Tamara Kryukova is a member of the High Literary Counsel of the Writers' Union of Russia, a member of the Children's Writers' Union of Russia and a chairwoman of the International Youth Project "We are writing the Book of Peace".
She has written 43 books for children and young adults. Her works have been published by 16 Russian publishing houses. Among her books are fairy-tales, poems, science fiction, fantasy, novels. The number of printed books has exceeded 1.5 billion copies.
She was born in Vladikavkaz (North Caucasus). With her husband and son she stayed for several years in Aden (South Yemen) and Cairo (Egypt). At present she lives in Moscow.
Awards: Russian Government award for Education (2008). Award of the International Public Fund "Russian Culture" for revival of literature for younger generation (2005). Winner of the International Theatrical Festival "Happy Childhood" (2004). Winner of the Russian Orthodox Church contest "The best book about teenagers" (2006). Winner of the IV All-Russia Literary Competition "Scarlet Sails" (2007).
Two full length films based on her books have been shot: a comedy "Potapov, what's your answer?" and a love story "Kostya + Nika". The love story has won the highest Awards of the XIV International Festival "Artek", of the X All-Russia Festival "Orlyenok", of the VI International Festival "Kinotavrik", of the IV International Festival "Pacific Meridian".
She represented Russia in the International Festival "Bibliobraz". Some of her stories were translated into Ukrainian, Bulgarian, German, Armenian, Hungarian, Slovak, Check, Kirgiz, Polish and other languages.
My childhood was very happy. I was born in Vladikavkaz which used to be known as Ordjonikidze. We lived in a nice house surrounded by a wonderful tiny garden. My grandpa had a marvelous touch in dealing with flowers. That's why our garden was full of roses, gladioluses and chrysanthemums. Grandpa was my best friend and teacher. When I was three years old he taught me the ABC. Thus I started to read and write early. I also learnt the morse code. It was our secret. We often played sending messages in morse code. Unfortunately I forgot it, when I grew older. So I didn't become a telegraphist.
When a kid I loved 'Just So Stories' by J.R. Kipling. Lately they inspired me to write 'Why and How Stories'. My granny was full of folk wisdom. Thanks to her some characters of my fairy-tales speak so vivid folk language. My granny baked the best pies on earth. She taught me to cook but my pies were never as good as hers, thus I didn't become a cook.
Next door to us lived an old woman with two grown up daughters. They were deaf, unmarried and didn't have children, so they were always glad to see me. I visited them practically every day and soon learnt the deaf-and-dumb language. Then we moved to another place and I forgot it. So I didn't become a signer.
When I was six I was crazy about Frank Baum's 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz', and I dreamt of getting to that miraculous country at any cost. At that time I already knew two things for sure: that the Oz country was somewhere in America and that the Earth is round. I thought it over and had a wonderful idea to dig the tonnel straight from Russia to the Oz country in America. I inspired a group of friends and we started on our project. We guessed that the grown-ups might not fancy our activity so we concealed the pit we had successfully dug by camouflage. A bolt from the blue broke out on the forth day. Our neighbour happened to step into the pit and strained his leg. Our work was immediately stopped and I promised never to do it again. So I didn't become a navvy.
Soon I realized new good prospects that lied ahead. I joined a ballet dance circle. I liked the dress and the ballet shoes. I believed I was a real beauty. But if didn't last long. At seven I went to school and started musical lessons. I was too busy and had to give up the dance classes. So I didn't become a world famous ballet dancer of the Bolshoi.
My father was a musical teacher, but I hated practicing scales. I used every possibility to skip classes and to join my friends playing in the yard. So I didn't become a pianist.
My father failed to make a musician from me, but he taught me to play chess. At the age of six my parents took me to the sea. One day sitting on the beach I followed the game of two schoolboys. They were eleven already. One of them made a wrong move and I suggested a better variant. The boys started mocking at me: what such a baby-of-a-girl knows about chess. I invited them to play with me and much to their surprise I won several games. That was a real triumph. Later my father and I invented a new chess game - 'surrender and win'. It was easier and quicker. Bit by bit I lost my ability to foresee and plan the moves. So I didn't become a gross-master.
My mother was fond of needlework. She taught me to knit and sew. My dolls were always beautifully dressed. Handle-crafts are still my hobby, though I make clothes only when I have an inspiration. So I didn't become a professional fashion designer.
In primary school I joined sculpture courses. I learnt to work with clay and make figurines. I was proud that my statuettes were exposed at the exhibition of children's crafts. One of the figurines vanished on the opening day of the exhibition. Another disappeared on the third day. I was so upset that I took the remaining figurine home and decided never to participate in any exhibitions. So I didn't become a sculptor.
As children we loved playing princesses and kings. My girlfriends and me had no doubt that a princess should wear a long beautiful dress. Whenever possible we put on mothers' old dresses, high-heeled shoes, all the bijou we could find and turned into princesses. We were sure that everybody was impressed by our irresistible beauty. Once I took on the quiet my mummy's lace night-gown. Of course my ball-dress was the best. That day I was the chief princess. All my girlfriends envied me. But unfortunately my triumph was short-term. When my mother saw me strolling around in her night-gown she refused to take into account that I had played the role of princess with a great success. So I didn't become an actress.
At my teens I was an avid reader of Mayne Reid, Alexandre Dumas, George Sand... My friend and me were fond of making up our own stories full of adventures. I had a passion for decadent poetry and wrote poems about unhappy love and death. What else can you write about when you are thirteen? At that time I read 'Martin Eden' by Jack London. I was so impressed by the book that it became my companion for a long time. I constantly returned to it and reread it over and over again. I think deep in my heart I knew that I was destined to become a writer. But at that time I didn't even dream about it. I was looking at writers as if they were people from another planet. I could hardly believe that an ordinary person like me might become a writer. I was like an Andersen's ugly duckling watching graceful swans on a lake and thinking that he can never ever reach them.
My secondary school had a technical bias so I was going to become an engineer. Then I thought better of it because I knew that I was not gifted enough in Math and didn't take much interest in it, either. At least I understood that I would never be up to the mark as Sofia Kovalevsky. So why bother? I gave up the idea to become a mathematician.
I had always adored literature and reading so I choose a humanitarian faculty at the University. I learned English and after my graduation worked as a translator in Egypt. The metallurgical plant where I worked was situated in the desert and we lived in a small village nearby far from any civilization. There was nothing to do there at spare hours. Fortunately one of the Russian engineers had an unusual hobby. He was good at copperplate engraving and taught me to chase on metal. When I retuned to Russia I had to give up this hobby for lack of instruments and materials. So I didn't become an artist.
In Egypt I read several books about ancient Egyptians and their mythology and sometimes went with Russian specialists to Luxor temples as a guide. Once visiting Dendera, the temple of Hathor, I was accompanied to the dungeon where the famous Egyptian ruler Kleopatra had died. There hadn't been visitors for a long time and it gave a shelter to lots of bats. The little beasts got frightened by the flame of my candle and started flying like mad. Suddenly the wick went out. I found myself alone in the dungeon in total darkness. To add to this one of the bats got tangled up in my hair. I remember my fright till this day. After a few years that incident inspired me to write my thriller 'The Silver Spring'.
After coming back to Russia I got married and moved to Moscow. My son was born and I got one of the best professions - a mother. Then my husband was given an appointment in South Yemen. Much to our horror we witnessed a fierce civil war. Fortunately it didn't last long. Though for a couple of weeks we were in the midst of military action. I wanted to keep my five-year old son out of fright, so I took all the kids to a quiet corner (if any corner could be said quiet at that time) and made up stories. Some of them were funny, others mysterious. That was my first step on the way as a children's writer.
Later we sent our son to his granny who lived in the Caucasus. I was writing him letters. It was a fairy-tale and he was its main character. As I was told later all the neighbors had been looking forward to these letters to listen to the next chapter. When I and my husband came to visit my mother my first readers advised me to take the story to a publishing house. So I did. When my first book was published, I had a funny feeling. I didn't feel being a writer. I just couldn't believe I had done it.
Now I have more than forty books published in Russia, two of them have been screened and some stories have been translated into foreign languages.
I don't want to speak about all the hardships I met on my way. It's a very long story and I have neither wish nor time to dwell on them. I write for children and young adults because I'm eager to give them all the love, kindness and smiles of my childhood. I want them to love this world as I do.
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