Ivan Popov

a thousand stories  · · ·

About the Autor

I’ve always wanted to do magic.

I guess these words define the generation that grew up with the Harry Potter books. It was so cool, so different, thrilling and sometimes dangerous. I’ve always pushed at the boundaries of reality, trying to break out into the uncharted void beyond, where magic, dwarves, hobbits, dragons, and all things out of this mundane place lived. I created ways to change the world. I wrote stories, organized pen-and-paper role-playing sessions for the kids in our neighborhood, I made up board games. I have a brain made for analytical thinking, so it was natural I’d pick up programming in school. I’ve spent endless hours developing my own computer worlds filled with fairies, trolls, kraken; everything I could fit inside.

And then my kids came.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not one of those “I was doing great, but then kids appeared” type of stories. On the contrary: once through the first year of my firstborn, I was still alive, and had the feeling I could manage anything if I’ve gotten through that. (Important note: I would never have made it without my wife, whose strife was more epic than anything I’ve written in my books so far. I bow low to all mothers out there.)

NaNoWriMo winner badge 2017

„What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.“
Thomas Carlyle

So I decided to take a writing challenge, the National Novel Writing Month. 30 days, 50k words, it was that simple. For me, it meant long nights lying in bed next to the burping baby, writing on my phone as I chased my quota for the day. Unless you can spend all day writing, that’s the only way to win NaNoWriMo. But it was worth it every minute of sleep lost. At the end, I had extended a series of stories I had started that same summer with another 50k words, and it was looking like nothing but a novel. That was in 2017.

After that, I worked on the thing on and off, and it kept bugging me during the off periods. It was now too big not to finish. It was a real book, a novel of my own, longer than anything I had ever written. The pandemic catalyzed my energy more than ever, and I finished the first draft of Soulhazard in the first days of 2021. Until the end of the year it would have a professional cover, and in the meantime I kept writing, afraid that I would lose my hold on words if I stopped. A series of shorter fantasy novels came out, spilling from what was now a deeply ingrained habit.

This is what I am trying to teach my kids today (there are two of them now). It’s the most important thing I’ve found to lead to actual results in anything important I do: once I start doing something, I need to keep going, or nothing significant will come out of it.

I have no plans to stop writing at this point. It’s part of my legacy for the world, and it will exist beyond me.

Unless my kids manage to find Earth’s self-destruct switch somewhere in the mountains around town and activate it to see what happens…

August 28th

Vratza, Bulgaria