Sometimes in my life it feels like truth is stranger than fiction and the things that happen couldn’t actually be made up! Today, I’m delighted to welcome Ellis Shuman to Linda’s Book Bag as his latest novel, The Burgas Affair, has both truth and fiction combined.
Published on 30th October 2017, The Burgas Affair is available for purchase from your local Amazon site.
The Burgas Affair
She’s an Israeli data analyst. He’s a headstrong Bulgarian detective. Together they must track down those responsible for a horrific bombing.
In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria, Israeli and Bulgarian intelligence agencies launch a joint investigation. Detective Boyko Stanchev on the police task force teams up with Ayala Navon, a young Israeli intelligence analyst on her first overseas assignment.
The two must establish whether the terrorists were assisted by a Bulgarian crime organization in laying the groundwork for the attack.
It should be a routine investigation, but shadows of the past keep interfering.
Boyko’s interactions with a crime boss pursuing a vendetta against him threaten to throw him off track. Ayala’s pursuit of the terrorists and their accomplices brings up painful memories of a family tragedy.
Boyko and Ayala form a shaky alliance, one that evolves into growing cooperation and affection as they desperately race against time to uncover who was behind the Burgas bombing.
An Interview with Ellis Shuman
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Ellis. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and The Burgas Affair in particular. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?
I describe myself as an American-born Israeli author who writes about Bulgaria. I was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and moved to Israel as a teenager with my family. I served in the Israeli army, was a founding member of a kibbutz, and raised a family in a community outside Jerusalem. I work in online marketing and for two years, my job was relocated to Sofia, Bulgaria (2009-2010). When I returned home to Israel, I fictionalized my impressions of Bulgaria and have written two suspense novels set in that amazing country.
When did you realise you were going to be a writer?
Growing up, my father was a journalist and he inspired me to tell stories. One of my earliest writing memories was when I went knocking on neighbours’ doors as a ten-year-old, asking each family what it was doing that summer. The result was a neighbourhood newsletter I published and sold for ten cents a copy.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
I enjoy writing, but I enjoy editing even more. I quickly write first drafts, but then I take my time editing them, filling out descriptions and making better word choices. I believe editing really brings one’s writing to life.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
The most difficult thing for me as a writer, is finding the time to write. I solved this by making early morning visits to a coffee shop. Before I go to work each day, I spend an hour writing. Uninterrupted with a cup of coffee next to my laptop. It’s a regular routine that I have been maintaining for years.
You’re from a mixed heritage background. How has this shaped you as a writer do you think?
I grew up with dreams of becoming an author. I have been writing stories, book reviews, travel reports, newspaper articles, blog posts, and much more all my life. I have made many attempts to write a novel but I could not find the perfect setting and unique voice to tell the story I wanted to tell. After my two-year stay in Bulgaria, I realized that I could use that location as the setting for my novels. This experience gave a direction to my writing as I wanted to share Bulgaria with readers.
You’ve worked in an eclectic range of professions. How have they added to your experience as a writer?
Although I’ve never been a detective, or a secret agent, I can picture in my mind what those professions must be like. Much of my writing, however, is based on my true life experiences. Many Bulgarians who have read my writing said that it accurately describes their country, and they are pleased because not many authors write about Bulgaria.
Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about The Burgas Affair?
A headstrong Bulgarian detective is teamed up with an Israeli data analyst on her first assignment overseas as part of a joint investigation to track down the terrorists responsible for a horrific bombing attack.
The Burgas Affair is based on real events. How did you go about researching detail and ensuring it was realistic?
Having lived in Bulgaria, I could easily picture the country and therefore I was able to describe it in the eyes of both a native-born Bulgarian and an Israeli woman seeing it for the first time. I had been to Burgas Airport, where the bombing took place. In addition to my first-hand experiences, I was able to get further information from my contacts and friends in Bulgaria. And finally, I followed media reports of the investigation. Some of the details, and the names of those involved, were fictionalized in my novel, but the terrorist attack was very real.
I know you’ve lived in Bulgaria. How far did this affect your decision about where to set The Burgas Affair?
My first novel, Valley of Thracians, was set entirely in Bulgaria. It is a thriller that tells the story of a Peace Corps volunteer who goes missing in the country. The story takes place in cities and towns I’ve visited and the Bulgarian culture I describe is what I experienced in the country. In my new novel, The Burgas Affair, I combined my love of Bulgaria with my love of Israel. I had been searching for ways to feature both of these countries in my writing. Unfortunately, the terror attack at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria gave me a way to make this happen. But on the other hand, in the aftermath of the attack I was able to achieve my goal.
Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions Ellis.
About Ellis Shuman
Ellis Shuman was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and immigrated to Israel as a teenager. He completed high school in Jerusalem and served for three years in the Israeli army’s Nahal branch. Along with his wife, Jodie, he was a founding member of Kibbutz Yahel in the Arava Valley in Israel’s south. On the kibbutz he worked in agriculture, industry, tourism, the dairy barn, and served as the kibbutz’s general secretary.
After moving with his wife and three young children to Moshav Neve Ilan in the Judean Hills, Ellis received formal training in the hotel industry. He worked in a variety of positions at the Neve Ilan Hotel and later was Food and Beverage Controller at the Jerusalem Hilton. He served as the moshav’s general secretary during a period in which the community underwent major social changes.
As a hobby, Ellis began writing on the Internet. He wrote extensively about life in Israel in his position as the Israeli Culture Guide at About.com. He designed and maintained websites for the Neve Ilan Hotel and for Indic—Independent Israeli Cinema. For two years he was webmaster for Yazam, an international financial firm that provided support for technological start-ups.
Ellis served for three years as Editor in Chief of Israel Insider, an online daily newsmagazine that developed new technologies as it posted the latest news and views, from and about Israel.
Starting in 2004, Ellis began working in a marketing company servicing the online gaming industry. In the years 2009 – 2010, his job was relocated to Sofia, Bulgaria. During those years, Ellis and Jodie traveled extensively in Bulgaria as well as in the countries of the region. Today Ellis continues working in the online gaming industry in Tel Aviv.