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Interview with author Haldun İlkdoğan

Interview: Resul Şahin

* Hello Mr. Haldun. First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Hello, Mr. Resul. I was born in 1986 in Turkey. The city where I was born is Adapazarı but I’ve spent most of my life in Izmir, Ankara and Istanbul.

If I need to talk about my education briefly, I’ve completed my undergraduate education in Ege University, Department of Landscape Architecture in 2009. I’ve also spent a semester in Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Poland. Afterwards, I’ve started my master in Istanbul Technical University, Architectural Design Master Program. When I realized that it was not going as I had imagined, I’ve ended my master at the thesis stage in 2012. This period has been my breaking point along with other difficult and big decisions I have made in my life. However, dream producing and writing had become my daily routine, and I was devoting most of my time to this, but I was a Research Assistant at the university and something had to go on. I’ve attended Atılım University, Architecture Integrated PhD Program in 2013 and graduated in 2018.

Although I still continue my life as an academician institutionally, I have always been a dream producer and I see this as the most valuable skill I have.

* When and how did you start writing?

I’ve always had plans to make my dreams come true. In 2012, many things started to go wrong in my life, especially about my dreams. I had to make some decisions. In October 2012, the dreams that I had worked so diligently until that day were gone. I was in the middle of great uncertainty. This situation made me see that what I see as my dreams are actually things that are imposed in the standard flow of life. Moreover, I realized that I was far from the person I wanted to be in this life. This allowed me to born into my own world, which I was living in until then, but I was not even aware of. It didn’t take long, at the end of November that same year, I had new dreams that were bigger than before and absolutely unique to me. I had turned into someone who would sit at a desk every night at nine o’clock, turn off the lights and silence the world, and put his dreams on paper by the light of a candle. What I started to write was a fantasy series of children’s novels. Before I’ve started writing, I always wanted to write, but some conditions didn’t let me do that. From time to time, I was trying to plan a fantasy novel. It was an unfinished draft; I had already started writing it without waiting for it. It would consist of three books, maybe four. I wrote halfway through the second book but the character fell into a dungeon and stayed there. Because I’ve known how to fall into a dungeon but I had not experienced how to get out. Who knows, maybe it’s time for that too…

Even though I was halfway through the second book, I had the first book in the series and sent it to publishers. Meanwhile, I haven’t stopped writing, I’ve started to produce other and shorter dreams. Initially, I’ve received a lot of rejections from publishers for both my novel and other short stories. Regardless, I’ve continued to write and sent files to publishers. Again rejections, some signed contracts but different problems. I’ve finally got an email in 2020. I remember all the details of that moment. I had some work in the kitchen, when the mail came, I took my phone and looked. Ithaki Çocuk was written on the screen. I said, I’ll check later, it should be rejection mail again, I’m so used to it. But a voice inside my mind pulled me to open it. Well, it was about my first children book “Monster Puh and Brave Suzi”. I don’t know how many times I reread the email. I even couldn’t believe it and sent a screenshot to my sister. It wasn’t a rejection.

Embarking on writing was such a journey for me and it was a very instructive experience. In conclusion, I am very happy with my current situation. I became the best thing I ever had and could be in my life: Myself.

* Can you tell us about your published books?

Although I have been working on children’s and youth literature for about ten years, my first published book was an academic book in November 2020: Design and Perception of Cinematographic Space. The book, which was published by Sapiens Publishing, was born out of my questioning what the real and reality about life is. Basically, the book focuses on cinema, space, design and audience perception. My other academic book is “Analysis of Representational Space” published in Gece Publishing in October 2021. This book is produced from my PhD thesis and is related to the social liberation of people in social space. I like working on topics such as sociology, daily life, space, semiotics, psychology and philosophy. I am trying to criticize, understand and learn the dynamics of life. I can say that I am a little obsessed with these issues.

I have new book projects academically, but these days I prefer to devote my time to write children’s and youth books. I have two children’s books published at the moment, but I wake up with more enthusiasm every day to produce new ones…

* You are writing both academic books and children’s books. Which children’s books have you written so far?

My first children’s book is “Monster Puh and Brave Suzi”, published by Ithaki Çocuk Publishing in January 2021. It is a Picture book and about how courage is built. My second children’s book is “Pungfincim”, published again by Ithaki Çocuk Publishing in November 2021. It is for ages 7 to 9 and about being unique. In addition to these, I have another children’s book that is preparing for publication in Ithaki Çocuk Publishing. It is for again ages 7 to 9 and this time I both wrote and illustrated it. I have another story that I’ve just finished and I’m editing right now. I haven’t sent it to the publishers yet but It is full of fun.

Apart from these, I have many ideas that I have accumulated for about 15 years. Sometimes I feel that a lifetime is not enough to turn these ideas into a dream. This feeling makes me nervous,
because I don’t want to be late for any dreams that I have saved and will save.

* What topics do you cover in your latest children’s book, Pungfincim?

Self-esteem, uniqueness, being family, having a new sibling, where the muse come from, what is being human and sunshines.

Pungfincim has a purpose, like any other children’s book have. Its aim is to create a channel of poetic thought in the mind. After all, human life is poetic: Although there are some structural similarities, the content is different and unique. Pungfincim is trying to explain to children and adults/parents the basis of developing self-esteem and where it comes from. Thus, it is aiming to show them the single and unique power they can have in their own lives. Moreover, it is also telling how it can be shared. I hope it can achieve its goal. Imagine living in a world where there are lots of shining sunshines who realized their own uniqueness, are trying to learn and understand the world. Wouldn’t this be the solution to many of the problems and unhappiness we live in today? Sunshine, which is interested in its own shine, is not afraid of the shine of others, on the contrary, it wants to see and feel it even more strongly.

Pungfincim is trying to tell us that each of us is unique and precious. People can be very different from each other, have different lifestyles, different languages, different skin colors, different dreams, different beliefs. In fact, uniqueness breeds this, and this diversity is wealth. This is a great wealth that we need to strengthen without discriminating, rejecting, ignoring, humiliating or judging. Thus, the best thing we can do about ourselves and the whole, as a part of the whole, is to explore how our own light can be strengthened. Of course, we must first be aware of the existence of sunshine.

* Do you plan to write a children’s book in English or another language to reach all children in the world?

I had an incident where I witnessed a wonderful dream set up by a child suddenly die out.
This incident made me a dream producer who writes children’s books. While a boy was excitedly telling his father about a joyful dream, his father suddenly said, “They’re not real, stop dreaming.”. His demeanor was quite harsh. Afterwards, the boy could not say anything else. At that time, as a young person, I was not strong enough to intervene in this situation. That day I’ve decided that I would be a better dream producer and write to enrich children’s worlds, to show them that their imagination is in their hands and is endless. This goal is not a local goal anyway. I feel pain when I hear that a child’s dreams have been destroyed, wherever they are in the world. Therefore, the aim of all children’s books I wrote and I will write is to reach all children in the world. I believe that every sincere story will find a place in the hearts of all children and adults in the World. In other words, I do not see writing books in different languages ​​as an important point to reach many children in the world. I would also like to state that I said this by finding the way your question was asked very justified. However, when it comes to art, I also know that a highly qualified production has the power to cross the borders of the countries. If it wasn’t, for example, we would never have met Dostoevsky. I think that an author should write in language which he can dance and dream well. Of course, this is not an immutable truth. I was thinking about writing English stories a few days ago. I even made some arrangements and preparations. I’ve got things planned; I’ll have steps on this.

It is a beautiful dream to be able to participate in the lives of all children in the world. This is a dream that has already taken its place among what I want to realize.

* Which authors in the world do you like?

I can list existentialist authors in general. However, I would like to talk more about the authors and their books that have guided me on the path of writing. I always put Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” first. It was the first long-running book I’ve ever read. I was nine years old and the warmth of the book had a great effect on me. Next comes Edmondo De Amicis’ “Cuore” and Jose Mauro De Vasconcelos’ “Meu Pé de Laranja Lima”. Apart from these, I can say that I’ve learned to seek from the Paulo Coelho, Alquimista, to explain the contradictions of ideologies from George Orwell, to overcome the limits of creativity and to be brave from J. K. Rowling, to catch the details while wandering the streets from Dostoyevsky and Emile Zola, and to deepen the feelings from Virginia Woolf.

* What advice would you give to young people who want to be writer?

There are no prewritten laws of living as yourself. I think that every person should write her/his own life laws line by line by her/his life experiences. I don’t see the world through other people’s eyes, I don’t feel it through other people’s skin. I am a dynamic that has been formed not in someone else’s body, but with my own body and my own history. Writing is daring to discover oneself; you can’t say to someone who has decided to go on this road, discover yourself like this. You can’t know what people are going through and you can’t say what they should live or how they should live, even for writing. Advice causes one to be late to oneself. I’d rather be inspiring than giving advice. So, I can just talk about what I’ve done for my own writing path. If they find it valuable for their path, they can use it.

I’ve read the authors’ interviews. Most of them were children’s book authors. I’ve tried to catch what their critical points are about writing. I can say that many authors give more details in their interviews on this subject. I’ve accumulated authors’ own methods, editors’ criticism of my writing because it was more of a technical part of the writing act. I was a good dream producer. it was always like that even as a kid. I’ve shaped my own way by overlaying the technical informations on how to produce a literary text over my skill. So, I’m calling myself as a “dream producer” and I’ve written my own laws about that, line by line. Here are a few of the laws I’ve identified for my writing act and developing a vision of authorship:

– Share what you wrote with people and get their opinions. These people need to be editors and people suitable for your target audience. Think about their opinions and create your own way.

– Read much books about your category, but don’t overdo it. Time is important. You have an alphabet of five senses. Read, interpret, experience and learn the world with this alphabet. The keyword that will determine the leaven of dreams you will produce: Self experience.

– Don’t reject anything have been created: Observe them, understand them, learn them. You can transform into anything in the dream universe, you should be capable of that.

– Problems and chaos are the best teacher, face it when you meet. Afraid or don’t be afraid, it’s all normal. Let problems or chaos show its strength, learn it. When you have learned enough show it who the bigger chaos is. Only a bigger storm can dampen a storm. Turn into a bigger storm and move on.

– Focus on your dream while you were writing, not on words and sentences. Dance with the magic of words when the dream you’ve created is fully revealed. The rhythm of the narrative will be determined by the steps of the words and the agility of the sentences.

– There is no limit in the dream universe. If you think you have come to the end of thought, stop there and start again from there, go further.

– Establish your own sentences for yourself, create your reflection. Perfection is not a reflection, but self-reflection is the real perfection.

These are the products of my ten or maybe fifteen-year writing adventure. There is more.
New ones can be added tomorrow, even many of them may change, I can’t guarantee this. Everything I say is true to myself. These might not work for someone else or might be a good start point, this is not something I can foresee.

Consequently, writing is like owning a small plane with a one-man cockpit and flying it. Wherever you turn it, its wings will fly in that direction, its route is your dreams. So, I think that someone who has decided to take this plane has the courage to decide how to fly and which height to fly the plane. Rain or shine, I had only one advice to myself in the process of being author: Never stop flying this plane…

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