Saturday, July 8, 2017

How Did an American-born Israeli Happen to Write a Novel in Bulgarian?

One year ago, my novel The Burgas Affair was published with all the requisite fanfare of an official book launch. At a gathering in a large book store, I was presented to the public by the publisher. My editor introduced me with a short question and answer session. I met with eager readers and autographed copies of my book. My dream of becoming a published author had come true!

There’s something strange about this picture. Everything I just mentioned took place in Sofia, Bulgaria. My novel was published in the Bulgarian language, presented to the public by Ciela, the leading Bulgarian publishing house. My editor spoke to the public in Bulgarian, but my answers were in English. That is because I wrote the book in English but don’t speak Bulgarian. And the most surprising thing is that my book has yet to be published in English!

How did an American-born Israeli happen to write a novel published in Bulgarian?

First, a few words about the book.

The Burgas Affair (published in its Bulgarian edition as БYPГАСКАТА АФЕРА) is a fictional account of the aftermath of the terrorist attack at the airport in Burgas, Bulgaria, in July 2012. In the book, a Bulgarian policeman is teamed up with an Israeli woman from the Mossad as they work a case involving international terrorists and local criminals in both Bulgaria and Israel, while confronting the traumas of their pasts.

The good news to readers who don’t speak Bulgarian is that the book will soon be published in English!

A short, personal introduction. I was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and moved to Israel with my family as a teenager. I finished high school in Jerusalem, served for three years in the Israeli army, was a founding member of a kibbutz, and now live in a small community in the hills outside Jerusalem. All my life I’ve dreamed of becoming an author. In 2003, I published The Virtual Kibbutz, a short story collection. I had taken the first step on my literary journey!

So, what is my connection to Bulgaria?

In 2009, my job in online marketing was relocated to Sofia on a two-year contract. During the two years that my wife and I lived in Bulgaria, we traveled extensively around the country. We learned about Bulgaria’s history; we experienced its culture and traditions; we tasted Bulgarian food. We made many friends but we never learned to speak Bulgarian!

After coming back to Israel at the beginning of 2011, I realized that I missed living in Sofia. I was able to reconnect with Bulgaria through my writing. My article in The Huffington Post, "10 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know About Bulgaria," went viral in Bulgaria and was translated into that language a number of times.

In January 2013, I self-published Valley of Thracians, a suspense story involving the disappearance of an American Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria.

Alongside marketing that book, I began writing my new novel. After the manuscript of The Burgas Affair was ready, I queried literary agents and managed to sign one to represent my book. In parallel, I took advantage of my friends and contacts in Bulgaria to establish a connection with the Bulgarian publisher. A book contract was signed, which led to the translation of the novel and its publication in Sofia last year.

Now, a year later, I am working hard on the final edits of The Burgas Affair. I have worked with an excellent freelance editor and a professional graphic designer has prepared the book cover. In the coming weeks, The Burgas Affair will be self-published in its original English.

Readers in Bulgaria are already familiar with my writing. I look forward to presenting The Burgas Affair to English readers as well. The next stage of my literary journey will soon begin!

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