It is with great pleasure that I welcome the talented author, Soulla Christodoulou to the blog today to explain the range of research she required to do for her new novel, A Pallette of Magpies, due to be published by Kingsley Publishers on 28th October 2023. Thank you for your time today, Soulla.
Thank you so much for hosting me and my new book, Val. It's been a pleasure to take part.
During the initial writing of the novel there were a number of themes woven into the plot and the characters' lives which required further research.
There is an increasing crossover between Romance Fiction and Women's Fiction and this story is certainly an amalgamation of both genres. This story, as with many of my books, is about life in all its messy glory and, just in case you want to know, has a happy ending.
The main character, Judith, returns to her childhood home in a Cotswold village and is soon embroiled in the lives of many of its inhabitants. The story unfolds and reveals themes of miscarriage, bullying at school, dementia, unsolicited use of personal images across the internet, the relationship between a vicar and one of his parishioners as well as themes of forgiveness, hope, love and happiness.
I carried out extensive research, both using a number of credible sites across the internet as well as interviewing people to get an insight into their experiences and their impact. Talking to individuals allowed me the opportunity to ask questions and delve deeper than the facts I had access to via the internet. I also drew on my personal experiences of miscarriage and dealing with bullying as a Pastoral Leader in the secondary school where I taught for just shy of ten years. Sadly, there were far too many incidences of bullying all the way through into the Sixth Form where I had the role of Deputy Director of Learning for seven years.
I was mindful of and wanted to ensure that each character's story was as authentic as it could be and while everyone's feelings and reactions to life trauma are different, I feel that I have covered the topics both sensitively and realistically. I commissioned the services of a sensitivity reader too to ensure I have been as fair and as true in my representations as possible.
The research had to be more than factual; I wasn't looking for facts and figures. I was looking for individual, personal experiences and this is what the interviews exposed me too. Some conversations were emotionally draining while others played on my mind for days after writing that part of the story. I cried, I laughed and I carried on writing. And I am eternally grateful to everyone who shared their story with me.
No one's identity has been revealed during the writing of or the publication of the book. I have ensured that all my notes have been safely and securely deleted both in terms of paper recordings, voice recordings and computer documents. None of these, at any point, mentioned any interviewee by name.
Writing fiction is always steeped in truth and my story is a heartfelt, warm read which will certainly evoke a few tears in my readers. However there is joy too to be found and I hope your readers will give A Palette of Magpies a read when it is out.
A world of unfolding romance and unexpected friendships. A story about embracing life’s ebbs and flows.
Judith, after a long career as an art teacher, moves back into her childhood home in the Cotswolds.
Out of the blue hand-painted postcards land on her doormat, each one portraying a line from the well-remembered magpie nursery rhyme.
Nudged by their arrival Judith interprets them as a sign to seek out those in the village who most need her help and to face her past. Enticed out of the doldrums of retirement, her compassion is ignited, and she discovers, passion and purpose in her role as an unlikely confidant to many.
With her closest friend, Louise, encouraging her to pick up her art, and her life again, Judith embarks on her journey of rediscovery, unlikely connections, and renewed hope. And, with a bubbling excitement, she realises this is the start of something new.
But who is sending the cards and when will they reveal themselves, if at all, and when romance is rekindled, with a long-forgotten school friend, will Judith too, at last, find happiness. After all that’s what we all want in life, isn’t it?
A beautifully sensitive story heralding change, acceptance, and forgiveness on the journey to finding happiness.
Born in London to Greek Cypriot parents, Soulla Christodoulou was the first in her family to go to university and later retrained to become a teacher. She has been writing since 2015.
Her novels, Broken Pieces of Tomorrow, The Summer Will Come and The Village House are available on Amazon alongside Alexander and Maria which was nominated for the RSL Ondaatje Prize 2021.
The Summer Will Come, a book club read in the Year of Learning Festival 2019, London Borough of Barnet Libraries, has been translated into Greek and is currently being queried with Greek and Greek Cypriot publishers.
A Palette of Magpies is Soulla’s second book in her three-book deal with Kingsley Publishers. She is currently working on two other books, one set in Kefalonia, Greece and the other in Malta. When asked Soulla will tell you she is happiest writing in her pretty garden Writing Room while drinking tea infused with cinnamon sticks and cloves.