Nadezhda Dineva: We must trust in ourselves

Whatever difficulties we meet, even if our lives are at risk, we should not back down from anything

The Order of Scorpions is a novel which makes you delve into the unknown, there are many though-provoking moments that take your fancy and many puzzles to which the reader has to find a clue. It may so happen that they will change your life forever, young writer Nadezhda Dineva says in an interview to Europost.

Nadezhda, you have recently debuted your novel The Order of Scorpions. Where does your passion for writing stem from?

I started writing while in high-school and I've been fostering this passion ever since. At that time I wrote mostly essays and poetry. I was a member of a pilot literary project at the Young Talents Centre in Burgas before I embarked on a real writing career of my own. After I finished 12th grade, the idea of writing a book dawned on me. Then I made up a plot but didn't manage to work it out to the full because I started my university studies and time was too scarce for writing.

What inspired you to write The Order of Scorpions? Is this the book which you conceived in high-school?

When I finished high-school I wrote several pages but they didn't develop into a real novel. In 2016, when I took part in the international programme at the Institute of Journalism I survived one of the terrorist attacks in Munich. After that I set out to write The Order of Scorpions. In Germany I saw the tragedy at close range, I experienced the fear which all survivors felt. It gave me the impetus to write the book. Only the name of the main character, Regina, remained from the first chapter which I wrote years ago. Then I realised that maybe initially I didn't finish the novel because Regina had to grow up.

How does Regina of the high-school period differ from the heroine in The Order of Scorpions?

The earlier plot was much thinner in comparison with the present book. Now I have conducted much more research, worked with facts and real events, checked out sources of information and touched upon rather hot topics. My first characters just floated on the surface, there was no storyline then, into which the readers can delve now.

What difficulties may a young writer meet before publishing a book?

I wouldn't say “difficulties”, these are rather the challenges. But the biggest challenge is the very process of writing - generating the idea, rendering your meaning most accurately, giving full play to it through an interesting plot that will grab your readers and keep them alert. This is one of the first challenges which a young writer faces. Then you have to find a publishing house that will put out the book. They receive hundreds of manuscripts every day, and it is highly likely that they will not get around to yours and, consequently, you will get no answer. And the last challenge is publicising your work.

How would you introduce your book to stir the interest of the readers?

I would describe it as a modern book with many twists and turns but the attention is focused on the inner voice. Line after line it sounds louder in readers' minds and makes them zero in on hope. The hope we should never lose, which inspires our belief that not only tomorrow will come but it will be even better. The Order of Scorpions is a novel which makes you delve into the unknown, there are many though-provoking moments that take your fancy and many puzzles to which the reader has to find a clue. It may so happen that they will change your life forever. This is a vanguard novel, it has no analogies on the Bulgarian market and it may well be that there is nothing like it in the world.

What is the message of the novel's story line?

There are many messages. Some are hidden, others are plain. One of them is that whatever difficulties we meet in life, even if our lives are at risk, we must not back down from anything. Difficulties are what motivates us, gives us courage and faith, makes us believe that we shall overcome thanks to our own aptitude. Even if we encounter something that at first sight looks insurmountable, it may turn out that we have a chance to overcome it. There are also messages in the novel related to countering terrorism, to security issues and fake news. I think that when some topic appears on the agenda, the related issues get increasingly exposed. When we started talking about security or safeguarding the borders, about fighting terrorism or arms trafficking, the attacks became more frequent. According to one of the recent UN reports, by the end of the year we may expect new terrorist attacks in Europe, and it may well be that the West will be in mourning again. One of the messages is that there probably is a way to wipe out terrorism and The Order of Scorpions proposes a solution to this problem. Against this backdrop, a beautiful love story unfolds which makes us give a thought to our real freedom, to the purity of feelings in the modern world. In the novel the word “terrorism” comes along with the word “love” in the same sentence, and it doesn't sound nonsensical.

In the novel, you describe in detail the streets of Berlin and the sights of Abu Dhabi. Have you ever been to those places?

No, I haven't been there. I had to rely on my friends' stories. Those who lived in the cities where the story unfolds. I have been only to Munich at the time of a terror attack, which was also described in the novel. It is not an easy task but when you have the helping hand of other people, search for more information and compare the sources, you manage to describe the events and atmosphere with maximum precision.

You also use Arabic. Do you speak the language or you count on help?

No, I am only fluent in German and English. I haven't studied Arabic yet, but I may start. I have listened with great interest to the poems in Arabic by the Prince of Dubai, Hamdan Al Maktoum, without understanding a word of it. I used the language with the help of my friends from Syria and Egypt, who are fluent in Arabic, to make the story sound authentic and complete. Some of the characters' names are Arabic and they convey a different message in the novel.

Are your characters based on real people?

There are a lot of my own traits in almost all of my characters, with the exception of Chameleon (one of the villain-like characters - editor's note). They share my feelings, emotions and dreams. Even if Regina, the protagonist, is closer to me than the others, her character is not based on my personality entirely. I wish for myself to one day have her bravery.

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Nadezhda Dineva is a graduate of the German Language High School in Burgas. She was the winner of a linguistics Olympiad organised by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in partnership with the Embassy of Germany in Bulgaria in 2010. She graduated from Sofia University “St Kliment Ohridski” where she majored in international journalism. In 2016 and 2018, Dineva took part in two international programmes for journalists in Germany.

Recently, her debut novel The Order of Scorpions was released.

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