Moonlight Mondays(Interview #18)

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Teuta Metra is an Albanian-born writer. Since becoming a journalist 15 years ago, she has been driven to tell the stories of Albanian women. She writes passionately about the plight of women in her country, and works hard raising awareness of their struggles. Author, journalist and teacher, Teuta Metra now lives in The Netherlands with her husband and two sons.

1. What is your debut novel and what inspired its story?

At the time I wrote my first novel I was living my life between Tirana, Albania, my homeland and Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Maybe this was the reason why I called that novel “For Love”. My life in-between two countries – on the air- not only inspired me to write what man could do for love, but here, I also started my career as a writer.

2. Do you write one specific genre or are you a multi genre author?

When I start writing a book, I don’t think what genre I should classify it. I focus on writing the story. But at the end, it just so happens that all my three novels are classified as Literary Fiction. So I guess I’m stuck to this term. 🙂

3. Do you have any memorable quotations or ‘one-liners’ that you have written and love?

I would like to share these two sentences from my latest book “Nowhere Girls”, because I think many writes will relate to it.

“I am going to start writing my book. It’s on my to-do list,” she said.

“And you believe you’re going to earn money writing books?” her inner voice whispered.

4. Do you have a favourite character that you have penned to life and why is this your favourite character?

Sara, is one of my protagonists in my latest novel “Nowhere Girls”. Actually, when I started writing that novel, I didn’t think that Sara, or the other girls would be so attached to me. Sara is a strong woman, she does everything for her family and friends. She is that kind of woman that doesn’t accept defeat. Even when she falls, she knows how to rise, like a Feniks. So I think this is my special character. On the other hand, people kept asking if there will be a second part to Nowhere Girls, and this gave me the idea to hold Sara as a character, for a while.  

5. Are there any close friends/ family who have proven to be a pillar of support to you in your writing?

On my worst days, and I can guarantee you they are a lot, 😉 my family is always there to support me. When I have my moments of doubt, the expression I hear from my mother is always this: “You know you can do it. And we are here to support you, just go for it girl! Even if you won’t succeed this time, it will be another one.”

6. What are you currently working on?

After I finish writing a book and I have a hard time with all the processes that follow, I tell myself and my family that I’ll never ever write again. But luckily, I soon forget about that. So I can say yes, my fourth novel, is already in shape. The first draft is finished. Now I’m polishing as much as I can, before giving it to my beta readers, which are my sister and my husband. They always tell me when they don’t like something: a plot, or the character is not complete, or the story doesn’t flow well. At the beginning I argue with them, but deep down in my heart, I know they are right. So I take some days off, – thinking and rewriting the scenes in my mind, – and then I go back and do what I have to do.

7. What has been your greatest challenge as an author thus far and how are you dealing/have dealt with it?

Well, publishing my books in English, I believe is my greatest challenge so far. I’m not an English writer, and I don’t have a publishing house supporting me. English is my third language (after Albanian and Dutch). I’m scared to write in English. This means that my books have been translated by professionals, and of course that comes with plenty of expense and difficulties. On the other hand, writing and publishing only in my mother language – Albanian – it looks to me to be enclosed between borders. And because I don’t like borders, I decided to self – publish in English.

8. How do you deal with criticism and how has it helped you as a writer?

First, I listen up. Then, I take a step back, just to think about it and try to figure out if that is a friendly analysis, or just an unfriendly criticism. If it’s the first case, I try to take something good from it and improve as much as can. If it’s the second, I say to myself: you can’t please everyone! But, it doesn’t always go that smoothly. There are moments of tears as well. 😉

9. How has social media helped in promoting and marketing your books?

If you’re a self – published author, social media is a good tool for marketing your books. And if you’re familiar with social media and you have a good understanding of the way it works, then you can promote your books for free. Before publishing “Nowhere Girls”, I started creating my network on Twitter, two years ahead. So when the book was ready, I already had my audience. Even if this is not translated into sales, it will be translated into a great exposure. I could say that only because of social media, “Nowhere Girls” which I like to call also “My Girls”, has reached: New Zealand, Ecuador, Indonesia, US and Trinidad.

10. When writing your novel which aspect of the writing process do you find to be the most challenging?

I procrastinate things a lot. I could find a lot of excuses. I could have headache, or stomach flu. I say to myself: it’s not the right moment, it’s too hot, or maybe too cold. 🙂 So pushing myself to sit down and write is very challenging. But once the first draft is finished, I feel relief.

11. How do you measure success as a writer/ author?

Writing these lines for the readers in Trinidad, I would consider as a success. I never thought that “My Girls”, would go so far away.

12. What short term and/or long term goals have you set?

In October, in Tirana, is the annual book fair. So I’m working hard on my current WIP to have it ready for this event.

13. Do you have any upcoming book releases or events?

Together with a friend mine, who is a published author, we are working on a project. The idea is to host an event, at the end of June, here in Rotterdam, where we both could talk about our experiences: one as a self – published author and the other one that has the support of a publishing house.

14. What are your favourite book(s) and/or author(s)?

My favourite author is Remarque. I read almost all his books. It might look a bit crazy if I confess that I read “Arch of Triumph”, three times. First, when I was at high school; second, at the uni; and third, only last year. But I have to mention also, Marquez, Virginia Woolf, (my God I love her books too) and Sidney Sheldon.

15. What advice will you give to other Indie Authors or those who are thinking of writing and publishing?

A lot of people ask me on Twitter: I want to write, but I don’t know where and how to start?

If you want to write, and that is a burning desire, you will find the way how. I consider writing as a beautiful ‘pain’, that doesn’t give you any rest.

Click here to get your copy of Nowhere Girls

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