Interview with short story writer Nino Gugunishvili

cover of from my balcony to yoursToday’s special guest is short story writer Nino Gugunishvili. We’re chatting about her new collection of memoir shorts, “From My Balcony to Yours”.

During her virtual book tour, Nino will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Nino Gugunishvili is the author of the two collections of short stories, “From My Balcony to Yours” and “You Will Have a Black Labrador.” Her women’s fiction novel “ Friday Evening, Eight O’Clock” was published in 2015. Nino lives in Tbilisi, Georgia. Her educational and professional background includes film, television, and journalism.

Welcome, Nino. Please tell us a little bit about this short story collection.
Canceled Plans? – Check!
Panic and Fear? – Check!
Self- Isolation? – Check!
Missing Friends? – Check!
Gaining Weight? – Check!
Binge-Watching TV? – Check!
Lengthy Self- diggings? – Check!
Hope? – Check, check, check! Who would have thought that Global Pandemic, Self-Isolation, Cluster, and Lockdown were to become the trendiest words in 2020? Who would have imagined the world would freeze and people would stay home shattered with fear, panic, uncertainty towards their future?

How do we adjust to this changing reality, when none of our questions have answers when plans turn upside down, things get totally out of control?

In this new book, I share my personal account during the first several months of the COVID-19 global pandemic in the form of short stories and observations.

Excerpt from “From My Balcony to Yours”:
Dance, Dance, Dance!

I didn’t want to get out of bed today. I couldn’t find the reason why I had to, why I couldn’t snuggle in bed for the whole day. What did I have to do that needed jumping out and throwing myself into a routine? I could bring my laptop to my bedroom and connect with the outer world from there. Who’d care? Then I could go to sleep, wake up and sleep some more. Luckily, the more optimistic part of me decided that there are better rejuvenating ways, and I got out of my bedroom for coffee, news, and the social media frenzy. It seemed the world stood in the exact same place as yesterday. The virus outbreak, self-isolation, quarantine, social distancing, and clusters are the words we hear and use most often.

My immediate ‘cluster’ of friends is okay. Each handling the self-imposed stay at home time differently, ranging from mild panic to existential crises blended with self-irony and humor of all imaginable shades (read dark). All the usual remedies of taking our minds off from the downpour of negative news, like reading or watching TV shows and movies, didn’t seem to work this time, at least for me. I need something more substantial, mind-blowing, tiring, and freeing. Something that would make me forget my weight, my double-chin, and my thinning hair. I need to see a happier face in the mirror today. Try dancing! I tell myself, but the lazy part of me starts laughing hysterically.

What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
I love the challenge of finding the exact form, and words and the pace, the rhythm, the speed, the tempo. I love the emotional component of it. To a certain extent, I think a short story is more challenging to write; you can’t drag it for too long, you can only play and adjust within certain limits and a time frame; it has to have a faster plot development and a culmination than in a novel, sharper colors, nuances, dense structure, intensity!

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
It’s not easy to choose favorites; I enjoyed writing From My Balcony to Yours immensely …. Particularly parts were I’m writing about memories, like in the essay called Coffee, Cigarettes, and Farida, The Magic Forest, or Dance, Dance, Dance! and Balcony Blues.

For me, in From My Balcony to Yours, each essay is like a little piece of a puzzle forming into a bigger story, so it’s hard to pick up one or two out of context.

What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why?
Right now, it’s definitely nonfiction or creative nonfiction, probably because there are times when reality seems to be much more thrilling to be observed rather than reinvented.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have some ideas floating around in my mind, but I’m afraid it’s too early to say anything specific at this stage. Besides, when it concerns writing, I get overly suspicious unless it’s already typed and saved on my laptop.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It happened when several years ago, my little nephew ran to me with a kindle in his hands and asked whether the book he was looking at was really written by me, and I had no other choice than saying yes. Ecstatic!

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
I would suggest deciding very early on what path to publishing they’d want to choose. If it’s self-publishing, fortunately, there are great resources for indie authors on the internet. As with two of my previous books, I knew that I would follow the indie route with From My Balcony to Yours, and I don’t regret it. You need to have realistic expectations and be prepared to invest a considerable amount of time and effort into every step of the way, from writing to publication.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I often write on sticker notes and pin them to my computer screen. I’m obsessed with saving my work and potential piracy threats. When writing, I have to be alone and far from any device except my computer.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
First, I wanted to be a teacher, then a postwoman, a figure skater, and a ballerina.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? There are so many books you could enjoy reading this holiday season!

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The book is on sale for only $0.99 during the tour.

Thanks for being a guest today.

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