Author D.Turmunkh: I become very happy when writingThe Mongol Messenger
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. Author Turmunkh Dorjkhand (Turu Khan) gave an interview to MONTSAME News Agency. He is one of the most successful authors as of currently. I believe that you will agree with my statement as a reader as well.
- I have heard that your book titled ‘The ‘Genco’ Battulga I Know’ published in Mongolian in 2015 will soon be published by Penguin Books. Continually operating since the 1800s up till now, I read that this company sells 800 million books annually. Could you tell us about how you got their attention?
- They are said to have 250 branches. A few years ago, the Singapore branch expanded to be in charge of the entirety of Asia. They found two of my books that I poorly translated on my own while they were searching for works written by Asian authors on Amazon. Because you can publish it straight from home, there are 24 million literary works on Amazon. And that’s how they contacted me. You could even say that it was by pure luck… It had already become a year as we constantly made contact with each other through email and did editing here and there. Although it was planned to be published in April this year, it got pushed back due to COVID-19. As of currently, it is planned to be published this October. I published that version of the book in Mongolian in very few numbers recently.
- I see that the book is being published in a name different from the name it was published in 5 years ago. Penguin reports that it is their first book about a president currently in office?
- Yes. However, you should not assume that the book got approved very easily just because it is their first book about a president in office. My book, ‘Sankara’, had no issues. But they told me that the permission for a book about a president is acquired by their headquarters in the US.
- You mentioned editing. What kind of changes are going to be made in the book?
- The editing process was quite complicated. It is first going to be published in English and then in Chinese. For instance, we took out the part where I had put in song lyrics of bands like Pink Floyd and The Police because official rights will also be required to be obtained from them. Furthermore, there are additional parts explaining some sections in several chapters that foreigners would not have properly understood.
Take “tamiin togoo” (means “hell’s cauldron” by word-for-word translation) for an example. However, they do not tell you exactly what to do. All they do is just mention the idea of editing, and the author decides what to do themselves.
- How was the agreement settled? You will take percentages of the sales, won’t you?
- As for royalties, I will be receiving 10 percent. The agreement is 9 pages long. The fact that I have to contact them if I want to publish it in countries other than Mongolia, the conditions for the ebook and audiobook, and the special set of conditions if the book is about to be translated into any other languages aside from English and Chinese—a lot is covered in the agreement. It even says that the agreement is globally valid at the end.
- So when will ‘Sankara’ be published?
- The book will be published in the second half of next year. I assume that a lot of work has to be done once again.
- By the way, I heard that you changed your name?
- You know how authors have pen names. My books will be published under the name Turu Khan. It is a name that was suggested by them as both my email and Facebook go by that. But it is true that almost no one would easily be able to remember the name Turmunkh Dorjkhand. And it is the same for many other authors as well. Mark Twain, Stephen King, George Sand—there are many famous authors that have pen names.
- Alongside this, what else have you been working on? And while we are on the topic, how often do you read books?
- I finished working on two movie scripts, but I do not wish to reveal any more than that. I often think about the quote by the Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, “Cinema is an unhappy art as it depends on money.” I will talk about it once the financing is solved.
As for reading, it would be a lie if I told you that I spend all day reading books. I mostly read works that would help with what I am writing about. Strangely enough, I somehow keep on buying a lot of books.
- It seems to me that you work on a lot of projects at the same time. To put it bluntly, as if you could not sit still...
- I am sure you know the quote by B.Rinchen, “Life is awfully short for creating many works, and awfully long to live in the midst of those that are ignorant.”
- When I read your novel, ‘Sankara’, you seemed to see everything in a positive light despite going through hardships that are too heavy for one to carry alone. Someone that is quite different from mass society. And in a sense, a person ahead of their time, too. The film you made, ‘State of Dogs’, received 23 awards from international film festivals, while there has yet to be a new film that has won two or three, let alone 23. Now, the book you wrote has gotten the attention of one of the world’s leading publishing companies and put on the global level. What is coming next in your plans?
- I have now indeed set foot the great world of global books. But I do not know how well it will sell. We do not know whether this world of people will give mind to this “airhead”. I am currently working on two new novels. If my two books published by Penguin do well in sales, it is most likely that the next novels would be in demand. I go by the Buddhist view of paying no mind to the past because it is already behind us, and paying no mind to the future either as it has yet to arrive. It is impossible to guess what the future holds, so the only correct option is to just spend today by being productive, which makes you become busy everyday. One cannot live in neither past nor the future, and only in the present. Most arguments are caused by past events, too… It always starts off with, “Didn’t you do that back then?”
- Would it be possible to completely stop writing because of no inspiration? How do you see trance-like inspiration in general?
- I believe in the existence of trance-like inspiration. Rather than motivation, it seems to be the surfacing of our hidden conscience. We get this particular rush of feeling after reading a great book, watching a wonderful movie, and meeting a fantastic person. The information kept in our hidden conscience seems to be “revived” once a certain set of conditions are met. On top of all this, I become very happy when writing. In a way, I just might be writing in order to be in that state of happiness. Preaching about how happiness is impossible without money and fortune, the capitalist world we currently live in brings a lot of obstacles. Although money is not happiness, it is truly impossible for one to be happy without any money in their pockets.
But in the end, the money we finally earned through hardship is only spent on our hobbies. Those whose hobby is drinking spend it on alcohol, those whose interest is cars spend it on cars, those that like clothes spend it on clothes, those that like women spend it on women… and so on. Thus in my opinion, it is the best to earn money through our hobbies, buy our favorite things with the money and share it with our loved ones. Several years ago, I realized that I should live just like how author G.Ayurzana lives his life. Earning money through my favorite task. Spending it on my significant other and children. The world is a big place. Starting from the band, ‘The Hu’, our people have begun to make their names known to the world. Destiny is in our hands. When you keep going down a certain path for a long time, a “bonus” is sure to come your way.
- Are you still in contact with President Kh.Battulga? How has he changed after becoming the president? There are common cases of people becoming entirely different after being put in a place of power.
- Although the times we meet up have become fewer, we are still the same. I do not know what more to say now that I have talked about him over the course of an entire book.
I have now re-published my book in the same version that is published by Penguin. To publish it in Mongolian script, I also hired someone named Ud Altangerel that lives in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, PRC. From the Russian wife that everyone is interested in to the presidential election that took place 3 years ago and what he is currently doing now—a lot of additional details that the public do not know have been added to the book. On top of all this, the railway project that was mentioned with the motto, ‘One soldier, One nation’ in the book is now nearing its completion, too. But he does not tell others about this. I suppose this is what one would call “silent talking”.
However, all these are merely my point of view and only the information I know. And that is why I had originally named the book, ‘The Battulga I Know’.