I have the privilege today of interviewing talented London-based author, Maria Savva. Her new novel, 'Haunted' is being released on October 31st.
Maria is not only a talented author, but a tireless supporter/promoter of Indie authors across the net. You can find her on Twitter as @Maria_Savva.
With the release of her new novel on Halloween, I thought it appropriate to ask her 13 questions - now on with the interview!
1. 'Haunted' is a departure from your usual genre or style of writing, isn't it? What inspired you to write on the 'dark side'?
You did, Michael, as you are always saying that evil is best LOL.
[LOL - well, evil IS more fun...]
But, seriously, I don’t think it’s a departure from my usual style. I think it will still seem familiar for those readers who are used to my style, but it’s just a darker theme. I did venture into the dark side, dipping my literary toes into the water, so to speak, in Pieces of a Rainbow. Although it’s a colourful title, and colours of the rainbow are quite bright, that book delves into some dark areas, such as violence, addiction, death etc. When my beta readers read Pieces of a Rainbow, a couple of them said that the stories were quite dark. I suppose my writing reflects my own state of mind; when I write dark stuff, I think I’m working out some dark things from my own life. Writing has always been like a form of therapy for me. In the case of Pieces of a Rainbow, I had just been made redundant when I set out to write that set of stories, so my darker thoughts probably leaked out into the stories. With Haunted, it was a bit different because I wasn’t necessarily in a dark place when I was writing it, but it was inspired by a couple of dark events, so the writing reflected that.
2. I thought you did a magnificent job of showing Nigel's descent into a very dark place; what was the most challenging about showing his change?
The biggest challenge for me was living my normal everyday life while I was writing this story. When I write characters, I get into their minds; like an actor getting into character to portray them, I always try to put myself in the character’s shoes, and wonder how they would react, what they would think, what they would say. With Nigel, getting inside his mind was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Writing this book really took me to some dark places within my own psyche.
3. There seems to be a common thread of justice throughout the book, not only with Nigel, but also with Darcia and Russell. What about Ramiro, though? Was (what happened to him) justice as well, or simply an unavoidable part of the story?
I suppose what I wanted to show was that bad things don’t only happen to bad people. Sometimes there are tragic endings for people who are totally innocent. That’s probably one of the things that inspired the book in the first place.
4. Now that you have written a darker tale which could even be considered paranormal, do you think you will write more in this area?
I probably will. I think my paranormal leanings in my writing can be seen as early on as in my first novel, Coincidences, where Alice’s whole adventure basically too place because she believed something in her dream. This theme was further explored in my novel, The Dream, which also contains elements of the paranormal, as well as time travel. I grew up in a haunted house, and was always interested in ghost stories as a child. In fact, one of the scenes in The Dream is inspired by paranormal experience I had while living in the haunted house as a child. I have also written quite a few ghost stories which are featured in my short story collections. It’s something that has long fascinated me, and will probably continue to inspire my work.
5. What was the most difficult thing about writing 'Haunted'? What was the easiest?
The most difficult was, as discussed above, getting into Nigel’s mind and facing his demons. The easiest was actually writing the story. It didn’t take me long to get it down. And, even though it is a dark tale, it was fun to write and I enjoyed reading it over when editing it. It is probably my favourite novel so far.
6. Is there a certain time that you find is best for your writing? Do you write at specific times or when inspiration strikes?
Inspiration is floating around me constantly. When I pass someone in the street and hear a sentence they speak to another person or even into their mobile phone, I could pretty much write a short story based on it there and then. I am always being inspired by things I hear, like news snippets and headlines in the papers, watching people, chatting with someone, or even just staring out of a window. I am sure that if I was given the chance, I could be writing consistently all the time and never running out of ideas. Life is so full of stories waiting to be written. For me, right now, I just don’t have time to write everything that I could write because I have a full time job. I have to fit my writing into my life. I do find, though, that for me, my daily working life is where I get most of the best ideas for my novels, so I can’t knock it. I just wish there were more hours in the day. The most usual time of day you’ll find me writing is just before I go to bed, late at night. I don’t know why, but that time is more productive for me as a writer. It’s not only because I have a day job, because even when I was out of work, I seemed to prefer writing at night. Maybe it’s the silence that inspires me.
7. When searching for ideas, what helps inspire you?
I am inspired by everything and everyone around me. I know it’s an in joke that novelists will write people they know into their novels. For me, it happens all the time. People I know or people I don’t know. It could just be a person I have seen for a few minutes and their face or something they said inspired me to write them into a story or novel. People should probably be on their best behaviour around me as they will usually end up in one of my books.
8. As a writer I often struggle with time - there is never enough to balance between the day job, family and writing. How do you balance the demands on your time?
I don’t, is the short answer. I constantly feel like the proverbial headless chicken. But writing is like a drug. When I get an idea for a story, I write it, even if it means staying up into the night. I am always yawning.
9. As a cat lover, I have to ask you to introduce your cat to our readers - his name is Starsky, yes?
Starsky. Yes. He was named Starsky because his coat reminded me and my sister of Starsky’s cardigan in Starsky and Hutch! Our cat, Tiger, died at the age of 18 in 2001. I’d grown up with her and found that it was like losing a best friend. I was devastated. I literally could not live without a cat, so I went out and bought Starsky a couple of weeks after Tiger died. He was only about 2-3 weeks old when I brought him home. The woman who sold him to us seemed more interested in getting money by selling kittens rather than looking after them or making sure they stayed with their mother for the requisite 6 weeks. She told us he was 6 weeks old but the vet confirmed to us he was much younger. He was so tiny. He’s half-Persian and very beautiful, and very spoilt. Unfortunately he had ringworm when he first came to live with me, and I caught it! Because of his ringworm, we couldn’t handle him for a good few weeks when he was young and now he doesn’t really like being picked up. He’ll allow you to stroke him for a while, but then he’ll bite. He seems to think biting is a way to play with people. He’s also very dependant, more like a dog than a cat in that way.
10. If a major publisher offered you a contract on this or any other of your works, but required you to give up creative control, would you?
Absolutely not. The thing I like about self-publishing is that I get to retain control over my work. I am a bit of a control freak anyway, so this suits me well.
11. Is there any specific advice you would offer to a new writer wishing to publish for the first time?
Only that they should make sure they have their work edited properly before they publish it. That’s the most important advice anyone can give. And, by editing, I don’t mean pay an editor to tell you which bits to cut out and which bits to leave in. I am all for freedom of creative expression, so if you like your story the way it is don’t let anyone talk you into changing any of the characters or any of the story unless it's because of continuity issues. By editing, I mean make sure the grammar is up to a decent standard and that the book is not riddled with typos. I would also advise anyone who is thinking of publishing these days to do it by themselves. Don’t pay a publisher to publish for you. You can upload your work onto Kindle and other e-book formats quite easily by yourself, and you keep rights and royalties. The control freak part of me is coming out again!
12. Do you have any new projects in the works?
One project I am excited about, and you probably are too, Michael, is the joint novel that is currently being written by members of the writers’ forum, BestsellerBound.com
It’s all very much at the top secret stage at the moment, but will be a great novel when it’s published.
On my own, I am hoping to put together another collection of short stories. These are new and old stories. Some of them I found on my computer and an old floppy disk. The oldest ones in the collection probably date back to the early ’90s! I will of course be editing them and updating where necessary.
I am mulling over a few ideas for my next novel, but have nothing definite at the moment. The ideas seem to float past like butterflies and if I don’t catch them they fly away. I really should note things down when I get ideas for stories and novels. I always think I’ll remember them, but my memory is like a sieve these days. I did have a really good idea for my next novel, but can’t remember what that was. Oh, well, it’ll probably come back to me if it was meant to be written.
13. Finally, are there any other thoughts you would like to share with our readers?
I will just remind readers that the nicest and most helpful thing they can do for their favourite authors is to write a review on Amazon and other such sites. It’s the best way to show your support, apart from buying our books, of course.
Thank you again for joining us, Maria! Readers - be sure to enter the contest for a copy of Maria's upcoming novel, 'Haunted'. To be included in the drawing, just 'like' this post or leave a comment. A winner will be drawn at random on November 15th at 10:00 pm CST
back to top