Genre of the Month

Interview: Tuuli Tolmov

For our Science Fantasy month, Tuuli Tolmov joins us from Estonia to talk about her upcoming book, Aristarkhov’s Method.

Kayla Perisho-Denley:  I want to thank you for agreeing to chat with us today!  So, to start off, can you tell us a little about your book?

Tuuli Tolmov:  Well, the main character is psychiatrist Aleksandr Aristarkhov, who studies sleep paralysis. It is a phenomenon in which an individual is half awake, a state between wakefulness and sleep, but is unable to speak or move. Usually it is accompanied by hallucinations (Check out The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli). So, Aleksandr discovers that it is possible to control what his patients are seeing while being in that state. He reaches to their deepest fears and being unable to move, they die in adrenaline overdose. The heart stops because of fear. That’s the main storyline of the book, how he is obsessed with this study

Perisho-Denley:  That sounds very thrilling. What inspired this story?

Tolmov:  I have experienced sleep paralysis few times myself. Quite interesting and scary. But the story itself, how someone kills using sleep paralysis, came to me when I was chatting with my friend. She’s a writer too, and we were brainstorming different ideas how to kill her characters. Yes, writers plan the murder of their characters out open, right in the cafe. So it came to me suddenly and I thought- Hey, this would be fun to write in my next NaNoWriMo.

Perisho-Denley:  That’s a very good combination of inspiration! And having experienced it yourself, that will certainly make the story more realistic. Is there anything in particular that drew you to this genre? Have you written other stories in the scifi genre?

Tolmov:  Most of my novels and short stories are connected to sci-fi. I have published a few short stories in a local sci-fi online magazine. I have always loved sci-fi and fantasy, both of them. They let both reader and writer to explore unlimited possibilities of the imagination. And it is exciting! Nothing can hold you back. I can create entire worlds with my own laws of physics, nature, life forms, culture etc.

Perisho-Denley:  Agreed! That has always been what drew me to those genres as well. I know this is a dreaded question for any writer, but can you tell us which authors or books inspired you?

Tolmov:  Well, Harry Potter opened the world of fantasy to me at age 8 and interest in sci fi became little later for me, in age 14 thanks to a local author Leo Kunnas. But I think I have no specific authors, who I consider my role model. I read quite a lot and I pick things up here and there.

Perisho-Denley:  That makes sense. So when did you know you wanted to be a writer? Or is it just something you’ve always wanted to do?

Tolmov:  Yes, you can say it was something I always wanted to be. I dreamed about stories I’d like to write, but I didn’t do anything about it. I picked up writing seriously when I moved to bigger town and started my University years.

Perisho-Denley:  Can you tell us a little about your writing process? Is there a specific time or place you prefer to write, or can you write anytime?

Tolmov:  There are two conditions I work best in. I prefer to write in the morning before school or work. In that case, I need absolute silence and at least 2 hours. The other is basically opposite- in a cafe, alone, drinking tea and letting the fingers do their magic. I found cafe’s’ ambience soothing.

Perisho-Denley:  I can understand that, maybe it’s all the caffeine in the air. Can you offer any advice to someone who wants to break into the scifi genre? Or any advice on surviving NaNoWriMo?

Tolmov:  I have very warm feelings towards NaNoWriMo, so my advise would be go out and meet some other participants- to talk, to write together, to listen to their ideas.They are absolutely amazing and inspiring people who will not let you quit. About breaking into sci-fi genre… expect a lot of world building and weird google search history. Also, don’t be afraid consult with people who are good in science.

Perisho-Denley:  Awesome! That is all excellent advice. I should let you go, but one last question; where is the best place people can go to read your stories?

Tolmov:  I haven’t had a chance to translate my work into English. I write in my native tongue, Estonian. If there are any Estonian readers, they can check out Reaktor, our online sci-fi magazine, or some of my earlier work in Meie Jutud forum. My book will be published in the middle of January, also in Estonian.

Perisho-Denley:  Very cool. I want to thank you again for joining me today, the story sounds amazing and I look forward to hearing more about it!

Tolmov:  Big thanks to you too.

Instagram: @tumelilleke