Born in Yugoslavia in the 1970s, Marija Bulatovic, along with her parents, immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s just ahead of the 1990s Yugoslav wars and the breakup of the country. An accomplished business professional with years of experience driving enterprise business with Fortune 500 companies, Bulatovic graduated from Colgate University. Marija Bulatovic lives in Seattle with her husband and son.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, FANTASTICAL: Tales of Bears, Beer and Haemophilia. What was your inspiration for it?
A: 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.
Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.
A: The protagonist in FANTASTICAL is me as a young child and the 13 stories describe episodes in my life in the 1980s Yugoslavia. It’s the world recounted from memory and seen through the eyes of a child. It’s filled with curiosity, typical misbehavior of children, and mystery of growing up.
Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?
A: The writing process was easy and enjoyable as all the stories in FANTASTICAL are personal to me. The writing itself took about a month, as I had a goal of writing a story a day for 25 days. The entire process of publishing FANTASTICAL took much longer-2 years.
While there were no real bumps along the way, there was a lot of learning, especially as I self-published FANTASTICAL. Self-publishing is enormously labor and time intensive, but also very rewarding and profitable, assuming one is able to make investments to get the book to the finish line.
Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting?
A: FANTASTICAL is a deeply personal work for me and I was just excited to be up every day and writing another story that I felt so deeply connected to. I was also excited about sharing these stories with the broader audience and sharing the magic of this bygone era with my readers.
Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?
A: I didn’t but I understand it’s very common.
Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?
A: Since I was so excited to pen my stories and share them with the broader audience, I had a personal goal of writing a story a day for 25 days. The actual writing took place during my baby’s naps while the house was quiet and there were no distractions.
However, most of the envisioning of FANTASTICAL came during night feedings, while I was nursing my baby.
Q: How do you define success?
A: I already feel that I’ve been successful with this book project-FANTASTICAL is published and available for readers to enjoy it. That is very satisfying and rewarding to me.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?
A: First, I’m sorry you are experiencing lack of support for something that is very important to you. While domestic harmony is important too, following one’s own professional path is important to one’s happiness and fulfillment which positively impact those around you. To foster this virtuous cycle, find out why your family is not supportive of you becoming an author. What in specific is the problem? Perhaps it’s just 1 or 2 assumptions which I’m sure you can work to clarify and move beyond. Good luck!
Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?
A: No, I had a very enjoyable and enriching process!
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
A: Thank you for your interest in FANTASTICAL and hope your readers and enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it!