– Let me first congratulate you on your 75th jubilee. Looking back from this high peak, what is your recapitulation on the past and the experience you gained along the way?
Thank you…I haven’t even completed a half of what I would have liked to accomplish. This, of course, doesn’t mean that I’m going to live that much longer.
– How did you begin your literary work? Which and what kind were your first printed writings? And are you fond of them now?

– Just like every naive youth I started with poetry. My first poems were published in the high school magazine “Rodna Rech” when I was 15, and the next year – my first story in “Ruchey” Magazine, which received a positive review from Anton Strashimirov in “Vedrina” Magazine (1928). All these works, honestly speaking, were quite naive.

– During the WWII you were working in Greece and Czechoslovakia. How did you become anti-fascist?
Both of my grandfathers were progressive people, freedom fighters. My mother’s father – Georgi Minchev has worked with Levski and was an exile in Diarbekir. My mother was a socialist. At home, I was raised in an atmosphere renouncing any tyranny. Later when I went to Greece, not as a diplomat but as a clerk at the Bulgarian Embassy – I was preparing for a competition at the University – the position was a lecturer in Old Bulgarian literature. I had to study Greek language and I got connected with some progressive young people, among which was Kostas Varnalis.

– You saved Kostas Varnalis’ life. How did that happen?
– The rescue of Varnalis is quite a long story for a short interview…
– What about Czechoslovakia?
– I was helping Bulgarian students, participating in the anti-fascist movement…
– You are among the founders of the Satiric Theatre?
– I became a playwright together with the poet Veselin Hanchev during the inauguration of the Satiric Theatre. Its director back then was Stefan Sarchadjiev. Later I transferred to “Plamak” (Flame) Magazine where I worked 8 more years. After that I was a deputy editor-in-chief of “Obzor” Magazine.
– A few people know that V. Diavatov is a pseudonym of St. Gechev. Why did you choose it and what works have you published under this name?
I picked this pseudonym in memory of a very close friend of mine, a Greek poet who passed away tragically. I have printed two story collections with a nickname, as well as three other criminal novels – “The Traitor and the Girl” (in collaboration with K. Kiuliumov), “The Man with the Cigarette Boxes” and “Thieves of Madonas” in collaboration with Milan Milanov.
– Is it hard to collaborate with another writer?
– When ideas and conceptions coincide, working with a co-author can be very beneficial. From our co-operation with Kostadin Kiuliumov (as well as others) I have very pleasant memories. With Kiuliumov I had the opportunity to explore the Pirin Mountains region which I got to relish and later I have been joyfully returning to Blagoevgrad, Sandanski and Melnik. I have some sincere friends in Blagoevgrad and Sandanski whose success in literature makes me really glad.
– What is the place of the Bulgarian literature in the constant immense global literary dialogue, in your opinion?
– A number of talented writers are actively participating in it here, which I think is a prerequisite for the creation of good literature. We already have some noteworthy achievements especially in the fiction genre. Certain poets as well are on a pretty good contemporary level.
– Can you describe your working day?
– I work as long as I enjoy it. After that I would take a walk, sometimes I cook (my favorite dish is kapama ala Bansko). I often read – scientific literature mostly (physics, astronomy, biology). Of course, fiction as well, but mainly poetry.
– What would you rather not do?
– A compromise with my understanding of art, which I could generally put together like that: if beauty can’t save the world, at least let’s try saving the beauty.
– What would you wish the readers of “Pirinsko Delo” Newspaper?
– Be fond of literature and always speak you mind regardless of the author’s name. Show courage and sincerity like you almost always have, and not only towards literature but in all aspects of life…We need more brave and honest people.

“Pirinsko Delo” Newspaper, № 26, 1 February, 1987
Host: Pancho Panev