ED- The Eerie Digest has fans from around the world, and at last count we had nearly sixty-thousand. We also interview many authors and celebrities from around the world for our reader’s interest. One such author is Sibel Hodge, from England. Sibel, please tell us something about where you live.
SH- I actually divide my time now between Hertfordshire, UK, and Cyprus. The weather’s much better in Cyprus! I have dual British/Turkish Cypriot nationality so it’s nice to mix and match! One of the good things about my heritage is that it’s given me the opportunity to add a unique cultural twist to my romantic comedies in the way that My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Bend It Like Beckham did.
ED- Aside from writing, what other qualifications do you possess?
SH- I’m a qualified fitness instructor, personal trainer, and sports and massage therapist, although the only time I have to practice this now is on family and friends who have an injury or want a massage. I wonder why I’ve got so many friends!
ED- We understand that you are also a freelance journalist. Please tell us about this aspect of your life.
SH- I’ve been concentrating on my novels recently so my articles have taken a backseat lately, but it taught me a lot about writing for my blog.
ED- Tell us about some of the articles that you have written and where they have appeared.
SH-I’ve written a lot of health & lifestyle articles for Cyprus Star, Living in North Cyprus magazine, LincGuide, and PropertyNC magazine. I’ve also written many political articles about the “Cyprus Issue” for North Cyprus Free Press and the London Turkish Gazette.
ED- We also learned that you have worked for the local constabulary as well. What was your position with it?
SH-I was a communications operator, dealing with emergency and non-emergency incidents. It could be pretty hectic if there were several different incidents going on at the same time. I was also attached to the Coroner’s Office, investigating sudden and suspicious deaths. One of the good things is the camaraderie between your fellow workers, and I loved the job because you get to interact with so many people from different walks of life, although often I was dealing with people in the height of distress, so you need to have a lot of compassion and patience. You also need to have a pretty thick skin and a good sense of humor when working for the police! Because of my background, it enabled me a lot of experience in police procedures for my mystery novels, and some of my characters are based on people I came across. I’m not telling you which ones, though!
ED- What genres do you write in ?
SH- I write romantic comedies and chicklit comedy mysteries. I’m a big fan of the screwball genre. Life is about living and laughing. After all, laughing keeps you young! Engrossing yourself in a good comedy is an excellent way to de-stress from our hectic lives.
ED- Describe your first novel, ‘Fourteen Days Later’, and the theme behind it.
SH- Fourteen Days Later is a romantic comedy with a unique infusion of British and Turkish Cypriot culture. Written in a similar style to Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes, it is My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Bridget Jones. I’m sure we’ve all been stuck in a rut in our lives or are down after the break-up of a relationship, and Fourteen Days Later proves that anything is possible if you just take a chance on life…
When accident-prone Helen Grey finds a thong stuffed into the pocket of her boyfriend’s best work trousers, it’s time for her to move on. His excuse that he needed to dust the photocopier and just thought that it was a rag sounds like a lame excuse. Helen’s life is propelled in an unexpected direction after her best friend, Ayshe, sets her a fourteen-day, life-changing challenge.
Helen receives a task everyday which she must complete without question. The tasks are designed to build her confidence and boost her self-esteem but all they seem to do is push her closer to Ayshe’s brother, Kalem.
How will Kalem and Helen get together when she’s too foolish to realize that she loves him? How can he fall for her when he is too busy falling prey to her mishaps and too in love with his own perfect girlfriend? How will Kalem’s Turkish Cypriot family react when they find out?
Is it really possible to change your life in fourteen days?
ED- How excited were you when it first came out ?
SH-. I think I’m still in shock! I still need to pinch myself when I see my novels for sale. It was scary, rewarding, exciting, amazing – so many experiences rolled into one. Because it’s such a long process writing a novel, and you put so much of yourself into it, it’s such a massive achievement when you finally see it on sale. You can sit back after all the passion and creativity and think: Wow! I did that.
ED- What were some of the awards that it won?
SH-It was shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize 2008 and Highly Commended by the Yeovil Literary Prize 2009. I was gob-smacked because it was the first novel I’d written. I’d always wanted to write women’s fiction. As a little kid, I was always scribbling stories. In the UK I was too busy in the rat race, paying the mortgage, to have enough time to actually concentrate on writing. But when I gave up my job to spend more time in North Cyprus four years ago, I finally had the opportunity, peace, and relaxed lifestyle to give me the inspiration I needed to start my novels.
ED- Your second book is titled ‘The Fashion Police’ Tell us about it and the setting that it is in.
SH- The Fashion Police was a runner up in the Chapter One Promotions Novel Competition 2010 and nominated Best Novel with Romantic Elements 2010 by The Romance Reviews. It’s a screwball comedy-mystery, combining murder and mayhem with romance and chick-lit. Written in a similar style to Janet Evanovich and Harlan Coben, it is Stephanie Plum meets Myron Bolitar…
Amber Fox has been making too many mistakes lately and something’s got to give…
For starters, Amber accidentally shoots Chief Inspector Janice Skipper and gets thrown off the police force. The only one who knows the truth about the incident is Amber, but no one will believe her.
After accepting a job as an insurance investigator from her ex-fiancé, Brad Beckett, it turns out that Brad thinks they’ve still got unfinished business and the job description includes sexual favours that come with a price.
When fashion designer, Umberto Fandango, goes missing, Amber becomes embroiled in a complicated case. But Amber’s arch-enemy, Chief Inspector Skipper, is also investigating his disappearance, and it’s a race against time for Amber to solve the mystery before Skipper does and get her old job back. And just when Amber thinks things can’t get any worse, she’s being stalked by some crazy mobsters.
Who is Umberto Fandango? Is he dead? And can Amber stay one step ahead and stay alive?
ED- Your latest published work is titled ‘My Perfect Wedding’. Describe this book and the genre it is in.
SH- This is a romantic comedy-mystery, and it’s the sequel to Fourteen Days Later, although it can also be read as a standalone novel. Helen Grey is finally getting married and moving to the sunny Mediterranean to have the perfect wedding and escape the rat-race. She assumes it’s going to be nothing but love and romance, but circumstances have a funny way of throwing a spanner in the works. It shows the twists and turns in life that can happen unexpectedly. After moving to North Cyprus myself, you could say I was the guinea pig for this novel…
Helen Grey is finally getting everything she wants. She’s about to have the perfect dream wedding and begin an exciting new life abroad on the sunny Mediterranean island of Cyprus. But living the dream isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
After a mix-up at the airport, Helen finds herself drawn into the midst of an elaborate plot to steal an ancient statue and assassinate a local businessman. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, her wedding dress is AWOL, the statue seems to be cursed, and Helen is wanted by the police.
With the big day rapidly approaching, a roller-coaster of mishaps, misunderstandings, and disasters threatens to turn the newlyweds into nearlyweds.
Can Helen prevent an assassination, save the statue, and have the perfect wedding? Or will the day to remember turn into one she’d rather forget?
ED- Where can our readers locate your novels, and is there a publisher involved?
SH- A few years ago, after I wrote my debut romantic comedy novel, Fourteen Days Later, I queried hundreds of agents and publishers. I got too many rejections to even count! OK, small white lie, a while ago I did count them out of morbid curiosity, and it was a whopping two hundred! I did come close a couple of times to being traditionally published, but it never quite worked out. It was either, “one group of editors liked it but another didn’t”, or “the chicklit market is saturated”, or “we love it but…”
When I first looked into publishing independently, platforms like Amazon Kindle didn’t support international authors. So the way I saw it, I had two choices. Either I could write another book, hone my writing skills and learn all I could about my craft, and wait for an opportunity to come up, or I could let all the rejection letters get me down, think my writing career was over before it had begun, and stick my head in the oven! Since heat tends to turn my curls into a ball of frizz, it was no contest, really. I wrote my next novel, a chicklit mystery called The Fashion Police, and waited. Because I knew, I just knew, that I COULD do this. I could write novels that people wanted to read. If only I could get the chance. In the meantime, I entered several writing competitions and was thrilled to gain the accolades above. Surely I was doing something right, wasn’t I? But I still couldn’t get a mainstream publisher to take me on. So when Amazon opened up their direct publishing service to non US authors, I went for it! I haven’t looked back since, and I went from 200 rejections to Amazon’s top 200 in ebook sales rankings. Considering there are over 550,000 Kindle books on Amazon, that’s not bad!
The traditional world of publishing is changing immensely, and bricks and mortar bookstore space is reducing drastically. More traditionally published authors are moving over to Indie publishing because they have more control over their work and can benefit from better royalties. I’m certain that I’ve had more success as an Indie than I would if I’d been traditionally published.
My novels are available in paperback and multiple ebook formats. For more information, please check out my website: www.sibelhodge.com
ED- Are there any new novels in the works? Please give us a sneak-preview of them and let our readership know when they will be available.
SH- I’ve just released the sequel to The Fashion Police. Be Careful What You Wish For is the second Amber Fox mystery…
For fans of Janet Evanovich, Kate Johnson, and Gemma Halliday…
Armed with cool sarcasm and uncontrollable hair, feisty insurance investigator Amber Fox is back in a new mystery combining murder and mayhem with romance and chicklit…
A safety deposit box robbery.
The boxing heavyweight champion of the world.
Somehow, they’re all related, and Amber has to solve a four year old crime to find out why.
As she stumbles across a trail of dead bodies and a web of lies spanning both sides of the social divide, it’s starting to get personal. Someone thinks Amber’s poking her nose in where it’s not wanted, sparking off a game of fox and mouse – only this time, Amber’s the mouse.
Amber’s forced to take refuge in the home of her ex-fiancé, Brad Beckett, and now it’s not just the case that’s hotting up. So is the bedroom…
All Levi Carter wanted to be was the boxing heavyweight champion of the world, but at what cost?
All Carl Thomas wanted was to be rich, but would his greed be his downfall?
All Brad Beckett wants is to get Amber back, but there’s a reason for the ex word.
Be careful what you wish for…you might just get it.
I’m also hoping to rewrite my novels as screenplays in the near future. My writing is very visual, and I think the comedy would translate well into the big screen.
ED- Sibel, it has been most exciting to have this interview with you and we want to thank you for taking time in letting The Eerie Digest introduce you to our legions of readers. Please promise to keep in contact with us so that we can keep all our readers of all that you do.