Today we talk about Legend of the white eagles, a book by Hristo Santulov published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author Hristo Santulov to get to know him better, the most important themes in his novel Legend of the white eagles, as well as how he describes his writing style.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- What are the most important themes in your novel?
In this story, four legends are intertwined, dedicated to pure love. For me, it is the greatest thing in life. I will not agree with those who claim that it is some illusion or a most rare momentary experience. Our world is graced with innumerable examples of love lasting until parted by death. Everyone can find them among different peoples and cultures. In my story, such love is found in Bulgaria, Morocco and Lebanon, but the legends also show it in Ireland and Greece. The pleasure of exploring love in different cultures is indescribably beautiful to me so I have tried to convey this in my novel. Love has always been the most powerful motivator in human life. Shared or unshared, fleeting or lasting to the very end, it is always the value foundation on which we build our relationships with other people. True love is sacrificial. Slavin overcomes all obstacles and dangers to his life with the thought of his beloved Anife. The meeting between Slavin and the mythological Lebanese master Aurant reveals the meaning of mutual aid. There is a saying in Bulgaria: “Do a good thing and throw it into the sea”. The story line is intertwined with historical, cultural and religious prejudices. I’ve always been excited about tolerance. As my protagonist Slavin, I ask myself, why is it so difficult to allow two young people to be happy together? A possible answer – because no one dares to destroy this huge pyramid of prejudice. Every attempt in history has been severely punished. Prejudices are often manipulated and given a fanatical dimension. This motivates Anife’s bigoted brother to push the two lovers off the high Rhodope cliff. Fanaticism is the negation of reason.
- What is your message to the readers?
I do not dare teach anyone. My philosophical education prompts me to reflect on human values. I remember a passage from the Gospel, when ten lepers fall at the feet of Jesus Christ and ask him to cleanse them. And He does. After a while one of them returns to thank him with faith and love. Then Jesus Christ asks him: “Weren’t there ten of you?”. My main message to my readers is that true love exists, that everything is love. Again and again we are obliged to search for it, to care about it with kindness and tolerance, not with hatred or envy, with prejudice or fanaticism. We are all creations of love. And as long as it exists between us, the world will. I am driven by the desire to offer at least a little help for the adolescents in their building a virtuous value system and a relationship of true love, which they await with such trepidation, as the highest goal of all. I’m sure it will affect their entire lives. In a message to children, I say that they will find their heroes in fairy tales. And because I am certain of this, there is no violence or revenge in my stories. This is my inner conviction and I give it to my characters. I know that for some, the lack of violence and cruelty in fairy tales can render them uninteresting, but this does not deter me from my intention to offer children stories of kindness and love. That is why in the story “Legend of the White Eagles” every manifestation of hatred and cruelty gives rise to its opposite. Even when Yusuf pushes Slavin and Anife off the cliff, the good nymph of the lake transforms them into two huge white eagles that carry the legend of love on their wings into the future. Finally, I would like to address the readers with the words: Please, let us never forget that whatever misfortunes befall us, each of us, or entire nations as in the case with the currently raging aggressive war between two Slavic and Christian peoples; even the whole world, the way out is the true love. It is the all-conquering weapon given to us by God. Hate has never been a solution.
- How would you describe your writing style?
I am not able to place myself in a writing tradition or style, I just give a voice to my ideas. Once upon a time, as a philosophy student, I also completed a second major in Bulgarian philology. As a philosophy teacher, I took the path to scientific growth writing ten books, many scientific and biblicistic articles, reports among other works. I wrote and defended two PhDs. This took me a long time. Now here I will say that I come from a poor illiterate family. I grew up without a childhood because no one ever read or told me fairy tales. Therefore, when I meet children, I tell them that there is no childhood without stories. I want to say that this huge gap has always made me feel lonely, which is why to this day I remain an independent old Bulgarian at 83. I’m going to reveal a secret. The lack of a fairy-tale childhood probably gave rise to the irresistible desire in me to write fairy-tale prose. I didn’t have time to read and reread reams of fiction for obvious reasons. Science was brutally displacing artistic creativity. And suddenly I had a dream, an incredible opportunity to start writing about what I had dreamed of all my life – completely spontaneously and with great pleasure. My academic research in the field of cognitive theory undoubtedly helps me in researching and structuring events in a fictional narrative. Despite the influence of the scientific style, my goal has always been to build my own pictorial-emotional world in artistic presentation of sights and events. And I’d like to believe that maybe I’m succeeding, since the artist of the illustrations in this book refused to illustrate another of my texts on the grounds that it affected her so much that she couldn’t recreate it. About this novel, she said that the dynamics and completeness of the images inspired her. I dare say that she managed to make wonderful and soulful illustrations. So, my daughter claims that she would recognize my text among many others, which I believe, since she is a professional literary connoisseur and translator. Many readers and parents of children who have come across my stories say that the pictorial descriptions made an impression on children who usually do not pay attention to them in fairy-tale texts. All this gives me the hope and joy that somehow, I manage to touch the minds and feelings of the readers, as well as excite their imagination.
- How did you feel when you saw the book published?
I don’t know how readers from Western Europe imagine socialism and communism, but I have lived in Bulgaria for exactly 45 years under a regime of closed doors and iron curtain. Intelligence was “controlled” by overt and covert means. I will give an example. When I founded the academic publishing house “Idea” after 1989, many of my former teachers and colleagues called me and offered their valuable threads, which were not published most often for ideological reasons. Back then, no one was allowed to speak in public without prior vetting and censorship of the authorities. I mention this example to assure the readers that I feel very happy about the attention that the European publishing house has shown to my book. And this is the very truth, and I do not say it out of courtesy, but with respect and esteem. I have rarely felt so strongly before that I already live in an open world. So, when I saw my first book published in New York, and now this one in London, I felt like a lucky person who got the opportunity to communicate with the world.
- Are you working on your next project?
In the last three years, both I and everyone around me, are amazed by my productivity at this age. I think God gives life as much as it takes to make one happy. I have already published six books, two of which were translated abroad. Now four tales for children aged 5 to 8 are being translated. The collection contains my short fairy-tale autobiography entitled “The Boy and the King Beetle”. Currently, the Bulgarian texts of four fairytale novels are being edited: “The Immortality of Mortals”; “Tears of Marble”; “The Blade of the Pirin Mountain”; “The White Shadow”; There are also several illustrated fairy tales that have not yet been published. I want to assure your public that with great pleasure and gratitude we will respond to any recommendations and questions. It will be a real joy to feel connectedness with readers from many countries and we sincerely hope that the readers will feel our soulfulness. We wish them from the bottom of our hearts to enjoy the most wonderful feeling of fabulousness and beauty.
Europe Books thanks the author Hristo Santulov once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside him on the editorial path that led to the publication of his book Legend of the white eagles. We wish him the best of luck for his book and for his future works.
To you, my dear reader, may this book let you reflect on the author’s main message on the existence of true love, which we must take care of without forgetting that the real way out of anything bad and dangerous is true love, indeed!
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy your reading!