Annie Ward The Making of June

ISBN 13: 9781593351151

The Making of June

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At first, June appears to be the ideal California girl - blond hair, blue eyes, a production assistant at a film company, and married to a hot property about to get his doctorate - but she abandons her home and job to follow her husband to Bulgaria. Within a month of their arrival, June turns thirty and her husband leaves her for a young local girl. As difficult as it is for her to be without him and virtually friendless in a country on the verge of civil war, June doesn't run home. She drinks too much, falls into the arms of a Mafia kingpin, gets caught up in the revolution, and little by little revels in her new vision of the world outside the American periscope. She survives and learns that loss can be an opportunity and that loneliness gives a person time to change her life.

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From the Author:

Behind the Book-- The Author's Story (essay from 2002)  
          Like the main character in THE MAKING OF JUNE, I arrived in the Balkansin the summer of 1996-in the midst of a decade of regional wars. I lookedaround and thought to myself; "Not only do I want to leave this placeimmediately, but I want to forget it completely and never ever set foot in itagain." 

     My first nine months in Bulgaria were the most difficult ofmy life. I went there to be with my husband, who had volunteered to helpEastern Block countries with the transformation from Socialism to a marketeconomy. I'd left behind my career, family and friends in Los Angeles fora life in a place where the sky seemed stubbornly gray, the people resolutelydepressed, and the city almost unbearably devoid of culture and beauty. Itdidn't take long, even as an outsider, to realize that the Mafia ruled thecountry, the people were victimized, the economy was stagnant, and everyoneseemed too tired and disappointed to hope for anything different. I resignedmyself to a year in hell.

     And then... there was a revolution.

     Having been painfully frustrated by the inertia and boredomof my Midwestern youth, my reaction to the uprising against the corruptgovernment in Bulgaria was akin to that of an adolescent discovering the allureof the opposite sex. I was enthralled, stimulated, obsessed. I feltsuddenly, and for the first time, as if I were living through somethingmonumental. I had never seen a riot. I had never seen apathy turn tooutrage. 

     In the winter of 1997, I snapped out of my Balkan depression.I attended the rallies in front of the Sofia Parliament, and felt as if I wereactually a part of the movement to topple the regime that had stolen so muchfrom the outwardly stoic yet deeply feeling Balkan people whom I had slowlycome to admire. I made local friends. I learned the language. I realized thatwhat I really needed was to write about what I was experiencing: the breadlines, the protests, the foreigners and their fancy parties, the Bulgarianpensioners with nothing who were begging barefoot in the snow. The writing wastherapy as well as documentation. I could not stop. 

     America was involved in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania wasfalling apart, Serbia was a bomb ready to explode, and I was next door, holedup with my computer, getting it all down. There is a saying, "Once youunderstand something, you lose the urge to describe it." I did notunderstand the Balkans, not the passionate and proud people, the many confusinglayers of the complex culture, the dominance of the Mafia, nor the ambiguousand conflicting accounts of ethnic strife between Christians and Muslims. Ineeded to describe it because I had become obsessed with understanding it. Tounderstand it, I had to become part of it. I immersed myself and, ultimately, Itook refuge in the creation of my own Balkan drama. I lived it, I wrote aboutit, and in the end, I knew it.

     As the situation in the Balkans worsened, my parentsinsisted that I come home. As much as I had wanted to leave upon arriving,there was suddenly nothing that could tear me away. Even when my husbandreturned to the States, I stayed in Sofia, a city that had once seemed to melike the bleakest place on earth. I was caught up in a morbid, painful, yetpowerful love affair with the underdog of the western world. I can't say thatthe affair has ended.

     It's now January 2002. I live in New York and am free toforget the concrete towers, packs of wild dogs, hellish fog, gray sky, andheart-breaking poverty of the Balkans-if that were possible. Instead, I am justback from a ten-day visit to Macedonia and Kosovo to see old friends. BeforeSeptember 11th, these places were considered terrorism strongholds, politicaland religious hotbeds of continuing unrest-where Milosevich, the demon who camebefore Bin Laden, carried out the horrific crimes of genocide that stunned theworld and brought American troops to Balkan soil. It is not exactly a placemost people choose to visit.

     It's not that I choose to go there. The truth is that Ihave no choice. I am powerlessly drawn back by the ghosts of the wars, thefight against the vestiges of Mafia tyranny, the students I taught who arestruggling for visas and opportunities, and the friends I made who, for thefirst time in a decade, believe that there just may be hope for Bulgaria, andthe Balkans as a whole. 

     THE MAKING OF JUNE is drama and fiction, but it is based intruth. I wanted to tell the story of an American woman encountering everythingthat I had encountered: the epiphany of understanding the wake of Communism,the sensitive nature of the Christian-Muslim conflict, the omnipresent and allpowerful evil of organized crime and terror, and the sadness of losing Americaninnocence by losing an innocent and naïve American love. June is part me, butshe is not just me. She is every American who questions his or her role in theworld and resolves to make it a more meaningful one.

About the Author:

Ward has a Masters in Screenwriting from UCLA, and her film "Strange Habit," starring Joey Lauren Adams (of "Chasing Amy" fame), was an Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival and the first place Grand Jury Prize winner at the Aspen Film Festival. She is currently living in Sofia, where she is working on a project for her Fulbright Scholarship until the fall of this year, while writing a screenplay for Millennium Films at the same time.

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