Joining me today is my good friend and fellow author Maria Savva. Like many independent authors (me included), writing and publishing has been a learning experience for Maria. Her first book – Coincidences – was published by Book Guild Ltd way back in 2001. This was before ebooks and all the other changes that have made life easier for us indies. The book had only been out in hardcover and the publishing contract had long since expired. Maria decided to edit and reissue this title in ebook and paperback format. She has also graciously offered to give one signed, print copy to a lucky winner! Read on for details.
I loved this story, and I’m excited to have Maria here to talk to us about it. Before we get to that, meet Maria:
Maria Savva was born in London on 19th March 1970. She studied for a Law Degree at Middlesex University and went on to gain a professional solicitor qualification at The College of Law in London. She qualified as a solicitor in 1996. Maria continues to practice as a solicitor in London whilst writing her novels and stories in her spare time.
You can learn more about Maria on her website: www.MariaSavva.com
Here’s a look at the book we’ll be discussing:
Secrets, lies and coincidences abound in this story of a young girl looking for her father. Alice, now twenty-one years old, is determined to find her father who left home when she was just a baby, despite a warning from her mother that she should not look for him. Her mother’s secretiveness over the subject is because of the guilt she feels about keeping the truth from Alice. It will take all of Alice’s courage to persevere in her search. There are doubts and uncertainties at every turn. Coincidences is a story about following your dreams and staying on the path no matter how difficult the circumstances may become.
Now on to our chat:
This is a second, revised edition of Coincidences. Why did you decide to do a major edit and re-release of this story?
Coincidences was only ever released in hardback in 2001 when it was first published. That edition is out of print now and I wanted to make the book available to my readers. e-books seem to be the most popular format at the moment, so I wanted to publish Coincidences as an e-book. When I searched my computer I couldn’t find an electronic copy of the book. The only copy I had was on an old floppy disk and I couldn’t use that on my computer. I decided to just type the book up again from the start. As I was doing that I began to notice that there were some things I would have done differently if I was writing the book from scratch today. So, I took the opportunity to make a few adjustments and changes. I added a few extra scenes and some extra background, and I also changed some of the conversations between the characters to make them more real. I think most authors will admit that their first novels are not their best work. We are on a learning curve as authors, we can only learn by writing more. I think we get better with each book we write.
I think our writing techniques evolve over time. While reading through and editing your original version, was there anything in the content or writing style that surprised you? In what area do you think you’ve most improved or changed?
I agree, our writing definitely evolves over time. I have published three more novels since Coincidences and three collections of short stories. I do all my own editing these days, but at the beginning of my writing career, when I decided to go solo and become a self-published writer, I used to use an editing service Cornerstones. I sent my manuscripts for my novels, A Time to Tell and Second Chances to them for an editorial report and the advice I was given did help me to spot things I could do differently.
When I was editing Second Chances, I met another author online, Jerry Travis (Author of The Safety Factor Trilogy). He needed help editing his books and I ended up offering to do that for him as I was out of work and had spare time. I would advise all aspiring authors to have a go helping a fellow author to edit their work; there are so many things that I learnt during the time I was editing Jerry’s trilogy. It helped me with my own writing. He then offered to assist with editing Second Chances for me, and many of his editing suggestions made me think about my writing style and how I could improve.
My journey in writing has taught me a great deal about the editorial process. I used that experience when I was working on the new version of Coincidences. One thing that has definitely changed for me is the way I read books. I now read books as a writer rather than a reader. It means I spot more errors and typos. When I came to re-read Coincidences I definitely spotted things that I knew could be improved. As I mentioned above, I noticed that some of the conversations between the characters needed more work to make their reactions more believable. And, just generally the sentence structure made some of the scenes a bit awkward. I think my writing has definitely improved and I know that I am still learning. With each book I learn more about how to make the story more enjoyable for the reader, how to write the scenes in such a way that they will be more meaningful. I think it will be interesting for my readers to read the first edition and then the second edition to see how my writing has changed.
Alice, your main character, grew up without knowing her father. I did, as well and, while our experiences differ, I understood and share many of her feelings. As an author, how do you go about stepping into a character’s life that is so different from your own?
I’m not really sure I know the answer to that question. My own father was absent for a brief time during my childhood so I’m not sure how much of an impression that left on me and whether some of my feelings filtered out into the novel. Unlike Alice, I knew who my father was. I think that when we write we create an imaginary world made up of little bits and pieces of our own lives but also the lives of those around us and even the lives of people we may have heard about. I’ve always been a people watcher and I listen more than I speak, so I do tend to pick up a lot of things from people around me. I also used to be a fan of all those chat shows like Oprah, Ricki Lake and Jerry Springer, when I was younger. It’s amazing the stories you hear and the things you learn from those types of programmes!
I used to love those shows, too! They do inspire the imagination.
Alice is a surprisingly well-behaved college student. Were you that focused and tame during your college years?
Yes, I think I was. During my school years I was a bit of a rebel and used to skip the classes I didn’t like. I had a lot of fun at school and despite the fact that I hardly studied I sailed through my O’ Level exams. When I went on to college it was a different story, though. I carried on having fun and then failed my A’Levels. This made me realise that I would have to do some work if I wanted to pass any exams. So, during my university years I became very studious and focussed.
In part, this book is about secrets, lies of omission, and doing the wrong thing for what feels like the right reasons. When you set out to write the original story, did you have this in mind? Did you have a specific intent and/or inspiration?
Funnily enough, I was originally going to call the book ‘Secrets and Lies’ but there was a very famous film that came out around that time in the UK with the same title and coincidentally (excuse the pun) also dealt with similar issues. I think I’ve always been curious about family secrets and the lies that people tell. Many of my books seem to have this type of theme and it’s not really intentional, more a natural way for me to write. I have always liked a bit of gossip, not necessarily gossiping myself but listening to others who do. I’m also just generally interested in human nature and psychology and am naturally drawn to reading about and watching programmes about such things.
You have a new book in the works. What is it about and when can we expect the release?
My new book is still at the ‘top secret’ stage so I can’t reveal too much about it. However, I can say that ever since ‘The Dream’ my writing has been leaning towards the paranormal and the next book has a touch of that, although it is not intentional. It is basically a crime/psychological thriller partly inspired by the film A Beautiful Mind and a short story/film by Stephen King that I watched about 25 years ago. Due to my OCD when it comes to editing, I am not sure when it will be released, but am hoping it will be sometime towards the end of this year.
Enough with the editing already! I can’t wait to read this one!
You and I share a love of music and live shows. Does music ever inspire your writing? If so, in what way?
I think, in a funny way, it was my love of music that made me start writing. I have always been an obsessive music fan. I remember one artist being surprised about the success of his band’s song, and he said something like, “I can’t believe people are going crazy about this thing that we just made up”. That kind of sewed a seed in my head. I always liked making stuff up and was inspired by the thought that I could actually get paid for making stuff up When I was very young, maybe pre-teen, I used to own a Casio organ and one of those old tape recorders. I would spend hours in my room making up songs and recording them onto cassettes. I used to put on an American accent and pretend to be a DJ counting down the American pop charts, and I would make up impromptu music and lyrics. I can still remember some of the songs I made up and sometimes wish I hadn’t taped over them lol. It would be fun to listen to them. I admire musicians and used to harbour a dream to be a rock star . I wrote songs when I was younger and then that developed because one day I thought to myself I would like to write something longer, as a challenge to see if I could. I had written short stories when I was younger. I wasn’t sure if I could write a novel. Once I started writing Coincidences though, it came quite easily to me and I’ve never looked back.
That’s funny about the American accent. I didn’t realize American radio was that well known in the U.K. back then. (Satellite and Internet radio has certainly changed all that!) I had a Casio, too, though I have a horrible singing voice and didn’t want to hear myself sing anything! I stuck to brooding poetry.
Beatles or Black Sabbath?
Hmm… interesting. If you’d asked me this a few years ago I would have said Black Sabbath without a second thought. I am, as you know, a heavy metal fan, and Black Sabbath were the band that paved the way for heavy metal in the UK. However, I am now more aware of The Beatles’ influence on music as a whole. In a time when other musicians were singing music that they didn’t write, The Beatles were writing their own stuff and experimenting with music in a way that inspired a generation. Black Sabbath would probably list The Beatles as an inspiration. I obviously prefer Black Sabbath’s music, but I think music fans have a lot to thank The Beatles for.
I always preferred Sabbath over The Beatles, as well. But you raise an important point about songwriting. And that has made a huge difference in music.
If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
Great choices – but both so melancholy. I see the influence on your writing.
You can listen to both of these songs on YouTube or watch the videos below:
Here’s a look at Maria’s books on Amazon:
To learn more about Maria and her writing, connect with her in the following places:
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/Maria_Savva or @Maria_Savva
Now for the giveaway details. As I mentioned at the start, Maria is offering one signed, print copy of Coincidences to one lucky winner. This giveaway is international, open to everyone 16 and older. Enter between Thursday, July 12 and midnight EST Thursday, July 26. The entry form is hosted by Rafflecopter, giving you lots of ways to earn entries! The winner will be chosen randomly and announced here.
That’s it. Go ahead and enter. It’s quick and painless!
Thanks for reading.
Tags: author interviews, BestsellerBound Authors, children of divorce, Coincidences, Family Drama, General Fiction Books, indie authors, Indie Authors on Kindle, Kindle books under $5, Maria Savva, New Contemporary Fiction