Oto Oltvanji

Dispatches from The House of Writers


November 12, 2011

A notebook and a pencil (in case the “carbon notebook” crashes), on hand. Plot-notes, on hand. Webcam (for the kinky stuff), on hand. Video library, on hand. Two towers of books (subject to customs control?), on hand. Hip flask – ON HAND! Hazardous iPod girded – I feel sorry for the people on the bus. I’m off to Istria, to write in isolation, like a mad man…


November 13, 2011

Stationed in the house from a fairy tale on the edge of a chasm. Plugged to electricity and to the Net, ready to type like thousand monkeys. But…. first a sip of biska, grappa with mistletoe, the best kept Istrian secret. Or two sips.


November 14, 2011

I like local food. Maneštra (thick soup), beans, fuži (home-made pasta), truffles, turkey, asparagus. If allowed, I’d take a direct zip-line from motel “Lovac” restaurant above the chasm to The House – capacity eight tons, arriving in eight seconds. Going uphill you have to be hungry.


November 15, 2011

An ancient type writer in a shop window in Pazin. I would have died if I had to do all today’s corrections on one of those, but I still sometimes miss the old rattletrap.


November 16, 2011

Today’s score: 1,313 words. For the old guard, it’s four cards. It’s not the attempted score, but it’s getting there.


November 17, 2011

Wasted the whole day searching for the sentence lost since morning. I now declare it officially missing.


November 19, 2011

The air is thick with smoke from burning wood. I can hear the sound of the river Pazinčica from the chasm. All the fog of this earth is rising from The Cave. It isn’t really the fog but the breath of the cave creature. The Diary that is to be found after three weeks in the empty House will be filled with dialogues with this creature. The nights of the one who finds and reads the writings will be filled with sounds of something – nothing? – described in the diary as the perfect balance of the scream, whisper and silence, and than…


November 20, 2011

Sunday excursion. In a Motovun cellar: grappa, cherry brandy, wine. Provided the supply of my favourite biska to enjoy it here and at home.


November 21, 2011

There must be some twisted logic in the fact that the part of this Bačka Goth was born in the heart of Istria. It wouldn’t be bad, though, if the years of birth of the figures through six generations were balanced in this writing that tends to be a family saga. Sometimes writing is simple math.


November 23, 2011

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy. It’s not only work, there’s some play, too: last night in Pazin, moderated by Davor Šišović who barraged a load of tricky questions, I jabbered to those who were not afraid of cold (it’s no lion). Today I’ll talk about horror in Umag (the sane should be afraid).


November 24, 2011

The hall is full of students. Grammar school head master was asking questions from the audience. The answers were satisfying. I performed a standard circus act – recounting the summary of the 500 pages long novel in less than a minute with a help of a tooth pick. We got a warm cornbread from a high school student baked by her mother. I heart Umago. Party in Umag library was cooked by a colleague from Subotica grammar school Neven Ušumović, library manager and writer, a friend since the excursion to Fažana and Pula exactly 23 years ago. Circle of life, Simba.


November 25, 2011

On the way back to Pazin, a short stop in Poreč. Despite ghostly empty streets, winter on the shore is still more appealing than a winter inland.


November 27, 2011

It was cheery last night in an appropriately ghoulish atmosphere inside the bar “Vampire” in Kringa. I tried to explain the meaning of the title “Spine of the Night” to a famous astronomer. Stored a copy of the novel in a padlocked horror – closet shaped as a coffin. Korado Korlević noticed that the coffin resembled the contemporary computer shape since it was somewhat wider at waist, as opposed to former human shape wider at shoulders. The night continued after the official part was concluded, and red cocktail “Jure Grando” flowed freely. Life is still wonderfully odd.


November 28, 2011

Lost two days of writing. Compensation is joyful to the crazy. Decided on important details for a new novel risk: genre, premise, characters, place. Would anyone wish anything different?


December 1, 2012

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Sincerely? I’m homesick. And then, for each guest three weeks is enough. But why is it then hard to leave?


December 2, 2012

Davor, handyman Goran and Iva Ciceran took care of me here. Iva was a host everybody would wish for. The substance of the isolation adventure was changed by friends – Mirko, Šile, Raul – who accepted me as one of their own. I soon became the part of the inventory in “Sax”, café with a jukebox with music by Danzig. I realized it on the second or third day when the owner – a biker greeted me before I greeted him. Chronically, I’ve got more luck than brains. Cheers.


December 3, 2012

Twenty days, fifty pages (15,000 words). And due to some other obligations, days of rest. It’s not for the Guinness World Records but, with what I brought with me, I entered the second of four planned acts. I want to continue like this. I’ll remember Pazin and return, I’m sure. Next thing: writing in a metropolis window, like Harlan Ellison. nbsp