In this week’s WIP interview, I’m pleased to feature London-based author Maria Savva. Maria writes novels and short stories in different genres, including drama, psychological thriller, and family saga. She has published five novels, the most recent of which is Haunted, a crime fiction/psychological thriller. Far Away In Time is her sixth collection of short stories.
Maria, thank you for coming. We’d like to know a bit more about you. What else would you like to share?
Hi Maria, well, apart from being a writer, I worked as a solicitor for about 15 years. Currently, I work at a university on a litigation course for trainee solicitors. I think having a day job can be both a burden and a blessing for a writer. I am constantly being inspired by the people I meet at my day job. Finding the time to write, however, can be difficult!!
I live in London, and have done for most of my life. I did move to Hertfordshire for a few years in my 30s, but am now back in the city.
I’ve written 5 novels and am currently writing my sixth. I have 6 collections of short stories, “Far Away In Time” being my latest release.
What are you working on right now?
My current WIP is a collaboration with Darcia Helle, a talented suspense author, and Martin David Porter, a photographer. I used one of Martin’s photos for the cover of my short story collection, “Delusion and Dreams”. Shortly after that he contacted me and asked whether I’d be interested in writing some short stories inspired by his photographs. At the time I was working on “Far Away In Time”, so very busy and wondered how I would fit it in, but I was keen to take up the challenge. I decided to ask my fellow author and good friend, Darcia Helle, if she would like to join me. She agreed. So Martin sent ten photos and we wrote 5 stories each. Darcia finished her stories before me and was keen to write another, so we agreed that Martin would send us each one more photo. There are now 12 stories in the collection. The last story is currently being edited and then we’ll be publishing the book. It’s called “Perspectives”. It was a fun project to work on, so we’ve decided to write another. We’ve recruited a second photographer; so now there’ll be two photographers, and we’ve added 2 more writers.
My stories for the collection, “Perspectives”, are all very different. There is a fairy story, a fantasy, a couple of dark fiction stories, a sci-fi/paranormal story, and a melancholy realistic-fiction story. Each of the photographs that Martin sent were very different, and taking inspiration from what I could see in the photos was a completely new way of writing. It was fun and the results were fascinating.
Update: Perspectives has been published! Check it out on Amazon.
Short stories inspired by photography. How interesting! Are you happy with the pace of your work? Do you aim at a specific word count each day?
I have a full-time day job, so I can’t write every day. This can be frustrating especially when I have an idea for a story and it has to wait until I find time to write it. Having said that, I have managed to fit in quite a lot of writing and publish at least a couple of books a year. Mostly short stories at the moment due to time constraints, but I love the short story form, so yes I would say I am happy with the pace of my work. Of course, I’d love to get to the stage where I can write full-time. Financially, that isn’t possible at the moment.
Plotter, pantser or both?
Mostly I write from ideas that spring to mind. As I mainly write short stories at the moment, this doesn’t take a lot of planning. I tend to start writing and see what happens. The first draft is just writing down ideas as they come to me. Sometimes I end up with a more or less complete story, sometimes it takes a lot of editing to get the story just right. I never know how my stories are going to end until they do. The endings often surprise me.
With novels, there is an element of planning involved. I tend to start off with an A4 sheet of paper outlining a plan of what I want to happen in the novel. In my experience, the plan doesn’t last long and it soon changes as the characters begin to make the decisions along the way!
What’s your worst enemy in getting that first draft finished? (Although in your case, I think I already know the answer.)
Time. Working a day job.
Have you experienced “writer’s block” and how do you overcome it?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. My advice is write when you get inspiration. Don’t force it. I don’t believe you have to write every day. Also, you have to realise that a first draft is just for getting the story down, it doesn’t have to be perfect, so just write something even if you think it’s rubbish. When you come back to it for editing you can fix any shortcomings.
Could we take a look at your workspace? Is there a particular place you find inspiring?
I don’t have a workspace, unless you include my bed. I usually write all my stories sitting in bed at night. I like the silence and the mood of that time for writing. I still write my first drafts with a pen, so there’s no sitting in front of a computer at a desk for me. It’s rare that I’ll type a story straight onto a computer, but when I do it’s a laptop, so I don’t need a designated space for that. I like to write when the inspiration hits and mostly that’s in places where I don’t have the laptop to hand. I started writing when I didn’t own a computer, back in the old days… I suppose it’s more habit than anything else that keeps me writing by hand, although I must admit that I like writing by hand. I like pens and buy lots of pretty ones, and pretty notepads. I can spend hours in stationary shops. Yes, I know it sounds weird. I actually think, though, that when you write the first draft by hand this can help in the editing stage because you can edit as you type the manuscript. My first drafts are quite poor, but at that stage I am concentrating on getting the story down rather than whether the apostrophes are in the right places or whether the words are spelt correctly. In fact, since the introduction of computers and ‘spellcheck’ my brain has become lazy. I think we rely on computers a bit too much these days. Maybe that’s why I’m being stubborn and refusing to type the first drafts.
A charming, old-school approach and a lovely quilt! Now it’s “pinned” on my Featured Writers’ Workspace Board on Pinterest. How do you intend to celebrate writing “The End” on your draft?
I don’t see coming to the end of the draft as a celebration because that’s when the editing begins and I hate editing. Coming to end of the editing, now that is a cause for celebration.
Which book publishing processes are you going to outsource and which are you confident enough to undertake yourself?
I always use beta readers and a proofreader for my short stories, and when I’m writing a novel I use an editor as well. I use a formatter for e-books because I have no clue where to begin with all of that. I usually design my own covers. I publish the paperbacks myself on Lulu.com as the process is easy enough even for a technophobe like me.
Do you have any marketing tips or favorite promotional sites you’d like to share?
Use #MondayBlogs on Twitter every Monday when promoting stuff on your blog. It’s a great way to get RTs and spread the word. I like the eReader News Today’s “Bargain Book” promotions.
Twitter in general is a good way to get followers and new readers. One tip for that site is you should follow back and interact with other users.
Would you like to share with us links where we can find you and your work?
My website has all my links:http://www.mariasavva.com
I’m usually on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Maria_Savva
Maria, thank you and best of luck with Perspectives!
Thank you for inviting me here, Maria!