Eleni Kyriacou, debut author of She Came to Stay, takes on our questionnaire.
What is a typical day for you?
Usually I’d leave the house around 9am and work in a local café or go to the British Library but, of course, at the moment I’m staying home so my office is between the kitchen and living room. I’m in the middle of drafting my second book, which is darker than She Came To Stay, so daily fitness sessions in front of the TV (followed by occasional cake) help to lift the spirits.
What are you most excited about in the next 12 months?
I’m excited to see how my second book will pan out. I’ve done the research and written some of it, but you never really know the story till it’s done.
What was your favourite subject at school and why?
I did love English but I also adored art. I’m not that good but still draw occasionally. My brain works visually so my writing will always paint a picture. If I can’t visualise a person or scene I can’t write it. I think this has made my first book quite filmic, and I hope the second one will be the same.
What surprises you about life as a writer that you didn’t expect?
I’m surprised at how much work there is to be done that isn’t just the writing. Most of it is voluntary (like writing blogs, getting your book on social media, etc), but I think if you’re a new author and opt not to do it you’re missing a trick.
If you had to give an aspiring writer one piece of advice, what would it be?
Keep writing and – really important – keep submitting. Like many writers I had several rejections, but all it takes is one person to say yes.
- Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier – Gothic, romantic, powerful and much-copied. Du Maurier was massively under-rated in her time because her work was ‘female’ and popular.
- The Talented Mr Ripely, by Patricia Highsmith – Possibly the best anti-hero ever written.
- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – Male friendship up close: this book will lift you, destroy you and stay with you. Yes, I cried.
- Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout – I adore an unlikable female character, and they don’t come more unlikeable than Olive. She takes no prisoners but also manages to have heart. So good it won the Pulitzer.
- Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters – So many wonderful novels from SW. She captures time and place like no one else. I’ve chosen Fingersmith because of the TWO ridiculously brilliant twists.
Anthony Minghella’s The Talented Mr Ripley (1999). I know the whole film off by heart. Yes, I’m that sad.
Can I have a wholemeal pitta please, with hummous and salad in it? And some feta if you have any.
Coffee or tea?
Pret a Manger, extra hot, extra strong, skinny flat white. I have also perfected this at home with exactly the right size cup. Don’t judge me.
Which author, living or dead, would you like to write your biography.
Daphne du Maurier, because she’d make me sound darker and more melodramatic than I am.
Eleni Kyriacou is a freelance writer and editor who’s been published in the Guardian, the Observer, Red and Marie Claire, among others. Her novel, She Came To Stay, tells the story of Cypriot immigrants who arrive in London’s glittering, grimy Soho of the 1950s. It was published by Hodder in March 2020.