On July 18, 2012, a deadly explosive planted on a tourist bus at Burgas Airport killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver. In Ellis Shuman’s fictional account of this actual tragedy, Ayala, an Israeli data analyst and Boyko, a Bulgarian detective, pair up in a multinational investigation of the attack. While Ayala and her Israeli colleagues suspect Hezbollah, Boyko’s team isn’t so sure. Ayala and Boyko travel all over Bulgaria tracking leads and learning to enjoy each other’s company much more than they thought they would at first. As their trust grows, they divulge their darkest secrets to one another. These secrets turn out to be more than just skeletons in the closet, rather, present day threats.
Beginning with an enigmatic prologue featuring an unnamed woman strapped into a ticking bomb-jacket, each scene is packed with suspense. Layers of intrigue build to a fever pitch when Ayala and Boyko meet their nemeses – and confront each other. When he isn’t describing terrorism and crime, Shuman fills out the story with lush and complex Bulgarian and Israeli scenery and culture. In real life, the case has never been solved. I’ll leave it to you readers to discover how Shuman handles the ending. Given his penchant for dramatic tension, don’t expect a predictable conclusion.
Have you always been a writer?
I’ve been writing ever since I was a child. My father, who was a journalist, inspired me to write and I grew up with the dream of becoming an author. Over the years I wrote many novels, but those manuscripts are sitting in a drawer somewhere. These days I divide my time between writing non-fiction (book reviews, travel reports), and fiction.
How does your time on the kibbutz and working in the hotel industry, as well as internet writing, influence your work?
They say that writers should write about what they know. My experiences living on a kibbutz led to my writing a short story collection about kibbutz life. My experiences living in Bulgaria for two years let to my writing two novels set in Bulgaria. I have yet to write a novel about the hotel industry, but that may come one day.
Has this second novel come easier than the first (and your short story collection)?
I have learned quite a bit since I wrote those earlier books. My writing has improved, I believe, as well as my editing skills. I hope my storytelling abilities have also improved over the years but I guess that is up to readers to decide.
Why did you choose self-publishing over a more “traditional” venue?
Actually, my novel The Burgas Affair was first traditionally published! It was published in 2016 in Bulgarian (I attended the book signing in Sofia!) and it is now only being published in its original English for the first time. I decided to self-publish it for two reasons. First, I was not successful finding a publisher to take on the book, but also, I wanted more control over the marketing of the book. I have a lot of hard work ahead, but I up for the challenge.
Any plans for another book?
My next book is already written. Well, the first draft is written. I will soon begin the process of editing and revising. It will take quite some time before the new manuscript will be ready to be published.