Tell us a bit about yourself
I grew up on a dairy farm in south eastern Queensland until my family moved to Melbourne when I was fifteen. I spent many years in the corporate world before I accidently discovered writing.
After my father passed away, I found a bunch of letters he’d written as a young man to my grandmother when he went to work on a phosphate island in the middle of the Pacific in 1948. I thought how wonderful it was to get to know my dad as a teenager and began typing the letters, so that it could be preserved for the rest of my family. But as I typed, a story began to emerge of a tumultuous life culminating in the double murder of two Australians on the island. You could imagine how it piqued my interest.
After many months of research in 2014, I wrote my historical fiction novel, called Climbing the Coconut Tree, inspired by the events on the island. The novel was published in 2016 and I knew then, that I’d found a passion for writing.
It was a tough journey along the way. I knew I needed help. After all, I’d never written before. I joined a couple of writing groups, did a short course and sought feedback along the way. After I’d written Climbing the Coconut Tree, I set about learning to write short stories and poetry to help improve my writing. I was pleasantly surprised when one of my short stories was shortlisted and subsequently published in the Lane Cove Literary Awards Anthology in 2016. I then released Out of Nowhere: a collection of short stories in 2017. I’m also an avid reader and like to blog about the books I read.
How do you find time to write?
When I’m inspired to write, I somehow make the time and it becomes the most important thing to do. Like many, I certainly have my moments of procrastination but I know that if I make the time, I will write. I know some writers prescribe to a writing limit per day but I don’t find that works for me. I’ll write as much or as little as I feel is warranted. A large part of a writer’s life is to ponder and deep thinking is a must. The other thing I like to do is read as widely as possible. It all adds to the richness of what ends up on the page.
What’s your publishing tips?
Writing is one thing but publishing is another. It is after all a business and should be treated as such particularly if you intend to write and publish more books. The world of publishing can be quite daunting but there is a wealth of information and people only too happy to provide guidance. I like the freedom of being in control of the entire process rather than place my books into someone else’s hands. My advice is as follows-:
When you get it right, it’s enormously gratifying to know you did it.
Any promotional and marketing tips?
I find the promotional and marketing part of the process to be the most difficult and time consuming. But as I said if you’ve produced a book for an audience then you must do what you can to reach your audience. Getting to know who that is, is a starting point and getting to know your genre will help guide you e.g. if you write historical fiction try to find your historical reader on Amazon or Goodreads. Next is to make sure you have a platform so that readers can connect, so a webpage and social media sites help readers find and engage with you. Lastly, it takes hard work. One blog is not enough. It is a daily or weekly connection writing posts and building up your audience. Remember, it takes a lot of time and for most will never happen overnight.
Tell us about your recent book.
My latest book is called A Perfect Stone and has a dual time line of 1948 and present day. Yes, I have a thing about that year.
The story is told by eighty-year-old Jim Philips who opens a box belonging to his late wife and finds something which triggers the memories of a childhood he’s hidden not just from his middle-aged daughter, Helen, but from himself. When he has a stroke and begins speaking another language, Helen is shocked to find that her father is not who she thought he was.
Jim’s suppressed memories surface in the most unimaginable way when he confronts what happened when as a ten- year- old, he was forced at gunpoint to leave his family and trek barefoot across the mountains of Northern Greece to escape the Greek Civil War.
A Perfect Stone is a sweeping tale of survival and loss and is also a tale of love.
I was inspired to write this story when I stumbled on some research about the forced evacuation of 38000 children from Northern Greece during what was essentially, the beginning of the Cold War. Many children were wrenched from their parents and forced to walk across the mountains in the most horrendous conditions. Some never made it, others never saw their parents again and history continues to repeat itself with child refugees still suffering from separation not just from their parents but from their homelands. I just knew it was a story which needed to be told and I hope readers will be touched by it.
A Perfect Stone by S. C. Karakaltsas will be available for sale 10 October, 2018. Click on the cover for the buy link