The Heroine’s Journey of Iryna Melnychenko

What is the best thing that I love about my work?

Creating worlds in my head and making them live on paper, screen, or mobile is what I love about my work. It’s a magic of creation, when a simple idea goes through rounds of transformations, getting bigger and bigger until it gets its voice and form. By writing a story, you can experience all the shades of emotions, sharing them with the characters you’ve created. And you start understanding people better since your primary focus shifts to the MOTIVES and reasons which drive them to do what they do. I can’t imagine a better work than to put small pieces of these comprehensive puzzles together to create a story that lives and awakens questions in people’s minds.

What is my idea of happiness?

Happiness is a simple construct for me. To be happy means to follow my heart’s call toward my dreams, overcome my fears along the way, and check how life tastes with each step. Sometimes difficult decisions need to be made along the way, but until I true to form, I know it’s worth it.

What is my greatest fear?

To live a purposeless life and never become the person I feel I need to be. I’m afraid I never fulfill my potential and fail in telling stories that live in me. I’m scared of letting my fears overcome me and make me crawl into the cave to hide my heart from being hurt – which automatically means non-living.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?

My inability to take an active part in social movements and volunteering. I hate it. Especially when half of my country is involved in helping the army. All I can do is donate money, observe, read, talk to people and take in their stories, aiming to transform them into the next book.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire?

It’s a challenging question since I can’t define my profession as something narrow. Am I a writer? Then give me a day for a deep conversation with Sir Kazuo Ishiguro to get the slightest touch to the deepness of his thoughts and another one with J.R. Martin to ask tons of questions about “Song of Ice and Fire” (yes, I’m a fan). And a week with Neil Gayman, please – I can spend days reading his books and graphic novels, watching them on screen, and never getting bored. Am I a game writer? Then I dream about some time of girl-to-girl talk with Margaret Elizabeth Ellison, founder of Annapurna Interactive, to answer the main question – How does she choose such beautiful games to be made? Everything Annapurna releases makes my heart melt.

What is my greatest extravagance?

I can never say something I don’t feel is true (or at least true from the point of view I’m advocating for a moment). My mouth doesn’t even open to let such words out.

On what occasion would I lie?

As I said before, I physically can’t lie. But I can imagine doing it to save the life of someone I love.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?

The writer’s most potent antagonist is the story itself – it’s draining you emotionally and sometimes physically. It possesses all your thoughts and makes you live 80-90% of the time in your head, not in real life. And when the idea comes – it never leaves you until you give it a form and spend days, months, or years writing it.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?

I’d say there are several happiest points in this work: when you make all the elements of the story come together and work without gaps, when the story is finished, when it is published and when you see positive reviews—everything in this circle. Yet I will never forget when my latest (for now) book, “Alive. Against all odds” got the two prizes in the contest. That was the first time my work was acknowledged and the first time I could say to myself, “Yes, I’m a writer, not the imposter”.

If I could, what would I change about myself?

Oooooh, lots of things. But in the first place I’d add the possibility of promoting myself and being more open to meeting people. I’m the person who’d most likely live in the woods, doing some silent writing and waiting for a Godmother fairy to come and turn those writing into published stories without the need for me to interact with others.

What is my greatest achievement in work?

Finishing the 400 pages book for now. Took me three years, but it was worth it.

Where would I most like to live?

Somewhere in Costa Rica with the year-round temperature of 28 degrees, at the sea cost, with lots of nature.

What is my most treasured possession?

My 20-years old cat, whom I took with me on my refugee ride from Ukraine, and earrings my husband presented to me. Since he’s at war now, I feel like we’re connected through this gift, so I never take them off.

What is my most marked characteristic?

Thirst for life.

What is my most inspirational location in my city?

It’s the View from the Volodymyrska Hirka Park in Kyjiv with an epic river landscape and St. Volodymyr Statue.

What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city?

A small coffee point across my house and a nice place called CityZen (I don’t know if they are still open, though)

What books influenced my life and how?

Every book I’ve read influenced my life somehow, but “Harry Potter” has a separate shelf in my heart.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen to on my last day?

Latin Music, to dance to it (or imagine myself dancing)

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?

Depends on soooooo many factors.  I’m totally in love with all the main Harry Potter characters, but Severus Snape and Sirius Black stole my heart with how devoted to whom they loved they were. If we talk about a female character, that will be Alicia Berenson from “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides, because I feel a deep connection with the state of mind when your feelings are so deep and hurtful that you’re cut of words to express them.  

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?

My husband, who willingly joined the army forces after the war started. Every woman and man protecting Ukraine now – from a simple housewife who smashed the drone with a jar of cucumbers to every single person who does what’s possible to keep the country.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime?

Oh, why pick one?! But if it were one, I would choose “12 angry men” since it depicts so many points of view, so many personal dramas, and such a deep emotional crisis for everyone… 

What role play stories in my life and work?

Stories are my life and my work. I can’t imagine living without making them or reading/watching/playing them.

What do the words ‘You are the storyteller of your own life’ to me?

Just a simple fact that you influence your image in the eyes of the audience because you tell them what you want them to know or show them what you want them to see about you. It’s not who you really are.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?

Usually, I feel like I’m alone on this heroine’s journey) I can’t answer this question.

Which people or companies would I like to work with in 2022?

I’m deeply involved in one project now, but if I could dream, it would be a Quantic Dream company. All their stories (Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, Detroit: Become Human) make me wonder if it’s even possible to be THAT good. Working with them might make me feel like a part of something significant.

Another dream (such big, so that it’s scared to say it out loud) is working with any company published with Annapurna Interactive. “What Remains of Edith Finch” from Giant Sparrow just blew my mind completely, and “Stray” from BlueTwelve Studio got me mesmerized for hours. 

What project, in 2022, am I looking forward to work on?

I’m looking forward to proceed with writing my next book.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?

As long as you have the passion – you’re alive.

Which creative professionals should Peter invite to tell their story?

Mila Mischenko

Iryna Vrataryova

Lina Veres

How can you contact me?

Feel free to write me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ira.melnychenko.1 or LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/irina-melnichenko/ 

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