The Witcher

Andrzej Sapkowski about technology, sixth part of the Saga and video games

TheWitcher11 - Andrzej Sapkowski about technology, sixth part of the Saga and video games
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Dawid Brykalski's interview with Andrzej Sapkowski, late 90's.

DB: Famous and respected philosopher Lech Kołakowski wrote that ''the state of focus when writing with a pen is completely different from when we write with a computer''. Do you agree with that statement?

AS: At first I thought it to be true. For many years I wrote everything by hand, on thousands of pieces of paper, then I put those together, made corrections with a red pen and crossed things over with a black marker. Then I cut the papers and glued them into a collage, put the collage next to a typewriter and started the physical work – meaning punching the keys on the noisy machine.

I computerized myself only after I started working on the first book of the Saga, let me remind you that it was 1992, 6 years after my debute. At first computer was just a replacement for my typewriter, I still put a bunch of papers next to the keyboard – the only change for the better that I noticed was quiet typing. Not many people nowadays remember how unbearable was the noise of a typewriter for one's family and neighbours.

And it was ''Blood of Elves'' when I first risked writing ''from the screen and keyboard''. I realized that although writing on a typewriter without the material was impossible, it worked very well on a computer. Not only it was great and convenient – the pace of my work increased 5 times at the very least. Today I can honestly – and with no exaggeration – say that the only thing I write by hand are autographs. The rest I type on my computer and print. Including stickers saying ''Don't forget to water the flowers!'' when my wife leaves.

DB: What about the Internet and its limitless possibilities?

AS: Writer Elizabeth Haydon (the one from ''Rhapsody'' trilogy, published by ''Mag'') calls the Internet the Great Book of Humanity's Wisdom. And she's right. The web has unlimited potential. And not ''somewhat'', but without any doubt.

DB: Could it replace human imagination?

AS: Absolutely no! I have no clue how could anyone think that. Oh, excuse me, I know: from the recent trend of apocalyptic prophecies, according to which the Web is a demon that shall destroy and devour us. I consider these views equal to those expressed towards automobiles. First cars were considered so dangerous that a bill was passed: in front of every car, there shall be a man running, holding a flag and playing a trumpet to warn the would-be victims that the murderous machine is coming. And from the times that I remember personally, I remember the opinion that the TV makes you blind, infertile and riddled with cancer. Someone who'd own thousands multi-volume encyclopedias, including Britannica, would be considered a wise man and an erudite. A boy who has a lot more knowledge in the Web is yelled at by his father: ''You're sitting in front of the computer again? You're getting dumber from it!''. 6 hours at school, where an underqualified and underpaid teacher shoves banalities into boy's or girl's head is considered ''education''. 6 hours a day in the Web is met with fear and sending a child to psychologist. To summarize, because I think I started monologuing: the Internet will never replace imagination. But sometimes imagination needs help. And there's no better source than the Web.

DB: Fans created your website www.sapkowski.pl. Sometimes parts of your work can be found there even before they're published.

SA: The site, oddly enough, was created without consulting me. I didn't care at the time, I was, as they say, off line, I had no access to the Web yet. But Bogusław Polch reacted – the aforementioned site published his drawings without his permission. After his reaction Jacek Suliga, the website's creator, demonstrated his work to me and asked for collaboration. This collaboration lasts to this day.

It's the only website that has the permission to publish my texts – or their fragments before they're officially published. Others who do it are shameless pirates.

DB: It was the fans themselves who started the affair with the non-existent sixth volume of the Witcher Saga.

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AS: Yes, it was a joke that exceeded the expectations, which cost me some effort, because I had to deny that this ''sixth volume'' existed – a lot of people believed it and tried to question me to death.

DB: Funny, but even when creating this interview, we use the Web.

AS: Use it to your heart's content. It's a signum temporis. We all benefit from that. Let me remind you that in the so called normal conditions the work on this interview would've taken over a month, including the authorization. And this way – authorization is unnecessary, for I am writing what I'm saying.

DB: Recently you have been participating in the ever more popular Internet chat rooms (it was a new thing in Poland. That and food – translator's note). What are your impressions?

AS: I participated twice – the first and the last time. It takes too much time and too much effort and then it turns out that half of Poland printed it as an interview. According to the rule: if it's on the Web, it's nobody's, if it's nobody's, it's mine. Just like bricks in communist Polands (in communist Poland, people would often steal bricks from dilapidated public buildings because getting a permission to buy bricks often took months, if not years – translator's note). And I disapprove. Chat room is a form of fun, an interview is an interview. Well, after all my honey, it's time to add a spoonful of tar (a spoonful of tar in a barrel of honey is a Polish idiom meaning something beneficial with a bothersome flaw – translator's note): it's a Wild West, you can find gold, you can get shot in the back. But USA emerged out of the Wild West and it'll be the same with Web.

DB: Recently, I've discovered a bloated term ''digital poetry'' somewhere. Is there such a thing in literature?

AS: Never heard of something like that. Sounds not only bloated, but foolish as well. For if somebody doesn't own a computer, then what is his poetry? A pen-like poetry?

DB: Video games offer more and more – can someone as hard-working and popular as you find time to play them?

AS: Absolutely no. But let it be clear that it's not because of any bad attitude towards games. Deus avertat, God forbid. Games just take too much time, I've got no time for them. Sometimes for relax, I play solitary. But recently, I've got no time even for that.

DB: And what happened to ''The Witcher'' video game? (the interviewer refers to the first Witcher game, made by Metropolis, which was unreleased and caused Metropolis to go bankrupt. This is also the reason why Sapkowski didn't take royalties from CD Projekt – translator's note)

AS: To be honest – I've got no clue.

DB: I presume that the movie crew didn't have the budget to hire Industral Ligth & Magic. (referring to ''The Hexer'' – translator's note)

AS: I regret that as well. Low-budget cheesiness has been a plague upon fantasy films. Old sofas' parts pretending to be bear pelts, rubber dragons, zippers on the backs of creatures from Black Lagoon, those ''special effects'' inspired by Star Trek from the 60's… The sad part is that there's a cure for that and it doesn't require Industrial Light & Magic. Knowledge and passion. But that, as it turns out, is the hardest part. As for myself, I can say that before you start shooting and casting it's generally a good idea to read the books. But that, it turns out, is very bothersome. And therefore unecessary.

DB: And if you had to choose what to take with you, let's say, on a deserted island, to space or wherever… would it be a fishing rod or a laptop? (Papa Sapko is a fishing madman – translator's note)

AS: Probably both – just like when I do when I go on holidays. I've yet to retire, afterall, I get no pension, so I have to work. And writer's work, with all the upsides, has a downside – no Sundays, no religious and state holidays and no pure relax holidays.

DB: In the name of the readers, the editorial office and my own, I thank you for your time and for the interesting interview.

Source: Original link


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