One of my first beta readers asked me, “Why Bosnia? Why not America or even the UK or Germany, you know, a country people can actually find on the map?” I get it. Bosnia’s not a well known country, or a popular tourist destination for Americans. If you’ve heard of Bosnia, it’s probably because of the war that was fought when it sought independence from the former Yugoslavia. It was a bloody and horrific time in the country’s long history, but it’s not the only thing that defines Bosnia. I should know, I live here.
I choose to set Backdoor Politics in Bosnia because it provided me with a few unique opportunities. Bosnia is a country where you can find people cooking on a wood stove while they surf the internet for recipes. The mix of old-world traditional living and new-world technology is mind boggling at times. Bosnia is, for all intents and purposes, as technologically advanced as the other European countries, but where it lags behind is in how that technology is used and safeguarded. It also provides more anonymity, because not every aspect of a person’s life is in digital form here, nor are there cameras recording your every move.
The political climate here is also rife with corruption, and the system allows for the meddling of anyone with the money and muscle to do so. I didn’t get too in depth about the actual politics in Bosnia in the book, because unless it affects you, politics are pretty boring and I didn’t want to bog down the story with things most readers would have little connection to.
I do think it’s a timely piece since the major player is the Russian mob—and by mob, we all know that means the Russian government. The Russians are active in this region; most recently they plotted to assassinate the Prime Minister of Montenegro to over throw the pro-European Union government. Montenegro is one of the other former states of Yugoslavia, so it hits pretty close to home.
Then, of course, there’s the geographical locations. Bosnia is mountainous, and there are plenty of places to hide a dead body, which makes it the ideal location for someone like Kamal. Finding an isolated cabin in the mountains is easy. Well, if you have a map to it, at least. It made perfect sense that Julien would choose the place he did to hold his captive. No one could hear Zijad’s screams or intervene to save him. I also think it adds to the story, in that being stuck in the middle of nowhere with no entertainment leaves Kamal with only Zijad to fill the long hours of boredom, and brings up some interesting situations.
Bosnia is an interesting country. I’ve lived here for the past eight years and I’m always discovering something new about the place I call home. If you’re planning a European vacation, it’s definitely worth the time to include a stop over here. Have a plate of goulash and a yogurt, put your feet up and make yourself at home and I’ll make sure to keep Kamal occupied while you’re here.