OCA PEOPLE: ZAURE TOREKHAN

OCA Magazine: Tell us about yourself and your creative activity

Zaure Torekhan: My name is Zaure Torekhan, I am a writer and screenwriter, author of youth books and writing courses from Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan.

My career began in 2014, when I wrote my debut fantasy “Amina Turan in the Nomad World”. In the same year, with the first 8 chapters of this book, I won the national literary competition “Altyn Kalam”. Already in 2019, a fantasy novel about the adventures of Amina Turan took 3rd place in the OEBF International Literary Competition in Brussels, which was organized by the Eurasian Creative Guild.

This success was noticed by the prestigious publishing house of Kazakhstan Almatykitap Baspasy. In 2016-2017, I wrote guidebooks for children “Our beloved City Almaty” and “The Heart of our Motherland – Astana”. It was a huge experience, I met wonderful people, wise mentors, learned a lot about publishing and got a good life experience. All three books published by Almatykitap Baspasy publishing house were exhibited at prestigious book exhibitions in Moscow, Frankfurt, Nur-Sultan, Tashkent and Ashgabat. The guide books can now be found not only in the libraries of Kazakhstan, but even in the library of the US Congress.

My creative activity was more developed in 2017 when I became a laureate of the prestigious literary prize “Altyn Tobylgy” in the nomination “Best Children’s Literature of the Year” with the story “Aisha and Invisible Neighbors”. The literary prize was organized by the Foundation of the First President and the Union of Writers of Kazakhstan. Currently, the book is published in an unusual format in the form of a series book in the IKitapDYKENI. The release of the printed version will be published in autumn 2020.

OCA: What is “Eurasianism” for you?

ZT: For me, this is primarily collaboration and communication with creative people from different countries with common interests and the desire to create joint projects. The peoples of Eurasia have much in common, the similar history, culture and mentality. In a nutshell, there are many points of contact, so you can always find an opportunity for interesting creativity. As a writer, I would really like for my books to have readers abroad, I would be happy to receive feedback, questions and comments. Thank you very much OCA Magazine, for your support and the opportunity to tell a wide audience about myself.

OCA: Who is your favorite artist?

ZT:  Each country has its own outstanding figures of art and literature, but if I focus only on the literature of Kazakhstan, I especially respect the work of the great thinker of the Kazakh people Abay Kunanbaiuly, whose 175th anniversary we celebrate this year. I also like reading and re-reading the treatises of the second Aristotle al-Farabi, the military poetry of Makhambet Utemisov, the novel “The Way of Abai” by Mukhtar Auezov, the trilogy “Nomads” by Ilyas Yesenberlin. These are our Kazakh classics, and among creative figures we can especially mention the thoughtful poetry of Olzhas Suleimenov, writer and director Ermek Tursynov, scientist and researcher Serikbol Kondybay.

I would like to thank Marat Akhmedzhanov. Although he is not a writer, he is a unique person who found the strength of will and energy in himself to promote Eurasian literature around the world. This is just an amazingly large-scale idea and its implementation requires incredible efforts. I respect the work of Marat Ismailovich and always try to support him and Eurasian Creative Guild.

OCA: Have you taken part in the events of the Eurasian Creative Guild (London)? For example, did you participate in exhibitions from our organization in the CIS countries, or at the Eurasian Culture Week in London, or the Open Eurasian Literature Festival in Belgium and other countries?

ZT:  The first time I heard about the Eurasian Creative Guild was in 2014, at a cultural event organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of Kazakhstan in Almaty. In 2016, I was lucky enough to take part in the Open Eurasia festival in London. The festival program was very interesting, I visited many cities. Among them are the Turkish and Russian cultural centers, the BBC headquarters, top universities in Britain and many other locations. I also enjoy going to formal and informal meetings of the Guild, especially when Marat Akhmedzhanov and his team come to our city. I am always interested to hear the news, look through the books of authors, and talk with people. This allowed me to make new acquaintances and friends in Almaty and Nur Sultan, as well as around the world, and this is great.

OCA: What does the Eurasian Creative Guild mean to you, and how has it influenced your creativity ?

ZT: The Eurasian Creative Guild is constantly developing. Along with annual festivals and various contests, new creative projects appear that are put forward and offered by the members of the Guild. This makes it possible not only for the development of the Guild as a whole, but also for the growth and communication of creative people from around the world.

As for my artwork, I have great ideas for cooperation. For example, as a winner of a literary contest and a member of the Guild, I hope to publish “Amina Turan in the Nomad World” in English. Also, with the artist Nurlan Abishev, whose illustrations for the book were awarded the 1st place in the “Illustrations” category, I plan to release a whole series of comics, “Nomad World.” 

OCA: Do you have any personal projects that you would like to talk about?

ZT:  Currently, I am working with the animation company ARA Studios on a script for a 26-episode cartoon for preschool children. The customer is the only children’s television channel in Kazakhstan, Balapan. For me, this is a very energy-intensive project, and I do enjoy the creative process. My childhood dream of creating cartoons has finally come true. I hope there will be as many projects as possible in my life, because I really like watching cartoons.

I also lead a Kazakh group participating in a volunteer literary project together with Hungarian writers. As a result of the project, we intend to release a joint bilingual illustrated collection and a Kazakh-Hungarian dictionary. We are supported by the international literary fund The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) in Hungary.

OCA: In which projects / exhibitions do you plan to participate in the future?

ZT:  I’m also involved in scriptwriting. This year I am participating in the ECG Film Festival competition with the script “The House of Silkworm”. This is a fantasy adventure story of a brave student who fights dangerous Time Warriors. The hero must return the Clock of the Universe to its place before the time runs out. In the future, I also plan to write a full-fledged book on the plot of this scenario, not limited to the scope of screen time.

OCA: What would you advise people who are just starting their journey of creativity?ZT:  There are no easy ways, no easy professions; diligence, creative approach, ability to communicate, desire to carry out our plans everywhere. I want to wish them to be active, not afraid to bring their projects to life, to be proactive, persistent and always move forward!