Can you tell us about your novel, Chasing Athens, and how the idea came about?
Chasing Athens tells the story of a heartbroken American ex-pat Ava Martin who is inspired to continue living abroad in Greece after her new husband literally walks out on her. That abrupt decision leads her through a humorous, touching and cultural journey that forces her to confront her disappointing past and redefine the true meaning of home.
I knew I wanted to write a story that was influenced from my experiences as an American expat living in Europe. There were so many funny, strange, crazy, sad, tragic moments happening around me from all angles. Contemporary women’s fiction is one of my favorite genres. I think it was natural that a romantic comedy set abroad in a foreign place came about in my mind. I had some messages and themes I knew I wanted to express and that’s how my novel came about.
Have you ever got writers block and if so, how do you deal with it?
I go and do something other than sit at my desk. I can go take a walk and go for a coffee at a café. It’s the perfect excuse to go to the gym.
Who would you invite to a fantasy dinner party?
I’d love to have Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They are so beautiful and Hollywood. I’d love to have women’s fiction authors Wendy Holden and Jennifer Weiner. I’d include author and linguist Noam Chomsky. I think Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien are both super funny and smart. George Clooney, well, because he’s George Clooney.
Do you plan much before beginning your novel?
I had never attempted to write a novel before but I wanted to approach it as organized as possible. I read a few books about it and I also completed an online chick-lit writing course through MediaBistro which was taught by one of my favorite authors, Kristin Harmel. I have to say that helped me incredibly by pushing to actually start writing it. When it was done I had a working title and a few chapters written and that got me on the right track.
Polyglot. A person who knows and uses many languages. I also like saying the word. Now that I speak Greek I can understand its origins easier. poly = many & glossa = languages. I feel like a total word nerd sometimes.
Is there an author you admire and is there a book that has impacted you?
My favorite novelists include Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Steinbeck, Joanne Harris, Jennifer Weiner, Wendy Holden, Jeffrey Eugenides… ah the list is too long! My favorite book of all time is The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck.
How long does it take you to write your first draft and do you edit as you go?
It took me about nine months to write the first draft. I just got it out. The big time editing process came after. I’d follow the same for my second book.
What are your guilty TV pleasures?
I love makeover shows especially reruns of What Not to Wear. They are fabulous.
Are you working on anything at the moment? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m putting together the ideas and first draft for another romantic comedy which has a mystery twist to it.
If you weren’t a writer, is there another profession you’d like to try?
I love languages and the culture of language. I would be a linguist.
Five tips for new writers?
1) Write, write, write then edit, edit, edit
2) Expect rejection
3) Make writer buddies
4) Learn to promote yourself
5) Set realistic goals and expectations for your novel that and that will define the success for your book.
You can also find out more about Marissa at www.chasingathens.com or on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/marissatejadaauthor
and you can also find her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tejadamarissa and Google +
Marissa is also on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8182456.Marissa_Tejada as well as Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marissatejada/