Visiting Writers Series: guest author gives publishing insight

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Visiting Writers Series author Tatjana Soli not only opened students’ eyes to historic and tragic fiction, she also shared her struggles when it came to getting her work published.

“It took seven years to finally have my book accepted,” said Soli on Feb. 20 about her first novel “The Lotus Eaters.”

Soli explained how her book touched on two issues that publishers believe might deter readers: the Vietnam War and tragedy.

“The Lotus Eaters” is about a female journalist who chooses to stay in a war-torn country instead of evacuating.

Her main character, Helen, wanted to see the fall of Saigon, and in the process experienced all of the heart-wrenching trauma that came with the invasion of the city.

“Publishers don’t think people like to read about tragic events,” said Soli.

She explained since the majority of book readership is by women, publishers believe books based around tragedy will not be widely read. Soli proved this bias wrong.

“The Lotus Eaters” received the 2010 James Tait Black Memorial Prize, New York Times Bestseller and Notable Book 2010 awards, was an LA Times Book Award Finalist and earned several other chart topping praises.

Soli’s persistence with her first novel was one reason junior Bre Hall said she was an exceptional author to meet.

“I loved learning about her process of writing because I can apply it to my own writing, which I think is very insightful,” said Hall.

Soli explained how she did extensive research of the Vietnam War and the country itself before starting the book. She became interested in the photojournalists of the time and decided to look at the war through that lens. Soli also visited Vietnam in the process of writing “The Lotus Eaters.”

“[Soli taught me] that publishing a book is not this easy little show that you can just do once and you’re perfect,” said Hall. “She kept talking about how it took her a long time to even get a publisher to consider her book.”

Her second novel is called “The Forgetting Tree” and received the New York Times Notable Book 2012 and New York Times Editors’ Choice awards. She also has several published short stories and essays. For more information on this author visit


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