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Carly Sotas

Carly Sotas is a fourth-year student who is active in various campus mental health initiatives, is a Loran Award winner, has written for The Ubyssey and Elite Daily, and was recently recognized as a Student Leadership Conference “Faces of Today” winner for her contributions to the UBC community.

That’s an impressive résumé, and now she can add published author; Her first book, Illusion, was published in 2015. 

In Illusion, Sotas shares her experiences, from leaving her small Manitoban hometown for New York City, to being bullied and struggling with self-doubt. She shares these with the hope that her story will resonate with other people. All proceeds from the book will go to the organization Pencils of Promise, which provides education and other services for youth in the developed world. 

HC UBC: What was the inspiration behind Illusion?

Sotas: Growing up, I read a lot of teen magazines like Seventeen and Cosmopolitan. I was looking for answers, things like how to be happy and successful and confident and all those things that young people look for in their lives, and I just realized that all the advice that they were giving was based on superficial, shallow information and really wasn’t relevant to what I was looking for. I realized eventually as I grew up that I was really looking for a sense of connection to all the young people who were reading it and to the celebrities and that other world, so I started writing and reflecting on these different things and writing about my own experiences. 

HC UBC: What was your goal in writing this book?

Sotas: There were things that I really wanted to express and I found that the easiest way to express them was through writing. So that was my personal goal, and in terms of sharing it with people I really hoped that it would let other young people know they are not alone and that they’re not the only ones who face challenges. Even though my experiences are different from other peoples’ experiences, I hope that, through connecting my own personal anecdotes to the greater life lessons that are applicable to everybody, that it creates that sense of community and lets people know that they’re not alone. 

HC UBC: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced? 

Sotas: Just trying to balance [writing] with other things and prioritize was really challenging. The most challenging part was actually sharing [the book] with the first couple of people who I shared it with. That was probably the scariest part, and receiving criticism and realizing I had to improve. I realized that artwork is never something that can be complete and at some point you just have to do something and acknowledge that, “If I write this at least I’m getting it out there while I’m still young.”

HC UBC: What has it been like to see the positive response to Illusion

Sotas: It’s been really, really amazing. That’s been the most rewarding part for sure. A lot of the people who have read it are people who I’ve known and it’s been a really nice way to connect with people in my life, and also people who I don’t know; after they read the book, [they] feel like [they] know somebody. To have that connection with another person who has read the book is really, really special. I found that it’s been a conversation starter…If people know what I’ve been going through and they’re going through something similar then they’ll often talk to me about it, which is really nice.

HC UBC: What surprised you the most during this whole process?

Sotas: What surprised me is how many different people can relate to it. I kind of wrote it with the intention that, “Oh, this is going to be for young women in similar positions as me,” but actually the most surprising thing is how it’s transcended that age boundary and how I’ve had 60 year-old, 70 year-old people say, “Wow, I connected with you!”A local farmer in my community called my house and said, “This book came to me at the exact time that I needed it in my life.”

HC UBC: What’s one message you want your readers to take with them from Illusion

Sotas: You are not alone. Everybody has a story or an experience or a perspective that they can offer. I think we don’t realize how much sharing our experiences with other people can help get them through difficult times. 

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