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  • Writer's pictureMaximilian Sam

Soundtrack Of My Life - Tolga Altintas

We're really happy to have our first Turkish author giving us the soundtrack of my life this week.

Tolga is the author of 3 novels and 2 short stories all in the fantasy genre. We're also lucky he speaks English.

How difficult is it writing in English when it isn’t your first language?

It’s hard to describe it as better or worse but rather different than what I would think to describe things in my own language. Obviously, there are certain barriers like sayings and words with different meanings that I struggle to contemplate the right form. But most of these things can be eased by ai tools that I use for writing. Briefly, it’s like looking through a new pair of glasses, a new experience that is both challenging and fun for me.

What made you change your career when you’d finished your medical degree to become a full-time writer?

There are many reasons ranging from bad conditions given to doctors or medical staff in general to the urge to find my true self and decide what to do with my limited life. It was a really tough decision that included months of tears being shed and crisis in the family but ultimately, I followed my passion of writing and sharing my stories.

What’s the inspiration behind your books? Where do the ideas come from?

I’m very lucky with this one as imagining things has always been my secret sauce to keep myself happy. In my childhood I loved creating monsters and giving them traits, at the same time keeping myself busy with different science fiction vehicles and tools. As I grew up, my stories became more robust and unique as I digested books, movies and games like a starving soul. Even my first attempt at creating a book came from the urge to change the fantasy novel series. In time, I subconsciously studied people, their stories, ways of thinking and reactions to different subjects which all created a pool of characters to be used. I have no trouble of creating stories but rather deciding which one is the best for my books and readers.

You split your time between the big city and a seaside village. Which gives an easier environment in which to write? Is it tempting to sneak off to the beach instead?

Luckily, my house in the city is in a less populated area that is mostly peaceful and quiet. For me, I could only wish for silence when I’m writing and traveling to my worlds to create new stories. Being in the village also provides me with similar conditions, however I go there in summertime where the air gets really hot and disturbing. So, it is indeed tempting to spend my time inside water rather than sitting at home and keeping myself behind the screen for a long day writing. I definitely find being in my city house more efficient as I’m left with lesser things to do or worry about, though swimming and feeling the sun and sand on a much needed vacation is something I would not change for anything.

Don't forget you can find Tolga's playlist on Spotify by clicking the link below.

Almost Like The Blues by Leonard Cohen

There is no God in heaven There is no hell below

So says the great professor of all there is to know

But I've had the invitation that a sinner can't refuse

To me, it’s all the right elements coming together with Cohen’s voice and the words resonance of logic and spiritualism. I feel uplifted, satisfied, and understood, because as he says, I also believe that the afterlife and forgiveness is possible with a supreme being present. It gives me freedom to think about the goodness I will receive if I live this life as a good person. Not the best, perhaps, but the spiritual connection really gives me a sense of relief and that’s why I like his words in this beautifully crafted song.

Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım by Aşık Veysel


Dünyaya geldiğim anda

Yürüdüm aynı zamanda

İki kapılı bir handa

Gidiyorum gündüz gece, gündüz gece


The moment I came into the world

That moment I began walking

In a tavern with two doors

I go day and night, day and night

Aşık Veysel is a Turkish poet who had earned his life by singing traditional songs in villages. He had an illness which caused him to become blind at a young age and in this song, he created, he says that life is just a two doored inn where people just pass by. His acceptance of death and the temporariness of our time strikes me deep with this one. I had no horrors of death but since I have already lived so little, I envy his words, carry them by my side like lucky coins. If it finds me sooner, I shall be ready.

Minnet Eylemem by Ahmet Aslan


zerrece tamahım yoktur şu dünyanın varına

rızkımı veren hüdadır kula minnet eylemem


I don't have any greed for the wealth of this world

The One who gives my bread is eternal, I don’t show gratitude towards the human giver.

It’s a bit tough to translate such old Turkish words into English. However, the reason that I took it is that it’s actually written by a poet who lived in 15th century. He says that he had given up earthly delights in exchange to find himself and he had no intention of being a puppet of the sultan. These lines encourage me to chase freedom whenever it’s possible instead of being under someone else’s control. If there is a thanks to be given, the real provider is indeed the earth and the creator. I think in today’s world his words are still relevant and needed to be heard by the crowds that think the companies provide them with everything.

Ayrılık by Cem Adrian


Unutmak o kadar kolay mı sandın?

Ayrılık bana aşktır artık


Did you think it’s that easy to forget?

The break up is love for me now

In a heartbeat, his voice keeps a calm and steady water in one’s mind and so these lines protrude to my own in the best form of love. I relish the idea that love doesn’t need to be responded to as it is such a unique feeling that we must admire it with all power we can gather when it happens.

Sigara by Müslüm Gürses


Ben sigara dumanının altında, yana yana en sonunda kül oldum

Sen kibritin hiç yanmayan ucunda, birinin hayatından geçmiş oldun


Under the smoke of a cigarette, I've burned down to ashes

 At the end of the match which never burns, you've just passed through someone's life

On the other end of love stays a pain that is hurtful yet pleasing. In his words, Gürses shows how things appear very different on two sides of a simple fate. I envy how he is in an acceptance and feel the same suffering he conveys in tearless lines. Even though I haven’t smoked a single cigarette, my lungs always fill with the heaviness of his dread when I hear this song. It hurts, but at the same time I feel pleasure. The pleasure of a strong and heartfelt emotion.

Oyunbozan by Mor ve Ötesi


Geçer, geçer, zaman şu an yalan

Nedir ki bak, silindi hafızam

Hayat kadar yalanmış ayrılık!


It'll pass, it'll pass, time is a lie right now

It's nothing, look, my memory has been wiped

Breaking up turned out to be as much of a lie as life itself

For a softer song, I chose to include one that I always sing along with. In these lines, it’s me who forgives and forgets all the things that happened in the past. Despite its about a breakup, I feel elevated by the lines, so much so that I listen to it not when I’m depressed, but when I see life filled with new opportunities.

Antidepresan Gülümsemesi by Model


Kafamda durmadan bağırıp çağıran bir yabancının sesi

Yüzümde kocaman, yalandan bir antidepresan gülümsemesi


I have the voice of a stranger who keeps screaming

I have a huge fake antidepressant smile on my face

That is me. Even though I feel well most of the time, there are moments where I, like everyone else, hide behind a smile that is fake and wrong, but at the same time necessary to pause and resettle the issues. I see it as a response to the life hitting me and convey my undisturbed thoughts while keeping people around me unchallenged. Luckily, I don’t use any antidepressants, but I still have their masking smile.

Running With the Wolves by Aurora

Where hope is left so incomplete

I'm running with the wolves tonight

Entangling, vicious, and vigorous. I truly believe that we have a connection with the animals and our inner selves feel the satisfaction of being in nature. As a person who went horse riding in a forest, I just love nature. If I had the chance, I would have run with the wolves, becoming one of them to understand what lies beyond our everyday struggles.

Tamirci Çırağı by Cem Karaca


Çekti gitti arabayla egzozuna boğuldum

Gözümde tomurcuk yaşlar ağır ağır doğruldum

Ustam geldi, sırtıma vurdu, unut dedi romanları

İşçisin sen işçi kal giy dedi tulumları


She drove away and I was engulfed in the exhaust fumes

With heavy teardrops in my eyes, I slowly straightened up

My boss patted me on the back and said: “Forget about the novels”

“You’re a worker, stay a worker. Wear your overalls.”

To keep the meaning intact, I had to write four lines. It’s about a boy who works in a car mechanic and reads a novel about a rich girl getting in love with a poor man. He thinks the same for the person who visits the shop to get her car repaired. But when he opens the door, she just embarrasses him and leaves thus his boss tells him to stay with reality.

It’s actually cruel and heartbreaking to hear and to understand that these things happened as long as the time goes by. People with dreams and good intentions left with only tears and pain. And in such a developing nation, this imbalance hurt most Turkish citizens coming from villages to the cities for the first time. I feel their pain, their loneliness, and broken dreams. It’s a moment of anger, understanding the injustice, yet when we turn back to our lives, we see that our prejudices are only natural.

Sev Kardeşim by Şenay


Dünya'ya geldik bir kere

Kavgayı bırak hergün bu şarkımı söyle

Sevdikçe güler her çehre

Amaçlar hep bir olsun

Kalpler birlikte


We came to the world for once

Leave fighting, sing my song everyday

When loves, every face smiles

The aims may be all together

Hearts all together

For the last one, I chose a happy ending which gives me cheers despite its age. A song from 1980, maybe the most brutal years in near Turkish history. Still, she is ever cheerful, ever reaching with her happiness and whenever I listen to this song, I smile and laugh for real this time. There is not much to say as she says it all at once. We came to this world once, love and smile, for the other things, life is too short to care about them.

A huge thanks to Tolga. we hope it's interesting for everyone to see how different it is writing whilst having to translate what you are doing. A very special talent.


MaxS and The Stray Army

1 Comment

Jackie Lambert
Jackie Lambert
Jun 17

What a wonderful and insightful selection of songs.

That the words of a 15th century poet still resonate today really brings home the universality of the human experience.

I so admire Tolga not just for giving up his career to follow his dreams, but writing in a foreign language. That is amazing!

Thank you so much for sharing.

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