I am so thrilled to share another author interview with you guys, this one from the lovely Soulla Christodoulou, who, in my (correct) opinion, is the embodiment of a “ray of sunshine”!
What initially drew me to Soulla is her steadfast positivity and genuine passion for helping and encouraging others, whether through uplifting tweets, inspirational Instagram posts, thoughtful writing critiques, or compassion-filled handwritten letters. Truly, she inspires me not just to keep writing, but also to love fully, give often, and smile always!
I know you will be inspired by what she has to say in this interview! Now grab a hot beverage, get cozy, and enjoy!
Please give a brief overview of yourself and your work.
Hi, Diana and thanks so much for inviting me!
I’m a mother of three boys, recently left my ten-year career teaching Business Studies to 14-19 year olds and I now focus much of my time on writing and running Children’s Creative Writing Classes and Private English Tuition. I attend bi-weekly creative writing classes which helps to keep me focused on my writing as well as provides me with a support network for my writing and other writing-related activities.
I have recently published my first novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow – a semi-biographical, women’s fiction novel (although two men read the final book and loved it!) which follows the emotional and spiritual journey of a forty-year-old woman after the break-up of her marriage.
I have also published Sunshine after Rain – a collection of 30 poems inspired by old sayings and phrases; one of which was put forward by you Diana and I’ve included it in the collection.
My second novel is titled The Summer Will Come, a historical fiction novel based around the conflict of 1950s Cyprus. It is almost at the beta-reading stage and I’m hoping it will be out late 2017/early 2018 to coincide with one of two big dates in the history of Greece, both which are observed and celebrated by Cyprus too.
What made you want to be a writer? How did you begin writing?
I have always enjoyed writing and jotting down story ideas for as long as I remember. As a teenager I kept a diary for years. Three years ago I decided to take my writing to the next level and joined a Creative Writing Class and this gave me the confidence to take my writing more seriously.
What inspires you to write?
Life…sometimes embracing all that it is and other times escaping it! I’m a real people person and wherever I go I tend to attract people who open up to me and tell me their stories. Life is what inspires me to write and not only the good things but the real hard truths too – sadness, worry, anxiety, pain, illness…there’s a story in everywhere I go and in everyone I meet.
Broken Pieces of Tomorrow was inspired by my own experience of a marriage break-up and the journey of self-discovery which followed. It offers insights into the emotional and spiritual awakening which brought with it many ‘tears and thrills’. It was a way of coming to terms with all that had happened to me and turning the experience into something positive for me.
The Summer Will Come, a historical fiction novel, was inspired by my own family’s move in the 1950s from a Cyprus in the throes of political unrest to a new and vibrant life in London which brought with it its own challenges and surprises. The contrast of village life with all the Greek Cypriot culture and traditions to a life in London shows the many hardships endured and it was an honour to be able to interview many Greek Cypriot people, including my own parents, to build my story. It has given me a great sense of belonging in writing this book and understanding that moving to London came with many sacrifices.
The third novel I’m currently researching titled Trust is a Big Thing is based on a man’s emotional journey as an adult living with Cerebral Palsy. It will look at the theme of crossing the line; an on-line relationship evolves between him and a woman and how this impacts on him emotionally and awakens sexual desires in him which have never been previously fulfilled even though he is a married man. I’m playing around with different ways of writing the story including monologues to capture his inner most thoughts, messages sent back and forth and of course the medical information and physical impact that CP has on an adult man and how I can write these in sensitively yet with realism.
Is there any particular incident that has happened along your writing journey that you’d like to share?
I’d say how amazingly wonderful the journey has been in terms of self-discovery. I’ve learnt a lot about myself through my writing and I would urge any writer to be as honest as you can be when writing. Don’t be shy, embarrassed or worried about how readers will interpret what you’ve written. Your own true thoughts, ideas and feelings are what makes your writing unique. Write what you feel, write what you haven’t expressed or told anyone else before…whether it is fantasy or romance or action or thriller…make it REAL!
How do you handle rejection as a writer?
I believe 100% in my writing, and although my heart drops a little when I read a rejection email, I carry on! My decision to publish my work independently has allowed me to have control over timing, book cover design, marketing, and to be honest, hold onto my books a little longer!
How do you deal with isolation, as writing is an inherently private exercise?
In the main, I actually enjoy the isolation and the solitude. I find silence comforting and nurturing. After teaching for ten years and bringing up three boys, isolation is a welcome environment to be in. No noise, no interruptions, no alarms signaling stop or start.
Having said that I’ve made some amazing friends through social media and so if I get lonely, they are one click away and of course, I’m lucky enough to live close to all my family and friends. Meeting up for a catch up is easy enough. It’s amazing how a break can re-charge your energy and writing momentum.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
I would say that writing is not about sitting in front of a laptop or with a notebook and pen in a coffee shop people-watching. You’ll probably find the writing is the easy bit. It’s everything else that requires just as much, if not more, discipline and time – the re-writes, the revisions, getting and acting on feedback, organising beta-readers and ARCs and of course all the social media activity and marketing.
Be prepared for having to organise all of this on an on-going basis and remember to start building your profile and your ideas out there as soon as you can, but remember you don’t have to be on every social media platform either. Be selective and choose what works for you and what you are most comfortable with…or you really will have no time for writing at all!
Which writers do you admire?
One of my all-time favourite books is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. More recently I’ve enjoyed the work of Maya Angelou, including her poetry and then there’s writers such as Maeve Binchy, Joanna Trollop, Joanne Harris and Victoria Hislop. I love REAL writing about REAL people and their stories of over-coming adversity, whatever that may be. I enjoy stories that bring out emotions and feelings and which encourage you to think about life, relationships and different cultures and what they each bring and how we react to them and the changes they bring to us as individuals.
Any marketing tips for fellow authors?
Be open and honest!
Remain professional but real!
Support other writers as you would a friend!
What do you think is the biggest marketing challenge for new authors?
I would say not becoming the hard sell author where all your social media feeds are ‘Buy my book’ or ‘Get my book for free’. People buy from people so show your followers and fans who you are, share links to research and ideas that link to the themes and genre of your books, news articles and snippets of your life like days out.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
The writing community is a supportive and sharing one and it’s amazing the pool of experience, knowledge and advice you can tap into, so share your own knowledge, ask questions and remember it’s about give and take.
What’s your favorite writing beverage and/or snack?
I’m a tea girl so it’s tea every time – green tea based infusions and Greek Cypriot tea with cinnamon sticks and cloves.
Website and social media links:
Other books: https://www.soulla-author.com/the-summer-will-come/