Author of both non-fiction and Khmer-language novels Thoeun Sothea has just published a new book in January, titled My Father is a Hero.
Khmer novels are arguably more popular than ever due to the large number of new works being published and a larger readership found among the increased number of young university students pursuing degrees rather than immediately entering the workplace like in past years when the Kingdom was less developed.
Sothea is optimistic about the state of Khmer literature and enthusiastic about the new generation of writers that have sprung up.
“Our authors have embedded good educational values into their novels and new readers in large numbers have also turned to reading inspirational books, philosophy books and other non-fiction books after they begin by reading novels,” he said.
“I hope that the readership as well as the composition of new works will increase and the quality will also increase accordingly to meet the current demand,” the author continued.
Sothea said that new writers should also read as much as they can to learn more from the works of the previous generation. They can also elect to participate in training courses to become more proficient writers as well.
“For me, I can write both [fiction and non-fiction] depending on the situation, the atmosphere and the feeling that I want to convey, but if I had to choose just one, it would be to write books with in-depth factual knowledge or advice for the readers,” he said.
The author, who just began his career as a writer recently, has already written and published five books in less than two years. He said sometimes the amount of work and the challenges can seem overwhelming, but he just keeps going and pushing through them.
“I have already gone too far on this journey and some people know my work and I even have a lot of fans who want new work. I still have a lot of love for writing even though I know that it is difficult, but my love for it is bigger and heavier and once I get going I forget all the difficulties without realizing it.
“I can say that it is very difficult from the very beginning because we know that industry isn’t an easy one to break into and it’s not easy to attract readers. Even though reading is becoming more popular, support for authors to earn a living isn’t yet widespread,” he said.
Sothea said that for new writers the most important thing is to produce an original work that is not the same as any other work and is not copied from anyone and not contrary to the realities of society.
He pointed out that after the writing is done, the publishing and promotion stages are also difficult because he has to do marketing campaigns, find a printing house, distribute the books and find retailers who will carry them and all of the other business aspects of writing.
“It is not different from doing any other business on your own. In short, it is not just about writing it and publishing it and then sitting around waiting for the results – there are many other obstacles to overcome. In the end, it’s a lot of trouble, but there is still a lot of joy, excitement and happiness from being a writer whose works are being read by anybody, whether a lot of people or even a few,” he said.
Sothea’s latest book is a romantic novel of sorts and a life story in which all of the chapters reflect the problems, decisions, mistakes and selfishness of someone who is pursuing their own desires regardless of the impact that it has on others.
The author said that he hopes the book will lead readers to recognize the truth about their own behaviors if they are similar and learn to live by allowing things to follow the flow of life, and especially to know what happiness and true love are and to recognize it when they find it.