They Lived They Were At Brighton Beach by Ivan Brave Author Interview

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Author name: Iván Brave

Author website:

Book title: They Lived They Were at Brighton Beach

Publisher: Self-published

Release date: June 16, 2020 (ebook and paperback)

Length: 325 pages

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Themes: Coming of age, artist struggle

Available for preorder on Amazon (ebook):

Goodreads link:

Part of a series: No



Loyal fans know him as a rising internet star and the resident DJ at one of Brooklyn’s sauciest nightclubs. But one blistering summer day, after relapsing, getting dumped, and winding up at the hospital, Ilya Gagarin awakes in a nightmare. The only way out, he figures, is to finally debut his EP, meaning, to realize a deeper dream.

The process of producing, together with the power of music and an urge to accept his past, is passionately described in his journal—while the larger story follows the weeks leading to his EP launch, his struggle to quit drugs, and his falling in love again to a guardian angel. It is she who teaches him, “Do you know how Russians say Once Upon a Time? Жили были. It translates to They Lived They Were.” Suggesting Ilya might just get his fairy tale ending. Or at least move on.


Interview with the author!


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What is your book title and what is it about?
My newest book is called They Lived They Were at Brighton Beach. If it has an odd, sing song ring to it, that is because it centers around a Russian-American electronic DJ who just got dumped. His way of winning his ex back is to create the hottest song of the summer, to be played on the radio, to impress her. Meanwhile he continues working at a dingy nightclub, trying to quit drugs, coming to terms with loss itself, and resolving the deeper issues within himself. Happy ending, I promise.
What made you want to write this book?
An early draft served as my thesis for grad school. At the time, I was really into Italian cinema and the Russian language, so this book takes some artistic liberties, if I may say so, while playing around with language and silly characters. Mostly, my previous book was based on my personal experiences, and mixed my Spanish and English, not to mention my native cultures. So I was really pulled to write this book not based on me, which would be true fiction, and deal with a foreign language.
What was the writing process like for you?
For the book, I assume? I spent the winter break between my last semesters of grad school drafting. Then the entire last semester was spent workshopping the draft with peers and an advisor. By the end I had a “finished” work. Because nothing is really finished, though, I rewrote the whole thing the following summer. Edited it. Then, nothing. It’s up.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Think of it this way, the first mention of the protagonist was new years day 2018. And because the book comes out June 16th, 2020, let’s just say I might edit the thing until that very morning 🙂 So about two years.
What is something you learned while writing this book?
That language isn’t everything. Considering this is a book largely surrounding the Russian language, and a character’s coming to terms with its complicated nature, not to mention my personal fascination with it, and all languages, and wordplay . . . this was a hard lesson learned. For a few months, after finished the most recent draft, I thought the whole project was a failure, just because I felt I didn’t get the ending right. I almost didn’t publish it. But what the heck. We live and learn. All this to say, my next book will still be fascinated about language, but also focus on other things. Like ideas, characters, story, etc. Writers, you know the struggle.
How would your main character answer the following questions:
–What’s your name?
I’m Ilya.
–How old are you?
–What is something unique about you?
My music.
–What makes you interesting?
<mumbles> I don’t know.
–What conflict are you trying to solve?
<kicks a rock on the ground> Probably finding out what makes me interesting, and expressing that.
Tell us about you outside of being a writer.
I’m trying hard these days to keep up with my family. They’re not the easiest people to get a hold of. At the same time, work is too good. That’s a problem sometimes. I actually like my day job, and it’s hard to pull away from it sometimes, #confinement. But all in all I really love my life outside of being a writer, mostly because it allows me the space to write. Just most people, I’m working on learning, improving, and becoming a better person today then I was yesterday.
What would you go back and tell your younger self?
Probably a bunch of advice, like Look people in the eye, Speak your truth, Open up, and Care more! Lol! I was a very apathetic kid growing up, mumbled a lot, crossed my arms at the dinner table, plus I wasted a lot of time on video games and not socializing. Although, they were social internet games, and I don’t have too much hard evidence against myself from my younger days. Actually, come to think of it, I would just tell myself one simple thing, which requires literally no effort, but would have helped me a lot to hear: “Chill out. Life turns out ok.”
What is next for you and your writing career?
Recently I’ve had such good luck meeting other bloggers who want to connect. I’ll probably keep doing that for a while. Of course the excuse these days has been promoting the book, and asking smart people to review it. But it has given me a chance to connect with real readers in an unprecedented way. So I’m doing these interviews and guest posts. Each one is different, and a chance to share myself with a new person. Sometimes, like here let’s say 🙂 I even get to have fun. So onward.

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