Last September, I took tremendous pleasure reviewing the insightful book Volodymyr Zelensky in His Own Words (Pegasus Books)by Lisa Rogak and Daisy Gibbons. Despite a hectic schedule, notably due to the deadline of an upcoming book, author Lisa Rogak was generous enough to answer a few questions for this blog. Here is the content of our exchange.
Ms. Rogak, where did the idea of your book about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyoriginate from?
After the invasion of Ukraine, I started digging into his background. I was curious about this guy who seemed to be a natural-born leader. The more I dug, the more impressed I was. And he was funny! Who knew? I’ve done a slew of these quote books, so I put together a proposal for one on VZ. My agent said I needed a translator to dig for interviews and articles in his native Ukraine. I found Daisy Gibbons, who lives in London, and we quickly found a publisher, Pegasus Books.
What guided your choices, in relation with the quotes you included in the book?
My number one aim in choosing quotes is: Will this help the reader get a clearer sense of who this guy is? I also like to find quotes that surprise the reader, and VZ was filled with them.
What was your opinion of Volodymyr Zelensky at the beginning and did it evolve during the preparation of the book?
I admired him greatly before the book, which only grew during our research.
While preparing the book, what impressed you the most about President Zelensky?
That he is a real leader, one we haven’t seen in decades. I only wish that Ukrainians could run for president of the US…
Is there a quote not included in the book that you might want to share exclusively with our readers?
No. I always aim for 300 quotes and tend to fall short. So, if it doesn’t fit my criteria, I don’t choose it.
Volodymyr Zelensky is often compared to Winston Churchill. What do you make of this comparison, and do you think his communication style has something to do with it?
I’m not familiar with any of Churchill’s speeches aside from watching The Crown ;-). He’s a real guy, no pretenses. He’s not a politician, which is very refreshing.
How would you compare President Zelensky with other world leaders?
I tend to tune out world leaders because they’re a bunch of blowhards, saying nothing of substance, they mostly want to placate their political donors. So, there’s no comparison.
If the publishing house gave you carte blanche, which famous figure would you write about?
Great question. I have no idea.
Do you have another book on the writing table and, if so, are you at liberty of telling us what it will be about?
I just finished a book about four women who worked for the OSS during World War Two. They created propaganda aimed at enemy military and civilian populations in both the European and Asian theaters. That should be out in 2024. I’m currently ghostwriting a memoir for a quirky YouTube star which should also be out in 2024. The two projects are polar opposites.
If you permit, I would really to know your opinion about the publication of Prince Harry’s memoirs, Spare?
I’ve watched portions of his interviews. There is such a thing as overkill; he doesn’t need that much publicity in order to sell books.
Thank you very much, Ms. Rogak. I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing your upcoming book about the women of the OSS.