OCA PEOPLE: LARISSA PRODAN

Larissa was born in Uzbekistan, her childhood and youth were spent in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. She graduated from university in Kazakhstan. After receiving her PhD, I taught economics in Central Asian and Caucasus countries. At the moment she lives in the USA. She’s a prose writer. Her historical novel “The Fine Thread of Fate”, translated into English in 2014, became a bestseller in the United States. In 2019, her books were presented at the Moscow International Book Fair.

OCA: Tell me about yourself and your creative work. How did your journey start?
LP: My name is Larissa Prodan. I am a writer. I write under the name: Lara Prodan. I was born and raised in a country – the USSR, that no longer exists on any of the world maps because it was dismembered into fifteen independent republics. Till today, I view USSR as my homeland, because I was born in Uzbekistan, spent my childhood and school years in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, and graduated university in Kazakhstan. After graduation and receiving my PhD, I taught economics in Central Asian and Caucasus countries. My extended family moved to various parts of the world – Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Canada. Today, I live in the USA. I proudly consider myself a citizen of the world.

For most people, the childhood years are the most memorable and personality shaping; throughout life one often returns to them. It is, for this reason, I focus the plots on my books on the Central-Asian part of the world – in countries like Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. My characters, however, live in various continents – Europe, America, Asia, and are connected through physical or spiritual bonds.

OCA: Have you taken part in the events of the Eurasian Creative Guild (London)?
LP: I am very fortunate and grateful to be an active member of the Eurasian Creative Guild (London) – an organization that connects creative and interesting people not only in the Eurasian territory but all over the world. The first event that I participated in through the Guild was a Literacy Week in London held in October of 2018. There I presented my new at that time book “Why are we so alike?”, which was published by Hertfordshire Press. I was very impressed by the seriousness, scale, and intellectual agenda of the event, which included the participation of various international writers from countries like Great Britain, Belarus, Russia, Israel, USA and Kazakhstan.

OCA: What does the Eurasian Creative Guild mean to you, and how did it affect your creativity / activity? Did you take part at our Open Eurasian Literary Festival?
LP: For an author, each presentation is a form of an exam before their readers and colleagues. The Guild fosters an environment for creative people to communicate, share ideas, and get to know each other. The Eurasian Open Literacy Festivals that are organized by the Guild plays an important role in bringing writers together from all over the world. For us, writers, these festivals have become a much-anticipated celebration, which we all await and prepare for. Within the framework of the festivals, many competitions take place for writers and poets. The spirit of healthy competition, which these activities create, is important for every creative person. In 2018, I too participated in the short story competition with my children’s book “How the Hedgehog Taught the Fox Manners”, and in 2019 with my story “Smeda”. Both times my pieces were well recognized and made it to the finals. I hope that I, along with all other members of the Guild, will be able to participate in the Open Eurasian Literary Festival in 2020.

OCA: What ECG projects do you plan to participate in?
LP: Today, the whole world is going through an uncertain and difficult time, a time of forced isolation. However, even when isolated and self-guaranteed, the members of the Guild continue to meet through online Zoom conferences. The nature of these conferences includes various subjects and themes that are relevant in today’s world. Unfortunately, the meetings are held at 2 pm Moscow time, which translates to 4 am time in Seattle, USA – which for me causes some difficulty in participating. While I am a relatively passive member of the online conferences, I proactively seek information online on the topics discussed, inclusive of discussions of topics and issues on social blogs.

I think one of the forms of promoting creative art could be reading of the poetry or short stories by the writers during the Zoom meetings. The Eurasian Creative Guild today serves not only as a gathering platform for writers and poets, but also for painters, photographers, filmmakers, and musicians. Such a diverse platform opens doors and provides a collective environment for people of all creative work. In my opinion, the opportunities of creative collaboration are endless – what I mean by that is that filmmakers can partner with writers, photographers and illustrators can support the works of the written form.

OCA: What does the Eurasian Creative Guild mean to you, and how did it affect your creativity / activity?
LP: I would like to speak to the younger generation, who are embarking on a wonderful journey of creative expression. As you know, one in the field is not a warrior. You can, of course, work at your table, write your own work, and periodically admire the works of others. But, if you truly want your work to be noticed and recognized, I recommend belonging to the Eurasian Creative Guild. The Guild will very attentively care for their young talent, and will help open the doors into the creative path forward. It will allow for you to participate in various organized events; inspiring writers, poets, screenwriters, artists, and photographs to only express themselves, but also to promote their creativity, and, most importantly, learn from others and communicate with each other.