An Interview with Maria Savva
Today it is my extreme privilege and pleasure to welcome and introduce you to another UK based author, Maria Savva.
Maria and I have been very good virtual friends for about two years now. As an author and friend, Maria has always had time to chat to me about her writing and her books. The first book of Maria’s that I ever read, ‘A Time to Tell’, left me with the feeling that I had discovered a writer who in her own unique way, managed to capture sensitive events and feelings that some people may unfortunately actually encounter and experience within their lifetime. When I asked Maria if she would do an interview for my new blog, and knowing that she works to a very busy schedule, and to my delight she kindly agreed!
Maria’s books can be found on Amazon or Lulu.com. Maria is currently the author of three novels entitled ‘Coincidences’, ‘A Time to Tell’ and ‘Second Chances’. She has also published two books of short stories called ‘Pieces of a Rainbow’ and ‘Love and Loyality (and other tales)’. Maria is shortly due to publish a third book of short stories and is also currently finishing off her fourth novel, which she might tell us a bit about during her interview if we are lucky!
Maria currently lives and works as a solicitor in London and writes her novels and short stories in her spare time.
TSR: A very warm welcome to you Maria, and very big thank-you, for taking the time to talk to us today.
MS: Thank you for inviting me here, Calum. I do enjoy reading your blog, so it's great to be a part of it!
TSR: Where did you grow up and what are your strongest memories of that time?
MS: I was born in North London. The first house I lived in was in Finsbury Park and was typical of the time. It was a large house with three floors and was split into lots of separate bed sits. There were at least 5 or 6 other tenants/families living in the house in their individual rooms. We all shared one bathroom. It was fun growing up in that sort of environment. There was an old woman who lived on her own upstairs, she became good friends with my mother and often used to look after me and my brother. There was a family with two small daughters who lived across the hall from us and we were good friends.
When I was about 5 years old we moved to Wood Green. The council house we lived in was haunted. A man had committed suicide there and there years before we moved in. There were rumours that he had been in love with a woman but they were not able to be together for some reason, so he killed himself. There were many strange goings on in that house. I remember that as soon as we would all go up to our bedrooms and settle down for the night, all of the doors downstairs used to keep slamming. Also, one day, my mum was alone in the house and she heard what sounded like gun shots -- very loud, as if they came from within the house -- when she looked up, she saw that one of the glass panels above the door in the room had two holes through it, like gun shots... Our cat left home not wanting to live there with the ghost! I used to have a lot of nightmares. I even had a dream where a man took me to show me his tombstone! That was very vivid and scary. I once saw a snake in one of the bedrooms, but it just appeared and disappeared. Even though it was haunted, I did like the house and I remember when we moved again a few years later, I went into each room and said good-bye to it. It was a Victorian terraced house, and in those days, as children me and my brother and sister would play outside until late with the other children in the street.
The street where we lived was being modernised by the council, so we were moved a few streets away when I was 9 years old. Our house was one of the last to be modernised, so we watched as one by one all of our neighbours left the street and it became a bit of a ghost-town. I used to take my sister to play in the empty houses, she's 4 years younger than me, so she was just a toddler at the time. We used to take our dolls and toys and go into the empty houses...
On the whole it was a happy childhood, and I have good memories of growing up in North London.
TSR: What sort of books did you enjoy reading as a child?
MS: I was (and still am) a bookworm. I loved C.S. Lewis's Children's books. I think I read all of those. I also liked Swallows and Amazons, Alice in Wonderland, and Roald Dahl books, among others.
TSR: Do you think the books that you read during your early years influenced your writing in any way?
MS: I think everything in our life influences our writing. In terms of style, I think I was probably more influenced by the books I read for O'Level or A'Level English, because when you study books in that sort of depth you get a feel for the way words are put together by different authors.
TSR: Did you always want to become a writer?
MS: No. I used to want to be an actress when I was very young, then I wanted to be a Wimbledon champion, then a rock star, (you can see how imagination plays a big role in my life). Then when it came to actually making a career decision at 16, I was good at art, so I applied to college to become a make-up artist or hairdresser. I was accepted into the college, but something someone said to me changed my mind. I'd been unsure whether to carry on with school and do A' levels and go to University, and was persuaded by a friend who said that I should use my brains because I was very clever and it was a shame to waste that. So rightly or wrongly I took the path that led to me becoming a lawyer. I did often used to joke with my family that one day I would write a best-selling novel. So you never know...
TSR: If you had not followed a career in Law, is there any other field in which you would have liked to work?
MS: Writing is what I would love to do for a living. I know that I enjoy writing and it's something that comes easily to me, so I suppose there's not much else that I'd like to do.
TSR: Do you have a favourite place where you do your writing best?
MS: Up until about 2 years ago, I used to write everything in longhand on a pad of paper, whilst sitting up in bed at night! Then there would be the arduous task of having to type up my illegible words onto the computer.
I have now found that I can actually type the novels directly onto the computer, so nowadays I sit in front of my computer and let the creativity flow.
I can write anywhere, really, so I haven't got any particular favourite places where I do my writing.
TSR: What influenced you to write ‘A Time to Tell’ the themes of which I felt, were about aspects of life and relationships?
MS: That's an interesting question. I started writing it in 1998, a long time ago, so I can't remember exactly how I started it, or what particular aspect of the book I started writing first.
I can tell you that Cara's relationship with Frederick was inspired by a man I met and fell in love with at first sight when I was 21. In the novel, Cara falls in love at first sight with Frederick. I suppose much of her feelings and emotions in regards to Frederick were reflections of my own emotions/frustrations because of this unrequited love. I know I was still in love with him when I started writing 'A Time to Tell', so that for me is a major part of the book.
The domestic violence story about Penelope was inspired by some of my clients. For a few years I worked in the field of family law and came across many cases of domestic violence and as I was quite young at the time, there was a shock factor for me when I was hearing all these stories about how people were treated so badly by their partners.
I think that writers are influenced by the world around them and in particular aspects of events and people they meet in their lives will come out in their writing. This is something that we can't really avoid.
TSR: Do you have a set routine when you are working on a new novel?
MS: I will always have a plan. This will probably be one side of A4 paper with a list of main events that I would like to include in the novel -- how it starts, a few main events, and how it ends. As I write the novel, I always find that the plan goes off course for a while, sometimes it will go back to the general direction of the story I'd initially planned, but sometimes it will become a completely different book. I've discussed this with other writers and it seems that it's quite common for characters to develop to such an extent that they then dictate what will happen in a book. I've said this before, and it sounds absurd, but sometimes I think the books write themselves to a certain extent and we as the writers are mediums of sorts. I'm often quite surprised by the twists and turns in my novels, and often don't know how a book or story is going to end until I get there!
TSR: What genre would you say your books tend to fit into?
MS: Fiction is the only genre I like to use for my books. I don't like all of these sub-categories, personally. I think they may have been designed by publishers because they like things to fit neatly into boxes. I find that my themes are so diverse and varied that I can't put a tag on the book and say, for example, 'this is a romance novel', 'this psychological thriller', or 'this is a comedy', because often there will be elements of all of these things and more, in my books.
TSR: In your latest book ‘Second Chances’, the principal focus is again based on relationships. How did you think of and develop the main characters within this story?
MS: There are two main characters in 'Second Chances', a husband and wife who are heading for a divorce. I tried to write the book so that you could see the perspective of both how the man and the woman are feeling in this situation. Again, reflections of my own life are coming through as I used to work as a divorce lawyer.
James, the husband, is a solicitor, so in some ways his character has been developed using aspects of my own experiences of working as a solicitor. In some of the scenes, we see James at work. I started writing 'Second Chances' when I had been through a few bad work experiences, working for firms where I was low paid and generally not valued. Some of those frustrations come out in the book.
Pamela, the wife, is someone who feels neglected, but also someone who has a past which she has kept hidden. I've always been interested in stories about people who have hidden pasts, I've heard a lot of stories in my time about such people and I suppose one theme that runs through my books is that of secrets and how people can get away with telling them and living with them for so long.
TSR: Which character in ‘Second Chances' do you like best and why?
MS: That's like asking someone who is their favourite child. I really like all of my characters, they're all a part of me in a way and there's no way I could pick a favourite.
TSR: What is your all time favourite book and why?
MS: That's a tough one! I have so many favourite books. If I had to pick one it would be Alice in Wonderland, because it's one of the first books I ever owned, and I recently read it again and totally loved it. But I have to mention 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho, because I think that book is the one that made me really want to try to write a novel, and it's the sort of book you can read over again and again without getting bored of it.
TSR: Are you currently reading a book at the moment, and if so what is it?
MS: I'm always reading... too many books. These days, I tend to read a few books at a time. I'm currently reading: 'Porcelain' by Jess C Scott, a very talented young writer who seems to have been born to be a writer in the digital age. I absolutely loved her book 'Eyeleash: A Blog Novel', which is a novel told in a series of blogs.
I'm also reading 'The Day the Flowers Died' by Ami Blackwelder. It's a love story set in Nazi Germany before the war; I'm only about a quarter of the way through, but I'm really enjoying it.
I'm reading 'The Famished Road' by Ben Okri (the 1991 Booker Prize winner). It started off amazing, but is now plodding. I'm going to carry on reading it though as it is still keeping my interest... I just hope something exciting happens soon, or I may give up on it!
Finally, I'm reading 'Twenty-Five Years Ago Today' by Stacy Juba; a mystery about an unresolved murder from 25 years ago. I've only just started reading it, so far it's good.
TSR: You are currently strongly involved with ‘Indie Publishing’ movement. Can you briefly explain what ‘Indie Publishing’ is, and why do you have such a strong interest in this field?
MS: Indie Publishing is where a writer will publish their books independently either on their own or through a small press/publisher. These days it is becoming more common for authors to choose to self-publish because the tradition route to publishing is more of a closed shop. The large publishing houses will very rarely take on an unknown author because being a business they have to think of profits and in reality people are more likely to buy a book by someone they've heard of or by a celebrity. There has been a trend where celebrities are having their 'autobiographies' written by ghost writers, or putting their names to novels which they haven't written. It's a form of degeneration and there is a quiet revolt going on behind the scenes.
I'm a resident author on a new message board where readers can discover and chat to indie writers. Bestsellerbound.com was created by my fellow indie author and friend Darcia Helle. Myself and author Stacy Juba are resident authors/moderators on the board. Stacy wrote a wonderful press release for Bestsellerbound.com which can be read on the actual message board.
Our aim is to open the door for readers into our world. When I was made redundant back in 2008, I started to concentrate more on my writing and began to meet many indie authors online. I've read many of their books and I can honestly say (as a lifelong bookworm who used to only read best-sellers), I have been very impressed by the indie books I've read. Nowadays, I'm mainly reading indie books, not only because I want to support my fellow indie writers but because I've found that there is a different level of creativity with indie writers; we are more able to take our time with our books, we don't have deadlines imposed by publishers, we can work at our own pace and we can perfect our books; and more importantly we don't have to fit in to a certain genre or mould, so there is so much more original content in the indie books I've been reading. I'm not saying that all books published by big publishing firms are rubbish, but they're not all great either... what people have to realise is that there is a lot of money spent on advertising with these best-selling books. Indie authors don't have that sort of money, so maybe people are put off buying our books because they don't see Richard and Judy, or Oprah recommending them. I've also found that there is a negative attitude towards indie authors. With Bestsellerbound.com, what we hope to achieve is to show people that there are so many great books that are not being read because people haven't heard of them. Okay, I admit that there are a few self-published authors who don't bother with editing and give the rest of us a bad name, but there are so few of these out there. Most of the indie authors I have read are very wary of how some reviewers are going to be ready to rip our books to shreds if there is even one typo in there just because it's self-published. With Bestsellerbound.com we want to try to reach out to book lovers everywhere and tempt them to try something different. Some of my favourite books have been written by indie writers, and I'm so glad that I've read them. I want more people to have a chance to read these gems.
TSR: Are you writing another book at the moment and can you give us any insight into what the story is going to be about?
MS: I'm editing my fourth novel at the moment. It's a bit different to my usual novels as I usually write about things which are realistic. This book is a fantasy in that there is quite a bit of supernatural and otherworldly happenings. I can't really say much more just yet. Readers who have enjoyed 'A Time to Tell' and 'Second Chances' won't be disappointed though because it is also very much a book based around love, life and relationships.
TSR: A little bird told me that you like to attend live gigs! What sort of gigs do you go to and who would be your favourite artists performing at these?
MS: Yes, I'm in love with all types of music. I love going to gigs, especially heavy metal and rock concerts; and I usually end up going a bit crazy, my alter ego comes out. My friends know me as someone who is quiet, shy, introverted, but when I'm at a gig I become completely extroverted and mad. It's great for getting all that pent up stress out. I started going to gigs when I was at college. My first concert was Bon Jovi at Wembley in '88, and I was absolutely in love with Jon Bon Jovi at the time so I came away feeling very happy and wanting to go to more gigs. Since then, I'm addicted. I keep all my tickets and I keep a list of all the gigs I've been to... My favourite live artists at the moment would be Papa Roach, Anthrax, Metallica, Slayer... the list goes on... I'm looking forward to going to see Lady Gaga in December, I'm sure she'll put on a great live show.
TSR: What simple things in life would make you smile?
MS: Just being around my nieces, they always make me smile!
TSR: Maria, I am delighted and very honoured that you agreed to be interviewed on this new literary site. I would also like to thank-you again for taking the time to speak to us today and good luck with your new books when they are published.
MS: Thank you for inviting me, it's been a pleasure.
If anyone would like to find out more about Maria Savva and the books she has written, you can visit Maria’s website at http://www.mariasavva.com/ and you will also regularly find Maria on http://www.bestsellerbound.com/
International Book Giveaway!
Maria has very kindly supplied one copy of her latest book 'Second Chances' for this International book giveaway.
This giveaway will only be open to the 'Google Connect Followers' of my blog. You have to join this blog as a 'Google Connect Follower', in order to be able to post comments on this blog.
Post a comment to this author interview , between the 29th September and 7th October 2010, to be entered into a draw for this book giveaway. As I had a bit of difficulty tracking down the winners of our last book giveaway, please include your e-mail address at the end of your comment, which hopefully should make things a bit easier for me this time around!
The winner will be announced on this blog after the draw has taken place. The winner will be asked to send their postal details to me so that the book can then be shipped directly to them.