Welcome to the five hundred and twenty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with chick lit novelist Sofia Essen. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And you can read Sofia’s guest blog here.
Morgen: Hello, Sofia. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Sofia: After 20 years as an expatriate in Asia, I’ve settled on a Greek island. I never intended to write a book. But as I was sitting in a café in a small Cretan village one afternoon, watching a couple of tourists desperately trying and failing miserably to order a cup of coffee, I said to myself, “This place would be a great setting for a book.”
Morgen: And the rest is history. 🙂 What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Sofia: I’m a “Chick Lit” author according to my publisher. Having said that, I’m a work-in-progress and so is my writing. Someday, in the hopefully not too distant future, I’d like to try a genre with a less frivolous label.
Morgen: The genre borders are blurring these days. What have you had published to-date?
Sofia: My first novel “Change of Pace” was released on the 15th of April 2012.
Morgen: Is your book available as an eBook? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Sofia: So far, my book is only available as an eBook on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Personally, I prefer reading “real” books with pages and a spine, which I suspect has something to do with the fact I stare at a computer screen for hours on end most days, attempting to conjure up something vaguely interesting to type into a frighteningly bare Word Document. In addition, I’m not good with gadgets and I fear a Kindle would have a short lifespan in my presence.
Morgen: A lot of authors say that, that they prefer holding a book. I like both but tend to read eBooks on the move and pBooks at home, so it’s great to have the choice. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Sofia: I think book titles and covers are extremely important. They are the first impression a reader gets from a book, and we all know how much a first impression of anything or anyone can colour our subsequent judgment of a product or a person. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m guilty of occasionally judging a book by its cover. I’ve noticed I’m more likely to pick up a book with a bright and lively cover than a plain or austere one. “Change of Pace” was the working title of my manuscript when I sent it to my publisher. They decided to keep it. As for the cover, it was created by my publisher and I had no choice but to accept it. Luckily, I quite like it!
Morgen: I caught a comment by JoJo Moyes a few months back that she liked the US cover of her latest book and seemed relieved so it sounds like it’s par for the course in mainstream publishing. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Sofia: I’m working on several projects. But since the words “write what you know” are currently imprinted on my brain, I’m focusing on a story about a woman who has been a lifelong expatriate and is looking for a place to call home. If I get stuck, I suppose I could write a novel about a woman who is trying to overcome writer’s block.
Morgen: NaNoWriMo is coming up next month. It’ll be my fifth and I’ve not decided what to write about, I should start thinking shouldn’t I? 🙂 Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Sofia: I do manage to write most days. Quite often, I delete whatever I wrote the previous day and start over… I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to writing, and my own worst enemy.
Morgen: Oh no! You delete? Eek. I hope it’s really terrible and you don’t mind. I like to think that everything is just a work in progress and certainly with my older pieces that I can go back and see what’s ‘wrong’ with them. It must be really disheartening to have spent all that time, but then it’s practice and having a finished piece that you’re happy with is certainly no bad thing. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Sofia: I love dreaming up stories and constructing characters in my head, but I hate what an irrational ninny becoming a writer has made me. Oh well, at least I’m not alone! I’ve learned that otherwise relatively normal people, myself included, turn into raving lunatics prone to panic attacks when they decide to become writers. Emotions run high when something you’ve created and nurtured, whether it’s a short story or full-length novel, is ripped from your hands and suddenly not within your realm of control anymore. Being published is both a blessing and a curse. Karen Blixen said, “When God wants to punish you, he answers your prayers.” I now know exactly what she meant.
Morgen: I must admit that I’m a bit of a control freak so self-publishing suits me, although if one of the ‘big six’ wanted to take me under their wing I probably wouldn’t complain. 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Sofia: Unless you’re a masochist or have thicker skin than a Kevlar reinforced bulletproof vest, stick to your day job. Rejections from agents and publishers and criticism from fellow writers can be brutally wounding to the ego, and that’s the sugar-coated version of the truth.
Morgen: Oops. I gave up my day job in March. 🙂 Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Sofia: “One cannot accomplish anything without fanaticism.” – Eva Peron
Morgen: Absolutely. I’m definitely obsessed with writing (I blog 3-4 times a day, can you tell?). 🙂 Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Sofia: Marketing my book is turning out to be a mindboggling, time-consuming, and slightly wearying task. I assume at least a handful of authors feel the same way.
Morgen: Oh, absolutely. It’s usually the answer to my ‘What’s your least favourite aspect of writing?’ question. Apart from anything else it’s so time-consuming which of course takes us away from our writing. What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? 🙂
Sofia: When I take off my author hat, I’m the Creative Director at Essen & Essen, a Management Consultancy firm which specializes in Executive Coaching and Personal Profiling. I’m also a full-time mum to a 3-year old Yorkshire Terrier who goes by the name Taxi Driver.
Morgen: Sweet… if he was that clever you’d make a fortune. 🙂 Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Sofia: I have a website: http://sofiaessen.yolasite.com.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Morgen: <laughs> Of course, not a problem. That’s why you’re here (not only why, of course) but we want people to be able to find you. Thank you, Sofia.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
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