Some of us know Doğu Yücel through his writings on music and some through his books. His book “Nonexistents” (Varolmayanlar), released in 2011, is available on Amazon in English in the e-book format. Being one of those people who believes that dreams set you free, Yücel told us about this new adventure he’s been lately going through.
There is talk about “Nonexistents” these days one more time for it’s available on Amazon as an e-book, translated into English by Ayşe Lucie Batur. Have you started to hear from the foreign readers and what do you think about presenting your imaginary world to them?
Yes, I’ve just started to meet readers from foreign lands. Still, it’s undoubtedly a long journey and I’ve just begun. I feel as if I’ve taken the field on a tough away game. It’s difficult for a Turkish author to make an appearance in English-speaking countries with a translated book. What I attempt with Nonexistents is kind of a personal enterprise. I’m pursuing my dream despite being a little late. First I sent the novel to several American publishing houses. A few of them gave positive feedback on Nonexistents but we couldn’t reach a conclusion. At the end, I decided to publish it in e-book format.
It is written on Amazon that you found inspiration in Andy Weir, the author of ‘The Martian’. Could you tell about it a little?
As soon as I read the experiences of Andy Weir, I took action to convert Nonexistents into e-book format. I made research on how to upload an e-book on Amazon, did my homework and released the book for $0.99 just like Weir did. I thought that if my readers support me and the book reaches a certain sales figure, then I can draw attention of the foreign readers, too. However, there was this fact I was unaware of: You cannot buy the books on Amazon in Turkey if they are only available in e-book format! Nevertheless, I’ll keep on fighting in spite of those obstacles on my way.
Could you mention the reaction of foreign readers so far?
They give credit to the translation rendered by Ayşe Lucie Batur. They say that the novel is a page-turner though being a translation. Moreover, the uplifting fact is there is this strong tradition of leaving comments abroad. Let me give you an example… It’s been four years and four editions since Nonexistents was released first but you can still see only nine comments on Idefix. On the other hand, Nonexistents haven’t sold even 100 copies on Amazon and it hasn’t been even a month since it was released as an e-book but there are already four comments.
Do you think Nonexistents can also arouse interest in Hollywood filmmakers, like The Martian? Do you ever have such dreams?
To be honest, yes, I have such dreams. Some may find such kind of dreams ridiculous but I think keeping the bar high would hurt no one.
‘Imagination sets you free’
Considering the manifesto of the Nonexistent Organisation, what does it highlight about changing your life?
To describe it in a single word: imagination. All the evil in humanity comes from the lack of imagination or exploitation of imagination. Think of the origins of all the social problems. The moment we use our imagination, all the differences and boundaries between us evaporate. To summarize in one sentence, Nonexistents say: “Imagination sets you free.” It is also the motto of FABİSAD, Fantasy and Science Fiction Arts Association we founded after I wrote this novel.
Do the fantasy worlds created in fantastic books actually tell us the very truth?
Ursula Le Guin described the writers of the genre as “the realists of a larger reality” in her famous speech she delivered last year. I really think that the novels in the genres of fantastic, science fiction, horror pushed aside by the realist critics are more realistic than the social realist novel in many respects. After all, we have dreams every night while sleeping. Those dreams must have a meaning. The most honest mirrors held up to reality have always been works containing fantastic or science-fiction elements ranging from ‘Hamlet’ to ‘1984’.
There is also a group of readers who know you through your writings of music and interviews. Being such a music lover, what were you listening to in the writing process of Nonexistents? Do you consider the characters in your book good listeners of music?
Nonexistents is a novel about the love of music in a sense. It tells about those people who listen to music through huge headphones on buses, metrobuses and can’t wait for the moment they will put on their headphones as soon as their working hours or lectures are over. The main character of the novel remembers his old dreams and ideals thanks to an MP3 file he comes across on his computer. Before his transformation is realized, he takes the heirloom headphones out of the trunk. At the end of the book, he chooses a heir to continue his mission: a person trying to untangle the tangled cords of his headphones in the middle of the street. Of course it’s not possible to write such a novel without listening to music. What I listened to most? I prefer soundtracks or instrumental bands such as God is an Astronaut while writing.