Author Maria Savva talks about the genres, themes and inspirations behind her work. For more information and buy links, just click on her name.
With the launch of my latest novel, Haunted, a crime thriller, many people have commented that I don’t tend to stick to one genre in my writing. For example, my last book, The Dream, was a paranormal, time travel novel, and the one before that was a contemporary romantic drama; I’ve also written a family saga, and a mystery/drama. Within my short stories, you’ll find ghost stories, romance, and even a sci-fi tale, to name but a few story types.
The most common description I hear of me as an author is that I am a ‘multi-genre’ author. This is true. I don’t stick to one genre in my novels or short stories. Even in one short story, I include facets of different genres. I have, however, noticed that there are common themes running through my novels and stories. So although I don’t stick to one genre, I do explore similar themes in my writing. Maybe it’s just a matter of me looking at different themes in different ways with each book I write. To be honest, I don’t set about writing something with the intention of including a particular theme, but as my novels take shape they tend to incorporate many aspects of things that have inspired me in my own life, so it’s not surprising that there are recurring themes running through some of the books.
In this blog, I will explore some of the common themes I’ve noticed in my work. Perhaps this will help give readers an idea of my style, because it’s often hard to categorise my work, so, difficult for a reader to know whether they would enjoy reading it.
Firstly, I would say that I think most of my books and stories could probably be classed as dramas. This is because I tend to have true-to-life characters and situations. Some of my fiction has been described as literary fiction. This may be because I have always read a lot of books and have been inspired by some of the more traditional writers. I do, however, feel that my writing can be classed as contemporary.
The essence of it all is that I love writing and I love exploring different types of writing. I am also a bookworm, and I don’t only read one genre. I like reading all types of books from memoirs to fantasy.
Here are some of the common themes I’ve spotted in my books:
In Coincidences and also in The Dream, a dream plays an important role.
In Coincidences, Alice’s dream is what makes her curious about the father she has never met. The dream spurs her on to look for him.
In The Dream, Lynne is told by a strange man in her dream that she should not marry her fiancé, Adam. The man in the dream becomes a significant part of the story.
Why dreams? Well, I’ve always had quite detailed dreams and can usually remember quite a lot about my dreams when I wake up. Often, especially when I was younger, my dreams would contain some kind of prophetic message, that perhaps I didn’t notice until the event happened. This was so intriguing to me that I started keeping a dream diary a few years ago, and was quite surprised at how some of the dreams I was having seemed to almost predict future events. So that’s probably the reason dreams feature in my books and will probably continue to do so.
Divorce or relationship breakdown
I notice this theme cropping up in my work. It’s probably because I worked as a family lawyer for a couple of years and heard lots of stories. My imagination was inspired by all the stories I was told.
In Second Chances, the theme of a relationship breakdown is pivotal to the story. James and Pamela, the protagonists, are on the brink of divorce. James is actually a divorce lawyer as well. So there is the irony that what he deals with at work is also happening to him.
In Haunted, Nigel’s marriage has fallen apart after over 20 years of neglect on his part.
In Coincidences, Alice’s parents divorced when she was just a child.
In The Dream, Lynne’s relationship with Adam is turned upside down after she has a dream warning her about marrying him.
In A Time to Tell, we see another aspect to marriage breakdown. Penny is the victim of domestic violence. Again this is inspired by my time as a family lawyer.
Secrets and lies
I have always been fascinated by the secrets people keep and the lies they tell, so this is reflected in my work. It seems to crop up in all my novels.
In Coincidences, Stephanie, Alice’s mum, has kept a big secret from her for many years. It’s something that almost ends their relationship. When Alice meets her father, there are even more secrets and lies revealed.
In A Time to Tell, Cara has kept a secret for 50 years. When history starts to repeat itself, Cara is facing regret and realising that she may have to reveal all. One regret she has is the lie she tells her husband, who died without knowing the truth.
In The Dream, Lynne is woken up to the truth about her fiancé, Adam, after her dream. His secret is the final nail in the coffin for their relationship.
In Second Chances, Pamela’s secret/lie is one of the things that James has a hard time dealing with.
In Haunted, my latest novel, a long-kept secret eats away at Nigel’s mind.
I have always loved a good ghost story. I also grew up in a haunted house, so it was inevitable that some ghostly goings on would crop up in my fiction.
In The Dream, a paranormal tale, there is a ghost who appears to Lynne.
In Haunted, my intention was to leave the option to the reader to decide whether this is a paranormal story or a psychological thriller. It’s an interactive novel in that sense, the reader decides what they want to believe about the events in the book, and hopefully, I have left it open-ended enough for that to be the case.
I have a few ghost stories in my short story collections. ‘There but for the grace of God’, ‘Visions’, and ‘The Reunion’, in my collection Fusion, feature ghosts, as does ‘The Artist’, in Love and Loyalty (and Other Tales).
Much of my fiction is inspired by events in my own life and I have been out of work quite a few times. I have been fired and made redundant before, so it’s no surprise that this topic makes an appearance in my literature.
In Second Chances, there is a minor character, Pete, who is fired. The circumstances surrounding the way he was fired reflect the way I was unfairly dismissed from a post many years ago. James also loses his job in this novel.
In The Dream, Lynne is made redundant, and I used a lot of the emotions about the way I was feeling about my own redundancy in describing the way Lynne reacts in the novel. Lynne goes through a long and unsuccessful job search, similar to the one I went through.
This is a subject that is covered in most if not all of my novels, and many of my short stories. I have always been a hopeless romantic even though I am unlucky in love.
I would describe A Time to Tell as a romantic drama. It is also a family saga, but for me, the main theme is that of true love and how love can survive over time and distance.
In Second Chances, at the risk of giving too much away, James and Pamela are a couple who are deeply in love. There are a lot of obstacles and hurdles for them to get over, and the question is whether their love can survive that.
In The Dream, Lynne’s friend Sandra has always believed in soul mates/true love, something that Lynne has never considered in the past. The man in Lynne’s dream tells her she has a soul mate. This causes her to think more about the subject.
Many of my short stories deal with the highs and lows of love and relationships too. Love and Loyalty (and Other Tales), is so titled not only because it contains a story called ‘Love and Loyalty’ but also because the theme that runs through most of the stories, I noticed, is that of love, and loyalty in relationships.