Interview with Anne-Rae Vasquez, author of 'Almost a Turkish Soap Opera'


ABOUT ANNE-RAE VASQUEZ

Anne-Rae Vasquez authored Gathering Dust – a collection of poems, published by AR Publishing Inc. and Teach Yourself Great Web Design in a Week, published by Sams.net (a division of Macmillan Publishing). She wrote the novel and screenplay and directed Almost a Turkish Soap Opera, an award winning feature film and series produced by Joseph Khalil, Sababa Emporium Film Productions (http://www.sababaemporium.com) produced the feature film and series.
Details of the film production is at http://www.almostaturkishsoapopera.com.
Note from the author:
“The popularity of Turkish soap operas or TV series’ in the Arab speaking world, Europe and Asia is not well known here in the West. The Turkish TV series’ storylines are packed with jealousies and misunderstandings in family life and marriages, mafia encounters, economic problems and societal pressures, which all make for great drama. What I find fascinating in watching Turkish soap operas is how the Middle Eastern culture is woven into the modern way that Turkish people live which has influences from the Western and Eastern societies. I thank our producers Sababa Emporium Film Productions for allowing me to retell the story with so many different lenses – as a feature film, a short and as a series.” – writer/director/associate producer, Anne-Rae Vasquez
Aside from her artistic work, Anne-Rae Vasquez also manages a web design, production and learner support team, specialized in distance and blended learning at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Her expertise in HTML authoring, Web and multimedia design, and project and database management and being a graduate of the Internet Publishing Certificate Program at the University of British Columbia, has provided her with the opportunity to work with many talented people in the industry. She has over 14 years of experience in distance learning and her expertise is in producing and delivering top notch online courses at university level standards.

Almost A Turkish Soap Opera
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Anne-Rae.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A:  I have been scribbling poetry, short stories, cartoons ever since I was in Kindergarten. In grade school, I started making my own satirical audio shows, based on my cartoon stories, which focused on a multicultural, multi-generational family's every day trials and experiences in Canada. The stories were based on my own family life where two different cultural traditions always made for drama at home between my parents, my aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins. I recorded the weekly shows on my ghetto blaster at home, acting out the voices of all the characters. I  shared the audio cassettes with friends and family who enjoyed them so much, they encouraged me to make more.  This creativity developed into my desire to participate in theatre and drama in highschool and later in community theatre. Along the journey, I had to get a real job to pay the bills so I endeavoured into the land of the Internet when it was still basically text based discussion boards.  Excited about the potential opportunities to broadcast independently, I became an early pioneer of web designers where I explored the opportunities to stretch my creative wings on the World Wide Web.  It wasn't long until Sams.net, a division of Macmillan Publishing, approached me to write a book about web design. I took on the offer and in less than 8 months, I was officially published.  I remember being so proud to see Teach Yourself Great Web Design, with my name on the cover, sitting on a book shelf at my local Chapters store.  Since then, I have published the novel Almost a Turkish Soap Opera which was adapted into an award winning feature film and web series and also my directorial debut.

So now someone asks me how I would label myself?  In short, I am a web designer/project manager by day; and a writer, filmmaker, blogger and mother by night. I continue to enjoy learning about other cultures and languages. I entertain myself by watching my favourite Turkish soap operas or TV series online either dubbed in Arabic or subtitled in English.

Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: I wanted my novel Almost a Turkish Soap Opera to shine a light on the popularity of Turkish TV series and their popularity in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. The Turkish soap operas are full of drama, action, romance and cultural conflicts which I am certain North American readers will find entertaining. I also wanted to reveal the struggles of new immigrants as they try to get the basic things in life.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

A: Without the support from your family, friends, colleagues and knowledgeable people, writing can be quite isolating.  It didn't take long to find out who my true friends were.  When I kept declining invitations from my "social" friends to their weekly house parties, I would get snarky comments on my Facebook page about my lack of attendance.  Soon I was written off their invite list. I suppose these “friends” never really understood that I had a goal to accomplish and very little time to do it.  Let’s just say that I can now count the number of my real friends on one hand. If it weren’t for the support of Joseph Khalil, Sababa Emporium Film Productions, who believed in my work and encouraged me to complete the novel and make it into a feature film, I don’t think I would have accomplished as much as I have the past 3 years.

Another hard part about writing the book was juggling writing, filmmaking, my full time job and motherhood all at the same time.  It is always challenging to get the kids in bed by 8 o’clock every night so that I can have some alone time to focus on writing.

Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it?  Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

A: An author should always have a press kit. I learned from my experience as an indie filmmaker that a press kit is essential to market your work. Journalists, reporters and festivals do not have the time to search for an artist's information. If it takes too long for them to find information about your work, they will move on to someone else who is prepared.  What to include in your press kit is basically a generic template of information that includes your author information, biography, contact information, awards, press releases, etc. You can find my press kit on my blog at http://anne-raevasquez.com/?p=309

Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV?  What are your upcoming plans for doing so?
A:
I am currently on a book tour promoted by Pump Up Your Book. I'm blogging the events via my book tour diary from my blog and on GoodReads.com. I am also a member of the BookClub Reading List where readers and reading bookclubs can request for authors to be guest speakers. I am available via Skype and am always happy to chat with readers and other authors who are interested in learning about my book Almost a Turkish Soap Opera and how it was adapted into a feature film and web series.  Readers and bookclubs can request an author event at: http://bookclubreading.com/almost-a-turkish-soap-opera/

Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is?  If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A: No, I don't have an agent although I do use some help with publicity experts as needed. For example, for the book tour, I hired Pump Up Your Book to coordinate the tour and interviews as they have much more experience and networking connections in this area than I would be able to do on my own. I also used the services of The Publishing Guru to gather interest from book reviewers and professional bloggers which has proven to be successful in that I have been able to gain some attention and book review requests.

Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

A: Pump Up Your Book and The Publishing Guru sent out press releases, shared on social media networks and posted on their blogs about my book when it was launched at the beginning of November.  My book listing on Amazon was in the high millions prior to the book tour but now Almost a Turkish Soap Opera is in the Amazon top 100 best seller list for Fiction/Eastern category.  Last week the book reached #14 on the Amazon Best Seller List in the same category which I have to say is attributed partly from my hard work blogging, tweeting, sharing and also from the marketing from Pump Up Your Book and The Publishing Guru.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A:  I am currently writing a series of fictional novels called Among Us which delves into the world of the super natural and how it intersects with the every day lives of seemingly ordinary people as catastrophic events on Earth lead to the end of times.
  
Q: Thank you for your interview, Anne-Rae.  Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

A: Readers can buy the book as a paperback or Kindle edition on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Almost-Turkish-Soap-Opera-ebook/dp/B009BZFZZK

ABOUT ALMOST A TURKISH SOAP OPERA

Almost a Turkish Soap Opera is about Adel, a young Turkish man whose family has lived in poverty while his grand uncle controls the inheritance money which rightfully belongs to his father. Adel travels to the USA with his best friend Kamil, works illegally, and is deported back to Istanbul. He flies to Canada, marries his rich grand uncle’s spoiled obnoxious granddaughter in exchange for his permanent resident status. He becomes infatuated with his beautiful English teacher and tries to hide this from his wife. How did his life turn into a Turkish soap opera?
Powered by Blogger.