This Wednesday, I have the pleasure of introducing my readers to an author who sought me out, not a bad thing,Loukia Borrell. I have enjoyed getting to know her as we have conversed and I read her responses. As of this moment, I have not gotten to read her novel, Raping Aphrodite, I will get there, eventually. 🙂 I hope you enjoy our interview.
Please tell me about your current novel. What or who inspired you to write it?
In 1974, when I was 11, Cyprus was invaded by Turkey. Even though I was young, I knew something very bad had happened and that nothing would ever be the same for my family. Both of my parents are from Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean, and there were still a lot of their family members living there. My relatives were among the estimated 200,000 Greek-Cypriot refugees that summer. Worse, my maternal grandparents went missing and, to this day, are unaccounted for. There are about 2,000 Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots from that summer who have never been found. Decades passed and as I got older, I became more reflective of my life and the people and places that are gone. Several years ago, in 2009, my oldest daughter had a writing assignment. She had to place a fictional character into a real historical event. She chose the 1974 invasion of Cyprus. I was helping her with it, getting her some historical information and thought, I really should be doing this, too. A year later, I had 70,000 words.
When you sit down to write, are you at a computer or do you do it, the ‘old fashioned’ way with pen and paper? Do you prefer one way or another?
I have been a diarist for more than 30 years. When I write in my diary, it is with a pen in a pretty, bound notebook. Usually something I have picked up at T.J. Maxx or a card shop. For the books, I use my laptop and save the file to a flash drive about every 10,000 words, in case the computer gets fried.
What do you do in your down time? Do you pick up something from your ‘to be read’ stack?
With three kids and elderly parents, I don’t have a lot of free time, but I do get pockets of it here and there. I walk, ride my bike, do yard work, read books, and watch movies. My husband and I also carve out time together so we aren’t going in opposite directions all the time.
What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
I look for a strong author, a solid story, something that speaks to me directly or seems believable, even if it is fiction. I prefer biographies, memoir and fiction. Books I have read in recent years include Jaycee Dugard’s “A Stolen Life,” because I just couldn’t believe what this woman had to endure and was amazed she survived. I wanted to support her, so I bought her book. “Contract on the President,” is a political thriller written by Bob Endicott, a former editor of mine in the 1980s, when I worked for newspapers. He fashioned one of his book’s characters after me; I’ve never had anyone put me in a book! I read “Contract” and liked it because I could identify with his characters (they were journalists) and know the author. I also have read a couple of Patricia Highsmith’s books centered around Tom Ripley, a con artist who is intriguingly cool and amoral.
What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
A few years after my youngest daughter was born, I stepped away from freelance writing and thought, “Well, that’s it.” I went from a daily newspaper job in my 20s and 30s, to freelance writing and then not working at all. I was surprised and pleased to see I could find another avenue to express myself, and be able to tell the story, although fictionalized, of what happened in Cyprus that summer. I like creating characters and telling them what to do, because I can’t do that in real life. I like using my mind to figure out what my characters will do next. My least favorite part of being an author is marketing the book. I am an indie author, so I don’t have an agent or big publishing house behind me. I have to do all my promotions and publicity, when all I really want to do is go home and hide.
Did you get to quit your ‘day job’ and become an author, or do you have a ‘day job’ and writing is something you do for fun?
My day job is taking care of three children, ages 10 to 15, and an elderly mother who is seven years into Alzheimer’s. I take care of all of them and whatever they need. Writing is something I do when everyone is sleeping or at school. I don’t really do it for fun. I do it because I need to. I need to find my voice and tell the story, so I don’t get lost in being a caretaker, wife and mother.
What is your favorite junk food vice?
Nutella with almonds in a small bowl.
Is there any movie you have seen that was based on a novel, which you think lived up to the novel?? What made it live up to the novel?
I thought “Cold Mountain,” lived up to the novel. It has been about 10 years since the movie came out, and I still feel close to those characters, their struggles and the love they felt for each other. Ada and Inman had such a brief time together, but it was enough to last a lifetime. I know I have those same feelings for my husband, that I would compare any man I meet to him. Also, “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” with Matt Damon and Jude Law was a great movie. As with the novel, the process Tom Ripley goes through to go from an unknown, poor American to a sought-after, wealthy American in 1950s Europe is fascinating and terrifying at the same time. Both the book and the film offered me the right mix of glamour and suspense. Of course, there are others, including “Gone With The Wind,” “The Notebook,” and “The Painted Veil.”
Did you have any teacher(s) in high school or college that encouraged you to write? Did you take their advice?
I went to Elon University, near Burlington, NC, and was editor of the student newspaper my senior year. My advisor, Bob Nowell, believed I had talent as an editor and leader, and he pushed me to rise as high as I could at the university’s student paper. From there, another person who stands out for me is Bob Endicott, my editor at a weekly newspaper in Reston, Va., during the mid-1980s. He mentored me just after I got out of school and taught me perseverance. I only worked for him for a year, but took away lessons from my time with him that have served me well in the years since Reston.
What type of ice cream could I find you eating on a hot summer day?
If we snuck a peek in your purse right now, what would we find?
Insect repellent, hand sanitizer, my wallet, keys, cell phone, lip balm, reading glasses, sunglasses, and a spare battery for my cell phone.
Who was your first novel dedicated to? Was their a particular reason for that person?
I dedicated my first book to a bunch of people. My maternal grandparents, who disappeared when Turkey invaded Cyprus; my children, who have given me a connection to the world I never thought I would have; my late brother, who believed in me; my parents, and my husband.
What do your friends and family think of your writing? Have they been supportive?
Yes. I think my children are excited about it, even though it isn’t a book I would want them to read because of the sexual parts of the book. Still, they are excited whenever I have news to share about “Raping Aphrodite,” and the next book I am working on, which is a prequel to it. Gordon, my husband, is just amazed I had time to do this and a lot of people are just happy I met one of my goals. The online book world is incredible, too. Bloggers, book lovers, other authors are all very positive and encouraging. They are good people.