Tell me what you write.
In addition to this Women’s fiction novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow I have written a collection of 30 poems called Sunshine after Rain and a second novel published March 2018 called The Summer Will Come – based in Cyprus in the 1950s and towards the end of the 1950s in London; my research included on-line research which I collate on Pinterest and has taken me on an incredible journey and I have met people who have opened up to me for the first time, with their personal accounts and memories, which has been a privilege and an honour. I am currently doing final edits and revisions on this story while 43,000 words into a third novel, ‘Trust is a Big Word’.
Have you visited Greece?
I am of Greek Cypriot origin and so Cyprus, growing up, was my family’s destination for Summer holidays where we would escape London and disappear for a few weeks to enjoy both the beaches and the mountains. We also holidayed on the Greek island of Crete. But yes, I have visited Athens many times both for business and pleasure as well as many of the Greek islands including Corfu, Zakynthos, Kos, Xios, Oinousses and Sifnos.
And how does Greek culture play into your life and your books?
Greek culture has played a large part in both my books; Broken Pieces of Tomorrow about an Anglo Greek Cypriot woman’s journey of self-discovery after discovering her husband’s infidelity. In The Summer Will Come the story begins in 1950s Cyprus so the reader is drawn into life on the island.
If your book was made into a movie, which actors would play the main characters?
Julia Roberts would play Georgia as she is feminine, unpretentious yet strong and determined and Salma Hayek would play Thalia as she is glamourous. Robert Downey would make a great Nicolas as he has that boyish innocent face yet can play someone who is angry, calculating and controlling too.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I tend to write out a chapter synopsis of the main action in each chapter, the characters and their motivations, key plot ideas and a running time line alongside this. Both these documents are organic and once I start writing I go back and tweak, change, move chapters around and ‘build’ on my original story idea. Sometimes my story goes in a different direction or I decide to bring in another obstacle or challenge.
Do you prefer to read traditional books or ebooks?
I actually read both. I borrow lots of books from my local library and tend to download books on my Kindle that I have heard about or read about through social media. I have recently read Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence, currently am reading your book Vivir el Dream, and I have Dead Man’s Prater by Jackie Baldwin to read next.
Who designs your book covers?
I put a shout out on Instagram and a wonderful young student called Mya Glenister has designed two of the three book covers for me and an Athens University student called Alex Sainidis has designed my third book cover. Both students have been absolutely brilliant and as a former Business Studies teacher I am pro pushing and encouraging entrepreneurship in young people so this seemed to work all round; it gave the students a platform on which to showcase their work and has given me the satisfaction of knowing I have given them an opportunity to shine, build their confidence and develop their ideas on a formal footing.
Do you attend literary lunches or events?
As a fairly new writer I haven’t attended many but spent three days at LBF2018 where I met with and connected with a number of authors and publishers. I have attended a Bloggers and Authors event in London and recently attended a networking event organised by the Federation of Small Businesses. Both events have allowed me to talk about my work and gain an insight into how other authors and entrepreneurs have been able to be successful. I am always open to learning new techniques and trying out new ideas. My thoughts on last year’s LBF2017 can be seen here.
What do you think about writing groups or critique groups?
My experience of both has been positive. I suppose as a former teacher I know how important feedback is when you are working on a project and sometimes we can be too close to an idea or a story to see something might be missing or not quite working. I would say take the feedback about your writing, don’t take it personally, and use it, to improve your writing for the reader.
What does literary success look like to you?
It’s too early for me to tell but I’d like to think that for me it’s having my books published and people talking about them, leaving reviews, being invited to talk about my writing and my writing journey and hopefully making some money along the way.
How long does it take you to write a book/poem?
Broken Pieces of Tomorrow, from the initial idea to the final formatted draft, has taken me about a year to write. A poem can take anything from 15 minutes to an hour or more! My collection of poetry probably took me about 60 hours.
How do you market yourself and your book?
So far it has been mainly through my social media although I have recently engaged in author interviews, blog posts, attending business and author networking groups. I had an official launch and book signing for The Summer Will Come, and it went tremendously well and has definitely made a huge difference in sales for the new release and my first book too!
Why do you write?
Quite simply it makes me feel happy from the inside out and the outside in!
How often do you write and what is your process?
I write every day and I treat writing as my job, my business, and so I tend to write for a minimum of 6 hours a day, and often at weekends too. I write at my laptop which is set up on my dining room table. I have a beautiful outlook onto the garden and in the summer months I open the French doors and let the outside in; I find this conducive to losing myself in my ‘writing’ world and sometimes forget to stop for lunch as I am so engrossed and in my writing. In terms of my process, I read over what I have written before to remind myself where I am in the story and just get on with it. I normally have a paper copy of my chapter synopsis open next to me which I annotate if I change or need to tweak anything while I’m tapping away.
What writing advice can you give?
I would say surround yourself with a support network – writing buddies, readers, bloggers, beta readers – as writing can be a lonely occupation, way of life, and it’s very easy to shut yourself off and bury yourself in your writing in complete solitude. Don’t get me wrong this is great as you need to get the writing done but equally, in my experience, you need people around you even if it’s just to say you’re on the right track or have you thought about this?
Can you create a short writing prompt?
Ooh yes…It wasn’t what she had expected and realised she was about to make either the best decision of her life or the biggest mistake. She pressed send…
What is your favorite food?
That’s a really difficult question to answer! I enjoy home cooked food the most, especially Greek Cypriot cuisine, but equally enjoy Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Persian and Indian. I tend to like foods with great flavours and tastes.
If you were trapped on a deserted island and could only bring 5 books, what would they be?
The Secret Garden which was one of the first books I received as a gift when I was a child from my god-sister. It has a red leather cover and gold embossed lettering on the cover. It’s a beautiful book to not only read but to hold.
The Five People you Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom which gets you thinking about life and actions and consequences and ‘what ifs’. It’s a spiritual book which turns life on its head.
Teacher Man by Frank McCourt which captures the life of being a teacher so aptly.
Nacht (translated simply as Night) by Elie Wiesel which is a personal account written by a Nazi concentration camp survivor. Reading it had me in tears almost from start to finish. It is profoundly thought-provoking.
And definitely my third book, currently a work in progress called Trust is a Big Thing (though this may change) so I can finish writing it!
Thank you, Soulla! I can’t wait to read these books!!!!!