Australian writer Susan Mimram chooses Bulgaria for the plot of her latest work, Someone’s Listening. After spending some time in Bulgaria and discovering our rich history and culture, Susan wrote the story of a little girl and her family who face the harsh reality during the totalitarian regime in Bulgaria. Strongly influenced by the Bulgarian potential, Susan joined the IBA.Bulgaria community and supported the mission of the Alliance. The Australian author reveals exclusively for Elysium more about the writing of her novel and the story that connects her to Bulgaria.

1) What was the beginning of your personal story with Bulgaria?

A work colleague of mine was from Bulgaria and we often shared stories about our childhood. I had grown up in New Zealand and she – in Sofia. I became fascinated about Bulgarian history, as prior to meeting Lidia I knew nothing about her homeland.

2) Which was the approach to recreate the story of a Bulgarian woman and her life during those difficult times for the nation?

I felt it was best to follow the life of one woman’s journey growing up during the Communist regime and the hardship experienced for a family who did not following the Party lines. Also the consequences of forcible relocation, the loss of innocence and the struggle experienced as a refugee in adapting to life in a foreign land.

3) Where did you search for information about historical events and figures?

I was lucky enough to interview Jana Shopov who had grown up during this difficult era in Bulgaria’s history. Her family had been relocated and having escaped her homeland, she worked for Radio Free Europe and had found refugee status is Australia. The interview with her was invaluable. I also researched extensively through books, documentaries and the internet. Having written several drafts of the manuscript I travelled to Bulgaria with my friend Lidia Doncova-Macri where I was introduced to her friends. I was able to stay in her family’s village of Musomishta, which gave me an insight into village life.

4) What memory did Bulgaria leave on you? If you close your eyes and you hear me saying ‘’Bulgaria’’, what is the first thing that you see?

When I close my eyes and think of Bulgaria I see a simple life. I see hard working people. ‘Salt of the earth’ people who make the best of what they have. I’ve spent most of my time in Bulgaria in the village so I also see goats herded through a village street. I hear the bells around their necks. I see folks seated on donkey driven carts. I feel welcomed. I see beautifully stocked and tendered vegetable patches. I see churches not so ornate on the outside but inside, as in the people, there is a heart of gold.

5) Did you learn any Bulgarian words and expressions?

Words I learnt are Rakia, Martinesta, Otetz, Sirene
I also learnt that shaking your head from left to right means YES and nodding your head means NO.

If you want to know more about how Susan combines culture and business, read her interview at the blog on IBAconnect!