Welcome to the first Author Wednesday of 2014. Since I began this feature in March 2013, I’ve been introduced to some amazing authors and books for all around the world. Today I welcome Bulgarian writer Ivinela Samuilova, author of Life Can Be a Miracle, an inspirational novel. Another author, Leila Summers, served editor for this interview. Here’s a blurb sent to me about Life Can Be a Miracle: “This book is for anyone who refuses to live their life as if it is something ordinary, a meaningless coincidence of circumstances. It is for those who, despite the circumstances, continue to seek and discover the miracle of life.”
Welcome to Author Wednesday, Ivinela. I love the description of your book, which leads me to wonder about the theme of Life Can be a Miracle. What messages or themes are you trying to convey to your readers?
Most of our limits are created by following social stereotypes. We are taught to think deficiently, not resourcefully. We believe that happiness is an outside subject that should be persuaded as if it is a criminal or a game. We perceive the world as an outer reality, alien and hostage. We think the norm of living is struggling and fighting. Well, that’s not a good philosophy to live by. There is another way of living and this is what I write for. The message of my book could be summarized by Einstein’s quote, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Life Can Be a Miracle shows how we can achieve the latter.
I love the quote and the description of the choice we all have. Do all your books have a common theme or thread? Explain.
It would be a great pity if life was really just ‘an ordinary’ experience, a struggle and joyless. Or, if it was limited to satisfying consumeristic needs and achieving short-term goals. I believe that the universe has much more meaning and much more to offer. I also believe that we are unique creatures with great potential. We are called to constantly overcome our own limitations and social boundaries so we could live our lives as if everything in it is a miracle in its essence. All my books are written within this context. They aim to debunk the harmful myths that make us deficient, dependent and petty and to help change our mindset to a more resourceful one. We can create the miracle of life on a daily basis.
Do you have a favorite character that you created? Who is it and why is it your favorite?
In my novel there are only two named characters – Adie and Alexey. All the other characters appear only to help those two reveal to the fullest. Adie represents those of us who at some point feel lost in life because we have exchanged our authenticity for learned social roles. So, she is a collective image of the lost miracle of life. Adie realized that, dragged along by her fears, beliefs and prejudices, she had replaced her true identity with a personality scattered about in different roles. She believes that only by finding her vocation, will she be able to make sense of her existence and once again restore the integrity of her personality. Cue her meeting with the extraordinary psychologist Alexey, who helps her to look at herself and her life from a point of view she would probably never otherwise have.
Alexey’s protagonist is a real person, a very interesting and unconventional psychologist who I met in 2008. At the time, he worked as a psychologist in the Ministry of Defence in Bulgaria. I became intrigued by his personality and the manner he worked with people seeking his help. So, I started documenting what he did and at the end of 2009, I wrote Life Can Be a Miracle, convincing Alexey to keep his real name in my novel because I wanted people to learn about him and his unusual approach to reality.
What other type of research did you do in the writing Life Can Be a Miracle?
For about a year I was attending seminars for students on psychology and working psychologists run by Alexey and I took notes on his work. I have also read some books on quantum psychology, as well as Carlos Castaneda’s works and the books of two Russian game-therapy psychologists.
You mention Adie as the counter to Alexey. Is she the protagonist and did you enjoy creating this character?
There is not an obvious antagonist in the novel. The antagonist is hidden in Adie – this is that fake personality she allows to take the place of her authentic self. The conflict is internal, the antagonist is the ego that is nourishing itself with the junk food of contemporary society: fears, myths of great life, dependence, etc. It was a great experience to discover and reveal this internal antagonist as I had to look deep inside myself too.
Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in Life Can Be a Miracle.
Alexey’s unusual lessons, which start with a tiny piece of blue cheese and an over-sized fork. Adie first meets Alexey “accidentally” at one of his seminars. As soon as an opportunity arises, she asks him the question that bothers her so much: What can she do to find the purpose in her life? Instead of giving her wise and logical advice, as expected, Alexey offers a strange therapeutic suggestion. Adie is desperate enough to try even nonsense in order to make sense of her life. So, later, in secrecy, she performs her first “foolery,” and suddenly, behind the silly amusement of doing so, she discovers the hidden principle in Alexey’s unconventional approach to problems. If we change our grave attitude toward reality, our reality starts changing too. When the main ego’s attribute – seriousness, is blasted from within with humor and ridiculous actions, we tear down the barriers that we have built inside and become more flexible. We start thinking resourcefully instead of deficiently. We are now able to replace the learned non-working models with authentic living of full value.
What else do you want readers to know about your book?
The book is different from positive psychology and new age books. Alexey’s approach offers a radical way to get out of the problematic thinking through absurd and humorous techniques that could be applied immediately in life in a very creative way that fits the specific needs of a situation.
Thank you so much for stopping by today, Ivinela. I find your ideas intriguing and love how you’ve woven them into the form of a novel. My best to you. Come back when your next book is ready for publication.
About Ivinela Samuilova: Bulgarian author, Ivinela Samuilova, has an MA in Theology and a strong interest in the inner world of human beings. Ivinela’s books are best sellers in Bulgaria where she is considered to be an influential, original and spirited new voice. Ivinela’s debut novel ‘Life Can Be a Miracle’ was translated and released in English as an e-book in 2013.
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