I am so excited to be sharing with you my soon-to-be-released interview with author and blogger Soulla Christodoulou. I hope you enjoy it and look forward to receiving your comments.
- When did you start writing creatively?
About twenty-one years ago. My dad got ill and so I started writing my novel Tredicino for him and it would be the only thing to make him smile during that painful time and then I began to write the ‘Me, You and…’ stories. I switched from one to the other intermittently which kept my writing juices flowing.
- Which author has most influenced your own writing style?
I would say Roald Dahl with The Frankie book series and I think his zaniness is injected into my stories. JK Rowling’s success, however, in her approach to a book series made me look at my novel Tredicino in a different way and because of the word count I have decided to serialise it. I can also say Enid Blyton influenced my writing as I wanted to introduce a varied vocabulary dealing with adventurous situations. For example, the country links with Britain, Ireland and Italy give a taste of the culture of different places increasing their general knowledge as Enid Blyton did in her books too.
- Many writers dream of having an agent/publisher are you going to pursue this traditional route to market or have you published independently?
Yes, definitely. I think to get my books to a wider audience I would need the expertise and knowledge of the market that an agent and/or publisher will be able to afford me. I have made some of my books available as e-books on KDP but I am still hopeful to work with an expert in the field of children’s books so that all the series can be made available.
- How did you choose the title of your latest book or book series?
For Tredicino I used the name my dad used in his stories to me as in Italian this means the thirteenth child and this is what this child got called because his parents could not be bothered to give him a name and he was the thirteenth child in his family.
I came up with the name Frankie because that was my nephew’s shortened name from Francesco and I thought it suited my little adventurer.
‘The Me, You and…’series came along because of my love of the world around us and the signs of danger that were emerging in how people were treating it for example, pollution, plastic in the oceans and poaching of animals. So I felt as a tribute to animals who I love I could get across to children the amazing aspects of the elements and via the activity we explore these issues further.
As I was writing this series I became very involved in mindfulness and decided to apply this to the children I teach and their learning and so restructured my books to have a mindful approach.
- Of all your books, who is your favourite character and why?
Tredicino is my favourite character because he’s got super powers, he’d been brought up by awful parents yet rises above all the things going against him. By the time he was born his parents couldn’t even be bothered to give him a name hence he is called the 13th child and has an awful existence until his grandma comes and lives with the family and he is destined to grow and flourish and become important. It’s a story of fighting back and finding yourself in a world that isn’t always kind.
- Your children’s books are very colourful; who created your artwork?
I’ve had a number of artists work with me. David Ivory illustrated the Frankie books; he was an art school teacher where I used to take my son and then I got in-house support, from those who had creative talents and worked within my school although I have the copyright to all my artwork and I have also done some of the illustrations myself as art was one of my A Levels and has always been a hobby alongside my writing.
- What are you working on at the moment/what’s next?
Presently I’m working on my novel because it has been re-born and re-modelled; due to many personal experiences I’ve had to put it down and have gone back to it with fresh eyes. I’ve told myself this is the last time I’m going back to it! My son reviewed it for me and made enormous enhancing changes which took it to being more of a universal book for boys and girls.
I’m also working on my educational books; ‘Everything you need to know for the 11+ exam in English and Verbal Reasoning and how to pass it.’
- Where do you write and do you have a writing routine?
I write anywhere and everywhere but I am probably most productive and best at night, usually at the dining room table and sometimes in bed. I usually write at night…with my Tredicino novel I’m re-visiting the novel and developing the characters and adding more detail.
What’s your favourite go-to snack when writing?
I’ve gone through stages but popcorn was a favourite for a long time and chocolate but now I tend to have dates and dried fruit…lots of different fads and currently I nibble on cream crackers!
- Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy and why?
I think it can be quite isolated and it can be quite a lonely experience and you do feel a lot of pressure; is it good enough? You always question yourself and wonder if you’re doing this well enough and not fooling yourself…but I think that every writer will question their ability but I do find it good fun to get into my writing and the different characters.
- Does your work as an educator inform your writing in any way? How?
Yes, if I hadn’t been a teacher I would not have been able to do the activity books which support the ‘Me, You and…’ series. I need the wealth of knowledge my experience brings to produce these. It’s helped me to choose the vocabulary that I think is essential for children to know.
- What two things frustrate you the most about the writing industry?
I think that literary agents are so difficult to get unless you’re a published author and it seems like a catch 22 situation. I wonder whether all publishers really read manuscripts sent to them? I think that’s one main thing for me. The second is that I think that those people who are published don’t seem to support those of us who need that support to get a lucky break…I think it’s kept closed and it’s difficult to find a way in. I also think all this ghost-writing doesn’t do any real authors a favour either. As a previous ghost writer I made a lot of money for someone else and this left me wanting to do it for myself.
- Are you a planner or a pantser?
I think I started off as a pantser and then I became a planner…the structure of the story is vital.
- What’s on your current to-do list?
To get a literary agent or publisher because of the nature of my books, they are not easy to sell on Amazon and I’m hoping to sort this out before I get my novel out there and I want to get my name out there as a brand.
Thank you so much to Soulla for doing the interview and to you for reading. I hope that you will connect with me across my social media platforms too.
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