Ilona is a young writer who lives in Budapest. She writes sci-fi, fantasy and horror, mainly poems. Her works have been published in Illumen, Expressions Newsletter, Between Kisses, Beyond Centauri, AlienSkin Magazine, Skyline, KidVisions, Whispers of Wickedness and Book of Dark Wisdom Magazine. Her first book of genre poetry, Unearthly Companion (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, humor) is now available. The book has received glowing reviews and one of the poems,'Haunted House' has been nominated for Muses Prize, (in the Best Poem of Year 2005 category).
Novelspot: How would you describe yourself?
Ilona: First of all, I'm a writer. I'm a poet, a short story writer, a reviewer and I am also a blogger. I write many things, the list seems to be expanding, and I write a lot.
So far I've written mainly poetry. Mostly genre poetry including science fiction, fantasy, dark and horror stories told in poetry form. Most of my poems belong to what is called speculative poetry. I also took up short story writing, and I am planning to write more prose later on.
Novelspot: What first got you started writing?
Ilona: I've always been thinking of trying to write something, but, for a long time, I did not have the self-confidence to give it a try.
Fortunately, I studied literary translation at the college, which I really liked, and dealing with texts at that level made me think of this more often and has been somewhat encourageing for me. After graduating, I felt there was a now or never situation, I gave it a try and I succeeded. Now with twenty-six poems published in different ezines and printed magazines and 41 in my first book of poetry, Unearthly Companion, and after being nominated for two prizes, it seems that I just cannot stop and there's no way back..
Novelspot: How did it develop that you write in English which is not your first language?
Ilona: One of my majors was English, so I had to read a lot in English and I also had to develop my writing skills. I also read lots of books simply because I was interested. I was exposed to the language so much, that after a while I just had the feeling that it was the time to write something myself at last, maybe in English.
As I wanted to write genre poetry, for which there was no market here at that time, it was obvious for me, that this meant having to write in English, and I even liked the idea. After writing a few poems in Hungarian first, I soon became self-confidant enough to try to do the same in English. It worked, I enjoyed the process, and it has become a part of my life.
Novelspot: Any writings in your native tongue?
Ilona: I wrote the first few poems in Hungarian, and I'm also blogging in Hungarian, (though I also have two blogs in English.) However, I'd like to write more in my native tongue later on, though I'm not sure what and when exactly.
Novelspot: Thoughts on your poetry:
Ilona: I like to tell stories, often through the eyes of one of the characters, sometimes via describing their thoughts in just one particular moment of their lives, without accompanying them all the way. This means that there might not be a neat ending and the reader is often left thinking. On the other hand I also like to entertain the reader. I really like to make people laugh, so I also use humor a lot. It is also important for me to create an emotional response.
Novelspot: Thoughts on your prose:
Ilona: The effect I'd like to create is similar to what I described in the case of poetry, but there has to be more emphasis on good action.
Novelspot: What kind of writer are you? Do you get possessed by your characters? Do you plot carefully or write by the seat of your pants?
Ilona: Plotting is important for me in order to have an idea of where I am going and what steps I have to make to get there, but, on the whole, I'm more of what is called a character-based writer. For me, creating the character, building him up while showing his or her actions, thoughts and feelings, and then making that character develop is the most important.
Novelspot: What (if any) writing habits or quirks do you have and where did they come from?
Ilona: I guess, as time goes by one develops more and more of such habits as one becomes more aware of what is good for him or her and what is not, what helps him to write or to get inspiration and what is irritating.
When I write, I prefer to be isolated, or at least I need to be alone and not to be talked to for a while. I said alone, but this also includes walking on the street, as I have written several poems like that. I memorize them, and then jot them down only when I get home. I have a very good memory, so I can do that, though nowadays I also keep a notebook with me.
I also find it helpful if there is background music when I write, and I realized that strong visual stimuli is often enough to get me going for expl. looking at the pictures at an online gallery, but sometimes watching an episode of a TV series can also be enough. Somehow I find it easier to write late at night or early in the morning, though other times of the day can also be suitable.
Novelspot: Do you have a philosophy of reading/writing?
Ilona: Whatever I write, I'd like that text to create an emotional response. The content and the sounds are also very important for me, but first and foremost I want it to have an impact.
Novelspot: Who are your favorite authors and why? Any role models?
Ilona: Dean Koontz and a Hungarian author, Vavyan Fable, had a great effect on me. They both create good plots, but the reason for me to like them is that they create great characters.
Novelspot: What is the best writing advice you ever got? What (writing) advice do you give others?
Ilona: For me the most helpful advice is any advice that I find encouraging. Basically, it is when people tell me to do it, whatever it is that I mention that I'd like to do or what I am planning to do, because this shows that they think that I really can do it, and there's nothing more encouraging than that. I also like some Winston Churchill quotes on success.
I took up writing only about two years ago, and since then I have received a lot of kindness and encouragement which I also pass on to others if I can, but I am not experienced enough to give advice in questions related to writing techniques, so I try to avoid doing that.
Novelspot: Has your writing evolved?Where do you see your writing going in the next ten years?
Ilona: I think my writing has developed a lot since the beginning, but I am also aware that there's still a long way for me to go. We have a saying here in Hungary which says that even a good priest learns until he dies, and this is probably true also for writing.
As for the next ten years,well, that's a really long time until then, but I'd like to have a lot of books out including also some novels.
Novelspot: Can you talk about your most recent publication?
Ilona: One of my poems, a vampire poem (A Dying One) has appeared in a Greek magazine called Universe Pathways. It was published in the Greek version of the magazine, though it has not been translated into Greek, and it will also appear in the English-language version of the magazine later. (This is a poem from my book, Unearthly Companion).
Novelspot: What else do you have in the works?
Ilona: I'll soon have a poem in Issue 7 of Wicked Karnival horror magazine.
I recently managed to come over a writer's block and have written lots of new poems which I'll submit to magazines. I also have a couple of story ideas that need to be developed, and I am also interested in trying out new things. I also got some how-to books on screenwriting, and who knows…