First Language(s): Russian, Belarusian
Second Language(s): English
Volha Kastsiuk was born in a small Belarusian village bordering Ukraine during Soviet times. She got a Philology degree in Russian language and literature and after graduation moved to Moscow. During her travels she met her future husband from New Zealand. Now Volha is a Belarusian, who lives in New Zealand and writes in Russian and English.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I don’t recall any of my favourite books from my childhood but I clearly remember my most-loved book when I was a teenager: The Gadfly by Ethel Lilian Voynich, an Irish-born British writer completely blew me away.
Also I really liked Children of the Arbat, a historical novel by Russian author Anatoly Rybakov. The story is about life in the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin’s times and the Red Terror. I was always in a strange way fascinated about that time and wondered how it felt to live under a dictatorship. And now history is repeating itself and my country Belarus is ruled by the last (we hope) dictator in Europe.
Do you remember the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?
I started to write creatively since I first learnt to write. I remember writing a story about the New Year celebration in our house when I was just 6 years old. Around 12 years old I wrote a novel about a boy who was adopted from an orphanage. It was very naïve and not so good. Then after university it was always something in the way and I never got to write anything. But a few years ago I came across a creative writing course and decided that it was now or never. Since then I have finished two courses and now I am writing short stories with a strong focus on Belarus and its bordering countries.
What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?
The most adventurous thing I ever did was my first solo parachute jump from an ex-Soviet military plane. I did it, and I was very happy when I landed safely but… never again!
The most thrilling thing for me was sitting in the entrance to a Tibetan temple in India and having the Dalai Lama a mere foot away from me and to feel the light breeze when he was walking past.
Do you listen to music while reading or writing?
No. I have two sons, 6 and 8, and I work at school as a teacher aide. I am always seeking silence and finding silence helps my creativity.
Mamo and Sinku*
Issue Fall '22