Hello, and welcome to my blog! Today I’d like to introduce the delightfully charming Soulla Christodoulou.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
Hello, Kristy and thanks for having me! I’m an adult fiction author and poet and a mum of three boys. I live in a North London suburb, very close to where I grew up as part of a big Greek Cypriot family. My aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents were a huge part of my life and they still continue to be. I was the first in my family to go to university and I have graduated three times with a university degree, a Post Graduate in Education and a Masters.
I’m a fun-loving, giggly person who has learned to accept who I am in my later years and since “letting go” of other people’s expectations I have found that life just gets better and better. Being older definitely makes you wiser and I look at the world and all it has to offer not just with my eyes but with my heart too.
I am passionate about my Greek Cypriot roots, love my family and enjoy eating, travelling and of course writing. I am an advocate of young people and entrepreneurship and put lots of energy into supporting and nurturing young people to make the right choices for them and to push outside the boundaries of their comfort zone; after all, it’s outside the familiar and the comfortable that we find our best selves and our best opportunities.
My mother’s illness a few years ago prompted me to support others with cancer and I write monthly letters to women, through a charity called Girls Love Mail, based in California. One of my original letters is featured in a book called Dear Friend. Writing the letters reminds me how lucky I am to have my mum, my health and how privileged I am to be able to offer comfort and hope and strength and love to women through my words.
When I’m not working on my latest book I teach privately, offer editing services, both fiction and non-fiction, and ghost blogging on a variety of subjects.
What inspired you to write Broken Pieces of Tomorrow?
I’d always enjoyed writing and kept a diary through my teenage years. Then my life situation, as an adult, forced me to look outside of my career and my home; I joined a creative writing class in January 2015 as a way to clench back some “me” time and some control over my life. The feedback I got from my fellow writers on the course encouraged me to look at my writing more seriously. Out of that came my first novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow; a semi-biographical story based on my own experience of marital breakdown which translates as “my whole world and my future shattered into a million pieces overnight”. It is a “coming of age” story where the main character, Georgia, goes through a life-changing journey which impacts on her emotionally, intellectually and socially. It was a book, that looking back, healed me. It is a story that many readers, on many levels can relate to. Readers have contacted me to thank me for sharing Georgia’s experience and to say that reading the book gave them strength, hope and a new way of looking at their own situation. Many have laughed and cried with Georgia and it is the emotions her journey evokes in my readers that I am most proud of.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love the fact that I can write anywhere and at any time; it’s not a restrictive nine to five occupation. I like the way my day can be as long or as short as want it to be, that it can start as early as 6 am or continue long into the early hours as I tap away at my laptop when my house is cloaked in silence. It is also a way of expressing myself, my inner thoughts and ideas, without being judged. I can write down the words and emotions I have inside of me which would perhaps remain unsaid or which I believe might be received differently if I utter them out loud.
Who designs your book covers?
Both book covers to date have been designed and formatted by two students whose designs won a competition I launched across Instagram. One student lives in the UK and I have actually since met her and her mother at my book launch of The Summer Will Come. The second student lives and studies in Athens. I am hoping to meet him when I visit Athens in October later this year. Both designers have been acknowledged in my books for their creative contribution.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a story about two people who meet across social media; their friendship blossoms and they quickly become ‘virtual’ lovers. It’s a story about crossing the line, about emotional connections, dependency, relationships, and trust. The title of the book currently, though this may change, is Trust is a Big Word.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I would say go with your gut instinct when writing, when planning your journey. Write what resonates with you and fills your heart with joy. Writing is difficult and if you’re forcing yourself to write in a genre which doesn’t feel right or which interests you then it will become a chore and we all know what it’s like to be faced with a pile of ironing we don’t want to do!
Also, set yourself goals in a way that will motivate and encourage you to keep going…I tend to use SMART objective setting. This allows me to set my goals in such a way that they can be measured and achieved within a given time frame. Mostly this means a word count to be completed in a day or sitting or a chapter to be edited or, in the case of marketing, a set number of projects to be planned and executed.
Writing can be quite isolating (you can’t be writing if you’re chatting in a room full of people) so build a network of people who can support and advise; writers, authors, publishers, marketing experts, readers. I use my social media in such a way that the community I have built is one I can collaborate with and one in which I can seek help when I need it. I think, as in any career, it is the people who are in your “A Team” who can make all the difference. I have connected with some wonderfully generous, kind and insightful people many who I have met up with too. Social media, if used correctly, is a powerful tool and I wouldn’t be without it.
Reading and writing go hand in hand too so I would say read as much as you can and not only in the genre you’re writing in but push yourself to read books you may not usually read. Over time, it is the reading that will help to develop your own style and what is often referred to as “voice”.
Joining a creative writing class can help motivate you to write too. It means that you are accountable to someone else and so you will more than likely keep writing and reach those magic words “The End”.
I would also say when looking at publishing your work look at all the options and choose what suits you. I waited for a long time to be published traditionally but actually, I feel like my Indie publishing journey was meant to be. I’m entrepreneurially-minded, I have marketing knowledge and I’m a go-getter. Indie publishing has taught me so much about marketing, promotion, connecting with people and managing my time as a writer. Not all the options available suit everyone so it’s important to do what sits most comfortably with your personality, expectations and your instinct.
What kinds of things do you like do for fun? Hobbies?
I absolutely LOVE dancing and in the past have done belly-dancing lessons. I love to travel and in the past three years have travelled to seven different countries. Each time my writing has been inspired and new stories and story ideas have awakened within me. I also enjoy reading and watching video blogs relating to positivity, mindfulness, heartfulness and generally how to be in a constant state of “happiness”. My birth name, Anastasia, in Greek means the positive one and I am a positive person. That doesn’t mean I don’t get down but I always get back up by looking at the plus side of anything that happens in my life. EVERYTHING happens for a reason. I always believe that reason brings with it better understanding, an opportunity for growth and the ability to trust patience in my life to become the best I can be.
If you could choose any destination in the world to spend six months writing, where would you go and why?
Oh gosh, that’s a tough question to answer Kristy. I suppose somewhere away from the constant barrage of media, the noise of city living and the demands of day to day life. I’d be happy anywhere as long as I know my family is safe and happy without me. I can quite easily lose myself anywhere but if I had to name a place, and based on one of my most recent escapes, I would have to say India. It was a place full of magic, deep spiritual presence, and color which touched me both emotionally and intellectually. The culture from the people to the food to the lifestyles and the landscapes filled me with absolute wonder; a wonder I don’t think will ever be satiated. If I had to choose somewhere closer to home then I would say Cyprus; the birthplace of my parents, grandparents and those before them. Cyprus pulls at my heartstrings and helps me understand the people my parents are and the person I am too. Cyprus is a country of contradictions; bustling cities and simple villages, mountains and seas, hot and cold, barren landscapes and green forests, modern and ancient, east and west, art and music, and a people who are as passionate about their culture and traditions as they are about their families and their food.
What would you like your readers to know?
I suppose that I’m an ordinary person who has made a conscious decision to write. It’s not a hobby or a pastime. I have chosen to write every day and to use my experiences and the experiences of those around me to weave fictional stories that will evoke real emotions and thoughts that will remain with the reader long after they have reached the end. I’m a “happy ever after” person and this reflects in my writing and the way I live my life. No sadness lasts forever, it fades, it changes, it lessens and we move on. I love meeting my readers and connecting with those in my community; without them, I wouldn’t have anyone to share my words with other than myself. I enjoy talking about my writing at book club events and local fundraisers and public presentations. As a mother, and former secondary school teacher and Middle manager, I look for opportunities to support young people.
Where can we find your books?
Currently, all my books, including my historical fiction novel, The Summer Will Come and my poetry collection, Sunshine after Rain, is available on Amazon.
*Last movie you watched
Goodbye Christopher Robin – on a flight to India which left me bawling my eyes out.
*Favorite place to write
At my dining room table, in the summer, with the French doors open onto my back garden
*Three things you can’t live without
Music, laughter and green tea!
*Last book you read
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Cherry Radford which I read sunning myself in Cyprus.
*Top three favorite bands of all time
I love dancing and I honestly cannot narrow it down at all.
Pinks, blues, and greys.
Early summer when the days are not too hot and you feel the relief of the breeze through your hair, blooms colour the garden and the skies are blue.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this, Soulla. Wishing you all the best!