Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Effrosyni Moschoudi is living proof that it’s never too late to start over. This author and restless spirit has lived in a grand total of eleven rented houses, and has left a career in customer support, business correspondence and telemarketing, in order to become an author. She currently lives in a seaside town near Athens, with her husband, Andy, and their cat, Felix. If it sounds like the perfect dream, take it from us, pinching yourself will do nothing.
Here’s what she had to tell us:
So, you currently live in a sea-side town near Athens, Greece. That sounds beautiful. How much would you say that environment influences your writing?
I’ve always been passionate about the sea, and the only time in my life when I lived far from the shore was a year I spent working in England once, living at the very centre of Britain. I suffered that year, LOL! Nowadays, I enjoy serenity, inspiration and beauty all in one by living on the shore near the city of Athens. Inevitably, the sea finds its way in all my books and I intend to keep it that way. In The Lady of the Pier series, the sea is a symbolism that serves to express the lament of the ghost haunting the pier. I like to visit the seafront in my little town all year round and I carry its murmur and its shimmer in my head, ready for when it’s time to write. I couldn’t write away from the sea, I don’t think.
You grew up in Athens, but you write your novels for English audiences, what made you decide to go in that direction?
I’ll be honest with you. I wrote the first draft of The Necklace of Goddess Athena (my debut novel) in Greek. I submitted it to publishers in Athens, even via a Greek agent later on, but to no avail. The agent explained to me my chances are grim, despite having a great book, because of the crisis. So I thought, okay, this is where my command of English comes in handy. Next thing I knew, I had a novel written from scratch, in English this time. It was only a matter of time, after that, till I took the indie route like so many others.
The Necklace of Goddess Athena, is an urban fantasy that combines elements of ancient Greek mythology with modern-day life, can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your novel? What drew you to this genre?
All my life I had friends abroad and have always found it hard to explain to them the quirkiness of Greek life, the way it feels to be Greek. I refer to our spontaneity, immense stoicism, our ‘live and let live’ philosophy, our strong religion, massive food culture and the strong ties of family, to name only but a few facets of Greek-ness. So, born from my need to express what it means to be Greek, came the character Efimios, an unsung hero of Athens who serves Goddess Athena as a time traveler, helping out the city through tumultuous times in history. The time travel element serves to symbolize love for country and the timeless characteristics of the Greeks.
What are some of your favorite authors? How have they influenced your work?
I have diverse tastes, but I mostly enjoy historical fiction, women’s fiction, and thrillers. My favorites include Sophie Kinsella, Victoria Hislop, Louis De Bernieres, Cecilia Ahern, Dan Brown and Stephen King. I love them for various reasons. Some have a unique, haunting prose, others make up quirky, whimsical stories that enchant me and some, like Sophie Kinsella, are memorable for their unprecedented ability to make me laugh. Last, Dan Brown is a master when it comes to ending every chapter with a cliffhanger. I find that I take all these elements and try to introduce them into my writing. I hope I am doing a good job.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? Was there a specific moment when you knew this was what you wanted to do, or have you always loved to write?
No, there is no specific moment. Ever since I learned how to write I was recording rhymes on a notepad, and even tried my hand around twelve at writing a bedtime story and a short theatre play. Later, in adolescence, I wrote dark poetry, but it never occurred to me to associate this with an aspiration to be an author. I only wrote because I felt the need to.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process? Do you plot things out in advance, or make it up as you go? Is there a lot of research involved with your work?
I used to be a pantser, and that’s how I wrote The Necklace of Goddess Athena throughout, but when it came to writing a trilogy of two timelines that also involved historical facts of WWII, I had no choice but to convert to a plotter one hundred percent and to do extensive research first. There was no way I was going to manage such a complex project otherwise. I even read about plotting techniques online and picked up a few tricks, so, if any authors are reading this, the best way to plot is to have a short chapter by chapter summary. You don’t have to have the whole book in your head. Even if you only have 1-3 chapters already recorded in advance, then when you sit to write you already know what you’re going to write that day. I haven’t experienced writer’s block since I started writing this way, so I know first hand this tip is awesome!
What do you think is the most important part of a story?
For me, it’s two things. First, the beginning; you want to reel the reader in by introducing a lead character that seems interesting enough to follow during their journey. Another reason why the beginning is important to a writer, is because whether you want to attract an agent/publisher or a reader on a site where your indie ebook is being sold, on both counts, the first chapter is what they’re going to see so it must be perfect in every way. The other important part of a book to me is the climax. It needs to be breathtaking. This is where you want the reader to turn the pages thirstily. Personally, this is also where I’m moved to tears while I write, hoping to cause the reader to do the same. When I write the climax, I write with the reader in mind and try to provide as much excitement and sentiment as possible at this point.
What lessons have you learned the hard way?
If it doesn’t work, if it makes you miserable, let it go. I think it’s important to know a battle or even a war has been lost, just as it’s important to keep going when there’s still a chance to win. Sadly, it took me ages to learn that lesson. When I was young I kept banging my head against the wall on many occasions, when I should have just walked away a lot sooner from, say, a bad job or a bad relationship. I also hurt myself unnecessarily by bearing grudges when I should have just forgiven whoever and let go. Still, all mistakes are a chance to learn and to evolve.
How was the publishing experience for you? Did you go it alone or did you get help?
I was alone in the beginning and it was stressful, overwhelming and scary. My number one advice to anyone starting now as an indie is to network. Never attempt to publish before finding at least one mentor, a person willing to impart wisdom (there are many out there, just ask!). Run all your plans past a mentor and listen to advice, especially on how to present your book on the seller’s site and your brand on the social media. The advice of those who have already walked the path and are ahead of you will save you from stupid mistakes. Some are easy to fix, some may take days and even months of work to correct. By listening to advice, I saved myself from mistakes others paid at high cost and some still do.
What have you found to be the best way to market your books?
The best way to market a book is to run free and discount promotions (I do this via Amazon’s KDP). It takes time to create a large author platform to help with that, but it does help in the long run, especially if you’re an avid blogger. Another thing that helps is having a series. If you hook the reader enough with book 1 (a long-term 99c deal or a freebie works best) and if you’ve created an interesting story of course, the reader will seek out and buy the next books in the series immediately. I spent all summer marketing The Ebb (book 1 in The Lady of the Pier trilogy) this way and used Facebook groups to market the book to readers who love Corfu (one of the two timelines is set on this Greek island). I offered these people a free guide to my beloved grandparents’ village on Corfu (where to stay, what to see etc) and it worked beautifully to attract these readers’ attention to my books when they visited my website. There were days, when I posted on the Facebook groups and had up to 22 sales on a single day and most of the readers bought book 2 at the same time, even though it was at full price. So, if any authors have a location in their books that is a popular holiday resort, don’t hesitate to do something similar. It works!
How do you handle rejection or negative reviews?
I respect the opinion of my readers and I appreciate taste vary. If someone says my book wasn’t of interest or not to their liking, I fully respect that and I don’t take it personally. I only mind when they give unfair remarks, but even then, I have no choice but to take it. There was one reader, for example, who wrote it was preposterous to think a Greek family would have pizza on the beach in the 80s, even though this scene in The Ebb was actually autobiographical! You have to chuckle with this kind of comment, and I hear there’s worse, so I can’t complain. Besides, as I said, I don’t have a choice in what people write. Thankfully, I know better than fuss over things I cannot control.
How do you find your courage? A lot of new writers are scared of putting themselves out there to be judged. So much so, that many of them never even take the first step. What advice would you give to them?
Courage and perseverance are the two most important traits to have. It doesn’t apply only to writers but to anyone aiming to succeed. Some people have them and some don’t, but I believe that if you have a strong mind you can train yourself to dare and to endure. I believe all strength comes from within, so, if anyone’s struggling with long working hours that seem to lead to nowhere, my advice would be to take some time off. I would advise meditation, twenty minutes a day is enough, to just sit quietly and let go of any thoughts, breathe, visualize your goal and let your mind bring you fresh ideas. That’s what I do to replenish my strength, clear my mind from the clutter, and build up my defenses. To the same purpose, I exercise doing yoga, walking or swimming. Anything to get my body moving and to get me breathing deeply as to alleviate stress.
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
I spent a good part of this year doing re-edits on all my books including two new ones that I am launching at the end of the year. One is the concluding part of my trilogy, The Storm, and the other is a little companion book that I will offer free across all platforms to attract new readers to my trilogy. It is called Poetry from The Lady of the Pier and it contains ten poems as featured in the trilogy (my two heroines are both poets). It will also include a short story of sweet romance. After these two books are launched I hope to make a start in early 2016 with writing a women’s fiction novel set on a Greek island. I haven’t decided yet which one, but I know it’ll be a supernatural romance, involving a guardian angel.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes, thank you. If your readers are interested in Greek travel or Greek recipes (I love to blog healthy and easy meals!) they can find relevant posts on my WordPress blog here.
On my main blog, that is part of my website, I host author interviews and also review the books I read so it’s a great place for readers to discover new authors and great books. This is also where people can download free excerpts of my books, watch book trailers, contact me directly and sign up to my newsletter to hear it first about my special offers and new releases (very sparse emails).
Last but not least, for the attention of any struggling indies, although I’ve also blogged a few good author tips, the best ones out there are available on the blog of eNovel Authors At Work by the pen of Jackie Weger. The posts are brimming with wholesome and tested information regarding effective book promotion, which sites and practices work and which don’t. Highly recommended!
Fantastic news!! The Necklace of Goddess Athena will be FREE between November 18-22. Moschoudi relaunched the book last month and this brand new, second edition is professionally edited and has a stunning cover!
Phevos and his sister Daphne are time travelers from ancient Greece. Their enigmatic father sends them to modern-day Athens without telling them the reason. Teaming up with two orphaned siblings, the four set out to discover their terrible family secrets. When they find a cave in the Acropolis foothills, a precious finding helps them to realize they’ve been caught up in a conflict between two Gods; one is a protector, the other, their worst nemesis. Who will prevail when the rival Gods meet again and will the mortal bystanders survive to tell the tale?