1. How did you come up with the title for your book? Cello’s Tears is an image I use in one of the poems in the collection. The cello for me is the most evocative instrument, one that when playing a melancholic tune seems to be crying. The notes the cello produces are like tears.
2. What kind of reader were you as a child? And what were your favorite childhood books?
I was a voracious reader. I loved authors such as Jules Verne (Around the World in 80 Days), Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers), Baroness Orczy (Scarlet Pimpernel), James Fenimore Cooper (The Last of the Mohicans), Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book), Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe). As a young child, I read a lot of Hungarian classics in the original; Hungarian literature is fabulously rich, with only some of it available in translation.
3. What are your current projects?
I am trying to get a trilogy of memoirs based on Cold War escapes I was involved in published. Two of these are completed and the third one still requires a lot of work. I am also working on a thriller that involves a coup d’etat in France; a first draft of this is three-quarters done. As well, another thriller―the second in a trilogy the first of which is currently being published―is in the works. I also might rework ARCTIC MELTDOWN, the e-thriller I published electronically in 2011 since much of what I envisaged in that novel is playing out today. When inspired, I also write poetry and will eventually put these together in a collection.
4. What was the last truly great book you read?
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt. It teaches and at the same time thrills. It is history, literature and thriller all rolled into one. It talks about the rediscovery of one of the great epic poems of antiquity, Lucretius’ De Rerum Naturae, in the early Renaissance and how that influenced modern thought thereafter.
5. The last book that made you cry?
Thomas Snyder’s Badlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. It truly brings home the brutality that the peoples of the countries between Germany and Russia suffered under those two dictators.
6. List five words that you feel best describes your book.
Multi-cultural, translations, experimental, musical, pictorial.
7. If you could only bring three books to a desert island, which would you choose?
Goethe’s Faust, Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (to get some tips)
8. Who is your favorite novelist of all time? Your favorite novelist writing today?
Graham Greene, Philip Kerr. Greene writes wonderfully, creating rich characters, dripping with suspense, evoking time and place. I love the thriller genre, particularly literary thrillers like Greene’s The Third Man. It is also my very favorite movie. Philip Kerr’s books are based on extensive research, and are a fun read with lots of intrigue; his detective character, Bernie Gunther, is brilliant. again, he evokes time and place so well that you are transported.
9. What are your literary guilty pleasures? Do you have a favorite genre?
I love thrillers, historical fiction and well-written history. Poems. Some erotica.
10. Which book might we be surprised to find on your bookshelves?
The Onion Book of Known Knowledge. I don’t know how it appeared on my shelf, but this book spoofs facts and knowledge – sort of like Monty Python or Saturday Night Live. I think it is a rare book; I haven’t seen it anywhere else.
11. What were the most influential books you read as a student?
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species; Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness; Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies; James Joyce, Ulysses; D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterly’s Lover
12. Who or what has influenced the writing?
Some poems are influenced by the time I spent in different countries―Japan, Canada, Germany, France Hungary, USA etc. Artists such as Henry Moore, John Turner, Michelangelo, my good friend Jeremy Smith among others, musicians such as Mahler, Ravel and Schubert to name just a few, and other poets such as Bassho, Goethe and Nelligan (a French Canadian poet) have all been influencers.
13. If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
Arctic Meltdown (my e-thriller)―not because of the writing, but because it addresses a critical issue and is a fun read at the same time (also selfishly, beacuse if he read it and piad attention, others might as well.)
14. What kind of books do you like to read before bed?
Thrillers. Books that provide excitement / suspense and learning at the same time.
15. What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
Fifty Shades of Gray. Boring. There is no plot to speak of, not even any good sex.
Geza Tatrallyay was born in Hungary before his family escaped the Hungarian Revolution by fleeing to Canada. After graduating from Harvard University and studying at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, he went on to earn a master’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics. An avid fencer, he represented Canada in the 1976 Olympic Games. Cello’s Tears, his debut poetry collection, is the culmination of his longtime fascination with poetic verse and human emotion.