Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chrystalla Thoma - Urban Mythology



Hey everyone!  Today, I am featuring one of my very favorite authors, and a very good friend of mine.  Give a big wave to Chrystalla Thoma!

Hi Marion!

Marion:  Tell everyone a bit about yourself!

I am Greek Cypriot, so I was raised on Greek myths, bouzouki music and souvlaki. I escaped Cyprus to study in France, then in England and Germany. By the time I started thinking about returning to Cyprus, I met my husband, Carlos, who is Costa Rican, so my next stop was Costa Rica for a few years. Now I am back in Cyprus, with Carlos, and am now famous for importing handsome men. I love good food and sunny weather, archaeology and folklore. I have just written a book about the dragons of the world, and am currently writing two series, Elei’s Chronicles (Young Adult, dystopian science fiction) and Boreal and John Grey (Urban Fantasy).

Marion: And one day I will actually make it over to Cyprus!  *nods firmly*  How do you start thinking about a book?  Is it the characters that first pop to mind, or the setting, or the plot?  Where do you usually start?

I usually have a ‘trigger’ – an ‘interesting idea’. It can be about the plot or the characters or a particular scene. For instance, it may be that a fascinating character pops into my mind and starts chatting with me. Or I may think of a concept, like I did with the all-powerful parasites in my series Elei’s Chronicles. Or I may want to explore symbols and stories that have been a lot on my mind, as with The Minotaur. I was especially interested in the idea of the Labyrinth, where it came from and what it might mean – and also in the idea that Theseus and Asterion (the Minotaur) might have been siblings, sides of the same coin...

 Marion: Sounds like a very organic style, with everything growing from a single idea.  When was the last time you just had to write, and what inspired that feeling?

I often write when I’m sad or angry. I need to rework all that happens to me, all I desire and cannot have, all I wish and hope for, into stories – so that I can explain the inevitable and the terrible, transform the nightmare into a happy ending. Just recently we had some deaths in my family, and I simply had to write – to work out the pain and to lose myself in other people’s stories.

Marion: I'm sorry to hear about that, but I think it's really healthy to express it in your writing.  When you’re writing, what game do you most often play during “breaks”?

Angry Birds!!! I usually don’t play games, actually, but from time to time I can’t resist the appeal of the furious little birds and chuckling evil piggies.

Marion: Have you ever tried to shake up your writing routine?  Writing at a different time? Writing in new places?  Writing nude?  *waggles eyebrows*

lol Marion! Well, during summer and most of autumn, I wrote on my balcony. It was cool there and I had a view to the mountains. Very inspiring. Of course then Winter came... I have tried moving my computer to different locations to write inside the apartment – but the apartment is very small. I often work to music which changes according to the story. As for writing in the nude – I’m not sure the neighbors would appreciate that...

Marion: *G*  You never know!  What’s your worst writing habit?  Something you know you shouldn’t do, but just can’t seem to stop?

Hm. In my writing, I tend to have repeat actions – she clenched her jaw, he blinked, she let out a long breath, he pressed his lips in a line. I do that a lot. Thankfully, my beta readers often call me out on this, so I become aware of it and fix it.

Now, if you’re talking about a habit during writing – then it has to be having lots of internet windows open. Facebook, twitter, kindleboards... you name it. Bad, bad habit...

Marion: Oh, yes.  I tend to cut out all internet activity when writing, otherwise I get little done.  What’s the one thing you wish you were good at, but just can’t seem to master?

In life? Patience and forethought (as in, not opening my big mouth without thinking first all the time). In the arts – drawing. I have some talent, but not as much as I want... In writing, I wish I could create more complex plots.

Marion: You really do have a great graphic eye.  I loved working with you on The Minotaur.  *nods* And I actually wish I could less convoluted plots!  How do you ‘get into character’?  Are their certain characters you find it harder to write than others?

To get into character, I spend some time going over the person’s past, and some important traits – like is she shy or outgoing, arrogant or selfless, etc. I find I do angry, angsty characters best... I wonder what that tells about me... ;)

Marion: Hmm.  Could be byproduct of the angry writing, or it could just be that those are the characters with the most emotion to show!  There are a lot of concepts about what writer are like, what’s the one you hate the most?  Like the most?

Can I quote a stereotype I keep stumbling across here in Cyprus? Whenever someone hears I’m a writer, they come to me and say, “I heard you are a writer. You should write my life story.” And then go on to tell me their life story. Seriously, people? Write your own life story. Are you superstars or something? :D

Also, I am convinced my family and friends think I sit home all day playing games and drinking coffee. No, my friends, I don’t touch the screen and words magically appear, nor is the novel already written in my brain and I just need to pour it out. It takes planning, and plotting, and erasing and starting again, and fretting, and weeping, and laughing hysterically, and busting my ass writing these stories. That’s why they’re so good. *wink*

Marion: Oh, definitely!  All the hard work really pays off!  What project are you currently working on?

I have currently three ongoing projects (yeah I know... I can’t help myself!) I have just finished writing a non-fiction book about the dragons of the world and am waiting for the edits. I am writing the fourth novel in my dystopian YA series Elei’s Chronicles. And I am writing episode 3 in my urban fantasy serial Boreal and John Grey. I can’t complain, though. It’s a pleasure living with my characters. We’re good friends, have coffee together... lol

Marion: LOL!  I feel the same way about my characters, but it makes it hard to go out in public.  Having conversations with thin air tends to put people off for some reason.  *G*  Give us a few parting words!

Thanks for inviting me over, Marion! If you would like to read any of my books, you can find the links here: http://www.amazon.com/Chrystalla-Thoma/e/B001JOWZCC

Or you can hop over to my blog and have a look around:

Marion:  Thanks for being here!  I know how busy you are, with all the writing you get done.  You're like a word count machine!  And readers, comment on this post to receive a FREE copy of The Minotaur, by our lovely Chrystalla Thoma!


6 comments:

Wendy said...

I love your Minotaur and Theseus concept, Chrystalla. I guess this would provide a good reason for Theseus to leave Ariadne behind if he was her brother. I smiled when you said you have lots of Internet windows open. I do that. One research idea leads to another and another. Easy to cross reference that way. And working on three projects at once. I suspect you are a Gemini like me.
An enjoyable interview, Marion and a superb cover for The Minotaur, again with the magic and warmth that enriches your art

Chrystalla Thoma said...

Thank you, Wendy! Actually I'm a Sagittarius... :) We do that, too. lol

Marion, many thanks for the great cover and the interview!!!

Rick Taubold said...

Chrys,

I especially liked your comment about having Internet windows open during writing. That's often my problem--along with jumping to my email too often. Too many distractions I know is one big reason I don't get as much written as I want to.

--Rick

Marion Sipe said...

Hey all!

Oh, I too, am one of those with like six or seven windows open at a time! It's just so much easier to work, especially given that I bounce between projects constantly. I sometimes have to rewrite emails to authors because I will first write "Sure I can change the color of the text" and then in the middle of writing the email I switch to doing the work, and then back to the email once I've done it!

Thanks everybody for coming! And thank you, Chrystalla for giving us a peak inside your nifty head! *G*

Chrystalla Thoma said...

Thanks for the comments, Rick and Marion! Well it seems I am in good company with all internet windows open, lol.
So, I posted 2 comments. Do I get the free copy of The Minotaur? *wink*

Marion Sipe said...

Well, I think you already have a copy Chrys, and if you don't... I suppose we're all screwed!! *G*