29 January, 2014

#SpecialFeature :: An #Interview with #Author Teodora Kostova

Now Presenting:
*** SPECIAL FEATURE - January'14 ***

A Quick Recap of this Month's Posts
1st January :: Introducing Teodora Kostova
8th January :: Teodora Kostova's Playlists for Heartbeat Series
15th January :: Character Chat with Max & Stella from In a Heartbeat
22nd January :: Book Review of In a Heartbeat (Heartbeat #1)

Chat With Teodora Kostova

Your bio says that you have been a journalist, an editor, a personal assistant and an interior designer. So tell us about your journey till you finally threw caution to the wind and decided to write fulltime.
Yes, I’ve changed my job a few times *laughs* I have ADHD, thankfully not the severe kind, but I do get bored really easily. And when I do, I get restless, anxious and unhappy. If I don’t do anything about it, there’s a strong chance it might turn into a full blown depression, so I’ve learnt through experience that once the situation becomes unbearable, I need to have a change of scenery, move on of sorts. And besides, it’s fun trying new things. Anyway, that aside, I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. Not anything worth publishing or even sharing with friends, but writing nevertheless. When I got the idea for ‘Humanless’ – the first book I self-published, I was not working at the time because I was looking after my new born baby. After I released it, I decided that the whole process of writing, polishing and publishing a book might be very difficult, but it was worth it. I enjoyed it more than any job I’ve ever had. And that was when, for the first time in my life, I decided I was going to stick to writing as a job and pursue it as a career.

When and how did you first decide that it was time to take that chance to publish your work?
When I published ‘Humanless’ in 2010, self-publishing was just taking off. There was a lot of useful information and advice out there, so I decided to take a chance and try it. I’ve always been a control freak and the idea that some publishing company will have so much power over my work had stopped me from even querying them. So, for me, that was the perfect way to publish my book. 

How do you think that your experience as a journalist and editor helped with your writing career?
As a journalist it was drilled into me what ‘news’ is. When you hear a story, exactly what part of it is ‘the news’. That helps a lot when I write – I always look for ‘the news’ in every new scene. What am I trying to show here? What’s new compared to the last scene? How has the dynamic changed? As for being an editor – I’m not much into details, I’m more a bigger picture kind of girl. But the experience of being an editor and analysing every detail, every sentence, every word has helped me a lot when I first edit my work. Regardless, I do hire a professional editor because you can never have too many people going over your manuscript.

Do you have some unpublished work, written before ‘Hearbeat’ & ‘Humanless’ Series that is closer to your heart?     
I do have many projects that I started and never finished. It’s hard work sticking to a project even when the initial excitement wears off, especially for me. I’m thinking of revisiting some of those projects in the future to see if anything can be salvaged.

From conceiving an idea to marketing the book – it’s a long process. Which part of it did you enjoy the most?     
I enjoy all of it, because they all come in phases and by the time I’m bored with writing, for example, editing is due. By the time I’m sick of staring at the text and obsessing over every single word, it’s cover reveal and beta reading time; by the time this is over’ it’s release day and marketing, blog tours and interacting with readers. And then I have to do it all over again *laughs* That’s one of the reasons why I love this job so much – it’s never dull and it’s a constantly changing process.

When you write, do you get into the character and decide the course of events or do you shape them as the plot requires them to be?     
I do plot, but the plot I have in mind rarely sticks. Once I start writing, the characters come alive and write their own story. I know it must sound crazy, but it’s true. If I try to divert them and make them do something they don’t want to, the book starts going downhill. They rebel against it and it results in a huge writer’s block for me. Take Beppe and Gia from Then, Now, Forever for example – those two drove me insane. They were so hard to write. I wanted them to fight, because that was where the story was going, but they decided to kiss instead. I wanted them to kiss and make up, they had a huge fight instead. So in the end I just gave up and let them do whatever they wanted. I feel this is a much less stressful approach to writing and even though it kills the control freak in me, I don’t obsess over the initial plot anymore and let my characters roam free.

Have any of your characters inherited some of your personal quirks?
Of course. I put some part of me in every character I write, it’s inevitable. 

‘Hearbeat’ & ‘Humanless’ Series seem different from each other… Was the writing / storytelling experience for the two different for you?
Absolutely. One major difference is the sexual content. ‘Humanless’ is YA paranormal series and the writing reflected that. There are no sex scenes, even though it’s a romance. ‘Heartbeat’ is NA contemporary series and is much sexier, with a few sex scenes scattered throughout the books, but they are still subdued, not overly graphic.

All writers are readers first! So who are your favourite authors and what are some of your all-time favourite books?   
Oh, my! Where do I start! I read a lot of different genres. I love YA, contemporary and paranormal, and some of my favourite YA authors are Cassandra Clare, Maggie Stiefvater and Samantha Young. I also love adult paranormal like The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward and the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlene Harris. I have a love/hate relationship with John Green because his books are brilliant, but they are pure torture for my overly sensitive soul. I adore m/m romance novels and some of my all time favourite books and series are in that genre, like the Cut and Run series by Abigail Roux, In the Company of Shadows series by Santino Hassel and Ais, and everything Amy Lane and Josh Lanyon have ever written.

Do you think your favourite authors have influenced your style of writing?
I think everything I’ve ever read has influenced my writing and my style will keep changing as I read more books and experience new authors’ styles. But at the same time, there will always be something that’s undeniably me. That cannot be influenced.

Ever suffered from writer’s block? What is the best way around it – especially if you are on a deadline?  
Yes, I mentioned that it usually comes from wanting to control my characters. I have also been blocked when I knew I had to write something, but I didn’t want to. If I had a book scheduled to release next, but I didn’t have any desire or inspiration to write it. Or example, I was due to write Lisa and Gino’s book, the third in the ‘Heartbeat’ series. I just couldn’t do it. Every time I sat down to start writing, nothing came out. That lasted months, and the added pressure of people enquiring about the book’s release date on a daily basis resulted in the biggest writer’s block of my life. I honestly thought about giving writing up for good. But then, I went to this musical in London’s West End and a story hit me like a hurricane! I had all these characters and scenes and dialogues in my head and I couldn’t wait to get home and write all that down before it disappeared. I felt guilty that I wanted to write this story so badly when ‘Heartbeat’ #3 was supposed to be next. But in the end I decided that my sanity and the fact that I was actually excited about writing again was much more important. And since I’m in full control of my books and no publisher is breathing down my neck requiring a certain manuscript, I’m now writing a stand alone novel about performers in a London theatre.

There is always ‘someone’ who doesn’t like your book. How do you handle it?
Of course there is, that’s why there are so many different kinds of books out there and everyone can find something they love. I don’t obsess over bad reviews – I read them to see if there’s anything constructive in them that I can pay attention to and learn from. 

Some rapid fire questions:
Your favourite movie: Troy
Your favourite genre of Music: alternative rock
Your favourite Cuisine:  Italian
Your first celebrity Crush: Jared Leto in ‘So called my life’
Top thing on your Bucket List: For 2014 it’s ‘Do NaNoWriMo’

Quick Choices: 
Tommy & Tuppence or Poirot or Ms.Marple: Poirot. 
Paranormal or Dystopian or Fantasy: Paranormal
Jeremy Brett or Robert Downey Jr or Benedict Cumberbatch: BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH. Sorry, didn’t mean to scream *blushes*
Godfather or Ocean’s 11 or Die Hard: Ocean’s 11
Jack Sparrow or Willy Wonka or Edward Scissorhands: Jack Sparrow

What would you like to say to the people who haven’t read your book yet but are contemplating on whether to pick it up or not?  
I hope you’ll fall in love with Italy after reading the ‘Heartbeat’ series. I adore everything about this country and it has inspired me so much.

About the Author
Hi, my name is Teodora and I live in London with my husband Ted and my son Jason. I've been writing ever since I can remember, but it became my full time job in 2010 when I decided that everything else I've tried bores me to death and I have to do what I've always wanted to do, but never had to guts to fully embrace. I've been a journalist, an editor, a personal assistant and an interior designer among another things, but as soon as the novelty of the new, exciting job wears off, I always go back to writing. Being twitchy, impatient, loud and hasty are not qualities that help a writer, because I have to sit alone, preferably still, and write for most of the day, but I absolutely love it. It's the only time that I'm truly at peace and the only thing I can do for more than ten minutes at a time - my son has a bigger attention span than me.
When I'm procrastinating, I like to go to the gym, cook Italian meals (and eat them), read, listen to rock music, watch indie movies and True Blood re-runs. Or, in the worst case scenario, get beaten at every Wii game by a six year old.

Don't be shy and get in touch - I love connecting with my readers. 
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