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Welcome to this week’s A Cup of Conversation with one of the first authors I connected with on Twitter and who, although is on the other side of the world, still          I remember reading first drafts of his first book and sending back little notes to him and now here we are celebrating the release of his book          . It’s truly wonderful to be able to share this with him and to have you here.

1. When did you start writing creatively?

That must have been somewhere around late 2011 or early 2012. I had been raving to my loved one about a little book called ‘the name of the wind’ by Patrick Rothfuss when she politely asked, “You’re okay with English and your creativity steals you away so often. Couldn’t you do that?”

I answered, “Of course not, he…” I stopped. Why couldn’t I? Not on the same level, surely, but something clicked then. I could invent a story. The problem was simply writing it down. How do I gain that skill? What story would I want to write?

2. Which author has most influenced your own writing style?

Surprisingly, I think my two companions (Meredith and Michael from AMM) take that cake. It’s not so much me saying that they’re better than a Pullman or a Tolkein, but rather that they’re so different in the way they approach writing. Michael has an air of precise mischief, and Meredith places the emotions of readers above all else. These things have begun to seep into my writing, simply because I read so much of theirs. Before this, I’d never read so much by the same author save for Rowling.

3. What was the last book you read and what lasting message did it leave?

A Stephen King novel, one of the Dark Tower books. It’s the one that mentions Charlie the train. I have never seen emotion twisted in that way. That book is the very definition of an eerie clown. It takes the things you believe are nonsensical and makes them into the most horrid things. It’s even more powerful because it lends a sense of truth. Maybe the important things in my life came from dumb coincidence. The sheer audacity in taking a song like Velcro Fly and turning it into a tribal drumbeat, far in the future, for people to murder one another with… I cannot imagine that.

4. Are any of the characters in your novel/s based on yourself?

I don’t rightly know. I’m not entirely sure what I’m like. Thinking back on it, I’ve largely avoided creating characters as simple as I feel myself to be. I’m a little worried about what that might end up saying about them…or about me. At this point, I remain a little far from going in that direction. They say that chefs always avoid their native cooking and then eventually come back home. I’m sure I will too.

5. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?

Ah, this is actually an answer you seem uniquely qualified to understand. Azrael Windslayer is my favourite so far. I simply adore the inherent goodness and stubbornness he has in following his core belief.

Azrael Windslayer, dear readers, is a necromancer who believes that people shouldn’t die. Mischievous and at times cruel, he remains to this one faith because he thinks that as long as people could remain alive, they could become better people and then improve beyond our wildest belief. He would not wish the pain of death on anyone

6. Tell us a little about Adventus, your new release out on 1st September.

Adventus is the first of my novels set in Grimea, which is essentially made of Europe+ Middle East, East Asia, Central Africa, and Russia, but in a fantasy setting. In the year 1100 PK, three portals open, one in each of the continents other than Baku. In response, the world’s governments attempt to maintain diplomacy by sending a joint party of all these nations out to kill a specific creature. The point, it seems, is to prove that different races should live in peace. However, each government has something nefarious in mind…

7. Sum up Adventus in 6 words for us.

Governments are enemies. People are friends.

8. Where do you like to write and do you have a writing routine?

Currently, at my desk. I suppose there is a routine of sorts. I drink a great deal of coffee and do nonsensical things for a few minutes, then put away all people, toys, and electronics and begin to write.

9. What’s your favourite go-to snack when writing?

I don’t really snack. The closest I’ve come are slow meals or some vegetables. Perhaps some celery or carrots. There is something insidious about fruit, or so I am told. It might be the sugar. I don’t quite understand these things.

10. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you most enjoy and why?

I love a few things about writing, not least of which is the feeling of when I write and come up with interesting phrases. I also quite enjoy finding out where a story goes. Thinking about it, I spoke to a friend yesterday about the joy I feel when I begin writing and the story takes charge. You’ll find me pacing in the kitchen, telling people about how unexpected I found the most recent twist.

       11. Where do you find inspiration for your fantasy books?

Adventus was borne from my personal shame at the way some countries handled the Syrian refugee crisis. I wanted to reflect that shame in a fantasy setting.

Most often I begin with the world, I suppose. Many a teenager has sat with a friend and asked something to the effect of, “Dude, what if, like, some people had wings, but they’re really way deep down inside and couldn’t come out unless we were in danger? Wouldn’t, like, most superheroes in that world be suicidal people who just found out they had wings?”

I do something similar to that, and then I expand it. Sometimes, I begin by imagining a certain human being.

       12. What aspect of the writer’s life frustrates you the most and why?

Goodness, I hate proofreading my work. It’s simply the most boring part, since I already know what I wrote and thus, know my own story. What is the point of reading my book seven more times, just to polish some sentences and plot points?

However, I’m warming up to even that part. Polishing my work has begun to feel like polishing a stone or a blade. It can do something better because of my continued efforts.

       13. What three pieces of advice would you give a new writer?

Write fast: Done is better than perfect.

Wonder about people: Realistic people can make interesting decisions.

Read: For god’s sake, please do this, even if you’re like Michael in that you only read half of a book before moving on. Your style will never evolve properly if it isn’t motivated by the tricks that you absorb.

       14. Are you a planner or a pantser?

Pantser all the way. Writing Adventus, I was aware of only a few facts: I knew that Yuuto was the great-grandson of an old character. I knew Adventus would happen and that there would be a global summit. And I had known about the terrible tale of Ur Istahla and Ayyur, which Ur recalls to Yuuto in chapter…31, I think it was. Other than that, it all appeared on the page as I typed.

       15. What’s on your current to-do list?

Why, making Adventus a best-selling book, of course! We are currently on preorder, getting reviews, and we have every intention of making our week-long blog tour a smashing success.

Huge thanks Andrew for this wonderful interview and I wish you all the best with Adventus. And thank you my readers for joining us and Andrew’s links are below for keeping up-to-date with his books and writing life.






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Mark O’Neill is one of the first male writers to contact me about being featured in this series and I must say I’m truly delighted that he did. His interview is not only inspiring but he is open about his thoughts of the publishing industry and admits one of his book character’s sarcasm comes from him as he too can be a little sarcastic! He is a huge ambassador of Indie authors, so he already has a big tick next to his name from me! He’s a night owl and writes best between the hours of midnight and 3am and reveals how two of his books were inspired by real stories in the German news. You won’t be disappointed so welcome to this week’s A Cup of Conversation!

1. When did you start writing creatively?

When I was 10 years old. I remember writing about a deadly ninja that would go around beating up the bad guys. But this deadly ninja had feelings and would go home after a day’s hard work doing ninja’ing and talk to his dog about how he felt. It was really bad writing and I would cringe in embarrassment if I read it now. Remember I was only 10 and I am now 43!

But looking back, I realise it was the first time I started writing fiction where I was really rooting for the underdog. Justice and fairness has always been a constant theme in my writing.

2. Which author or authors has/have most influenced your own writing style?

The author I have always idolised is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and every year I re-read the Sherlock Holmes books religiously. When I was a boy, I read the Hardy Boys books and Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven books. I love detective books, spies and codes.

Now that I am older, my thriller/spy writing is influenced by people like John Connolly, Daniel Silva, Tom Rob Smith, Sam Eastland, Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum, and Mark Dawson.

3. What was the last book you read and what lasting message did it leave?

My reading has fallen by the wayside recently, as I try to write more of my own stuff. Today I started the new Daniel Silva book, “The Other Woman”, featuring the Israeli assassin Gabriel Allon. What message does it give me? That I have no chance in hell of ever bettering Daniel Silva! He is the spy thriller master.

4. Are any of the characters in your nine published novels based on yourself?

Not directly, but I do try to put tiny little bits of me in each character, maybe just a small trait or two that only people who know me well would recognise. For example, the main character, Major Sophie Decker is a sarcastic person, always ready with a smart-ass reply to someone’s stupid question. That is definitely me.

Her deputy Wolfgang Schmitz reads Asterix books and is always cracking jokes, looking as if he can be easily trampled on. People underestimate him but he can turn on you in an instant if pushed into a corner. Again, me.

Then there is Sergeant Max Amsel, a black guy who experiences racism in Germany because he’s black. I experienced racism in the past because I was a foreigner in Germany and I was attacked in 1999 by skinheads down in southern Bavaria after defending a black friend who was also being attacked. So I put all of my racism experiences in Amsel.

Finally, Department 89’s resident tech expert, Sergeant Katja Liebermann, has all of my tech and geek knowledge. She’s only happy if she is behind a computer screen.

5. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?

A lot of people have asked me this and I honestly can’t decide between Decker and Schmitz. Both of them are my favourites and I can’t choose only one. Females will like Decker for her kick-ass uncompromising tough attitude in a job which is traditionally a macho man’s world (Military Intelligence). Men will like Schmitz for his smart Italian suits, his humour, his loyalty and toughness.

6. Tell us a little about your new series Department 89?

Department 89 is a covert German military intelligence unit which officially does not exist. The rest of German Intelligence is unaware that it exists and it answers only to the German chancellor and to her chief of staff. D89 deals with the security problems that the rest of German Intelligence and the German police cannot deal with, perhaps because there is no evidence to make an arrest, or because conventional law enforcement obviously cannot take the law into their own hands.

D89 on the other hand can do what they want. They do not have to follow the law and can make a spontaneous judgment call as to whether someone lives or dies. They are privately nicknamed “the chancellor’s private hit squad”. It’s hard to keep the department accountable to laws when officially they do not exist. So in a way, they are a nice convenient solution for the chancellor when she has a situation that normally cannot be dealt with. She can call in her black-ops people and tell them to quietly dispose of the problem.

7. Where do you like to write and do you have a writing routine?

Due to crippling back pain, I must lie down when writing, either on the bed or on the sofa. So my laptop is my most valuable possession. My writing routine is to do the books late at night between midnight and three in the morning. Any other time of the day, I have terrible writers block.

8. Why would readers enjoy your books?

Because they have action, adventure, fun, excitement, and escapism. Think of James Bond or Jason Bourne and multiply by 50. Plus female readers will enjoy seeing a strong female lead character for a change, instead of the woman traditionally being the sex symbol who looks lustfully at the male spy. Now the woman is in charge and the men are the second fiddles.

9. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy and why? 

Editing. And having to deal with horrible people who seem to delight in sending nasty emails about how bad the books are in their opinion. I find it sad they have nothing else in their lives worth doing if all they can do is email me to complain about something in my books.

       10. Where do you find inspiration for your espionage books?

Other books and movies, as well as the news. I am always scouring German newspapers, websites, and history books to find possible new angles. When they found unexploded World War II bombs outside Berlin last year, I changed the bombs to poison gas and it became “The Beethoven Syndrome.” When the Neo-Nazi APD party got into the German parliament last year, it inspired “The Reichsbank Gold.”

       11. What is your process for ensuring your books are ready for release?

Setting a release date on day one and publicly announcing it. That way, I can’t back down from it. That forces me to keep working and stop procrastinating, knowing the clock is ticking down. Plus not sleeping too much.

       12. What two aspects of the writer’s life frustrate you the most and why?

Well as I said before, I get so much hate mail from pitiful hateful people and I am always told by my friends and family not to reply to it. That replying just keeps it going because attention is what they are looking for. But like Sophie Decker, I don’t turn the other cheek when getting insulted. So I am my own worst enemy.

The other aspect is the arrogance and rudeness towards indie authors, by the “traditional” publishing industry, by the media, translators, book conventions, etc. When they find out you’re an indie author, they look at you as if you are a contagious disease. I always say to them “I make 70% royalty on each book. How much do you make? 10% if you’re lucky?”.

That doesn’t improve the atmosphere but they know I’m right.

       13. What three pieces of advice would you give a new writer?

Never give up writing. Always edit your work. Always read other books.

       14. Are you a planner or a pantser?

A pantser. Planning is torturous for me. Planning takes all the fun out of writing. Just start typing and see where your mind takes you. To paraphrase a popular British TV comedy programme, “we’re now entering his mind. Expect filth!”

Stephen King said something along the lines of “if you don’t ever read, you don’t have any business being a writer.” He’s right.

       15. What’s on your current to-do list?

Writing the next Department 89 book (due out in September). Writing book one of a spin-off series, due out in the middle of August. Getting ALL of the Department 89 book covers re-designed by a lovely talented friend of mine in the US. The German and Spanish translations of my first book will also be out in August.








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They say time flies when you’re having fun! It’s a year exactly since the debut release of Broken Pieces of Tomorrow in its ebook format and I can say that this year has been phenomenally exciting…the path of being a published author has not failed to exhilerate, and at times exasperate, but most of all I have been truly amazed at the generosity, kindness and wonderful support of my family, friends and virtual friends too.

As a way of celebrating I thought I’d share an excerpt of the story and some of those e-moments with you. So THANK YOU to each and every one of you for making the first year of the book’s publication so successful!

Mya Glenister, a young student, now in her second year of GCSEs, designed the front cover of the book for me after responding to my shout out across Instagram for book cover ideas. She has been truly inspirational and worked tirelessly to meet my deadlines! As a former teacher of Business Studies and Head of PSHE I am a huge advocate of supporting young people to push themselves to do whatever it takes to develop themselves, build transferable skills and become the best possible version of themselves that they can. 

You can read about her experience of designing the cover here.

Seeing the cover of my book LIVE for the first time was truly amazing and it was such a special moment for me. If I remember rightly, I danced around the house screaming my head off and anyone who knows me will be able to say that’s typical of me when I get excited about something! I began writing the story in January 2015, using my writing classes as an escape from a particularly difficult and upsetting time in my life, and so to finally see my finished story, after countless of edits and re-writes, as an e-book on Amazon was incredibly rewarding. 

This was one of the very first reviews I remember really celebrating. The reader, who I have since connected with on Instagram, really understood Georgia’s “Coming of Age” journey and I remember crying with joy as I read her 5 star goodreads review which you can read in full here.

With over 35 reviews across Amazon and goodreads, the book is certainly liked by readers! EVERY review that comes in is always a whoop moment for me. I value everyone’s review and for those who cannot leave a review, a message on my social media is just as welcome. So if you’ve read it PLEASE leave a review for me, or message me your thoughts, and if you haven’t read it yet…here’s a little taster for you…enjoy!

“Nicolas strolled in a few minutes before six o’clock and went straight up for a shower. Georgia waited in the kitchen shifting from one foot to the other until he eventually came back downstairs.

‘Of course I’ve got her number. Why wouldn’t I? She works for me doesn’t she?’ said Nicolas.

‘What do you need to call her for?’

‘If she’s running late, if she’s not well enough to come in, if she’s missed the bus to work…loads of reasons. What’s with all the questions?’

‘I’ll tell you why! Because her number is all over the Vodafone bills like a rash! Her number is there every fucking day!  You made call after call after call to her.  Sometimes five, six times a fucking night.  In the mornings.  On Sundays.  On.  Sundays. When you should be watching your son play football you’re on the fucking phone to her for an hour, for two hours!’

‘Oh come on. How do you know that?’

‘Because, darling, I have seen the bills.’

‘Look I can explain. There’s nothing going on. She’s been doing extra shifts what with those workmen coming in at the end of the day. I couldn’t cope on my own. And she’s having a hard time with her boyfriend. He’s possessive. She just needs someone to talk to. I’ve done nothing wrong. I promise. I’ve promised your mum and dad. I’ve promised my mum too. On the boys’ lives I haven’t done anything with her.’

‘Don’t you dare swear on the boys’ lives!’

‘I promise!’

‘And my mum and dad aren’t stupid! They don’t believe you and neither do I.’

‘I promise, Georgia please…’

‘I don’t believe you. You just said it’s because she’s late or ill. Now you’re saying something different. And if nothing’s happened, you want it to. She wants it to. The fucking cow! She knows you’re married. She’s met me. She’s met the boys!’

‘Look I care for her. She works for me. She’s on her own. She’s here without permission. Imagine what that’s like for her.’

‘What it’s like for her? You are joking, right? Why do I want to imagine what it’s like for her? I’ve been out of my mind with worry. I’ve been thinking the worst; you were ill, you might be in debt, having a break down or something. And you want me to imagine what it’s been like for her? You imagine what it’s been like for me. Just for one fucking minute!’

‘You’re such a drama queen. It’s not about you or me. It’s about helping her out. She’s in trouble here. She’s without her family. She has no-one. We have each other and the boys and our families. You’ve got me. I’m working my arse off to give you the life you want. To give us the life we both want.’ He ran his hand through his hair, nervous.

‘Liar!’ Georgia wanted to bash his big fat head on the kitchen wall behind him, but instead she turned and stomped out. He didn’t follow her.”

Thank you for reading my “One Year Anniversary” post and if you’d like to connect with me then here are my social media links…see you soon!

Twitter      Facebook      Instagram     Pinterest

Until next time, Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy you! Soulla xxx

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In this Writers’ Favourite Writing Quotes post I have two wonderfully creative people from the world of writing and the world of music. Both are making waves and I am SO delighted to have crossed paths with them…they are phenomenally ambitious, driven and yet humble. Both deserve the success and happiness their creativity has brought them and I hope you enjoy their inspirational quotes as well as continue to share their wonderfully inspiring journeys through their social media channels.

Welcome Sweta Srivastava Vikram…Sweta inspires me daily with her energy, enthusiasm and the way she connects with her readers…her journey is a truly authentic one and I remember the first conversation on IG that I had with her was this message from her: ‘Hi Soulla! Love what you do. Let me know if I can be of any help as a fellow author.’ I knew from that moment that I had connected with someone very special indeed.

My favourite writing quote and how it inspired me: 

“If there’s a book that you want to read,

but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Toni Morrison

I couldn’t find books and stories about my generation or South Asian women like myself or my friends and family, so I wrote “Louisiana Catch” and created the protagonist Ahana. I was tired of others defining what Indian women look like, behave, do, or feel. You can say, breaking stereotypes surrounding South Asian stories was central to writing of this book and Toni Morrison’s wise words.

How the quote got me into writing, helped develop my writing style or attitude: The quote is plain and simple. And it reiterated my desire to write “Louisiana Catch.” It taught me about authenticity and both the power and pain of untold stories.

What I’m writing at the moment/working on: Starting September, I will start writing a monthly column for India Currents, a leading South Asian publication in the US. There are conversations around turning my 1st Indian novel, Perfectly Untraditional,” into a movie. That’s been quite exciting. Plus, I am not done with the book tour for “Louisiana Catch,” my latest novel 🙂 The tour resumes in the fall. Right now, planning and prepping for creative writing and wellness workshops that I will be offering by end of summer and early fall.

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Welcome Nathalie Miranda…Nathalie is doing what I would have loved to do had I not been a writer and I do actually have a couple of songs written in a notebook from a few years ago. She’s young and vibrant, she writes and sings and is always out there pushing herself and doing local gigs and events. I’m delighted to have crossed paths with such a hugely talented creative and I’m hoping to organise a local event with her in the Autumn so watch out for it!





My favourite quote and how it inspired me:

“Gotta find me a future, move out of my way”

by Queen from “I Want It All”

How the quote got me into song writing / helped develop my style or attitude. I’ve been writing songs since I was 10 years old. Melodies ad lyrics come very easily to me.

I’m inspired by my own personal experiences, things I see around me, things I’d like to happen…so much.

Freddie Mercury is my biggest inspiration as an artist. His lyrics and delivery drew my attention from a young age. Whenever I need inspiration, I watch one of his videos or put a Queen song on, and I’m immediately in a better place.

Unwittingly, he has been a huge part in my performance style. I like to get the audience involved, and I’m a totally different person on stage. It’s like I’m a more confident version of myself on stage, when in reality, I’m an introvert, and a private kind of person. His attitude and the way he commands a stage has definitely been a huge inspiration to me.

So, in summary, this quote is motivational; it’s focused, and gave me the drive to go out and follow my dreams and to achieve my goals.

What I’m currently working on: At the moment, I’m working on new material, writing with other artists, doing more and more gigs with just myself and the piano, which is very different for me, as I’m used to being accompanied by a guitarist. But it’s a whole different side of my performing that I’m enjoying very much. It’s much more organic and intimate.

My video for my song ‘Red Light’ came out on Friday 3rd August, which was exciting as it’s my very first!

I’m always looking to learn and grow as an artist, and be the best artist that I can be.

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Huge thanks to Sweta and Nathalie, and to you,

my readers for joining me this week.

Until next time, keep smiling, keep creating!

Soulla xxx

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I recently entered a competition on Instagram to win a book titled Magic Hour A Mermaid’s Tale written by S. Daniels. I won a beautifully signed copy of the story and its title reminded me of a poem I wrote back in February 2017 and so I’m sharing here…I hope you enjoy it.

Behind her, angles, the fabric of life
The solid architecture of man’s design
She wades into the warm ocean
Cracked soles sinking into the soft sand


Around her feet, a sensation, a tingling
Ripples, circles of magical magnetism
A fragile mass of body and soul
The water silk, caressing her blistered skin


Bruises fade, then disappear
Cuts once bleeding, now heal
Bare breasts revealed under the dazzling sun
The spray gently kissing her long limbs


The spray of the surf unrelenting
Below, the azure waters beckon her
Above heaven’s skies, jagged crack open
Her dark wavy locks soaked heavy


Eyelids shining, a shimmering gold
She lowers her dark brown eyes
Long eyelashes close over them
Breathing in the sharp, salt air
She tastes the sting of wet drops on her lips
And then her heart uplifting, floating,
As the spray washes over her, all of her
Joy unrelenting, crashes up through her belly


Undulating, rolling waves swallow her
Lightless, airy, an angel of the briny deep
Her legs ache with absolute bliss
Her tail emerges, turquoise scales


Ultra-marine, cobalt, sparkling hues
She dips and twists, crystal rocks
Seaweed, fish and creatures of the sea
Inviting her to the depths of the ocean
She breathes in and out, bubbles escaping her lips
She opens her eyes, safe as can be
Here in the magic, is where she belongs
This is her fantasy, her mermaid’s dream.


For more of my poetry you can download Sunshine after Rain from Amazon here. It is free on Kindle Unlimited and only 99p to download.

And if you love mermaids as much as I do you can buy S. Daniel’s book here as well as connect with her on Instagram @author_sdaniels and here is a little overview of her wonderful book for you:

“It is the tail end of dusk, and David McAllister, an adventurous seaman traveling the world on his yacht, is gazing at the stars and wondering what his next exciting experience will be. As he scans the dark Costa Rican waters where he is anchored, he sees the silhouette of a woman, only to watch her disappear beneath the waves. Intrigued, the next day he begins asking questions of the locals and hears tales of a fish woman. Meanwhile, a mermaid who knows herself only as Gem has been captivated by the sight of David. Although she’s fled humans for as long as she can remember, she finds herself unable to forget him. Their meeting marks the start of an amazing adventure for both of them, taking them to uncharted destinations and beyond. In this fantasy tale, a sailor and a mermaid are drawn to each other in the midst of magical events that will change both their lives forever.” 

It promises to be an absolutely magical tale!

Enjoy your summer reading, until next time, Soulla x

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