Thursday, October 20, 2022

Silja Paulus Interview - Some Call it Cheating


Silja Paulus

                                  Some Call It Cheating...

Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.

I grew up in the small coastal town Haapsalu, Estonia. It's a cute, yet quiet place that bustles with events and people in the summer and falls asleep in wintertime. It falls asleep too much for my liking, so after finishing school I moved to the capital of Estonia, Tallinn where I also live now.

Right now, I have "writer" in my job title, but I'd like to push it further. I am a technical writer for a software company. Not really the career I envisioned, but does get me through life. I've decided to start publishing the stories that I have accumulated over the years and this book is the first one out of many. I plan to write a lot about the writing process as well because I have studied it a lot.

Moreover, I am a bikini fitness athlete and compete on stage. My training has also been a journey of self-development and I intend to share this in upcoming books as well.

What inspired you to author this book?

I have always wanted to be a writer and have been writing stories since childhood. I kept setting myself deadlines: book out by the age of 12, 15, 18.... yet, it took me longer than expected. At the age of 23, I moved to the UK for a year for my MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. This subject is not taught in Estonia. I truly wanted to go and found the money for this, also worked while living in the UK.

This book is my MA project. Parts of it have been workshopped, and I have spent a great deal with it. I completed it a few years after graduating, in 2015. However, I still left it lying in the drawer. I wasn't happy with it. I started writing another book about creative writing and how to write a novel in 52 weeks. I tested my system on some people, offering them writing mentoring. I kept telling them to write and not to worry too much. Yet, I was worried about my own work. Ashamed, even.


Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?

The book is about relationships, loyalty, and looking for love. The cover depicts how a third person enters someone else's relationship - this happens a lot in the book.

Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?

I can't pinpoint anyone in particular. I do indulge in writing books and podcasts and then synthesize these ideas, making them mine. In a way, I am my own most significant influence.

If I think of other authors, then I am inspired by Maggie O'Farrell's delicate writing and Stephen King's musings about the writing process.

Currently, I am much influenced by Vishen Lakhiani and his online learning platform Mindvalley. I listen to the Mindvalley podcast a lot and also take courses there.


What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?

It took such a long time because I was telling a personal story. I did change it a bit and added parts. However, writing a personal story makes me feel vulnerable. I also experienced an impostor syndrome - am I good enough? Is this good enough? I was getting in my own way.

I also have a bit of a bad habit of not finishing things. I get so excited about the next thing that I abandon my project and rush onwards. There were times when I thought that I might only be able to write short stories or blog articles. These seemed much more manageable.

Tell your readers about your book.

It is a story of a young couple who decide to bring some excitement into their relationship. Stella is rather reluctant to actually meet other people but kind of agrees with Kristofer that they should try. In the end, it's Kristofer who does most of the experimenting, eventually hurting Stella. Is this what she really wants? How can she feel loved again? Should they be together if they can't commit to one another?

Apart from the couple, the stories of the other women that Kristofer connects with are revealed. I tried to be more understanding and open up to their point of view as well. There is no good or bad. Everyone has their reasons to do things. Everyone is human.


Who is your target audience, and why?

Women in their 20s-40s who can relate to the main character. It is female-centered novel. It's for women who enjoy love stories and might be questioning their own relationships as well. It opens up some new perspectives.


What do you consider your greatest success in life?

When I am asked this at a job interview, I always say that it's the MA in Creative Writing that I undertook against all odds. I moved to the UK, having no idea whether I can actually graduate because it was expensive and I didn't really have the funds. I worked my way through university, lived in a not-so-nice place, and didn't have much time or funds to explore the country. I only had hope. Luckily, it all worked out.

Before going, I set an intention in January of that year that I would get into a university abroad and study creative writing. In October, I went to my first seminar in Bath. Dreams do come true.

What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?

I come from a small country with only about 1 million people. I share a unique perspective and unique experience of living with my readers.