Welcome to Tuesday Talk Maria, first can you tell us a little bit about you…
I was born in London many years ago and have always loved reading. I studied law at university, mainly because I thought it would be a glamourous career as portrayed in Dallas and Dynasty in the ‘70s and ‘80s. It’s not. I worked as a solicitor for about fifteen years. I started off as a litigation/family lawyer, then went on to do criminal law and immigration law for about a year. I finally settled into conveyancing and specialised in that for about 8 years. I’ve written 5 novels and am just about to complete my sixth. I’ve also written quite a few collections of short stories. Most of my novels and stories are inspired by my life experiences. I love music and have a music blog on the UK Arts Directory where I feature interviews with up and coming bands
How do you combine a busy career as a solicitor with writing?
Most of my novels were written when I was out of work. I had a couple of extended periods where I was unemployed in the early part of my career and again a few years ago when I was made redundant after the housing crash. I was working as a conveyancing solicitor so there was basically no work for me anymore! Anyway, it’s quite easy to write short stories at weekends and in the evenings even when I work a busy job. They don’t take as long to write or edit, so I’ve found myself writing more short stories than anything else.
At the moment, I work as an administrator which doesn’t require much brain work, so it leaves me more mental energy to be able to write as well as work.
When working on a novel, I am often up into the early hours of the morning, even when I have to get up for work the next day.
What was the inspiration behind your first book?
I had read “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho and I loved the way it was such a simply written story but had a lots of depth and had the power to change the way people look at the world. I suppose that inspired me to try to write a novel. I remember thinking at the time that it would be great to write something that changes people’s lives. That was the idea behind starting to write a novel. Up until that time I’d mostly written short stories.
The inspiration behind the story itself was probably a lot of different things. In my first book, “Coincidences”, Alice basically follows her dream to find out more about the father she’s never met. I have always had dreams that have meanings. When I was younger, I would sometimes dream about a particular person, maybe someone I hadn’t seen for a while, and then see them that day, for example. I used to keep a dream diary because my dreams were so vivid and I was sure they must have some kind of significance. When I read over the diary a year or so later, I was amazed to read things that seemed to be pointers to events that would happen in the near future. That kind of thinking was behind the dream that Alice has in “Coincidences”. I used to watch a lot of Oprah, Montel, Jerry Springer, and Ricki Lake when I was in my teens and early twenties. Those kinds of shows talk about family relationships of all types. I’m sure that some of the stories I heard on those shows may have inspired Alice’s story. I’ve always been interested in true life stories, so many of my books have a based-on-reality type theme. In the ‘70s and ‘80s I used to like the ‘based on a true story’ movies that were popular then.
Your books are all very different. Is there anything in particular that draws you to the characters and situations you write about?
The genres are all very different but the underlying themes are more or less the same. They are mostly about human nature and relationships. My interest in human nature, psychology, and behaviour leads me to write very character-driven books and some of my novels are almost character studies of individual characters, “Haunted” for example.
By nature, I’m quite shy and introverted. When younger, this meant that I did a lot of sitting and watching rather than taking part and I think that helps you notice things about people and behaviour that others might miss because they’re chatting and not necessarily paying attention to anything like body language, etc. My tendency to observe from the outside has helped a lot with the realism aspect of my writing, I think. I’ve always wondered why people do certain things, and try to get my head around behaviour that I find difficult to comprehend. This all goes into my writing. With characters, I make up backgrounds for them that might have resulted in them behaving in a certain way, that sort of thing.
My fiction has been inspired by my own life and also by things that I’ve heard. I heard a lot of stories when working as a solicitor. When you have a writer’s brain, this means that all those stories are then churning around and evolving into fiction. For example, with my book “A Time to Tell”, the character Penelope, who suffers domestic violence, is inspired by the many women I met when working as a family lawyer.
Often, it only takes an idea that comes to mind and then I can base a whole story on it. I don’t really understand the creative process and am fascinated by it because I never know how my stories or novels are going to end.
Things that often recur in my books are themes of dreams (due to my tendency to have precognitive dreams), romance (as I’m a hopeless romantic and still believe in true love (!) ), secrets and lies (because I am fascinated by the lies that people tell and the reasoning behind it).
Stephen King is one of your favourite authors. Would you ever consider writing a horror story?
Funny you should ask that because the book I’m writing at the moment contains some elements of horror. I don’t go in for any gory horror. I go for more of the classic psychological horror. “Haunted” contained some scenes that could be classed as horror. More of the psychological variety, again, rather than gory. In fact, a reader once told me that after reading “Haunted” she had sleepless nights and the only other book that had ever done that to her was Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot”.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a whole Stephen King book but I’ve seen many of the films that were made out of his stories and novels. I watched them back in the ’80s. At that time I did go through a stage where I read a few horror novels, including “Haunted” by James Herbert. That was very scary. I actually named my book after that novel as a kind of tribute.
In the ’70s there was a series called Hammer House of Horror and I used to watch that. I also saw a lot of horror films as a child because my dad was a fan and the films in those days used to be on TV in the early evening. So I saw things like “The Omen” trilogy, and some Hitchcock films. It could explain why my writing can be a bit dark at times!
Where is your favourite holiday destination and what makes it special?
Probably Cyprus because I have a lot of relatives that live over there and it’s great going to visit them and catching up. It’s a beautiful country too and the weather is usually good. I love the mountains and the beaches.
And lastly, you are organising a dinner party which includes four celebrity guests. If you were free to choose a location for this, where would it be? And who would you invite?
I’d invite Michael McIntyre, Eddie Izzard, Miranda Hart, and Paulo Coelho.
At any one of these restaurants! http://www.lifebuzz.com/35-restaurants
Maria Savva lives and works in London. She’s a lawyer, although not currently practising law. She writes novels and short stories in various genres, including drama, psychological thriller, and family saga. Maria is also a music blogger for the UK Arts Directory. You can find out more about her work on her website: www.mariasavva.com
A TIME TO TELL – AMAZON PAGE LINK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B015NL4VK0
A TIME TO TELL – BOOK TRAILER LINK: https://youtu.be/v2aCcN51FM4
Maria’s Social Media links: