WRITER AT THE END OF THE WORLD
Monika Hołyk-Arora comes from Lublin, where she graduated from Cultural Studies at the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University. Since early childhood, she lived in a world of fantasy and dreams, and books were the gateways to other dimensions and realities. The passion for literature translated into real passion and Monika began her adventure with the pen at the age of 11.
Since 2012, she has been publishing ebooks, most of which are already available in printed form. They reflect her moods, mood, attitude to people and the world, And you can find in them, following the words of the author ... drops. Three drops of love to travel, four drops of love for the written word and one drop of healthy sarcasm. Professionally, she is associated with the broadly understood tourist industry. She worked as a tour guide for many years, mainly in the Middle East, and is currently a jewelry specialist at one of Turkish companies.
A resident of Turkish Marmaris, an incurable romantic, traveler, fascinated by history and art, reviewer, photographer. A widely read and popular author of detective stories, thrillers, women's literature, historical fiction and guidebooks. Monika Hołyk-Arora, drop by drop, in an interview for the Fourth Son platform.
FS: "Getting to know different cultures has enabled me to look at the world from a completely different perspective and has stimulated the dream of writing again, understood in many ways" - you write in one of the texts about yourself. Please tell us more about the process of this amazing awakening and its impact on professional and private life.
MA: I was fascinated by everything that was associated with travel, other cultures, traditions or history since I was a child. I owe these interests mainly to my mother, who took me on long journeys since I was a child. Before I went to primary school, I managed to visit Bulgaria, Hungary and the then Soviet Union. At the same time, my family home was visited by academic teachers, doctors, journalists from various countries, making my "normality" a little different than other children in the late Polish People's Republic. During my studies, which embody all my interests, I went to Morocco for a short time, which resulted in obtaining a tour pilot license later. Communing with people from other countries who profess a different religion, but also principles, opened my eyes to the diversity that surrounds us. Poland is still a rather homogeneous country in this respect, which is why I was even more pleased to discover "otherness". Each subsequent trip, whether private or professional, deepened my hunger for knowledge. I have always tried to get to know the real life of local people. For me the trip was not just a place to stay
at the hotel pool or beach. Thanks to my stubbornness, I had the great pleasure of living in the Berber house, learning about their traditions, learning their cuisine, spending evenings in a female circle adorning the body with henna. I lived in a non-tourist city in India for a month and traveled around Thailand alone. This taught me to quickly make contacts, look for similarities, but above all showed the true meaning of the concept of tolerance for what is different. I don't judge people by their origin, religion or skin color. I always try to see a person in a person, however strange that sounds.
With time and subsequent experiences, there was a desire to pass on what I was able to observe and survive. I wanted to show that "different" does not mean "worse", "terrible" or even "dangerous". I remember that when I went to Turkey for my first contract in 2006, I heard from everyone that I should be careful because I would end up in a harem. This was associated with stereotypes, ignorance of the realities of the Muslim country and just fear of what is "foreign". I will add that, paradoxically, I feel much more secure in Turkey than in Lublin!
For this reason, in my books I try to write about places that I know and love. I remember the story, whether in a narrower or broader sense, I add something from myself, describing events that once took place there. At the same time, I am not trying to idealize or color any of the nations or cultures. If there is a burning problem in a given country, I will write about it without trying to remain silent. That was the case of drug plantations in Morocco ( Jestem Tobą), prostitution ( Kryzysowy plan życiowy ) or even picking up women in tourist resorts ( Sześć rajskich nocy ). I show what is good and what is bad, leaving the reader the decision on how to organize this information in his head.
FS: What does Monika's writing routine look like?
MA: Unfortunately, this is not a daily routine, which I regret very much. Professional work, but also for several months health problems make me write much less than before. I had to temporarily suspend several projects, but I will definitely come back to them because I think about them all the time.
I write on a laptop, I have my favorite text editor which I can't imagine my life without. Until recently, in the creative process I was also accompanied by coffee, for which I am currently looking for a replacement.
Interestingly, I can't write in silence. Somewhere in the background music must play, or even a series or movie buzzing. I focus best in public places such as a cafe or airport.
FS: Let's focus for a moment on selfpublishing, because this territory is not foreign to you. Please tell us a few words about the freelancer path. How do you reconcile the roles of writer, manager, distributor and publisher in one person? Is there a significant gap between self-publication and contract activity?
MA: Certainly, self-publishing is not an easy way. It's not enough to just write a book, you need to find a graphic designer who will create the right cover, a trusted proofreader who will correct the text ... And this is just the beginning !.
I remember the long hours during which I learned to compose text in an appropriate way to create an ebook. An additional difficulty at that time was that almost every platform for self-publishers had different technical requirements, which made the entire preparation process much more difficult.
When it comes to promotion, unfortunately it is still my Achilles heel. I can't "promote" persistently. I never came to the point of jumping out of the proverbial fridge for everyone. An idealist who says that if the reader likes the text, he will come back to me with the next title.
Selfpublishing also means costs that unfortunately have to be taken into account. Cover, proofreading are things that unfortunately do not belong to
cheapest. With small sales and rampant piracy, it may turn out that the amount invested will not pay back (or not) after many years. Of course, hardly anyone decides to speak aloud about this issue.
Being on a contract in many aspects is certainly easier and faster. I am currently working with an e-book publishing company, thanks to which I am free from a whole range of things that I don't have to think about. I do not submit ebooks, I do not place them on online platforms, and at the same time I am present on websites such as Empik or Legimi!
FS: " I Am You arose after my father's death and was an attempt to relieve the emotions suffocated somewhere at the bottom of the soul and a huge sense of loss. Sześć rajskich nocy were an expression of longing for Marmaris in which I once lived. Only the Kryzysowy plan na życie paradoxically written at the time when I was a happy married woman, it became a harbinger of my own divorce. "- you speak openly in an interview with zapatrzonawksiążki.pl. Each of the stories written is a kind of diary of events, places or emotions. This unusual exhibitionism definitely marks you as a sincere and brave author. Is writing a therapeutic tool in your life? And following that thought, was it ever your intention to convey the thoughts and experiences of other women in your books?
MA: Writing is not a therapeutic tool for me, at least not literally.
I write because I have to! The stories that arise in my imagination demand their realisation on paper or reader screen. Writing is rather a form of detachment from reality, the creation of other alternatives, or simply an escape.
If it is my diary, it can be called the broadly understood "travel diary called life".
Yes, Jestem Tobą arose after the death of my dad, but writing this story was a form of occupying my thoughts rather than therapy. I preferred to write from the crack of dawn until late evening than think about pain and loss. It was my own way of dealing with mourning. Anyone who has had the opportunity to read this title knows that the story of the death of his father, although appearing in it, certainly is not the leitmotif. It is only one of the elements that influenced the situation in which I put my heroine.
I still claim that Sześć rajskich nocy arose from longing for Marmaris (I lived in dark Sweden at the time), but this is only a record of places. Yes, the ancient city of Amos or the waterfall in Turgut can be found and visited, but no situation or character has ever existed in reality, or at least I don't know anything about it.
Kryzysowy plan na życie has become an unfortunate omen for the future, but I do not regret writing it. If at least one woman going through a breakup, be it with her husband or a long-time partner, thanks to this book will discover that she has the strength to go on and fight for her dreams, it will be enough for me.
Since I am with this title I will refer to the honest writing - two events in this novel are actually real! The "busty receptionist" and the whole incident at the reception of a suspicious hotel (I still feel the emotions associated with that incident today) and homeless dogs on the beach - these, however, I did not have the opportunity to adopt, but only temporarily feed.
However, I would not call it exhibitionism. Each writer gives his hero his own emotions, life events, indeed, even character traits! It seems that Katarzyna Grochola a few years ago said that the writer who maintained that his characters have nothing of him just lies. We are all human, and our life is an inspiration and impulse to create, and a kind of pattern book. If it wasn't for my travels, I wouldn't send my heroines to various, sometimes strange, places in the world. If history hadn't fascinated me, the Znamię Pytii or the Spisek bogów would n't have arisen.
One thing is certain, even if someone reads all my books, they will not be able to "figure out" my character, or clearly determine what decisions I would make. I separate fiction from reality, choosing only certain elements to authenticate the situation or character.
FS: When asked by martawsrodksiazek.pl, would you like to see any of your own novels on the big screen, the answer is: “Definitely yes, but this novel has not been written yet. I invented it eight years ago, living and working in Egypt, unfortunately, so far I have not had the courage to sit down and start writing it. When it finally arises, it will probably be the last novel that will come out from my keyboard. All my author's path is going in its direction. I want to show in it, at random, of course, the history, art and culture of the Middle East seen from the perspective of women. "Will the culmination of your writing be a collection and quintessence of passions and interests? And will you outline the heterogeneous and comprehensive face of Middle Eastern women? After all, you have the opportunity to observe the lives of these women and their behavior, learn opinions and views from first-hand.
MA: "Three coins" (working title) will reflect my fascination with the Middle East at its peak moments of development. A dream come true in which my readers walk with me around the Umayyad palaces in Damascus or buildings created by the brilliant architect Sinan. I want to include in this novel what the average reader has never had the opportunity to see or experience. In a few cases, unfortunately, he will not be able to experience, despite strong intentions, because many of the places in Syria that I plan to describe simply do not exist anymore.
In addition, my ambition is to include stimulants for all the senses in this title - which is why I will describe the flavors and smells in it ... Middle Eastern food will certainly have one of the main roles. I will add something to my ear, because music is something that always plays in the human soul and I will describe works of art that have delighted hundreds of people for centuries.
It will be a feast for lovers of art, secrets and intrigues. A journey through the ages, but also continents, enriched with a love thread.
Definitely it will not be a novel in the style of Tanya Valko or Lailia Shukri, which focus on pathologies and turning up stereotypes about violent relationships with Muslims. Rather, it will be a tribute to strong women whom the world is silent about. Of course, my heroines will be fictional characters, but in the history of the Middle East you can find silhouettes of women who have done a lot more than traditions, social norms or the situation allowed.
FS: You are a propagator about women's pursuit of self-development and self-awareness, which we can see by visiting your Youtube channel. You are strongly encouraged to share experiences and grow regardless of status and age. You are extremely determined and open to other women's experiences. Is this attitude related to your divorce or is it part of your nature?