OCA: Pavel, you graduated from the geography department of the Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University. Did your studies help in the writing of your story?

Pavel Shumov: I was lucky, I chose to study in this field and it has organically become my life. Geography as a profession is impossible without expeditions, hiking, trips etc, where you have one-on-one experiences with nature. Often the environment is harsh and it comes down to who will have the upper hand. You have to become strong, or nature will break you and show you your human weakness.

OCA: How did the idea for your story “Skhvatka” (The Fight) come about?

PS: The idea arose long ago, immediately after returning home from a hike in 2011. But the writing of the story lacked impetus, until one day my editor, Kseniya sent me the link to the contest. The entire tale is a true story about our wandering in the forest around Lake Teletskoye in Altai. We were lost in the abyss, the girl’s leg was bleeding badly, and we were stranded overnight on the mountainside without water.

OCA: Do you prefer to write prose or poetry?

PS: When I began writing in my youth, it was poems, then with the lyrics for my rock band, the songs became my poetry. I’d also read poems at concerts as epigraphs to songs. A literary entertainer!

When the band went on hiatus for a year, I wrote a short story, “Davka” (“Crush”).  Several short stories were published on internet portals and in the Altai literary almanac, Likbez. When the band returned, we released an album and I also released an audio book of poems. For me, poetry will always come before prose. The cadence and the rhyming are like trying to solve a puzzle: to take the idea to its limit without losing the meaning and beauty of what was said. It’s like a rebus, verbal Sudoku.

OCA: Tell us about your work. How did you react to receiving the Arkadiy Bezrukov prize?

PS: The award was totally unexpected; I was stunned! I’ve never had any luck in contests before. Kseniya constantly sends me links to literary competitions and festivals and tells me to persevere; if you don’t buy a lottery ticket, you can’t win. 

OCA: Will you enter new categories of competitions at the Open Eurasian and Central Asian Literature & Book Form now?

PS: Yes, why not? It’s always fun to try something new, especially if you know that your work will be evaluated by professionals.

OCA: Has your life changed since receiving the Arkadiy Bezrukov prize? 

PS: Yes, a little; I got acquainted with other writers, some of them great people who are big in the literary world. It was fabulous after years to finally reap the rewards of my toil and labour. There was an interview in a newspaper, which will hopefully help bring readers and listeners to my work, but most importantly I now have even more friends and contacts worldwide. It’s cool.