• Bulgarian improv

    10 May 2019

    I recently received a lovely email from a fan of my Darren Dash books for adults, which put a big smile on my face. The fan is called Tatyana, and she lives in Bulgaria, where Sunburn -- the book in question -- is set. Here's what Tatyana had to say about it, and I'll tell you afterwards why I grinned so broadly!


    "I just finished reading Sunburn (it took me awhile to accept and give a chance to your Not-Darren-Shan-or-Mr-Crepsley-Saga books). I will be as quick as possible - you nailed Bulgarian nature and sights. I wouldn't comment on the people because I've heard stories and am willing to believe some are as you have described. I can't find the words to tell you how excited I was while reading a story in English that was situated in my country - the familiarity really hits at the right spot. The book is fascinating and it brought your 'Darren' magical world upon our Bulgarian reality - though while reading the story, I didn't find it magical at all but horrific! (I told my parents and they got interested and excited by the story. They made me retell it to them in Bulgarian! - well, I skipped some disturbing details) I'll stop here - don't want to take too much of your time. I thought you might find the Bulgarian perspective (more of a quick comment) of the book interesting - or rather I don't think others would see and appreciate the background check you've done, the accuracy... as we would. So thank you for the amazing experience!"


    I've heard from a couple of other Bulgarian fans who said the same thing that Tatyana said, about the book accurately capturing Bulgaria, and the smile I smiled was a smile of huge relief -- because I've never been to Bulgaria!!!


    Generally speaking, I don't do a lot of research for my books, as the majority are either set nowhere specific at no exact time (like Cirque Du Freak), or somewhere that I know extremely well (like Zom-B, where I used London landmarks that I was deeply familiar with). There are a few exceptions -- Bec was one of them, because it was set in Ireland at a very clear time in the past, so I wanted it to be as historically spot-on as possible, which meant digging into the past -- and Sunburn is one of those few. I could have set it somewhere vague, but felt that the story called for real locations. I toyed around with various countries, settling in the end on Bulgaria because of its landscape. The only fly in the ointment was, as I said above, I'd never been there.


    Originally I planned to go on a trip to study the landscape, the towns and cities, the villages, the people, and of course the mountains and forests. But then I started using the internet to do some research, and was amazed by just how much I was able to learn about the place online. I still meant to go on an actual visit to the country, but as I kept on surfing the web, it became something of a challenge for me inside my head, and on the spur of the moment I decided to see if it was possible to use only the resources of the internet to build up what would hopefully be an accurate representation of the Bulgarian countryside, living quarters, and its people.


    It was a gamble, one that could have misfired spectacularly, but based on the feedback I've had so far, from Tatyana and other fans like her, I seem to have pulled it off. Hence the smile. Phew!!!! :-)


    If you'd like to learn more about Sunburn and my other Darren Dash books for adults, visit http://www.darrendashbooks.com



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