Interview with the SF&F writer Tanya Tynjälä – Cristian Tamaș

    Tanya Tynjala

    Cristian Tamaș : Hi, Tanya, thank you for accepting this interview ! You re in a fortunate position : you have a deep knowledge and understanding of several important cultures, the latin-american one, the filipino (do you speak tagalog, also ?), the french and the finnish ones. Also, you speak spanish, english, french and finnish. You travelled a lot and lived in many countries. Are you an “uomo universale” in the daVincian sense?

    Tanya Tynjälä : I don’t really know, because is difficult to say that knowing different cultures allow you to be a cosmopolitan person, that know how to react in every situation. Sometimes is true, but some silly everyday problems can show you also that it can be a disadvantage to have so many cultural patters in your mind. For example I never know which button to press in the elevator, because in some cultures the first floor is the “street level”, and other little things. It might sounds insignificant, but you can complicate your life like that. It is true that traveling, living abroad, knowing other cultures open your mind, but you are sometimes surprise how “from your culture” you are when confronted with cultural misunderstanding. You can “forgive” the other and try to be condescending, but deep in you, your are still thinking your culture is the “logic” one.
    In my case all was an accident, I have lived in four countries now just because I had to do it, not because I wanted to do it. I fact I hate moving. In the Philippines I was part of several groups of expats, and listening to some of the ladies said “I have lived two years in India, three in Uzbekistan, two more in Timbuktu…” I just was thinking. “My God ! What a nightmare !” Of course I am grateful of all my experiences, but I really prefer to travel just for holidays.

    Cristian Tamaș : You are member of member of the Association of Writers from Helsinki, of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, of the Finland’s Association of Science Fiction Writers and of the Canadian Association of Hispanic, a REMES’s representative (Spanish Writers Network) and of UHE (Hispanic-American Writers Union) in Finland. You had teached french and you’re teaching spanish at the Helsinki Polytechnic University. You are a writer. A wife and a mother. A lot of roles and responsibilities for just one human being, isn’it ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: Well, I am no longer teaching at the university because I am making my PhD in French philology, other thing that I consider very important is that I am now the editor in charge of the Spanish blog team in Amazing Stories.
    Yes, but the advantage is that I am very organized and polychronic, so I can make several thinks at the same time. Normally I have my check list and I organized things according to the dateline. When I arrive to the end of the list I panic, I feel that I have nothing to do and immediately I search for something else. Is usual to heard me saying “I am wasting my time” if I don’t have at least three projects at the same time.

    Cristian Tamaș : You’re born in Peru, the country of Mario Vargas Llosa, one of the worlds best realist writers of the 20th century. Ciro Alegría, José María Arguedas, Manuel Scorza. Julio Ramón Ribeyro, Sebastián Salazar Bondy and Alfredo Bryce Echenique incorporated new narrative techniques within the realism genre. As a writer why weren’t you attracted by the realism instead of fantastika? Is the peruvian literature mainly a realistic one?

    Tanya Tynjälä: Well I have to say that realism in Latin America is special, because our way to see reality is different, because of the influence of our native cultures. Even in the urban societies you cannot avoid the mythical thought. Levis Strauss, has talked about. In most of the writers that you can name, you can see it. The stories are realistic, but somehow there is always a jump into the fantastic. We can understand when we read Scorza’s’ book that Garabombo was not really invisible, nevertheless he really thought he was.
    But of course we cannot consider those books as fantasy, perhaps as the famous magical realism, but not really fantasy. But my point is that even in our realism there is some fantastic elements.

    Cristian Tamaș : Are you writing fiction just in spanish ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: Yes. Sometimes I translate myself into French (and my good friend Hélène Quintanilla- The great Peruvian painter Alberto Quitanilla’s wife) correct all my mistakes. But even with help is difficult, so I prefer to let translation to the professionals.

    Cristian Tamaș : You wrote “La ciudad de los nictálopes” (The City of the Nyctalops), “Cuentos de la Princesa Malva” (The Tales of Princess Malva), “Sum” and “Lectora de sueños” (The Reader of Dreams), all of them published in Peru. Are you a peruvian writer with an international career? Are you a fantastika writer, a speculative fiction writer or just a writer? Is it important to put labels on someone’s work ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: „La ciudad…” is actually not published in Peru but in Colombia, and I am also in some anthologies in Spanish and other languages (for example Bulgarian), so I suppose that makes me international, perhaps I cannot say yet that I have an international career, but I certainly have some international presence.

    Cristian Tamaș : Why had you been attracted by the science fiction and fantasy writing ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: One day a friend poet told me that every writer always write the book they want to read, so when I decided I wanted to be a writer I just went to my favorite genre Science fiction and fantasy. But I have to say that for me horror and ghost stories were not just stories but part of my past. As I told you in Latina America you cannot avoid living between two worlds. One of my grandmothers is form the Amazonian part of Peru and during my childhood I have heard her stories and not told as stories, but as part of the day life, of example if a door suddenly opened it was not the wind, it was the “tunchi”, a revenant that came to “pick up his steps” before going to the underwolrd. When every day you listen to those kind of remarks, you have no other choice that to became a fantasy writer.

    Cristian Tamaș : What are your literary projects ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: I am trying to enter into the English market, I was very lucky to have it very easy for the Spanish market (it is not easy to published with NORMA), so I am suffering now what a lot of young writers must suffer in their own languages.

    Cristian Tamaș : Tell me please about your collaboration to “Imaginario del Arte” magazine and kindly detail to our readers the personality of Otilia Navarrete !

    Tanya Tynjälä: Otilia Navarrete is a very important person in my literary world. It was not that I only worked with her, she had meeting once a week at her house for some young writers. I have learned a lot from her, and I suppose that not only me but a lot of other writers that are now. And aconcerning Imaginairo del Arte, the magazine allow me to know other artistic disciplines. I think that a writer has to nourish him or herself from other art forms too.

    Cristian Tamaș : What about “Caretas y Arteidea” ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: I just collaborate very little with them, I think I have nothing really interesting to say about.

    Cristian Tamaș : Kindly tell to the Europa SF’s readers who was Violeta Parra and why do you consider her important ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: Hum, it is because of the Violeta Parra’s book? I am sorry to say that even if I love her songs, she is not so important for me. The book is because a friend asked me if he can include one of my poems in it.

    Cristian Tamaș : You’re correspondent for the Spanish language of the Science Fiction Awards Watch and of the Amazing Stories Blog. Why did you decided to be active in the SF field ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: Because is a wonderful field. I was somehow also involved with mainstream literature in Peru, and there is so much envy, nasty stories, nobody wants to share their tips or contacts. It is completely different in the fantasy/science fiction world. I was surprise how easy was to contact people, and to be contact form them! You really feel you are part of something. Of course there are some problems between some people, but is not systematic as in mainstream, in which all newcomers are immediately not welcome. If I can help with something, I do it because a lot of people has help me in this genre, that is how I am include in so many anthologies.

    Cristian Tamaș: What’s your opinion on the latin-american SF&F ? And the peruvian one ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: I think we are trying to do our own science fiction, with our own themes and characters. It is not easy but not impossible too. Even those who are more traditional with the subjects in science fiction have the “Latin American eye”, I mean that perhaps the subject is the same, but the character have a Latin American flavor

    Cristian Tamaș: What latin-american writers should be readed ? What are most important works ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: A lot, but as in all literature we can begin with the “clasics”. From Peru José Adolph and the book “Mañana las ratas” (no translation, sorry), from Argentina Angélica Gorodischer and the book “Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was” (translated by Ursula K. Le Guin) From Cuba perhaps Daína Chaviano, and in English you can find “The Island of Eternal Love”.

    From Colombia Antonio Mora Velez and the book “Lorna is a Woman”, from Mexico José Luis Zárate and the book “La ruta de hielo y sal”(The Route of Ice and Salt), from Chile Hugo Correa you can find some of his stories in English included in some anthologies and magazines, but if you read Spanish is better to read “Alguien mora en el viento” (Someone Dies in the Wind). And this is just a little example of what you can find in Latin American Science Fiction.

    Cristian Tamaș: You’ve participated recently to Finncon. Any relevant issue that you want to detail ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: That I am always amaze of the way they manage to handle a so big event.

    Cristian Tamaș : Have you read european SF&F also ? If yes, what exactly ? What do you like ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: I like a lot Stanislaw Lem (I love “The Futurological Congress“), J.H. Rosny Aîné, some Finns like Anne Leinonen and Johanna Sinisalo. And of course when I was young I was reading Verne… but I think he is not considered science fiction any more.

    Cristian Tamaș: What should be done concerning the promotion of the european SF ? Translations into english, inter-european translations, reviews, interviews, contests, awards, european anthologies ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: Of course translated into English is good, but I think that is important also to read in other languages, so inter-european translations should be a better solution in my opinion.

    Cristian Tamaș : Do you think that the European SF has any awareness in the world ? Or just some european authors ? Why is that ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: I think that just some European authors and is because of the translations. We are especting to be translated into English first, that is why inter-European translation must be encourage.

    Cristian Tamaș: Would you be interested to become an EUROPA SF contributor ?

    Tanya Tynjälä: Depending of the contribution, why not ?

    Cristian Tamaș : Kindly address some words to the EUROPA SF readers !

    Tanya Tynjälä: Thank you for allow me to introduce myself and I hope you will enjoy some Latin American Science fiction

    Cristian Tamaș : Thank for your time and support, Tanya !

    © Cristian Tamaș & Tanya Tynjälä

    Tanya Tynjälä (born in Callao, Peru in 1963 as Tanya Moscoso Delgado) is a Peruvian writer of fantasy and science fiction. Tanya currently resides in  Finland, where she works as a language teacher and a cultural promoter. She  has a Master’s degree in French as a Foreign Language at the Stendhal University, Grenoble 3 in France. At present, she is finishing her doctorate in French language and literature at the University of Helsinki.

    She is the correspondent for the Spanish language of the Science Fiction Awards Watch, and a member of  the spanish language team of the Amazing Stories site:

    Tanya has published with the Colombian editor Norma, “La ciudad de los nictálopes” (2003 ; 7 editions), “Cuentos de la princesa Malva” (2008 ; 2 editions), and “Lectora de sueños”, released last year. Her children and young adult books are used as reading materials in some Latin American countries including Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Colombia. Also released last year is her micro fiction book “Sum”, by Editorial Micropolis (Lima, Peru) specializing in micro fiction.

    Tanya is the recipient of several international awards including the “Francisco Garzón Céspedes 2007″ in the hyper-short theatrical monologue category, and “Writer of the year” in 2003 by Norma Publishing House for “La Ciudad de los Nictálopes”.

    Her writings have been included in various international anthologies, magazines and e-zines. Some of her works have been translated into Finish, French, English, Bulgarian and Hebrew.

    2003: “La ciudad de los nictálopes”, Grupo Editorial Norma, Colombia

    2008: “Cuentos de la Princesa Malva”,  Grupo Editorial Norma, Perú

    2012: “Sum”,  Editorial Micrópolis, Perú

    2012 : “Lectora de sueños”,  Grupo Editorial Norma, Perú

    Tanya’s website : and blog, “Piedra que corre sí que coge moho” (The Stone that Runs, Mold Itself) :

    Cristian Tamaș is a romanian essayist, translator and SF fan active within the speculative fiction domain since the 80s. He is a founding member of the Romanian Science Fiction&Fantasy Society (SRSFF = Societatea Română de Science Fiction&Fantasy, sine January 2009, he coordinates ProspectArt, the SRSFF’s SF club relaunched in April 2009 in Bucharest (Romania), and the yearly Ion Hobana Colloquium.

    He is a member of the Ion Hobana and SRSFF’s Jury Awards and of the editorial teams of the EUROPA SF, the International Speculative Fiction site and SRSFF Magazine.

    He is co-editor with Roberto Mendes of ”The Anthology of the European SF”, co-editor of „Bella Proxima”, a trilingual croatian SF anthology (english-croatian-romanian), together with Antuza Genescu and Aleksandar Žiljak (Eagle Publishing House, Bucharest, 2012).

    He had interviewed the SF writers David Brin, Cat Rambo, Jason Sanford, Gérard Klein (french SF author), Ugo Bellagamba (french SF author awarded with Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire & Prix Rosny ), the scholars Prof.Dr.George Slusser (University of California in Riverside), Prof. Rachel Haywood Ferreira (University of Iowa), Prof. M.Elizabeth Ginway (University of Florida), Prof. Arielle Saiber (Bowdoin College, USA; research focus : italian science fiction), Mariano Martín Rodríguez (SF scholar, Spain), the austrian writer Nina Horvath, the italian writer Debora Montanari, the croatian writer Mihaela Marija Perković, the hungarian writer Judit Lörinczy, the bulgarian writer Valentin Ivanov, The 2013 ESFS Board, Alexandre Babeanu (Prix Solaris awarded canadian SF author), J.S. Bangs (american writer), Heather Anastasiu (american fantasy writer); the romanian SF&F writers Cristian Mihail Teodorescu, Dănuț Ungureanu, Liviu Radu, Sebastian A.Corn, Silviu Genescu, George Lazăr, Dan Doboș, Antuza Genescu, Cosmin Perța, Feri Balin, Diana Alzner, Aurel Cărășel, the editor Mugur Cornilă, the translators Mihai Dan Pavelescu, Laura Bocancios, Adina Barvinschi, the film critic Andrei Crețulescu.


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