As you might have read several times here at Read What I Like and/or my Facebook page that my husband, Selatin Softa, wrote a book. His first novel Crack in the Curtain, a historical fiction set in 1980s Bulgaria during the Name Change Campaign, the forced assimilation of the ethnic Turks of the country. His story centers around the young Osman, a Bulgarian Turk, as he falls in love with Leyla and one fateful night defending his love is forced to flee the country to save his life. Being that Selatin is a new author I thought it would be nice for you all to get a chance to know him better. You can find his website over at, www.selatinsofta.com, where he is starting up his own blog and you can find more information about his book. If you wish to purchase a copy of his book I have included the links below the cover art.
What inspired you to write your first book?
There are many things which inspired me to write. First this year is 30 years anniversary of the start of the name change campaign against Turks living in Bulgaria. I thought that the story of Turks of Bulgaria would be interesting for the American and world public to know and learn from. Also when I was in the high school I dreamed of becoming writer.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, I was fascinated by the story and impact which it had on the reading public. I thought that I can write about the suffering of the Turks of Bulgaria during and after the name change campaign.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
To convey emotion in English which is my second language.
What books or authors have most influenced you?
Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, The kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Orhan Pamuk, Jack Canfield, Jack London, John Stainbeck, Deepak Chopra
What book are you reading now?
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Not yet maybe in the future.
Name one entity or tool that you feel supported or helped you the most while writing this book?
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that you need to know a lot in order to write a book. It is very difficult process.
How did you come up with the title?
I somehow come across Leonard Cohen’s text of song Anthem. In this text Cohen says that there is crack in everything, then I thought there were cracks in the Iron Curtain. That is how I come up with the name Crack in the Curtain.
Who designed the cover, tell us about the picture?
The cover was designed by my wife Amy Softa. I took the picture of the fence with barbed wire, which is part of the former Iron Curtain. I was riding my motorcycle six seven years after the collapse of communism in Bulgaria and the fence was right there next to the road then I thought this is so cool this is part of the former Iron Curtain. This is part of our history it should be preserved in picture. I stopped my bike and snapped the picture.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write the book you want to read yourself.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The importance of the freedom and democracy in the life of average human. These are universal values. All the time when I was writing I kept in mind how prophetic was the writing of George Orwel’s 1984. Many things which happen in his dystopian society of 1984 become reality for socialist Bulgaria of 1984, some examples Party watched what people did everywhere, Party controlled everything in Bulgaria including people history and language, speaking Turkish language was forbidden everywhere if you are caught speaking Turkish you had to pay hefty fine if you persist you end up in the dungeons of the local police where group of masked police officers administer the most vicious beating you can imagine. If they decide that they can’t change you and you survive the beating then you end up in Belene concentration camp.
How much of the book is realistic? Any of it based on your own life?
All characters are made up but the events of the name change campaign are real. I attempted to capture the thinking motivation and emotion of the people who went through these events. There is an element from the lives of my own family in Bulgaria it was inevitable not to include their experiences and emotions since we were so close.
What was it like growing up in Bulgaria?
The school years were not bad. It was nice to be with my family.
What was life-like for you personally during the Name Change Campaign?
Literally very depressing. No one was happy even the people who initiated this campaign.
What are your thoughts on the country today?
I think the country is moving in the right direction but very slow.
What are your feelings and thoughts towards the Bulgarian people and the current government?
I have no bad feeling towards the Bulgarian people and the current government. This campaign was not initiated by the Bulgarian people it was initiated by the Communist Party’s leadership. I always will remember our Bulgarian neighbors as great people.
Do you plan to continue writing?
Yes next I would like to write a thriller.