Christina Pishiris studied on our Autumn 2012 novel-writing course in London, alongside fellow published alumni Lisa Williamson (author of YA bestseller The Art of Being Normal), James Hall (The Industry of Happiness), Maria Realf (The One) and Fiona Perrin (The Story After Us). Christina’s debut Love Song For Sceptics – the novel she worked on during the course – is set to be published by Simon & Schuster.
Read on to discover Christina’s thoughts on the importance of finding a writing community, her tips for aspiring authors and what she has learnt about writing so far …
Love Song for Sceptics will be published by Simon & Schuster later this year – what was the first thing you did when you found out that your book was going to be published?
I was in Westfield when I got the news. I was very excited and wanted to ring everyone I knew but I was struggling to get reception so all my conversations where frustratingly cut short. Eventually, I gave up and went to have a nice cup of tea to gather my thoughts. It’s my usual reaction to news – good or bad!
This is the novel which you worked on during our novel-writing course in London – how did your time on the course impact your approach to writing?
Some people on the course had finished their novels while others were in the early stages. I was about half-way through and had been stuck for a while. Seeing how others had powered through to the end gave me extra motivation to get the damn thing finished. It was also such a lovely validation of my writing – I felt that I had something that deserved to see the light of day. Chris Wakling’s encouragement was particularly appreciated.
Love Song for Sceptics is a witty, contemporary romantic comedy. What inspired you to write in this genre?
It’s my favourite genre to read – right now I can’t imagine wanting to write any other style. I love getting lost in a good romantic story – if there are some jokes along the way, even better!
How did you start writing – is there anything you know now that you wish you knew then?
I always wanted to write. But the usual advice you get given at school if you mention that particular ambition to a careers’ counsellor is to go into journalism. So that’s what I did. But fiction is a different beast and eventually I knew I had to start writing the story that had been percolating in my head for ages. I started with short stories, had a couple of attempts at short films, but eventually realised I needed to write a novel. Once I’d decided it was quite easy to start. It’s finishing that’s harder! I knew it would be difficult to get an agent and publisher, but I kept plugging away with my first attempt. Eventually, I realised the book I’d written just wasn’t saleable so I started again with the book that would eventually become Love Songs for Sceptics. It took me much longer to finish than my first attempt, probably because my confidence had been knocked by the agent/publisher rejections. However, once I had a finished manuscript the next steps happened quite quickly. I ended up with three offers of representation and a book deal fairly fast! (‘Fast’ being relative in publishing terms!)
You’re still close with many of the writers from your course. How important was it for you to find a community of writers?
I didn’t realise how important it was to have regular feedback from like-minded people. Now I can’t imagine writing without them. The very best writing friends aren’t just there to give you feedback on what you’ve written – they’re also there to help you work out why you can’t write when you’re stuck
Do you have any advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors?
Set yourself a daily or weekly word count and just keep going till you’ve got 75k words. Persistence is key.
Finally, what’s next for you – any ideas for book number two?
It’s early days, but I’ve got the bare bones for my next book. It’s scary and exciting in equal measure. In the mean time, I’m trying to make sure I enjoy the publication process. It’s been such a long-held dream, I want to savour very moment.
If you’re currently writing a novel and want to study with us in London like Christina did – applications are open now for our upcoming 6-Month Novel-Writing Course with Simon Wroe.
Or, study from anywhere in the world by applying to of 6-Month Online Novel-Writing course with Lisa O’Donnell.
Take a look at all of the courses which we currently have open for enrolment or application here.