Veronica Solorzano Athanasiou is a Bio-Statistician with a piano and a garden who was born in Venezuela and is currently living in the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
She writes for her own well-being and is a Spanish speaker who communicates in English and Greek. Her first book, Clara Thinks to Us, was written originally in English and later translated to Spanish. It is an autobiographical novel, with optimistic outcomes for the challenges the main character faces.
She completed a series of four books in Spanish: Mejor Sola. It’s about four Gen-X friends growing up in a country that underwent polarization and who let go of toxic people in their lives to allow for more fulfilling relationships. The series is available for free as podcasts on your favourite platform (just search for Veronica Solorzana Athanasiou). A fifth book, José y Juan, was born more recently, in the same spirit of Mejor Sola.
She currently works on compiling information for middle-aged adults to overcome the challenges they face today. She has two blogs in English: How to love: A guide to understanding our source of life and Heal By Writing. You can find her on twitter and IG as @verowellbeing. All Veronica’s books can be found here.
Author interview – Veronica Solorzano Athanasiou
Hi Veronica, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. Let’s dive in: When did you start writing, and why?
I started writing my first book when a dear friend died of cancer at forty-seven. It made me look death in the face and led me to work on the legacy I wanted to leave for my children. I then realised the powerful healing effect of writing and, as I embraced mid-life, I projected real stories of dear friends into an imaginary future—beyond 2030—with happy endings to challenges they were facing.
At what age did you take yourself seriously as a writer?
When I embraced that I can also tell my story and the stories of those I care about the most, even though I am not trained in language or literature. I was forty-eight when I wrote my first book and it took a few years for me to admit that I am a writer. Since my academic training is on science, I had to organise the ideas in my mind in such a way that I came to terms with the fact that I had entered the world of creative writing.
Do you prefer the term ‘writer’ or ‘author’, and why?
I like author because it implies that I have completed at least one book.
How long did it take you to write your first book?
I’m an Aries, so the experts say I tend to do things swiftly, which I do. My first book is a three-hundred-page book and it took me about a year. I self-published it and I wrote the first draft in six months. I then realised I had to make corrections and worked on it for another six months until I was happy with the final draft.
What was your last book about?
My latest book is a story about parallel lives.
What are you working on right now?
I’m cooking some ideas in my mind, but I’m not sure what the focus will be, so I’m currently just blogging.
What is your writing process like? Do you plot or do you just dive in? How many drafts do you go through before the work is final?
I plot and then dive in. I learned that the hard way. My first book had plot repetitions when I first published it because it was taking me too long to read everything and I hit publish too early.
What do you struggle with most as a writer?
I wish I could finish a book in one go, so that I could write all the ideas in the right sequence. I don’t have the patience to revise the drafts more than once. I find it is a slow process and I get bored. I paid an editor to do one kind of correction (can’t remember the name) on the second set of books I published. It was a series of four books of 150 pages each.
I’m exactly the opposite: I love the rewriting process!
Have you always had that struggle or has it changed over time?
Organising the whole plot from the beginning helps and I break down the writing into smaller chunks that are more managable.
What advice would you give to writers dealing with the same?
It’s better to split the book into sections and work on them one at a time until you’re happy with each section individually.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If yes, how did you overcome it?
Once I know my plot, I only need breaks to rest and unload. A walk by the sea helps me put my ideas in order when I feel overwhelmed. Showers are also great to clear the mind and come up with new ideas.
What do you do to stay inspired?
I remain curious, I observe people, and I think a lot about what they might be feeling in certain situations. I’ve gotten into trouble for portraying people in my extended family, so that’s a tricky one. I find inspiration in organising chaos. I need to understand feelings and behaviours, so I read a lot and find information about topics related to my stories. I like to summarise information for others to understand complex topics like politics and human relationships.
Who’s your favourite author?
Currently, Isabel Allende because she publishes every year, but, before he died, it was Gabriel García Márquez.
What’s your favourite book?
Love in Times of Cholera by GGM. It’s funny and entertaining.
What’s your favourite book on the craft?
Have never read one 🙈
What’s the best writing advice you ever received?
Write the book you would like to read.