Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Interview with Maria Savva

Happy Halloween, everyone. I hope those of you in the eastern part of the US are keeping safe in the storm. Let's think happy (and spooky) thoughts with an interview with author Maria Savva, whose book HAUNTED is Halloween appropriate. :)

Happy Halloween, Maria! Welcome to We Do Write. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Thanks for inviting me here :) Happy Halloween to you! I'm a lawyer from England. Not currently practising law. I currently work in admin at a legal advice centre. I have an obsession with the written word, whether it's reading or writing. I have written 5 novels and have three collections of short stories with another on the way.

How long have you been writing?

I caught the writing bug back in my teens when I wrote short stories for school assignments. It was something I really enjoyed. I went for quite a long time where I didn't write as I was studying at university and then law school. In my mid twenties, I found myself out of work with nothing to do, and picked up a writers' magazine at the local newsagent. They had competitions for the best short stories, so I started entering those and this helped me revisit the creative writing I'd loved so much at school. I then had an idea to write a novel. I'd always joked, ever since I was a child, that I would write a bestselling novel one day, so I thought I'd give it a go. That's when Coincidences was born. That was 1997. Since then I have been writing novels or short stories continually, fitting it around my day job.

Tell us about HAUNTED! What’s the story about?

It's a psychological thriller. The story deals with the effects of crime on the mind and on the criminal's life in general. We tend to see a lot of books that seem to almost glamourise crime, in a sense. There are lots of books about murders and other such heinous crimes, but the author doesn't tend to go further than actually showing the crime itself -- shock value-- and maybe the investigation that ensues. I wanted to go beyond the actual crime and explore the after effects from the criminal's perspective. In Haunted, I am very much delving into the mind of the perpetrator. Lots of stories look at how the crime affects the victim, but not many deal with how it can change the criminal's life. I wanted to explore that side of it. After all, not all criminals are cold blooded.

Sounds great! How did the idea of the story come to you?

It has its roots in a news story that had an effect on me, about 8 years ago about a random murder. I started to write a different novel inspired by that event at the time, but due to work commitments didn't get far with that. I still have the first few chapters in a drawer at home somewhere, so maybe I will work on that one when I get time. Haunted started off as being based on that news story, but initially I wanted to write the book about 3 separate crimes that took place and maybe have them link together in some way. The original title was '3 Crimes'. But when I started writing Nigel's story (he's the protagonist in Haunted) something took over and he wanted his own book (characters do that... they can be quite demanding!). The writing of Haunted was also triggered by a couple of road rage incidents I witnessed. The anger that I saw from the drivers who had been involved in those made me start to think about how we can change when we're behind the wheel of a car. Some people seem to become more aggressive. I once saw a case in court about a decent law-abiding family man who attacked someone because of road rage. I've always been interested in the psychology of crime i.e. why do people commit crimes, how does it affect the victim, and how does it affect the criminal. Haunted is about all of this, but is also intended to be a warning about how anger can result in loss.

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

For my last two books -- The Dream, and the second edition of my first novel, Coincidences -- and all my short stories, I self edited. Editing is something you can learn to do alone if you take time to study the rules of grammar. But I find it very time consuming, and I would never edit something on my own without then sending it to beta readers, because it's so much harder to spot editorial issues in your own writing than it is in other people's writing. For Haunted, I decided to use a professional editor, Susan Helene Gottfried (she's also an author of rock fiction, including Trevor's Song). Susan's help was invaluable for this project, because I just didn't have time to edit on my own. If I do edit alone it takes me months because I have to read the manuscript over at least 10 times to spot all the issues that Susan spotted in just one read through. So, I am eternally grateful to her and would definitely recommend her services to other writers. After I am happy with the edited version of my books, I always send out advance reader copies to a few beta readers. I am very lucky to be part of the BestsellerBound.com community of indie writers, so when I send my books to beta readers, I send them to members of that group who are also talented writers. Their input is always great. Fellow writers are the best beta readers you can have!

Are you a planner or a pantser?

I always have an idea about what my novel or story will be about, but the writing process for me is very much a creative endeavour. I get my inspiration as I go along, and often what I had envisaged happening in the story becomes something completely different as the direction is changed by an unplanned event that occurs in the story that might be inspired by something one of the characters says or does. I am very much open to inspiration from the world around me. For example, something someone says to me may alter the way something happens in one of my stories or novels.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Remembering what I've written from one chapter to the next. When I go back over the first draft, I always find problems, for example I've given my character green eyes in chapter 2 and then suddenly in chapter 10, her brown eyes are weeping... stuff like that. I don't pay enough attention to my writing and tend to get carried away with the story forgetting the detail. All that gets fixed in the editing process, which is another hard part of writing!

What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

I'm happy with a pen and paper or just a keyboard & computer. Nothing else is needed.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

Reading people's minds...

What's the weirdest thing you've googled?

Probably everything I Googled for the research for Haunted was weird and could be used as evidence in a court of law. For example, I Googled for 'hand gun', and I Googled for 'body found near cliff' or 'police searching for body near cliff', and other things to do with murders...

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: ghouls, attic, and trepidation.

Even ghouls would approach that attic with trepidation; there was something far scarier lurking within those shadowy walls.

Awesome! Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably ... reading

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

A BIG shout out to all at BestsellerBound.com, they are the reason I am still sane (I can hear people laughing at that... my sanity is questionable at times LOL). But seriously, they are such a fabulous support network. I don't think I would have continued on my writing journey over the last couple of years without those lovely writers. Darcia Helle, Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick. Michael Radcliffe, Stacy Juba, Calum McDonald, Jason McIntyre, Susan Helene Gottfried, Jaleta Clegg, Sharon Cathcart... I could go on, there are so many wonderful writers there and every one of the regular members has added something to my writing journey, so I thank them all. We've learnt so much from each other over the last couple of years and I'm sure we'll still be going strong for years to come.

I'd also like to thank some wonderful supportive writers I've recently met on twitter: Susan Buchanan, Terry Tyler, Dionne Lister, Doreen Cox... again there are probably some I have missed from this list. So this is a big shout out to all the people I regularly interact with on Twitter. Your daily tweets and retweets mean a lot to me.

Then there are those writers who have practically been there from the start of my self-publishing journey and somehow they are still there for me. I have the utmost respect for them: Catherine Rose, Julie Elizabeth Powell, Stuart Ross McCallum, Quentin Bufogle, Lisette Brodey. A big thanks to all of you for being an inspiration and for putting up with me.

Thanks are also due to Deena Schoenfeldt and Mark Rice. Both Deena and Mark have been very supportive to me since I met them, and I recently appeared on their podcast. Thanks to both of you for helping to get the word out about my writing. BIG thanks especially to Deena for all the Tweets about my work.

Last, but certainly not least, I'd like to thank each and every person who has ever read my books, and those who have written a positive review about any of my books. A few special mentions that spring to mind are Sheri Wilkinson, Jennifer Lane, Jen Knox, and Brittany -- a reader from Goodreads.com. Getting a good review, for a writer, is like winning the lottery, every time. Thank you all so much. It makes me feel happy to know that my books have entertained you.

And finally, where can people find you and your book online?

My official website is the best place to browse around and find out about me and my books. There are links on the home page to all my social networking sites where you can connect with me. There are excerpts and descriptions of my books. You can also find the purchase links there. My Goodreads blog is also attached to my website, and you can keep up with all my latest news there. http://www.mariasavva.com/


Darcia Helle said...

Great interview, Maria and Dorothy!

Haunted is my favorite of Maria's books. (In fairness, I still have a couple to read.) Psychological suspense is my favorite genre, which makes me a little biased to begin with. But the theme here is riveting.

I loved the question about the weirdest thing you've ever Googled. After 9-11, our government thought it would be a good idea to monitor (i.e. spy) on things we Google, and I always think of that when I'm doing research. A writer's mind is a dangerous place to be!

Maria Savva said...

Thanks, Darcia! :) Haunted is probably my favourite too, but that happens... I always like the last one I've written best.
LOL, I do Google lots of strange things when I'm writing; I hope no one is spying on me!!