Iván Brave lives in New York, where he writes poetry, reviews, and novels, as well as teaches English to international students. He is a graduate of New School, earning his Master in Fine Arts for Creative Writing in 2018, after a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from The University of Texas at Austin. Texan by birth, Argentine by blood, and Brooklynite by residence, his work explores a range of topics that draw from his eclectic background and from his extensive travels around the world. Language and multiculturalism, with a focus on origins, family and love, are the themes currently dearest to his heart. In addition to winning the Writing Award from The Vera List Center for Arts and Politics, Ivan's writings have appeared or been mentioned in literary magazines like The American Scholar and The Acentos Review. Iván recently published his debut novel, The Summer Abroad, available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle. You can read his blog at ivanbrave.com, or view some cool pics on Instagram @ivanbrave_.
1. Who is your favorite villain, and who is your favorite protagonist in literature?
I bet my classmates who graduated with me could answer this for me! I was obsessed with a book we analyzed in James Lasdun's class on Form, Style, and Meaning, a book from not a few years ago called Anna Karenina. Ha! The memories from that class. Seriously, that book, and the in-depth look we did informed much of my writing - in addition to being a total pleasure to read. If you had asked me half of the question, I might have answered Don Quijote or Chinaski (from Bukowski) as my favorite heroes, but because the villain/protagonist here is asked in tandem, how can I resist? Vronsky and Levin are my favorites in literature. Although it never comes to fisticuffs, there is a spiritual fight between the two boys (to not say thematic, or romantic) that propels the novel forward, as we watch the life of one unfold, and the other unravel.
2. When did you know you were a writer?
When I wrote it on my website, ivanbrave.com
, a few months ago. Just kidding! What's odd is that I have always been writing, but never considered myself a writer until much later. I attended creative workshops in Elementary, loved writing essays all through elementary and high school, even wrote publicity for a major music festival, South by Southwest, while in college studying a writing-heavy degree, philosophy.
I only began wearing the title after my undergraduate degree in 2013. I was interning at a radio station at the time, even writing music stories then. But, as we say, there I was, some weekday afternoon in Austin with an empty bottle of wine and a lot of time, sitting at my desk without a care in the world. This spark came to me, and for once not given to hesitation, I put it down on paper. A confession from a father. A national park. A sunset. These images fell into place, and then I wrapped it up in a bow: I had written my first story, one page long, which gave me a chill down my back like an ice cube the moment I stopped typing. I re-read it, felt the same chill. I knew then, that quiet weekday afternoon, what I wanted to do the rest of my life.
I carried that one-page story to parties and interviews, and told folks, "Read this, look, I'm a writer." It felt awkward at first, for me mostly, but over the years, and many stories later, and of course my MFA degree in 2018, my passion now feels like a career. I'm a writer.
3. What are you currently working on?
I recently published my first novel, The Summer Abroad on Amazon. The next steps are to do a second launch in bookstores through Ingram Sparks, and start selling the thing mano a mano on the weekends -- all the while continuing to pursue avenues for online marketing and advertising.
It's been a leap, for sure, but I feel, for this project, my first, that it was the right move. Although I had written the entire book years before, it was workshopping some chapters during my first semester at New School that gave me the confidence to keep going. Both because of the inspiring comments from my professor, and from the keen suggestions from my peers. The book is very much stamped by the lessons learned in the program. I thank the school in the book.
4. How has your writing process changed over the years?
I've gone from writing in the evenings with a bottle of wine to writing sober before sunrise, to now writing whenever I have the chance between MTA rides and teaching. I have always liked paper and pen, or typing, even scribbling in notebooks. Mostly alone, though, occasionally in a cafe. One thing that's marks my growth is creative liberty. Every year I feel freer and freer to put down what wants to come out -- no hesitation, no second guessing. Each year, the lesson seems to - just do it, but more this time, and better. I suppose that is what has changed over the years. Returning to the blank page with more knowledge, more impulse, and fewer excuses.
5. Describe your writing style in one sentence.
Can it be run on, ¡por qué no!
Five Questions, by Nicole L. Drayton. Nicole is a writer, screenwriter and independent filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from The New School, and currently works for the university in the MFA in Creative Writing Program office.