She has made a living from writing since the age of eighteen, when she began as a newspaper student. She worked as a journalist for several years and has published ten other books since 2004, when she made her literary debut with the novel Don’t Tell Me Anything. The latest book, The Fifth Apple, was released this year. “I really like to write books, it’s fun and joyful,” admits Lenka Chalupová, spokesperson for the town hall of Přerov.
Already at the age of twelve you realized for the first time that you would like to earn a living by writing once. At that time, you also won a national literary competition for schoolchildren. What else did you enjoy besides writing?
I loved to read, paint and live in my inner world. My whole childhood is intertwined with the story of my mother, I liked to listen to her memories, she was always an excellent narrator. I loved the time when she talked about her childhood in the small, remote and almost forgotten border village in southern Bohemia, where she was born – and where, at the age of eighteen, she met my father, who served there “on the line” and after the war he brought her home to Moravia. And it was she who got me to read. As a child, I broke the books she brought home for Book Thursdays, even if they were books for adults. At the age of twelve I dreamed that I would like to write my book – for example, like Valja Stýblová, Zdena Frýbová or Jaromíra Kolárová, whom I admired at the time. At school I liked Czech, Russian, history – and on the contrary, I was dissatisfied with mathematics, physics and later chemistry. I took a sports class and swam competitively, but never found myself in sports. At the age of fourteen, despite my humanities, I started working in mechanical engineering because we had not arrived at the chosen high school. It was a bad choice for me, a girl with bad technical thinking, but I finished school and I like to remember that. Student in journalism, it was another cafe, I was “at home” there.
An interest in writing led you to study journalism. You worked as a journalist in daily newspapers and magazines and for some time you were the spokesperson for the town hall of Přerov. And your job is to write and communicate, and you seem to enjoy it. Is it because its content is so varied?
I have lived in writing since I was eighteen, when I joined local newspapers as a student. It’s certainly a varied job, and what’s more, one is still self-taught and stealthily under cover of many areas of human endeavour. I am one of the curious people, I always like to find and sort information and their sources. Of course, the job of a spokesperson is different from the job of a freelance journalist – I write press releases about what is happening or planned in the city, council or council decisions, I communicate with journalists who were my colleagues a few years ago. But I also appreciate this consideration. I am a happy person in this field, I enjoyed working everywhere and took up every new challenge with vigor.
As a writer, you made your debut in 2004 with a relationship novel don’t tell me anything. Then came the detective novels wasp nests, drowned, Mothers don’t forget me, Turquoise eye. What led you to write books?
When you tend to write, it’s a kind of overpressure that must come out. I knew this when I was a kid, when I created books with my own illustrations, because I couldn’t leave my stories in my head – and it actually ‘dragged’ me my whole life. I started writing the first book the day after I graduated – it was about two hundred pages and was never published, at that time I was writing more for myself and in a drawer . I suspected that I still had to “write” and “mature” a little before finding the courage to offer the manuscript to the publisher. The first book I published was a relationship novel don’t tell me anything – I was thirty-two years old, I was on maternity leave with my daughter Klárka, and when the children were sleeping, I sat at the computer. But even then, we thought that I would only give birth to books that would be supported by a publishing house. I never wanted to pay for the problem myself, I wouldn’t like it. I think that when a publisher invests money in a book, he must be convinced of its quality. And if he can’t find the publisher’s book, let it stay in the drawer.
In addition to crime novels, you wrote a psychological drama bird womannovel Ice Shards. It’s a family drama fox dance. Delivered sour cherries is set during World War II and the family saga fifth apple, which was published this year, at the turn of the 40s and 50s. Both are inspired by the turbulent history of your native Přerov. Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
Inspiration is all around us. It is a bit of an exaggeration to say that what human life is is the subject of a book. I like to listen to people and their stories, experiences and opinions, I take a light look at their lives. I am talkative and I am drawn to the proximity of interesting, inspiring and open people. I also have a very good imagination and a great imagination, so making a story is not a difficult task for me. On the contrary – it’s a cool game to piece together the pieces of the fate of the characters, which arise almost under my hands. When I’m in the process of writing, I experience everything with them – and because the story somehow runs through me and describes it, I often don’t get much chance to talk about it. intervene in their destiny. Although sometimes I would like to pull the emergency brake when someone is harassed or hurt. In the last two books – sour cherries and The fifth apple – I wrote the story. In the first book until 1944 and 1945, when I elaborated in novel form the end of the war in Přerov and the post-war massacre on the nearby Swedish Chance. IN The fifth apple I focused on the years 1946-1950 and introduced readers to the village of Předmostí near Přerov, where people experience post-war loosening and subsequent tightening of the screws brought by victorious February. Specifically, I describe the life of the Franco family, who lost their orchard and fruit business after the age of forty-eight. They think it’s the hardest blow to them, but something much scarier happens… For both books, I drew on reviews, periodicals and eyewitness accounts.
You have written 11 books. Are you working on a new one?
I’m thinking of her, but I’m not working yet. I always need to complete a newborn book with baptism, so a novel fifth apple we solemnly give life, they begin to work on another story. I would like to take the book back to the past, more precisely to the turbulent 1950s of a village in the Přerov region.
You are now the mother of two adult children. Haven’t you also thought about writing for children?
Not yet, but I’m not ruling it out. I would probably master all genres except professional literature and cookbooks. (to laugh) But when the children were small, I invented fairy tales for them and told them before going to bed. Especially his son Štěpán was a grateful listener – and because he inherited a fantasy from me, I always let him tell the story according to his imagination. But I never put fairy tales on paper, I don’t even know why… Maybe I’ll get there when I have grandchildren.
In an interview you said: Writing is my life, my joy, my hobby. In another interview: Writing is already a diagnosis for me. Still, do you enjoy writing on TV and in a coffee shop with a laptop on your lap?
Yes, this still applies. I don’t even have a desk or a desk, I just write on my laptop in front of the TV, I need restlessness to create – I couldn’t shut myself up and write. I prefer to watch an old Czech movie and I do. And coffee is my indispensable companion, I often only have one hand on the keyboard and a cup in the other – a sign of well-being for me. I really like writing books, it’s fun and joyful.
Your mother brought you to love books. What do you like to read? Do you prefer the classics or do you like discovering new authors? Are you interested in any of the current ones?
I like to read contemporary Czech authors or rather authors. There are a lot of them and they are great! From Alena Mornštajnová via Karin Lednická, Petra Dvořáková, Viktoria Hanišová, Michaela Klevisová, Magda Váňová to Jakub Katalpa, including Zuzana’s breath I like to highlight. Of course, I also read male authors, but the greatest prefer Ludvík Vaculík, Milan Kundera or Pavel Kohout. And as a kid, I loved everything Josef Lada wrote. However, my favorite children’s book, to which I return from time to time, was a story by Zdena Bezděková They called me Leni. The strong history of World War II has always impressed me and made me cry. And I expect emotions from good books.
What does the word relax tell you? How do you charge your flashlights?
Of course with family – children, men, parents and also with friends. Spending time with my loved ones is the most. And I relax reading, writing, watching movies, I like going to the cinema, theater, concerts, exhibitions, I like historical trips to castles and castles or walks. And I also like to bask in lukewarm water, stay in the bathtub with a good book for an hour a day – and even better fetch hot water from the thermal baths.
Lenka Chalupova was born on February 4, 1973 in Přerov. He works as a spokesperson for the town hall of Přerov. She studied journalism at Palacký University in Olomouc. She worked as a journalist. She wrote books don’t tell me anything, wasp nests, drowned, Mothers don’t forget me, Ice Shards, Turquoise eye, bird woman, fox dance, Start, sour cherries, fifth apple. She is married, has two adult children and lives in Přerov.