Friday, 14 February 2020

Debut Spotlight: Abigail Yardimci

Today I'm shining the spotlight on author Abigail Yardimci and her debut novel Life is Yours.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey? 
My name is Abi and I’m an author, blogger and creative mindfulness practitioner. I live by the sea in Devon with two terrifying kids and a Turkish husband. I love to write and get my kicks through mindful parenting styles, creative living and chocolate.

I was born and raised in the North East of England and both of my parents were journalists. I remember always being surrounded by books, music and lively conversation. I loved all forms of creativity but I was happiest sat at my mam’s typewriter making up stories (yes, I can remember typewriters!).

I excelled at English and Art and did anything I could to avoid PE and Maths. I remember my English teachers’ exasperated reactions as I used to hand in pages and pages of stories. God knows how many hours they had to stay up at night to mark that lot!

I studied Creative Arts at university which included Creative Writing at first. However, I didn’t jive with all of the teaching styles and instead turned my focus to community and educational arts. I went on to start a business in arts education which I LOVED but it took over my life and writing was forced to take a back seat.

I didn’t really pick writing back up until I had a huge shift in my life when a long-term relationship ended, along with my much-loved business. The year 2006 changed everything for me and writing took hold of my heart again so I could find my way through this difficult time.  

It started off with just using my journal and writing a few poems, but eventually, as a result of the most emotionally tumultuous year I’d had to that point, I started to write a novel based on my own lived experience. That novel turned into a trilogy and the first one, Life Is Yours, has just been published by Britain’s next Bestseller. It really is a massive dream come true.

If you had to give an elevator pitch for Life is Yours, what would it be? 
Life is Yours is a sweet, sassy and soulful story that kicks heartbreak to the kerb – something we could all do with at least once in our lives!

Who can say what has brought Jess and Lindy together?

Maybe it's the beach, the stars and the warm Turkish night air. But they may as well get settled for the night, because Jess has a story to tell and Lindy is ready to listen . . .

Jess had life sorted. A gang of great mates, an adoring fiancé and a thriving business – she couldn't have asked for more. But the proverbial rug is whipped out from under her feet when the fiancé makes a sharp exit on New Year's Eve. Therein follows the Week From Hell, eternally streaked mascara and Chardonnay-a-plenty.

But this is the story of a woman on a path. Sure, there are a number of trips and falls along the way but Jess is on a journey that will change her life. On a boring business course, she remembers what she really wants; in strange new friendships, new ideas grow; and a last-minute discount holiday to Turkey helps her heart wake up to a whole new rhythm.

A rhythm that is just beginning to get going . . .

What inspired you to write a story about heartbreak and recovery?
Life is Yours is very heavily based on my own lived experience. At the beginning of 2006, my fiancé and business partner of seven years just decided he didn’t want that life any more. He left with hardly a whisper of warning and I felt like all the rugs had been pulled out from under me. Ultimately, I had to decide if I was going to disappear into a shadow of my former self, or, eventually, pick myself up and open my eyes to the world in a different way.

I chose the latter and because the repercussions of that were so life-changing, I decided to record my experiences as a novel. I’m so glad I did because not only did it help me wok through what had happened and make sense of it all, but I now have readers telling me they identify with so much of the story and, in particular, they love the self-help element to the tale.

We’re all likely to suffer from heartbreak at least once in our lives – whether it’s from the end of a relationship or something completely different – so tales of recovery and renewal are always going to be important. 

Which came first, the characters or the plot?
That is so hard to answer because it’s based on real experience! I guess what happened to me after the break-up was so astonishing that I just had to craft it into a story so maybe the plot. But without the fantastic characters the plot would be dry and boring. What a tricky question!

Did you need to do any research before you started writing?  
I didn’t really need to engage in much research as most of what’s in Life Is Yours happened to me, as well as the main character, Jess. I am one of those writers who subscribes to the idea: “write what you know”. Plus, I’m a naturally curious person so I guess I’d already done the research for my book before I realized I was going to write it! Once I sat down to type, it was a matter of remembering what I’d uncovered.

If Life Is Yours was to be made into a film, who would you cast in the main roles? 
I always find this to be a very difficult question because I’m so deeply connected to the story and can see the (real) characters so clearly in my head. Here are a few ideas though:

Jess – Danielle Macdonald
Lindy – Millie Bobby Brown
Jack – Richard Madden
Gillie – Jameela Jamil
Ella – Emilia Clarke
Oliver – James McAvoy

What advice would you give to other aspiring authors who are thinking about writing a novel?
Don’t pay too much attention to those voices inside that tell you your writing is no good, or there’s no point, or who’s going to read it (those voices have LOTS to say). Instead try to imagine what it will feel like once you’ve done it. Finishing a piece of work is a tremendous achievement whether it ever gets published or not. I did a lot of visualizing me typing those magic words ‘The End’.
And read. Lots.

Finally what can we expect from you next? 
Life is Yours is the first part in a trilogy and the second part, Destiny is Yours will be out later this year (watch this space!). I’m very excited to see how it’s received as it’s a bit more soulful and magic than the first book – a natural progression I think!

The third part is already written, but awaits final editing and a title (ideas please?!). Then I have an idea for another real-life experience type of novel, based on the time I fasted for Ramadan alongside my Muslim husband.

In the meantime, I have lots going on over on my social media pages. I regularly do live mindfulness meditations as well as announcing all of my book and blog news. Here’s how you can find me:
Facebook: Abigail Yardimci
Twitter: @AbigailYardimci
Instagram: @mum_in_the_moment

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