Thursday 11 July 2024

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Come and join me as I talk to Laura Ashwood about my books, writing and everything in between!


I have recently had the absolute honour of being featured not once, but twice, on the wonderful site of contemporary romance author, Laura Ashwood.

So I thought I would give her a shout out here and to say if you’re not familiar with her work and writing please take a look at her site and her social media platforms. She has been truly supportive of me and my writing recently and I just know that we will continue to collaborate and share our creative journeys as we move along this path side by side. It has been a blessing meeting her.

So please read on as I share her most recent post on me, an authorview, and I hope that you will also choose to keep her at the top of your list when you are next looking for a new read! (Her website and books are listed at the end of this post)

Authorview: Soulla Christodoulou

Authorview: Soulla Christodoulou
Today, I’m interviewing women’s fiction author and poet, Soulla Christodoulou. Born in London to Greek Cypriot parents Soulla Christodoulou spent much of her childhood living carefree days full of family, school and friends. She was the first in her family to go to university and studied BA Hotel & Catering Management at Portsmouth University. Years later, after having a family of her own she studied again at Middlesex University and has a PGCE in Business Studies and an MA in Education.
Soulla is a Women’s Fiction author and wrote her first novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow over a few months while working full time in secondary education and is a mother of three boys. She is a compassionate and empathetic supporter of young people. Her passion for teaching continues through private tuition of English Language and Children’s Creative Writing Classes.
Her writing has also connected her with a charity in California which she is very much involved in as a contributor of handwritten letters every month to support and give hope to women diagnosed with breast cancer. One of her letters will be featured in a book ‘Dear Friend’ out in September 2017.
When asked, she will tell you she has always, somewhere on a subconscious level, wanted to write and her life’s experiences both personal and professional have played a huge part in bringing her to where she was always meant to be; writing books and drinking lots of cinnamon and clove tea!
She is the author of Broken Pieces of Tomorrow.
Georgia, a second generation Greek Cypriot woman, faces an uncertain future after her marriage breaks down leaving her with three young sons. Along the way, through tears and heartache, she pieces her life together after having lost herself for too long in motherhood and matrimony.
A journey of emotional and spiritual self-discovery, love lost and love found.
And she also has written a collection of poetry, Sunshine After Rain.
This is a collection of 30 poems inspired by old sayings and phrases.
Each poem either directly relates to the saying, includes words from the saying or tells a short story or conveys an idea relating to the phrase.
“I have covered a number of different themes and ideas including: hope, love, happiness, disappointment, beauty, struggle, resignation, joy and of course that most British of all things, the weather!” she says.
What can you tell me about the inspiration for Broken Pieces of Tomorrow?
The Inspiration for Broken Pieces of Tomorrow, though a fictional story with semi-biographical elements, came from my own experience of marriage break-up and the new path I had to carve out for myself as I created a new life for me and my three young boys. It was at times painful to write and I would sit in front of the laptop with tears streaming down my face; not a pretty sight!

However, looking back now, I needed to write the book; it was a story deep inside of me for a long time. Writing the book allowed me to look at things, albeit many years after the end of my ‘Happy Ever After’ with a calmer, stronger heart and allowed closure for me on so many

different levels. I am happy with the lessons the experience has taught me, not only about myself, but people and relationships and the strength of the human spirit. Going through it all and then writing the book was truly cathartic and I am grateful for that.
Tell me about the main character, Georgia. What do you love about her?
She is a good wife and mother who loves her husband, children and family and lives her life, to a degree, along the path of their expectations and withing her own belief of what being a good wife, mother and daughter should be; the values she has grown up with all her life.
She is quietly determined and I love the way she doesn’t see what others see in her, which makes her even more lovable. She’s capable, clever, determined, resilient and able to rebuild her life despite life’s knock backs. She is funny and emotional, she exudes a quiet confidence and her positivism is infectious.She is an ordinary woman who creates a new life for herself and I love it that my readers have been inspired by her, motivated by her and driven by her.
You also write poetry, what inspired you to Write Sunshine After the Rain?
Aww, my poetry collection! I wrote the poems in the collection as a way to recharge! I decided to write poetry as a way of giving myself breathing space and thinking space between editing Broken Pieces of Tomorrow and writing The Summer Will Come. Writing poetry gives me an almost immediate result in that I can see a whole poem in front of me within an hour or so. There’s something quite satisfying about writing something which you can read in its entirety after such a short space of time and writing poetry allows me to do this. It provides me with the opportunity to use a different level of creativity and helps me to use words and phrases in a totally new way. I love the challenge too of bringing in both rhythm and rhyme to my writing through the poems I write.The collection is inspired by old proverbs and sayings so that each poem is written around or about one of these and I have included poems inspired by the favourite sayings of a few people I have connected with across my social media.
Does your writing process for poetry differ from how you approach your fiction writing?

Writing poetry usually happens when I’m feeling an extreme emotion, usually love or hope or happiness, and can often also be inspired or prompted by a word or a sentence in a book I’m reading, a thought I have or even a line in a film I’m watching. The main difference too, between my fiction writing and writing poetry is that I tend to hand write my poetry in a notebook and then type it up. My fiction writing tends to be written straight off on a word doc and usually while I am sat at my dining room table which is where I have my “writing space”.

What’s one interesting thing you’ve come across in your research, and have you used it in one of your books (or do you plan to)?

I did a lot of research for my second novel The Summer Will Come and in the process I have been amazed at how much of my own home country’s history I was not aware of before. Much of what I found was included within the fictionalised story although just as much was omitted too; I was very aware of not ‘information dumping’ on the reader! With my current Work In Progress (WP) I have been researching different types of Cerebral Palsy (CP) and in relation to my particular main character (MC) the impact it has had on him mentally, emotionally, physically and socially. Much of my research has come from face to face interviews with someone who has CP and he has been incredibly open and honest about his own experiences which has allowed me to build a realistic story, albeit fictional, around my two main MCs.

You mention in your bio that you started writing in 2015, what drew you to write and how has that whole process been for you, including the decision to self-publish?
I began writing on a serious level, with a view of writing a book, when I joined a Creative Writing Class and was given some fabulous feedback on my initial piece of writing. From there I wrote Broken Pieces of Tomorrow writing full-time as a teacher of Business Studies and a Deputy Director of Learning for the Sixth Form. Somehow having less time to write pushed me to use every single spare moment to sit in front of my lap top and get my words out.
My decision to self-publish came about for three main reasons; the first was to prove to myself that my book was worth reading, the second was to ‘get the ball rolling’ (I had 8 rejection letters, all standard) and the third was to free myself from Broken Pieces of Tomorrow so that I could immerse myself fully in my next book which I had already started planning in my head.
Self-publishing has so many big ticks next to it for me: the control over release dates and book cover design, the autonomy regarding making decisions, keeping more of the royalties, connecting with my readers the way I want to, getting involved in face-to-face events in my local community and of course being able to decide what works for me and what doesn’t. The gap between self-publishing and traditional publishing may not be narrowing but I believe the option to self-publish is a good thing, it’s shaken the industry up a bit and I believe it needs to be brought up to date! I read somewhere that the first chapter of a famous book was sent to an agent and a standard rejection letter was received back; hundreds of now very successful authors have been rejected again and again and likewise many have self-published. More and more readers are looking for new authors and are choosing to connect with them across so many different platforms; I’m ready!
What does your writing process look like for your novels, are you an outliner or a pantser?
With my latest novel, book 3, I’m actually a confuddled tangle of both! I planned out most of my first novel with chapter summaries and a running time line and did something similar with The Summer Will Come. But somehow with this latest WIP I have allowed my imagination, and my characters, to lead me. The research I have carried out and especially so the information I have gleaned from a number of personal interviews with a wonderful man I initially met through social media, has also shaped and pushed my story in an unanticipated direction.
What are your future writing plans? Any books in the works?
I’ve briefly mentioned the research relating to my current WIP which is in the first phase of editing right now. It’s a story about a friendship which begins across Twitter, between a married man with CP and a woman, which evolves into an illicit relationship. It explores relationships and why some people stay in relationships which are not rewarding and how relationships can be manipulative and controlling.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Not often, but when I do it’s because I’m struggling with the writing and my energy has dipped; so it’s full on loud dance music which I listen to, or should I say dance to, in order to bring me back into that high energy mode again. I absolutely love dancing, it doesn’t matter how tired I am, blast up a tune and I come alive!

What do you do in your free time when you aren’t writing?
I work hard and I play harder! I work as a part-time private tutor in a small tuition school where I teach English and Creative Writing. I also offer editing services to writers, students and business people including ghost blogging and other general writing support services. I am working on a long-term project at the moment; editing and rewriting a children’s fantasy novel and I am thoroughly enjoying the process. The author already has a publisher for her work and so it’s a very exciting project to be involved in. I enjoy editing manuscripts different to my own writing as it gives me another perspective to focus on when I’m not working on my own writing. I find editing therapeutic; a chance to add the magic and wrap the novel up in pretty paper and ribbon; editing is the finishing touch to any novel and is a must have part of the process if you’re taking your writing seriously. Having your friend read the book is not enough.
The rest of my time is filled with running my home, spending time with my three young adult sons and enjoying time with my family. I am lucky to have my sisters and my parents as well as cousins close by and being part of a big Greek Cypriot family means often meeting up for one celebration or another.
I enjoy reading, exploring new places, both in the UK and abroad, going for walks, visiting libraries and historic houses, eating out and dancing the night away.
What’s your favorite food?
Ha! That’s a near impossible question to answer as I’m a real foodie so it’s easier for me to answer by saying I don’t like shellfish!
Tell us something about yourself your readers don’t know.
I took belly dancing lessons when I was in my late thirties and can belly-dance with the best of them; I even have a jingly-coin skirt! My friends and family often drag me up to dance with the entertainment in Greek Clubs and restaurants and I absolutely love everything about belly-dancing, the music, the costumes, the fun you can have with the moves. Everyone should give it a go!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You’re good enough and love yourself more.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
I’d just like to thank you most sincerely for taking the time to put together this wonderful interview and I hope that I can reciprocate soon! I hope your readers enjoy reading it and I look forward to connecting with you all.
Laura’s website is here and you can connect with her across her social media links (on her website) as well as buy her books which I have listed below.

Laura’s two fabulous reads:

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