becomes very easy and the market is huge I think – just try again somewhere else!
8. What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
More stories published in English. More storied published in Czech. Rinse and repeat.
9. For the next five years?
There is a supernatural horror novel tugging at my attention every now and then, creeping behind me, wanting to be written… I would really love to write a middle grade novel, though. I have a bucketful of ideas and the storyline is slowly emerging in its entirety, too. This is probably going to be in Czech first, as I would love to read it to my son one day…
10. Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
I was going to write No thanks, but then I went through my bookmarks and I came across the Random Story Title Generator. It´s quite fun!