Interview: Aleksadar Žiljak, the GoH

Aleksandar Žiljak may be the most known name of Croatian SF literature outside of Croatia. He is certainly the most translated Croatian genre author and I have already talked to him as have other people, Charles Tan at SF Signal for instance.

But 2015 seems to be his year: three Guest of Honour spots – two in Croatia this year and one abroad in 2017, a Eurocon one at that!

Recently, you just finished your first gig as Guest of Honour at a
convention. How was it?

Yes, Marsonikon was my first guesting of honour. I had a great time and some awesome food.

What struck you as different about Marsonikon, when compared to other Croatian cons?

Marsonikon is a one-day convention, and that makes it different from other cons in Croatia, which are two- or three-day events. Also, it is held in a baroque fortress close to the river Sava, erected by the Habsburgs for the defence against the Ottoman Empire. Various parts of the brick-made objects are in various stages of reconstruction, but the entire surrounding, with earth defence walls and moats and everything are very pictoresque. I feel that place has potential for much more, particularly in terms of LARP-ing and cosplay.

What did you love the most about Marsonikon?

It was a very relaxed event, no one was nervous or high-strung, and held in a somewhat specific venue – an old fortress. I loved that.

You were announced GOH at the 2017 German Eurocon and surprised Croatian fandom as you never even hinted you had been asked. How did that happen?

Well, Dortcon in Dortmund invited me, through Martin Stricker to be their GOH this year. Unfortunately, my mother was very ill at the time so I had to decline. She passed away six months ago.

They kindly asked me again this spring, this was the invitation for the expected Eurocon in Dortmund. They won the Eurocon in 2017 bid, and I became the first Croatian to be a guest at a Eurocon outside of Croatia. I believe they wanted me in the first place on the basis of several stories I published in the German SF magazine “Nova”.

Will you be publishing anything in German for Dortmund?

Hopefully. I hope to have my first novel Irbis translated into German in the next two years.

You are on a roll – a brand new convention in Split also asked you to be their GoH in July. What can you tell us about the new con, FantaSTikon?

Well, I don’t know much about it yet other than that it will be held July17-19 in Split. I’m very proud to have been invited as their first Guest of Honour, and I am very much looking forward to be going to a con in the heart of Dalmatia in the middle of summer. Split is beautiful. I will do my best to help the con be a success, because Dalmatia has been somewhat devoid of conventions and I do not think it was for a lack of interest!

Are you working on anything new in Croatian?

Yes, I’m working on a new young adult novel published by a local publisher Semafora. It should be finished in several months, and I hope to see printed by late October. The working title is “The Riddle of the Dragon Islands”, and it is a  lost space colony story. There are wars, and WW 1 seaplanes and sea serpents and dragons and such fun stuff.



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