MURSKA SOBOTA, Slovenia - Slovenia's best-selling author Feri Lainscek published most of his 21st novel, "Fear for Butterflies in the Storm", in installments on Facebook over several months this year.
It was an attempt to interact with his readers and share what he had written almost in real time, but the final chapters will only be published when the book comes out this month.
Set in the 1970s, when Slovenia was part of communist Yugoslavia, and in 1991, during its brief war for independence, the plot follows a Slovenian student, Marko, as he serves in the Yugoslav People's Army in Serbia and falls in love with Ljiljana, a Serb from Belgrade.
Some 20 years later, as communism is collapsing in Europe and Yugoslavia is falling apart, he will learn that Ljiljana gave birth to their child, a son she named Marko.
Young Marko is now doing his own military service in the Yugoslav army, which has rolled out tanks to crush Slovenia's drive for independence.
The more than 2,000 readers who followed the novel on Facebook have yet to find out if father and son will meet, but Lainscek cautioned against expecting a happy ending.
"My readers always want me to write a happy ending and I can only say I've failed once again," he told Reuters with a laugh, sitting in his cozy writing loft in Murska Sobota, a town tucked away in the northeastern corner of Slovenia.
"The novel is a metaphor for Yugoslavia's disintegration. Butterflies are the young men who fought in Yugoslav, Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian troops. The break-up wasn't happy, there were thousands of dead and the ending cannot be happy. So ladies, prepare your handkerchiefs."
Lainscek, 55, whose work has been translated into several languages including English, shared his views about the future of literature in the Internet age.
Q: How did you decide to publish 35 chapters of your new novel on Facebook?
A: It was the idea of interactive engagement that tickled me. But, paradoxically, it became more akin to a classic literary supplement, except that supplements do not allow readers to comment.
But even there, the readers did not really try to give advice or disagree or change the plot.
They came to see this as a novel in installments, or a TV series, and just continued reading and cheering for the heroes. So in the end there was not as much interactivity as I had hoped for.
Some told me 'Wow, great marketing move', but for me it was about experimenting with this medium, with something new.