Guest Post (and a giveaway): Maria Constantine

Today I’m pleased to welcome author Maria Constantine to Bookfan. She’s here to tell us about her new book My Big Greek Family. Look for the giveaway info at the end of the post. Thanks for stopping by, Maria!
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big greek06Looking through notebooks slotted on my bookshelf, I am taken back to the places that inspired me as I was writing My Big Greek Family. I rarely leave the house without a small notebook tucked in the folds of my bag to retrieve when something triggers my imagination. I never completely switch off when I am writing a book: even when I am not consciously thinking of the plot and characters, the story shadows my every waking and sleeping moment. If I do not jot down ideas, they may easily be forgotten; at times all I need is a few key words to jolt my memory, but sometimes I make more detailed notes to use later at my desk.
A place I particularly enjoyed making notes at was the Acropolis in Athens. I have fond memories of preparing chapter sixteen. It had been a hot June afternoon and even though I was alone, I had not felt alone. I had made the trip knowing that part of the story was to be set in Greece. I will never forget sitting near the Parthenon and taking in the experience through the eyes of my characters, Georgina and Sophia, whilst writing pages and pages of notes. The holiday was not only a physical journey for the sisters, it was an inner journey too where they found the courage to make changes in their lives. High up on the hills of Athens, with the Parthenon forming the backdrop, was the perfect place for Sophia to tell Georgina about her spiritual journey.
For some chapters I did not need to travel far or carry out much research, as my Greek-Cypriot origins provided a treasure-trove of memories to draw upon. The opening chapter sees Georgina celebrating her thirtieth birthday and from the outset I had planned the story to start with a family party, placing the reader at the heart of a bountiful Greek family living in London. Dialogue was key to creating the parents’ characters and initially I struggled with not following grammar conventions, as I wanted the characters to sound authentic. But after a while Christina’s voice became so strong that following correct grammar was no longer a stumbling block to creating the mother in the story.
Harry was a character who took me by surprise. It felt as if he knew who he was even before I did; he flowed from the pages and entered the story with ease. I knew from the outset that Sophia was going to meet someone in Greece, but I had not mapped out his character at the beginning. He was great fun to create and I particularly enjoyed writing the beach scenes. There were some scenes that were emotionally demanding to write, such as Georgina processing the death of a parent at her school, which took her back to the loss of her aunt: I had to go to that place of pain too if I was to enter my character’s mind and emotions. But the tears were often balanced with times of laughter as I explored the humour of Georgina and her sisters; there were many times I would sit back in my chair and smile at the bantering between the siblings.
Writing My Big Greek Family has been a journey and one that I hope many readers will enjoy sharing too as they get to know Georgina and her family.
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About the author:  Maria Constantine was born and raised in Muswell Hill, North London. Her parents emigrated 0sCpcMsg9GEOXw2n0ephYUS-q3AQieKfma47UUIUzmkto the UK from Cyprus in the 1960s and her Greek-Cypriot origins were a source of inspiration for her debut novel, My Big Greek Family.
Maria studied Law at Queen Mary University and Lancaster Gate Law College before studying French and German at the London Institut Francais and the Goethe Institut. She taught English as a foreign language during the five years she spent living in Germany, and has travelled widely across Europe, immersing herself in a range of different cultures. 
On returning to London, married and with children, Maria juggled family life and writing; she’s a true example of a modern author-entrepreneur, having studied proofreading and editing at her local college. 
Maria is a keen cook and shares some of her many authentic Greek recipes, which have been passed down to her by her mother, both in the novel and on her website. She is currently working on a sequel.
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And now the giveaway!
I have one eBook (epub or mobi) to give away to one lucky winner.
Please click here to fill out the form.Giveaway now closed
Giveaway ends Sunday, December 1st at 5pm (EST)