Author of both non-fiction and Khmer-language novels, Thoeun Sothea just released 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 greater readership found amid the increasing number of young college students pursuing degrees rather than immediately entering the workforce as in the years past when the Kingdom was less developed.
Sothea is optimistic about the state of Khmer literature and enthusiastic about the new generation of writers that has arisen.
“Our authors have incorporated 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 started reading fiction,” he said.
“I hope that the number of readers and the composition of new works will increase and the quality will also increase accordingly to meet the current demand,” continued the author.
Sothea said that even new writers should read as much as possible to learn more from the previous generation’s works. They can also choose 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 mood and the sentiment I want to convey, but if I had to pick just one, it would be writing books with insight into the facts or advice for readers,” she said.
The author, who has just started his writing career, has already written and published five books in less than two years. He said the amount of work and challenges can feel overwhelming at times, but he keeps going ahead and tackling them.
“I’ve already gone too far on this journey and some people know my work and I also have a lot of fans who want a new job. I still have a lot of love for writing even though I know it’s hard, but my love for it is bigger and heavier and once I get on with it I forget all the hardships without realizing it.
“I can say that it is very difficult from the beginning because we know that the industry is not easy to enter and it is not easy to attract readers. Even though reading is becoming more popular, support for authors to earn a living is still not widespread,” she 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 by 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 print shop, distribute the books and find retailers who will carry them, and all the other business aspects of writing.
“It’s no different than doing any other activity by yourself. In short, it’s not just about writing it and publishing it and then sitting around waiting for the results: there are many other hurdles to overcome. In the end, it’s a lot of trouble, but there’s still a lot of joy and excitement and happiness in being a writer whose works are read by anyone, many people or even a few,” he said.
Sothea’s latest book is a kind of romantic novel and a life story in which all chapters reflect the problems, decisions, mistakes and selfishness of someone who is pursuing his own desires regardless of the impact it has on other.
The author said he hopes the book will lead readers to recognize the truth about their own behaviors if they are similar and learn to live by letting things go with the flow of life, and most importantly to know what happiness and true love are and to recognize when they find it.