Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am the author working on the Pink Panthers trilogy series, including the first novel “The Greatest Thieves in the World”, which was published globally in June this year. I am a logistics specialist having worked for large international organizations and corporations such as the United Nations, Halliburton/KBR, or DynCorp, being stationed for twenty years working in areas consumed by ferocious civil wars in Bosnia and Serbia or the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. I am an author who lived and worked in 4 continents and witnessed 4 wars, walking the paths of my characters, therefore being able to turn my extensive experience into inspirational and instructive fiction and non-fiction narratives. I am telling stories about paradoxes of the modern world where evil reigns while chivalry yet survives and write only about real-life stories which have it all, a powerful blend of real-life situations and crime thriller, shaking family experience and shocking war and political drama.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
This novel is the first part of a trilogy that deals with the socio-historical context of emergence, rise, and (temporary) fall of the famous and powerful international robber group, Pink Panthers. I have been writing my first novel “Pink Panthers: The Greatest Thieves in the World” for the last three years but I dreamt about writing it for the last 15 years since I read the reports of their first robberies. I considered them yet another gang of robbers who dare defy the society and its norms taking such risky steps. However, as time went on, I realized that all the risk that the Pink Panthers had invested in the robberies was very well calculated in the overall equation. I don’t even have to mention that the locations chosen by the Pink Panthers sounded bombastic as if from the best Hollywood production. Paris, London, Amsterdam, St. Tropez, Dubai! The ideas that the Pink Panthers introduced as a ‘patent’ in committing the robberies were more intriguing than even the greatest movie-minds could come up with. And I’m not just talking about disguising themselves as women, fleeing by speedboat and the like, but that all the robberies were committed without a single victim, and that’s what makes the Pink Panthers unique in the criminal world. With their imagination and extremely expressed audacity in carrying out their robberies, they left the world breathless, including me.
By personalizing the functioning of criminal cartels, the horrors of war, the violent discord of country and pitiful dissolution of a family, and showing the results of these bold events have on individuals is the general theme I tried to dive into with this novel. The light form of adventure drama shows the correlation of organized crime, social anomalies, wars, and interests of the great who ruthlessly manipulate and destroy the lives of the small, from individuals to nations. The background story shows the entire process of the diamond business, how diamonds come to jewelry stores, from relentless exploitation of rich deposits of poor third-world countries and inciting bloody civil wars in them, to the intertwining of the diamond business with drug cartels, human trafficking, interests of banks, corporate and military-industrial magnates and diplomatic-political machinations.
If you’re curious what it’s like to be a Pink Panther, read this book. If you have the courage, dare follow the steps of our heroes, embark on an action-adventure with the Pink Panthers, and personally experience the world’s most famous diamond robberies. Furthermore, find out how diamonds are made and come to that array of glittering shops, from the hot sands of Africa where greedy corporations exploit human and mineral resources in collaboration with corrupt politicians, through shining modern Europe all the way to Dubai. Get to know the dark world behind all that glitter and glow of riches, touch the blood, sweat, and tears that they represent in reality.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I obsess about my characters, as an infatuated lover, mixing up fantasy with the reality, my own experience, and reflections with ideas I mean to convey. I dream of them, I think of them day and night, observe them telling me their stories, talking and listening to them. I have a rich imagination and create whole dialogues and scenes, even chapters in my mind before writing them down. Then I add the narrative and descriptions according to my objective and themes I want to describe and convey.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I love the raw style and brisk observation of all the dark and decay in human nature and society as brilliantly portrayed by Bukowski of the modernists and Dostoevsky of the classics. I admire Dostoevsky as a writer with the natural talent of scanning through depths of the human mind, as well as skill to infect the reader with the lucidity and passion with which he writes of his views and ideas. I love Bukowski, the dirty nihilistic realist with unquestionable talent and an unrivaled passion for writing as sheer pleasure. Despite all of the ups-and-downs of his disturbed life, constant intoxication, loneliness, misogyny, and personal problems, Bukowski actually wrote. His novels and poems are so simple — simple words, sentences, and ideas — and yet so lively, deep and relatable. The writing style I tend to be developing is based on that premise – digging deep into characters and write lively and relatable true-life stories.
What are you working on now?
As for writing, I am working on the concept of the second and the third part of the trilogy. As for publishing activities, the first part of the trilogy was launched in the USA, UK, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, EU, Australia, India, and Japan, right now I’m focused on Bosnia and Serbia where it will be published in September this year.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I try to promote them equally on independent portals as wells as through Amazon Ad Services, Author Ads Network, and BookViral platforms. I am still learning about different marketing opportunities with Goodreads and BookBub.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Beauty comes from within. If you have a story inside you that you need to tell – just start writing, initiate the process with some ideas, and put them on the paper. Don’t worry about the grammar or dialogues, it will be done later during the editing process. Blank page can’t be edited, so just start doing it. It will be hard, but you can do it and you know that story must be told! So, just keep writing. If you do just one page a day – you’ll have your first draft completed in a year. One page by one page, your book will be completed, and you’ll be so proud of your accomplishment.
If you have a creative block – go back to editing previous pages. When it gets rough and self-doubt comes crawling up your spine – ignore it and go back to editing, dive in your previous work until it’s gone. It shall pass… then you move on, write on…
Also, don’t let rejection or lack of support stop you! I used to be shy about my writing, which I have been practicing as a hobby for some 25 years or so, writing essays and stories predominantly about the war experience. Then I was too absorbed with everyday life, family, and business, and couldn’t stand exposure to the creative side of my personality. Slowly, I’ve completed the novel and pitched it for almost a year with no success, nobody in my homeland in Bosnia and Serbia offered to publish it. But suddenly, in March, I found myself locked down, with nothing but time, a notebook full of notes and complete novel in Serbian language and a chance to make some sense of this crazy moment in time. So, I had it edited and translated into English and published it in the USA first before my homeland. Only after that, the publishing offers from my homeland started popping up. Nothing is impossible!
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Although it might seem a trivial or shallow phrase, it’s to try your best to live up your dream, don’t focus on obstacles and excuses instead. Love yourself so that you may know how to live with self-respect and self-care and only once you’ve become a healthy, strong individual, only then you can help others. Many have heard of the infamous Pink Panthers’ heist in Dubai when they crashed into the shopping mall with vehicles. Well, only the gang members and a few police operatives know, and this is well described in my novel, that the plan to ram that Audi sedan into the shopping mall and later into the jewelry shop, came into fruition only after the gang leader burnt out due to heat exhaustion and stress during the prep activities for that robbery, so the initial plan of robbing the shop and running towards the exit was not doable. There is a scene where one of the associates tells the leader after his burn-out: “You burned out,” Jacqueline reprimanded him. “You have to do better in self-care. Who’s going to take care of you when you get sick? You know very well that we have neither pension nor social security,” she said with a smile as she was giving him a sip of juice. “Remember what those flight attendants always say before a plane takes off, that in case of a plane crash, you have to put your oxygen mask to yourself first and only then to someone next to you?” she asked, looking into his tired, closed eyes. “You have to look after yourself so God will guard you then,” she said.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading “12 Rules” by Jordan Peterson. Love his quote ‘Without free speech, there is no true thought.’ He is a truth-telling sage who inspired millions and is needed now even more in this time of hypocritical ‘political correctness’ principle gone mad. Peterson is the most prominent, striking example I’ve yet seen of an unfortunate trend in modern communication. Lately, in the media, I only see criticism, very malicious. Obviously, there is something more to that criticism, as if there’s an agenda as if it were a witch hunt. Someone has to fall, some person, some big-name has to be the main culprit for everything. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and various news hosts all feature and reward this rhetorical technique. First, a person says something. Then, another person restates what they purportedly said so as to make it seem as if their view is offensive, hostile, or absurd as such. That’s what attracted me to him most, as his interviews have so many moments of this kind so you can’t help but wonder what drives the interviewers to keep inflating the nature of Peterson’s claims, instead of addressing what he actually said.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Currently, I’m focused on publishing activities in Bosnia and Serbia, as well as promotional activities in the USA and worldwide. In some months, I’ll start writing the second novel in this trilogy. The second and third part will show the further fate of the main characters when some members of the group try to start a normal family life in a tragicomic way before returning to what they actually do best, while the others “re-specialize” in their criminal career.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
War and Peace by Tolstoy… a thousand-page exposition on how people’s hero projects form the fabric of society and history, which is a theme I tried to dive into my novel as well.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s powerful meditation on meaning, morality, and faith, The Karamazov Brothers.
Ham on Rye, Bukowski’s novel, recounting the crude brutality of life growing up under the Great Depression; and partially explaining why Bukowski comes to reject mainstream culture and depict survival in a corrupt, blighted society.
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho’s charming fable, will enchant and inspire an even wider audience of readers for generations to come. “My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky. – Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.”
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