Thursday, November 5, 2015

I am not a Chauvinist, Says Nik Krasnov. In conversation with the author of Oligarch Series



Action, violence, thrills, chasing, boxing, football; No, I am not talking about Rambo or Fast and furious or any movies. It’s a book. Which is the book? Who is the author? Well, let’s get to know all these through this session.
Welcome Nik Krasno, the author of Mortal Showdown.


Hi Nik,
Welcome to this virtual tete a tete.
Nik: Hi, it's a pleasure. Thanks for your interest.
     Q       Before moving on, tell me about your passion towards action.
Nik: Well noticed -:) Indeed, action is by far my favorite genre, be it in literature, motion pictures or even music. It's probably a natural follow-up of my childhood interest in adventure books in different exotic or simply unfamiliar locations. For a kid, growing up in the USSR, it was virtually impossible to visit other countries, except maybe for a handful of Warsaw pact states, so I 'traveled' the globe with the help of Jules Verne, acquainted Paris through Dumas' musketeers' eyes, London - with the guidance of Arthur Conan Doyle and so on.. Some years later I like many genres, provided still they have a strong action/adventure flavor in them. And besides - I try not to miss any of the available adrenaline injections myself: diving, skydiving, bungee I did at least once. Now waiting for commercial space travel to commence and trying to save 100K USD to afford it -:)        

     Q       Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Nik: I'm 40 plus now. I was born in Kiev, Ukraine, then - USSR. When the enormous country started to crumble politically, economically, territorially, I didn't see that much sense in staying put. Having an opportunity to leave for Israel as well as appetite for adventures, of course -:), I emigrated to the Mediterranean's at the age of 17. I was lucky enough to be admitted to the law faculty at Tel Aviv University, where I spent few excellent years. Not studying that hard, but rather partying, travelling, playing cards and indulging in other foolishness of the YA. As I had to finance tuition as well as living I worked hard both before and during the uni. In some places I didn't stay for long, but I washed dishes, operated embroidery machines at textile factory, worked as a pool boy in a hotel, as a janitor at basketball arena, as a cashier, bouncer, shift manager at a student night club. I might've even forgotten few more occupations.
After passing my Bar exam, I saw a good business opportunity in now independent Ukraine, which had a great potential, but lacked even most basic things, amenities and business heritage.
In the legal sphere I'd established a law office in Kiev with local and Israeli partners, while on the business side I worked for an international business group, specializing in emerging markets. Although engaged mostly in real estate projects, I had to a lesser degree dealt with privatization, defense, telecommunications and other spheres in Ukraine, CIS and Eastern Europe in general.
As my girlfriend and later - wife stayed in Israel all along, I used to live for some years on the plane between Israel and Eastern Europe.
In 2005 I 'returned' to Israel, but still every once in a while travelled to Ukraine to supervise the law office.
After selling my share in the law office, I work as a sole practitioner in Israel and rarely leave my family for business trips. Consequently, I have more downtime now, which resulted in starting the Oligarch series...         

      Q       What’s your Ukrainian Political Connection
Nik: Now - hardly any. But when I used to do business or practice law there I acquainted many prominent businessmen, politicians, functionaries and so on..

      Q       Do you agree with the protagonist about the Ukrainian –EU collaboration.
Nik: Definitely. It's for a good reason that oligarchs and even less influential businessmen live in the West and send their kids to study in Europe. That reflects the striving of most Ukrainians. Not everyone can afford moving abroad though, but association with EU should serve a good stimulus for building a more modern and less corrupted state in Ukraine, so that eventually she can become a proud member of the EU. On the other hand, nowadays no one can't be sure that EU would survive for that long -:)

Q        Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Nik: Michael (Misha) is a slum-dog billionaire. He has a complex, many would say - flawed personality. He's influenced by injustice done to his father and the poverty hosting most of his childhood and adolescence. He's a tough, cynic, sarcastic, often cruel, ambitious and audacious SOB, yet much of his negative flairs resulted from his adaptation to and coping with harsh and evil reality and surroundings. On the other hand, he's a loyal friend, a man with principles, who has a natural inclination towards basic fairness and a sense for a greater, common (not only his personal) good and purpose. All these form an individual with conflicting and sometimes opposite personalities. He's not black or white. Just like in the real world, where you can only rarely meet an absolute heroes or villains. 

     Q       Now, the question, which many women would have in mind, while reading Mortal Showdown. Why the portrayal of women as commercial properties?
Nik: Unfortunately, that's often a mentality among Russian/ Ukrainian super-rich. As I wanted to have a realistic although fictional protagonist, I had to portray Misha chauvinistic as many of them are, however I don't share his attitude 

     Q       Do you mean to say that Misha is an anti-hero?
Nik: To a certain degree - definitely. He's a murderer, but he turns against those who endangered and betrayed him, he's a swindler, but he's also a patriot, trying to save his country and to protect his family and friends. Is Michael Corleone an anti-hero? What about The White Tiger of Arawind Adiga? I think these have multiple choice answers.

Q        What are you working on at the minute?
Nik: I still need to be a breadwinner doing other things, mostly practicing law, so I can't dedicate most of my time to writing. Nevertheless, I have a raw draft of a sequel, which eventually may evolve into the 3-d book.

       Q       How do you manage you profession and writing?
Nik: Not the way I prefer. I'd rather write more and do less legal work, but I won't reveal a big secret if I'd say that only a very small percentage of writers can live off of writing and I'm not in that lucrative category yet -:)

Q        For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Nik: I prefer - paper. As a lawyer I spend way too much time with electronic documents, so for leisure I'd choose a physical copy

Q        What book/s are you reading at present?
Nik: 'Putin's Kleptocracy' by Karen Dawisha. Someone who read my books insisted that I must read 'Kleptocracy', so much that he even cared to mail me this book. After all those efforts, although I rarely read non-fiction, I don't really have a choice with this one -:)

Q        How are you publishing this book and why?
(*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)
Nik: I'm an indie, but I wouldn't say - by choice. On the first book - we (with a co-author) applied to agents, but none seemed interested. It's understandable to some degree, as Russian/Ukrainian oligarchs is probably a relatively narrow niche and people in the publishing industry are unwilling to take risks in the current market conditions. 

Q        What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Nik: The advantages are clear: you have a full control of your book and you don't have to share anything with anyone, but then .... there is frequently nothing to share -:) In order to succeed and actually see some proceeds an indie must invest a great deal of efforts (not necessarily funds) into marketing and sales' promotions. That's entirely not my thing, so I would rather outsource this part to professionals for a certain percent.

Q        Do you intend to see the book on silver screen? If so, which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Nik: I'd love to. Action books are natural for an adaptation into action movies. With all the action and twists, I can definitely imagine 'Mortal Showdown' as a mind-blowing action film.  I can feature Leonardo, as an Oligarch (with Jason for Arthur, of course -:)), Liam Neeson maybe, Gary Oldman, Clooney even

Q        What are your thoughts on writing a book series.
Nik: I think that series can be beneficial for both writers and readers, therefore I'm doing it as an Oligarch series with first two installments already out: 'Rise of an Oligarch' and 'Mortal Showdown'. On the other hand, it's a question of a good measure. If the theme is 'exhausted', I don't see a point in adding artificially something ridiculous.   

Q        Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book/s?
(* please provide a link to trailer if you have one)
Nik: Not there yet, but wouldn't rule it out for the future..

Q        Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
Nik: The success game for any author is 'visibility'. If a giveaway helps to gain that much, to create some kind of buzz - I think you need to do it to ignite some momentum. Like in any art: new bands first play for free in pubs and clubs, artists do some free street art/graffiti and so on. It's mostly a marketing tool to enable further sales, as of course author's work and sometimes - monetary investment in editing, internet site, etc well deserve a reward. 

Q        Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Nik: Hopefully, more engaged in writing and less in more mundane things...

Q        What advice would you give to your younger self?
Nik: I'm not the type reflecting on the past that much. Yet, business wise I would've advised not to be afraid from grand things, from taking risks. You may love, hate or be indifferent to oligarchs or other magnates, but many of them made billions in their twenties and thirties both in the East (Abramovich, Khodorkovsky, Ahmetov, etc) and in the West (Mark Zuckerberg, Jan Koum, Sergey Brin). In the modern world twenties and thirties are probably the most productive years to fill them with hard work, attempts, achievements, all those however to be balanced with pleasures, adventures and rich personal life.  

Q        What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Nik: Write for the art in it, for the pleasure of a creative work, invest wisely into making a professional product: editing and proofreading, cover design, etc. Don't do it for money, as many of those would be disillusioned. Yet a breakthrough may happen and then it'll be a pleasant surprise. 

Q        Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Nik: No, I think we've addressed most of the issues that might interest readers

Q        How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Nik: through social media, of course

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009937664739
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=nav_responsive_tab_home
Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/Nik-Krasno/e/B00O416OLU/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Smashwords:
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NikKrasno
Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8672304.Nik_Krasno
Q        Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Nik: You are most welcome. Thank you for hosting me and for running this excellent 'bridge' between the readers and the writers. Beware of oligarchs, some of them bite -:)