We prove that for any number $r \in [2,3]$, there are spin (resp. nonspin and minimal) simply connected complex surfaces of general type $X$ with $c_1^2(X)/c_2(X)$ arbitrarily close to $r$. In particular, this shows the existence of simply connected surfaces of general type arbitrarily close to the Bogomolov-Miyaoka-Yau line. In addition, we prove that for any $r \in [1,3]$ and any integer $q\geq 0$, there are minimal complex surfaces of general type $X$ with $c_1^2(X)/c_2(X)$ arbitrarily close to $r$ and $\pi_1(X)$ isomorphic to the fundamental group of a compact Riemann surface of genus $q$. %A central ingredient is a new family of special arrangements of elliptic curves in the projective plane.