Interview with children’s writer Ksenia Gorbunova

Ksenia Gorbunova was born in the city of Alchevsk, Luhansk region. Now he lives in Rostov-on-Don.

Education: “Publishing and Editing” and “Practical psychology”.

Ksenia has an impressive list of literary victories and competitions. Here are some of them:

  • 2018 – Finalist of the competition “New tale” publishing houses “Aquilegia-M” (per book “Magic Luna Park Madame Jump”);
  • 2019 – Finalist of the X season of the competition “New children’s book” publishing houses Rosman (per book “Fukla and dough”);
  • 2020 – Literary Prize Finalist “Big tale” named after Eduard Uspensky in 2020 (for the book “Once in the closet”);
  • 2021 – Finalist of the national competition “Book of the Year” in the category – children of the 21st century (for a book “Ba from the Valley of Jumping Streams”);
  • 2021 – Laureate of the competition “New children’s book” publishing houses Rosman (per book “Cafe” Hrum-yum-yum “);
  • 2021 – Laureate of the Korney Chukovsky Prize in the nomination “Best prose for children under 7 years of age” (per book “Who are you, Nanny Wu?”).

Creative blog

Interviewer – Bologny magazine journalist Anna Sukhova-Dulskaya.

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Photo from the personal archive of Ksenia Gorbunova

Bologny: Ksenia, please tell us your creative story.

Kseniya: I have loved to write since childhood. I wrote in notebooks, unnecessary notebooks. She wrote fairy tales, stories, drew pictures for them. When my son was born, I plunged into the world of children’s literature.

I realized that reading children’s books is more interesting for me. I especially liked the books of contemporary authors. I tried to write myself. Liked. It is a special feeling when history is being made.

My husband Andrey helps me to proofread the manuscripts. Sometimes he gives advice on where to intensify the conflict, how to make the story more dynamic. Children Vanya and Masha (7 and 5 years old) also help, they say that children are the best editors! It is they who evaluate whether it is interesting to read or not.

In general, we have the most ordinary family: we live, we study. In upbringing, I have no principles and guidelines, we just love each other, that’s the whole secret. To children, I read a different book every day before bed. This is our ritual, which I hope they will remember fondly and bring to their families.

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Photo from the personal archive of Ksenia Gorbunova

Bologny: When you just started writing fictional texts, what feeling did you experience and how did you internally come to the children’s books?

Kseniya: I suddenly realized that I was hearing my inner music. And that was the best thing that happened to me in my life. It felt like they had cleaned my ears, opened my heart and wiped my eyes with a clean cloth. I began to see everything differently: clear, light and fearless.

I thought that my music will not go anywhere and I will always hear it. And I heard, but every year it’s quieter. And then it completely faded. As if the melody was covered with sand and now it barely plays.

I realized that I was losing something important. Something very expensive. But she couldn’t help it. That’s when books for children appeared. They looked into my darkness, blew and drove it away …

Bologny: What was your first book? How did you first get into the publishing house?

Kseniya: I’m lucky. I did not “break through” anywhere. I just did what I like and share it with people. So once I wrote a fairy tale about a giant. I showed it to the writer and publisher Tatyana Berezyuk. She liked the tale. It was published a year later (book “Good giant” publishing house “Good giant”).

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Photo from the personal archive of Ksenia Gorbunova

Bologny: You have great humor in your writing and on your blog. Is it a natural gift or an acquired ability to make you laugh? I’m sure life is much easier with humor, do you think?

Kseniya: It just so happened that I can only humor in lyrics. In life, my sense of humor sleeps in suspended animation. I am often thoughtful and detached, I am not at all able to quickly come up with jokes and react to them.

But in books, apparently, some kind of special regime is turned on and it turns out to joke and laugh. In writing, I can be myself.

Bologny: What does humor give us in general and what does it give to children?

Kseniya: I think humor is a cool thing. Humor heals, gives strength when it seems that everything is lost. Humor is definitely a divine quality.

What does it give to children? Children are a solid “walking” humor. They are not tainted by seriousness, labels, and that’s great! We have a lot to learn from children. Yes, and a good children’s book should have a laugh!

Bologny: Tell us how you write children’s stories, how do images and ideas come? How characters come, for example, cute and charismatic like Fuklya – from your book “Fukla and dough”?

Kseniya: Sometimes a phrase comes to mind, and I unwind it further. Sometimes I see a hero, but I don’t understand who he is until I start writing. And sometimes, I just sit down to fool around, come up with nonsense. And it turns out not at all nonsense, but, for example, the character of Fuklya.

Bologny: How do you manage to speak the same language with your children in your stories?

Kseniya: It turns out somehow. As a child, my mother often said to me: “Keep it simple, sit on the floor”… Maybe it helped?

Bologny: What does writing give you? How does it help in life?

Kseniya: It makes me happy. Fills with joy. This is my way to express myself in this world, to share something important, kind. Writing is great for coping with adversity. And now it also makes it possible to provide for oneself financially.

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Photo from the personal archive of Ksenia Gorbunova

Bologny: Once I read a story on your blog about how you sold cucumbers and decided to give them just like that to one woman. Please remind me of this story.

Kseniya: Probably, it was our Alchevsk grandmother of Raya. She often walks the streets, smiles at everyone, blesses everyone. Once I worked part-time – I was selling cucumbers at the market, and I had the last kilogram left. I saw grandmother Raya in the crowd and rushed to her with cucumbers. I always try to give her something when I meet her. Then there were cucumbers.

Bologny: Which of the children’s heroes do you associate yourself with?

Kseniya: With Mowgli. I even do not know why. As a child, she dreamed of becoming Mowgli!

Bologny: How not to doubt yourself and move forward in a difficult creative path?

Kseniya: I am proud that I never listened to people who said that I could not succeed in writing. I am glad that I always knew who I am and why I live. You cannot doubt yourself – this is the main criterion for success.

Bologny: What do you wish for yourself?

Kseniya: Let my stories continue to “sprout” in books …

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