Bringing an Idea to Life: Interview with Author Kugu Soykan

Kugu Soykan is the author of Divided in Land & Together in Heart: A Tale of Cyprus. Kugu was born in Cyprus, and has been living in the United States since the age of two. 

How long have you been writing and what inspired you to begin? 

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. With many activities, you aren’t able to make something new, like in writing. I can make up stories as I please, or share my perspective with the world. This is what appealed to me about writing and inspired me to put my thoughts to paper. 

Tell us more about your book. Why did you write it? 

Divided in Land & Together in Heart: A Tale of Cyprus, is historical fiction, meaning the specific events in the book, like the characters’ names and the concert, may not have taken place, but the setting and events of the time period are true. I grew up with the Cypriot culture and stories from my parents, grandparents, and family, about peace and togetherness, which inspired me to write this book and share the message of peace amongst all people. For example, in the beginning of the book, when a bullet goes through the window and into the mattress, Cipriana and her family escape with the help of their neighbor. This is inspired by the true story of what happened to my grandma, father, uncle, and aunt during the war. 

What advice would you give to a writer working on their first story? 

I would ask them why they are writing the story, what change they would like to see in society, and how their story can help. After you find your cause and passion, I think it’s very easy to write your first story. All of your characters and plot can come to life, the only thing left is to write it. 

What comes first for you - the plot or the characters - and why? 

For me, it depends on what kind of book I am writing, and what message I would like to give. Although, I think it would be hard to write a good character without a good plot, because the plot is what shapes the character’s emotions, lifestyle, and look on their surroundings. 

What are the easiest/most difficult parts of the writing process for you? 

The easiest parts of writing for me is to gather inspiration, create characters, and form storylines. I am always so inspired by the events going on in the present, past, and how they will affect the future and want to share my perspective with the world. The most difficult part of writing for me is to choose a story to continue with, because I would like to write out each one of my ideas. Even so, when I get the right story, I just know to continue with it. 

Are there authors that you turn to for inspiration and mentoring?

I enjoy reading from a variety of authors and styles, but when it comes to inspiration for my own writing, I prefer to keep my own style. This allows me to separate my writing from others’ and share my message and perspective in the best way possible. 

What prompted you to write for Storyshares? 

I have always had an interest in human rights, more specifically children’s rights. I am the founder and president of the UNICEF UNITE club at my school, where we advocate, fundraise, and community build for the world’s most vulnerable children. I found that Storyshares perfectly aligned with my mission, and my love for reading and writing. The idea that I could help spread the love of literature was very appealing to me, and I wanted to do everything I could to help! 

What is your preferred writing environment? 

As long as I have strong inspiration and an idea of where I am going with my writing, I’ll block out everything around me to concentrate. Because of this, I could write anywhere and anytime. 

Do you have a standard routine when it comes to approaching writing? 

Before I start to write, I like to create a map of what happens in the plot, with possible alternatives. I also spend time imagining each character, how they would react to things in my daily life, what they would be like, and make sure that each character is fully crafted for me to begin writing. I usually start from the beginning of a story and make my way through it. I don’t like to skip around, because it makes me feel as though my writing is disconnected. 

What tips do you have for overcoming and dealing with writer’s block? 

I would advise to not try to write and push out any ideas, because you wouldn’t want your writing to be insincere and forced. Most times, after taking one or two days off, you will find yourself wanting to write again! 

Where do your ideas come from? 

My ideas all come from my perspective on events in our modern world. I like to share my perspective and important messages about human rights, children rights, peace, animal rights, and more with short stories and novels. I am also inspired by the possibility for all of us to make ripples of positive change, no matter what condition we are in. 

What other projects are you working on? 

I currently have one other short story published, "The Women with the Large Coat," about a young girl who travels the world with a spy, learning about new cultures. All of the profit from that book will be donated to Doctors Without Borders, an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organization known for its projects in over 70 countries. I would also advise you to look out for some new projects, as they are currently underway!

Read Divided in Land & Together in Heart: A Tale of Cyprus today!