Pastor, mother, writer – not necessarily in that order – Görgey Etelka is a truly fascinating and multi-faceted person whose works are not yet as widely known as they deserve to be. Starting out as an aspiring fanfiction writer, she now has her 4-volume science-fiction slash family novel series, “Csodaidők” published, her story of success inspiring all amateur and fanfiction writers.
Q: On your website, you claim that you don’t view yourself as a professional writer. Have you ever wanter to be one? Do you see it more like a hobby now?
A: I think of myself as a pastor and a theologian. I’ve never wanted to be a writer, and I’ve never considered myself as such. So I’ve always thought of it as a hobby. And I don’t think it will change in the future.
Q: What are your literature favourites? What are some of the things that influenced your writing and style?
A: My most favourite book is Távoli tűz (Distant Fire) by Péter Zsoldos. That book influenced me in many ways, so it had quite an impact on my writing style as well. My other favourite is the Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling taught me to compose a story I’d enjoy to read. And if I enjoy my own story, perhaps my readers will as well.
Q: How did you settle on the multiple POV structure for your books?
A: I don’t remember how it happened. First, it was all Yaan’s story, but later, still in the composition phase, Judy and Giin joined in. But that was more than ten years ago.
Q: Why did you choose to publish under a pseudonym (Raana Raas) instead of your real name? Was it your idea, or did your publisher encouraged it?
A: That’s not a pseudonym, but the name of one of my characters, and together with the publisher’s preface is part of the narrative. It’s an additional layer of the story, if somebody reads it very carefully.
Q: When and how did you start writing? Did you have any professional training?
A: In 2002, and my first writing was a Harry Potter fanfiction. And no, I didn’t have any professional training.
Q: What is your writing method? Is there anything special you need in order to write, for example a special place, atmosphere, or music?
A: I first plan the story, then I sort the stuff into chapters, and I write them in the order you read them in the book. And I only need 2-3 hours of free time to write, and I cannot be tired. If I get that much, I can write, nothing special needed.
Q: How do you get inspiration? What do you do in case of writer’s block?
A: My only inspiration is free time, if I have free time, I have no writer’s block.
Q: After gaining a wider readership, a lot of writers struggle with thinking too much about pleasing their readers, instead of writing what they want to. Do you ever have such problems? First and foremost, who do you write for?
A: I write for my own pleasure. If you like it as well, I am happy. My readers only influence my enthusiasm, not the content of my stories.
Q: Do you have a proofreader? If you do, who is it?
A: I publish every written chapter on my website, so my proofreaders are those who follow the story online. Otherwise, as a publisher, I have an editor, the typesetter, and two proofreaders – the latter correct the spelling and wording, not the content -, and they all give me suggestions about the story.
A: No, they don’t. My children are too small, and my husband is not interested. And they don’t have to cope with my writing, I only write if I have time that means I don’t take time from my children. They are much more a priority to me than my hobby.
Q: What was your first experience with fanfiction? When, where and how?
A: In 2002 I began to read Harry Potter fanfictions on fanfiction.net, and I don’t remember precisely how I got there. But I don’t read them any longer.
Q: Authors attitudes toward fanfic vary. For example, Anne Rice and George R.R. Martin hate them, while J.K. Rowling strongly encourages it. You obviously love writing fanfiction. But how do you feel about people writing using the world and characters you have created?
A: I’d love it.
Q: What is your relationship with your readers like?
A: I know many of them, both personally and through mails and reviews. And since I do the posting of the books for my publishing company, I am in touch with them through that as well.
Q: What do you make of self-publishing on the Internet, such as ‘Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing’? Do you think someone can really make it big that way?
A: Yes, I am sure of it. I am self-publishing my books as well, and I have two e-books that can be downloaded for free as a kind of “trailer” to the series.
Q: What effect do you think fanfiction has and will have on literature and publishing?
A: I can’t really tell. Fanfic writers can “grow out” fanfictions and become writers – and the fanfic readers’ communitiy can serve as a readers’ base for their own stories. But that’s just the personal level. As on a more official level – everything is changing and in motion nowadays. I cannot really predict which way it will take in the near or not-so-near future.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers today?
A: Write what you want to read, proofread your writings with people you don’t know, and consider every advice or criticism you get. I mean consider, not necessarily accept.
Q: You have also done some translation jobs. What are some of the things you have done, and what are you most proud of?
A: I translated a lot of books, and though I enjoyed translating in the beginning, with two children it became a very heavy burden, and I don’t have really fond memories of translating. Could you just ask me another question?
Q: Could you give some advice to us who would also like to translate?
A: If you want to translate books, you have to be sure you have a writing/composing style in Hungarian. If you don’t, stick with technical texts.
Q: You mentioned in an interview that you have started to translate the first “Csodaidők” volume into English. How is that project going? Do you plan to try your luck on the English-language book market with it?
A: I wanted to translate it, but my English is not that good. I mean my English is quite good, but the outcome of the translation is a “translated Hungarian text” instead of an “English text”, if you know what I mean. So, that plan is nowadays on hold.
Q: The publishing of the last two volumes of “Csodaidők” is an interesting story in itself. After having Animus publish the first two books, you had to find a new way. Could you tell us about it?
A: I was in contact with three other publishing companies, but we could not agree on the details of the publishing. I sat down then, did the math, and realized I could do it myself. I was right. My publishing company is not a success but it isn’t a failure either. It’s going OK, and that’s all I can ask for.
Q: At the moment, you are writing “Időcsodák” which is an Alternative Universe fic of “Csodaidők”. After publishing 4 books, you are uploading this one regularly on your website, making it available to everyone for free. What this a conscious choice? Are you done with publishing? Or do you plan to try publishing again in the future?
A: Of course it was a conscious choice. People do not make such choices while unconscious. *laughs* You probably even missed that I published the first two volumes of “Időcsodák” as well. The story you can read on the site now is the third book, but when I am about to finish it, I take it offline, shape into a book, and publish it. So even those who follow the story on the site can spare to buy the book. But it’s more fun in this way.
Q: The four volumes of “Csodaidők” and the first two volumes of ” Időcsodák” are all available for purchase on your website. How would you describe them to somebody completely new to the series? Who would you recommend it to?
A: That’s the question I absolutely dislike, because I don’t know how to answer it. Sometimes I say, if I could sum it up in a couple of sentences, I wouldn’t have written four books, but four short stories (or one). I recommend it to everyone interested in personal and family dramas, and thinking literature’s main aim is to entertain.
Q: Are you working on anything else at the moment? Can you tell us about it?
A: I am currently writing the third part of the “Időcsodák” series, and as you have mentioned it before, it’s an AU story of the “Csodaidők” books. I have no time for other projects.
Q: You also studied at ELTE, at Hebrew studies. What was your college experience like?
A: I really enjoy studying, still, and Jewish Studies was a very big adventure to me. I studied ancient languages, ancient history, archeology, literature, and philosophy at the same time, and even though I cannot really use the knowledge I obtained there, my approach to new things, ideas, cultures, languages remained the same. I met there several teachers who had a big impact on me, one of them became more or less the model of Giin Raas. But no, I won’t tell you who that was.
By Enikő Fila