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Dear Mr. Fry,

We know that you’ve visited Russia recently for the first time, working on a documentary about Wagner. Could you share some of your impressions with our readers? What did really surprise you during your stay in Saint-Petersburg in pleasant or unpleasant way? Have you brought any souvenirs back with you? And do you think you understand Russia and the Russians better after this visit?


I had an extraordinary time in St Petersburg. Incredibly kind reception from Russian fans who also weighed me down with presents to take home. I just wish I had been there longer. The Hermitage of course, the Mariinski, some of the places that Raskolnikov walked through in Crime and Punishment - I was happy to see these, but I can't really claim that I understand Russia or Russians that much better. I can confirm the overwhelming kindness and friendliness of those I met however...


You’re a famous Wagnerian and undoubtedly a connoisseur of his music so, I guess, it’s not so easy to win your favour. How did you like Gergiev’s production? Was it worth coming? And which versions of Wagner’s operas have impressed you most deeply during your filming?

I love Gergiev's approach. it was warm, energetic, emotionally powerful. It was certainly worth coming. When talking of Wagner productions there's always a distinction to be made between the "production" (the design, the costume, the ideas behind it all) and the orchestra and singing .... not all the productions I have seen made a great deal of sense, but the qualityof singing, acting and musicianship in the pit has been remarkable.


You probably know that Russian TV has broadcasted a report about your visit to Mariinsky theatre. I’ve noticed that you were walking there holding sunflower in your hand. Was it a tribute to the great Oscar Wilde or was the gesture meant to imply something else?

It was a present from an admirer! I suppose they gave it to me because of Oscar.

Speaking of great men, if you had a choice to spend a day with a famous person from the past (some great writer, painter, composer, politician, etc.), who would you have chosen and why?

Well it would be hard to improve upon Oscar as a companion. Aside from questioning him, there would be the pleasure of letting him know that his imprisonment, humiliation, disgrace and sad, slow, painful exile were not in vain. To let him know how admired he now is. And to let him know that in many countries around the world same sex love is an accepted norm. But that there are plenty of places were the struggle for equality continues.

Are you familiar with modern Russian literature and cinematography? Do they have any appeal for you or do you prefer good old classics?

I wish I were. It is the good old classics for me, I'm afraid. I don't think I've read a more modern Russian novel than One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch ... and that's hardly contemporary!

We’ve heard recently about the coming film version of your novel The Liar, and this is great news, of course. Are there going to be other cinematographic adaptations of your books in the foreseeable future?

Not to my knowledge. Always open to anyone who wants to take on the job, but I stand back from it myself. I write as a novelist in one way and don't especially want to be the one to adapt.

We’re also immensely looking forward to reading the second part of your autobiography which is due to be published next year, if I’m not mistaken. Which period of your life will it cover?

I don't know much about it yet. I'm going to sit down and concentrate on it in the autumn and new year. It will start where Moab left off ... but how far it will go I cannot tell...

I must say that the story of Steve and Michael from your Making History is one of the most romantic and moving gay love stories ever written. But speaking of the real life, could you name the most romantic gay pair in the whole history?

Wow. What an interesting question. Life has a horrible habit of bringing the romantic down. I know couples that have been together for thirty or forty years, which is a romantic achievement of some kind. I read about a couple in the second world war, one of whom died - and that keeps it romantic of course, in the same way that James Dean is romantic.

And the last question. As you probably know, modern Russia is a very homophobic country, not much unlike the parallel USA in Making History. Gay relationships are legal, of course, but there is quite strong contempt and even hatred towards them in our society. Could you give any advice to the young Russian homosexuals who are just about to enter their adulthood?

My heart goes out to those living in a culture where extreme homophobia exists. It makes coming out and living with a partner so much more difficult, and it makes looking for partners dangerous. The association with homophobia and religion and nationalism is particularly horrible. Religion whips up the hatred and a hideously stupid and aggressive nationalism does the rest. What business is it of anyone else's? I admire you and those who read you and those who dare to stand up and proudly be who they are. We do not choose our natures, as Wilde said, but we can accept them and be proud of them. I suppose the only advice I could give is to say that it will be along journey. Equality and acceptance will not be won overnight. The slow leak of popular culture -- literature, film, TV and now of course on line content — all these can slowly influence society. I think role models will be important, popular, talented Russians who have the strength to stand up. They can be from sport, drama, music, science - anything, but it is such people who are the new Heroes of the Revolution! Good luck and love to all of you. I cannot wait for my next visit to Russia. Perhaps Moscow next time!


And two bonus questions not for the publication, but for your fans. We’ll be perfectly happy if you find it possible to answer them :-)

Have you read any fanfiction based on your books (The Liar, Making History)? Does it feel pleasant when somebody is impressed by your books deep enough to take your characters and start playing with them or it disturbs you on some level?

I haven't read any, but I think it's a great compliment. I know J. K. Rowling finds some of the Harry Potter "slash" fiction a bit disturbing, but that's different, I suppose.

I guess, everybody who reads Harry Potter books thinks about his or her House in Hogwarts. Where do you think you’d belong if you were a Hogwarts student? I don’t think it’s an easy question, because you’ve certainly got Slytherin’s ambitions, Ravenclaw’s brains, Hufflepuff’s ethics and Gryffindor’s courage. But still, what is your choice?

I'm not sure I'm brave enough to be a Gryffindor or serious enough to be a Ravenclaw. I have always characterised myself as a Hufflepuff...

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
taylor_redman
Oct. 17th, 2009 09:47 am (UTC)
Thank you!
spike1972
Oct. 17th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this. And I did't know that about The Liar :O)
themozuignoreme
Oct. 17th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
"I haven't read any, but I think it's a great compliment. I know J. K. Rowling finds some of the Harry Potter "slash" fiction a bit disturbing, but that's different, I suppose."

Oh little does he know! :)
jaala
Oct. 20th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
'Moab' part 2!
I must be out of touch: I hadn't heard that a second part to 'Moab' is coming out soon-ish. How exciting! (Squee!)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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