How old are you and where are you from?
Sky: 41 and I am from Tallinn, Estonia.
How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
Sky: 12. I’ve been keeping diaries, some hilarious, some darker and writing poetry and short stories since I was a teen. Ten years ago, when working in an uber-left-hemisphere dominant job in London I started writing another short story – sci-fi and this one hasn’t been published yet – and on page 80 I realized it wasn’t a short story. That’s when I transitioned to novels. I published my second novel about the adventures of ancient Goddesses in present-day as a Kindle e-book and only the third book – Someone To Watch Over Me – was the first self-published paperback.
Tell us more about your book! When did you start writing it and what difficulties did you face while writing/publishing it?
Sky: Someone To Watch Over Me is a book about an agency of guardian angels – because we all need one at some point and somehow, we always find a helping hand, don’t we? It has four parallel story-lines – four different paths to the agency for help or as a recruit – hence the 351pages. The central plot is a mystery – an ordinary girl being assassinated over and over again and her guardian angel trying to figure out why and who wants her dead before it’s too late. The Agency has Watchers with their monitors covering 16 priority worlds out of 63, a changeling Boss – appearing differently to different beings, depending on their faith or denomination – and it changes location every 300 years or so. The optimists and the pessimists each get their own endings for all story-lines. Just because one beta-reader commented on a previous book that it didn’t end quite the way she had expected, all my books now have double endings.
I started writing it in 2013 when in another fast-paced job and self-published in June 2015. The difficulties – there were multiple - finding time to write, keeping the story-lines separate and balanced, integrating the story-lines, explaining to my then 15-year-old illustrator what I wanted in the illustration down to sketching things myself and, last, but not least, rewriting and rewriting and rewriting the double endings for optimists and pessimists. A creative writing course ‘How To Get Published’ taught by Philippa Pride in London helped me get over the time issue. When you realise you can take the two/five/ten/thirty minutes you can find and jot down anything that comes, then you realise you can write anything anywhere - on a commute in the underground, at your lunch break in a park, walking the baby to sleep, thinking through dialogues when jogging, any opportunity, really. Printing out separate story lines and running through each character’s actions and voice helped with coherency and thank the gods Scrivener has those features! Insights and support from my editor, Dr. Shreeya Nanda, and, of course, from my beta-readers kept me going, so a big thank you to them! For every difficulty, even writer’s block there is always a solution and for me, an intuitive way to find it.
If you could relate to any character in your book, who would it be and why?
Sky: Oh, too many! After all, all my characters are based on real people I know, even if amplified or combined or otherwise modified. All my friends have been warned I might steal and integrate dialogues we have or that I overhear into my books in some form or another. J In Someone To Watch Over Me, I can relate to sassy-sarky Sally and to the bleeding-heart Lanie as well as to the warmhearted main character Grace and, funnily enough, to Archangel Gabriel who is stuck in permanent neutral (or is he?) and I can even relate to the villain of the story. Creating characters is like acting – you have to be able to picture what it’s like to be them and for that you have to relate, understand their motives for being and doing things, even bad things.
What type of books do you enjoy? What are two of your favorites?
Sky: I enjoy fairy-tales – traditional and retold, detective stories, sci-fi, mystery thrillers, romcoms, mythology and eposes, psychology, mythical realism, fantasy, YA and fiction in general. My two absolute favourites are Jenny Crusie’s Bet Me and Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita – I re-read them at least once every few years and always discover new turns of phrase and ideas.
Besides reading and writing, what else do you enjoy doing during your free time? Do you have any other businesses?
Sky: I’m an entrepreneur with three business lines – mediation, negotiations training and consultancy as well as coaching young professionals. That’s in addition to a part-time legal job in a listed company and an extended family with five kids who occasionally all roam the house. At least one day a week I spend 1:1 with my 3-year-old son and if you ask how do I manage to stay sane, then yin yoga in the evening and swimming at least one morning per week is very meditative and the time that I squirrel off to myself.
If you could pick any song to describe your main character, what would it be?
Sky: Funny that you should ask. The book comes with a playlist – on paper at the back of the book and also on YouTube and Spotify. For Gabriel, the song is definitely Your Guardian Angel by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. For Grace, I’d say Just A Kiss by Lady Antebellum.
Do you have any upcoming books in the works?
Sky: Oh, yes. At the end of this year, I plan to self-publish Thumbelina: The Bride Experiment, a prequel to Someone To Watch Over Me and at the end of next year, Cinderella: Not All Stepmother Are Evil is in the works. And don’t miss out on King of Time available on amazon.co.uk from May – if you like possible spins on Camelot prequels and want to find out what happened to Victor the frog and Sally from the angels’ book.
Do you have any book specials/giveaways or events coming up?
Sky: I’m new to amazon.co.uk and I’ve heard there is a promocode for freebies feature – I promise to look into it this summer, so I can do a giveaway for existing and future books for sure. As for events – the Thumbelina launch will be in Tallinn in November or December, depends on when my editor can read and I can finalise the final draft to send to the printers. If I end up in London this year (no tickets bought yet), I’ll probably do a reading in a café in Islington for King of Time – will keep people posted via Instagram and FB.
Where can readers keep up with you on social media? Post your usernames!
Sky: On Facebook and Instagram find me as Ilona Nurmela. I’ve decided against separate accounts under the pen-name. I don’t post baby or cat pics, but yes, I do share thought-provoking things that others could benefit from besides my writing and my books.
Anything else you would like to share?
Sky: Thank you for taking an interest, Chanel! Enjoy the books, please post your product/book reviews and have a super lovely day, everyone!
Pick up a copy of Someone To Watch Over Me on Amazon! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Someone-Watch-Over-Sky-Sommers/dp/9949811198/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1535314506&sr=1-2
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