This week I got the oppurtunity to not only read and review not one but two of her books, and post a guest blog post with this author but also interview her! Effie Kammenou. is the author of one of my favorite book sagas, The Gift Saga (You can see my reviews on the first two books on the review section of my blog).
Effie thank you for joining me and thank you for taking the time to answer all of my questions.
What is your favorite genre of books to read?
It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I do enjoy a good love story. Women’s fiction is what I read the most. I also love the classics and historical fiction. An intriguing paranormal story will get my attention as well.
Do you read your book reviews? If so, how do you deal with the good or the bad ones?
I read every single review. I have been very fortunate. So far, I’ve only received one bad review and that was posted very recently. The four and five star reviews overwhelm me with happiness. You must understand that Evanthia’s Gift was my debut novel and I wasn’t sure what the response to it would be. I’m truly filled with gratitude that readers take the time to post a review or to contact me personally. Even the three star reviews are good. The constructive criticism or minor negatives are actually good for me to hear. I think it helps to know what resonates and what doesn’t. Also, I keep in mind that each person’s opinion is different, and that is fine. There isn’t any one thing on this earth that every person can agree on completely. So, when the one star review was posted, I’d kept that in mind. After all, it was bound to happen. I’ve hated books that others raved over, and love books that others couldn’t finish.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I began writing Evanthia’s Gift in 2012 and it took me almost three years to finish. It was my first experience writing a work of that length. It’s a 548-page novel. Many drafts were written before I handed it to my editor. Also, quite a lot of research went into the story, and that added to the time it took to complete the manuscript.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I had a story in mind and it naturally fell into the women’s fiction / contemporary romance category.
Do you ever experience writer's block? If you have, what did you do to overcome it?
Luckily, I’ve never experienced writer’s block in regard to coming up with plot or storyline. I have, however, sat and stared at my computer monitor wondering how I can best express what I want to say.
What is your favorite underappreciated novel?
Many years ago, Danielle Steel wrote a novel called Silent Honor. Normally, after I would read one of her love stories, I’d go on to whatever I was reading next and I didn’t give it another thought. But this story stuck with me. It taught me about an ugly part of American history that I new nothing about. Somehow, Ms. Steele managed to weave a love story during the horror of being forced into a Japanese internment camp. It was a well-researched and thought provoking book.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
No, not one in particular. My mother introduced me to the classics, whether in books or film. As a young girl in Greece, she’d read Les Miserables in French and that always impressed me because it was her favorite book. My personal favorite is East of Eden for its rich characters and many moral lessons.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I self-published, but I made sure to educate myself and try to do everything professionally. I sent out dozens of queries to agents, hoping to get represented and traditionally published. However, seeking out an agent to represent my book brought me back to the days of rejection and disappointment while looking for agent as an actor. It was the same experience, just a different industry. Self-publishing was relatively easy. The work comes afterward, promoting and trying to make a name for myself in a sea of indie authors.
As a writer, what is your spirit animal/guide/avatar?
That is a new question! No one has ever asked me this before. Hmm. It would either be a butterfly or a deer. The butterfly is a symbol of transformation. I am always looking to improve or better myself. I’d set out to do something that would define me after my children were grown and didn’t need me anymore, and I did that in becoming an author. The deer is a symbol of gentle determination and represents a being that is intuitive and spiritual. Either of these beautiful creatures could be my spirit animal.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
No, I haven’t.
Can you tell us about Waiting For Aegina?
Waiting For Aegina: Book Two in The Gift Saga was just released in January. I am now working on the third and final chapter in the saga.
This story will focus on the younger generation of the two Greek families.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
There are so many parts of Evanthia’s Gift that I could claim as a favorite to write. I began writing it about six months after my mother passed away. It was my way of working through my grief and remembering her. The love that my mother had for her family and the grace in which she lived her life inspired the character of Anastacia. Those chapters are so dear to me. Also, the first time Sophia and Dean are together as young lovers is very special.
In Waiting For Aegina, it’s a small sub-plot that was my favorite to write. Father Vasili, an elderly priest and much loved character from Evanthia’s Gift had a chance to tell Sophia (and the readers) of his life before he became a priest. It’s a beautiful story with a bittersweet end.
How did you come up with the title?
Evanthia’s Gift – It was originally titled, And I Love Her, after the Beatles song. I realized that the song only had meaning for Sophia and Dean, and not Anastacia and Alexandros. I needed a title that would tie in all the generations and be symbolic. The reader doesn’t find out who Evanthia is right away.
Waiting for Aegina - I didn’t come up with the title until I finished the manuscript. It’s part of a line from one of the characters. It represents a dream, a wish and a hope for the renewal of the happiness and the simplicity of youth.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
The advice I was given a long time ago was to write from experience—feel it, know it, understand it. Get the story down on paper (I’m showing my age, I mean the computer!). Don’t worry about structure and grammar; you can fix that later, draft after draft.
What I’ve learned on my own from self-publishing is to make every effort to put out a professional product. You can upload your manuscript, create your own cover and format the book into print and e-book formats all by yourself with little or no charge, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
You took the time to write a story, one that means something to you, now give it the dignity it deserves. Have it professionally edited. A good inside formatter will make it look as professional as any traditionally published book, and a creative cover designer will make your book stand out.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I think I mentioned before when we discussed reviews that I am overwhelmed with happiness when I hear from readers. I’m a new author with only two books so far. The fact that readers are taking time out of their schedules to read my books is humbling. I am so appreciative and I hope that each new book lives up to their expectations.