Please welcome Marija Bulatovic, debut author of the memoir, FANTASTICAL: Tales of Bears, Beer and Haemophilia. Born in Yugoslavia in the 1970s, Marija immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s just ahead of the 1990s Yugoslav wars and the breakup of the country. She’s an accomplished business professional with years of experience driving enterprise business with Fortune 500 companies, and a graduate from Colgate University. She currently lives in Seattle with her husband and son.
Welcome to Blogcritics, Marija! Tell us, what compelled you to write this memoir?
My inspiration for writing FANTASTICAL: Tales of Bears, Beer and Haemophilia was to provide amusement, lift spirits from the mundane set of activities and transport readers to another place and time, fantastical in my memory, that has vanished from the map but not the mind.
My goal was also to tell stories about 1980s Yugoslavia, this beautiful country and time that was magical and very special to those of us who had the opportunity to be touched by the richness of its people, culture, its Slavic soul that embraces melancholy with a twinkle in the eye.
What was the hardest part while writing it?
I really loved writing these stories and would wake up delighted every day to have an opportunity to share them with the broader audience.
The hardest part was entrusting this very personal work of passion to others to polish it and help me bring it forward. Many people are involved along the authoring process and finding quality experts to edit, illustrate, layout, publicize FANTASTICAL was the most challenging part.
I was very fortunate to identify very talented experts to help me bring FANTASTICAL to my readers.
What obstacles or fears must a memoir writer face? Any tips on how to overcome them?
I think the biggest concern is whether or not the audience will also find these personal stories and memories interesting and engaging, as does the author. Obviously, this is very personal and potent material for the author, but the goal is to make them personal and interesting to readers that generally have little or no connection to the time, space and characters described.
As for the tips, let people in your circle of friends and family occasionally read parts of your memoir and get their honest reaction. If they feel engaged, the rest of the audience will likely feel the same way. I used to like to ask: was reading this a good use of your time?
What makes a good memoir?
A good memoir is more than just recounting of the historical records. It’s a work of passion, part tribute, part love letter to a time, place and people that the author holds dear. At the same time, it can’t be narcissistic. Its charm is to bring all of those elements together and engage, involve, amuse and transport the reader into another world.
Do you also enjoy reading memoirs? If yes, would you recommend a few good titles?
Yes, I do enjoy reading memoirs and learning about other people’s lives and experiences. I really loved and delighted in Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie and Poehler’s Yes, Please.
How did you feel when you finished writing your story?
Elated that I’ve been able to pen something that I deeply believe others can enjoy and benefit from. My hope with FANTASTICAL has always been to provide a positive, good experience to my readers and take them on a wild journey of dancing bears, gypsies, black and white magic, outrageous gossip, with a healthy dose of dark humor.
I also hope that readers will get a sense of curiosity about another time, place and enjoy some of the cultural elements FANTASTICAL presents.
Finally, I wish for my readers to experience some of that Balkan stardust in their lives too and to believe that life is more than a sum of mundane activities, but it’s rich with love, connection and wonderment.
What advice would you give to aspiring memoir writers?
Just do it! Write your book, engage deeply with your project, commit to your work of passion and see what happens. Most likely, more good things will happen than if you don’t embark on the journey. And most importantly, Good Luck![amazon template=iframe image&asin=978-0990410614]