Sophie Sierra is an upcoming novelist, and a vibrant style blogger.
I’ve known Sophie for almost five years, yet even I’ve learnt things about her through this interview which I didn’t know previously. When I first discovered soinspo.com all those years ago, I fell in love with reading her posts because it was a refreshing change to read a blog written with such honesty and openness. But at the same time, I’ve always noticed a creative flare in her writing. She’s got a real knack for setting the scene not only visually, but through her writing too which isn’t something you usually come across in personal style blogs.
Her blog is the place to go if you’re in need of someone to brighten up your day. Her creative direction and outfits speak volumes, and so do the discussions about battling mental health and bullying which she’s previously faced within the workplace. But that’s not all to Sophie, because she's currently working on her first novel, a romantic fiction with plenty of drama throughout.
With this interview, we’re going to get to know Sophie and her blog a little bit more. We’ll also learn more about her love for writing, and how it became an escape when she needed it most. The interview will then be followed by a short story, written especially for The Artisan Detour readers!
Hi Sophie! Please introduce yourself and your blog to The Artisan Detour readers…
Hey! I’m a writer and blogger based in Kent/South East London. I’m currently tying up my first novel and I also run soinspo.com; a colourful fashion blog where I take my readers on vibrant adventures and inject some magic into everyday life. My blog posts often alternate between bright style shoots and tough topics that I speak about openly and honestly. These have included my battle with anxiety, going for your first smear test, being bullied at work and I’ve also shared my confidence journey in finding self-esteem and self-worth.
soinspo.com is so unique. You have a dazzling sense of style, and each post is beautifully written. I’ve always found myself being able to relate to the topics you cover. Can you explain how you discovered your voice for both your writing and style, and what it means to you?
Aw thank you so much, that means a lot to me! I’m so glad you find the topics I cover on my blog relatable. It took a while for me to find my voice in regards to my writing and style and combine both for the blog. In the end I naturally fell upon what seems to work for me; colourful fashion shoots in bright locations and topics that are close to my heart that will hopefully inspire and move people who are going through the same experiences. The blog is a great outlet for me to voice out my emotions. When someone says a blog post of mine has helped them or encouraged them – that means everything.
I’ve noticed soinspo.com has evolved over time to become even more personal, almost like an online diary. What made you want to start sharing your experiences with bullying and mental health?
That’s so true! An online diary is definitely right. After taking a step back from blogging due to a bad bout of anxiety I realised when I returned I wanted my posts to be more open and discuss what I’d been going through in regards to my mental health. From there on in I gained more confidence in sharing parts of my life story with my readers on a whole new level. Despite being nervous about openly discussing how I was bullied in the workplace, I realised it was a post that needed putting out there. Bullying happens so often, especially at work and often goes widely unreported. I wanted to raise awareness in showing people that it’s okay to speak out and not okay to carry on having to suffer. I wanted to start sharing my experiences for those that need to read them, those that are going through the same things as I did. Perhaps be the voice that I needed, all those years back when I felt alone and vulnerable.
What qualities does writing have that draws you in so much?
The escapism is what makes it so addictive for me. When life gets difficult writing can take you away from the pain or sadness you might be feeling. On the other hand I’ve found it a positive boost when I’m feeling happy and creative. I never get tired of creating a whole new world – I’ve found the characters have always found me, not the other way round, and I love discovering their qualities and finding out about them as human beings. Writing has always been my solace, a blissful retreat that keeps on giving!
Let’s move on to fiction, since you’re a writer in that sense too. When did you first discover you want to be a writer by profession?
It was soon after I started writing my novel, I realised that instead of just writing as a way of releasing my own emotions it was also something I wanted to make a career out of. Once my book started to take hold, so did the realisation that I was serious about making something out of this story that kept spinning in my head.
It’s interesting to learn you wanted to become a professional writer after you started writing your novel. Can you explain what inspired you to start writing it to begin with?
I wanted an escape from a really unhappy job I was doing at the time. It made my life a misery, from Monday to Friday and at the weekends where I’d already be dreading the working week ahead as soon as Sunday arrived. So one Saturday evening I just started writing this story on my laptop and immediately I was transported into another world entirely. That was the catalyst!
Was writing something you enjoyed doing when you were younger?
It was, or maybe more so the imagining of stories in my head without so much writing them down. One particular memory of my first foray into writing is of being at the BBC museum in London when I was about 9 or 10. I had an exercise book with me and I was scribbling down a story then and there. My mind has always drifted to stories, I'd often be thinking up characters and scenarios in my head, be it during lessons at school or walking through the park on rainy weekends.
How would you describe your writing style? What genre does your work fit into?
Romantic fiction with elements of thriller and drama throughout. My book is a romance at heart but with twists and turns that can be haunting and dark.
As someone who is going to be searching for literary agents for the first time, what challenges do you feel you’ll have to face?
Honestly, it feels daunting. But then I remind myself that I haven’t come this far just to give up. I’m excited about sending my book out into the world when the time comes, but aware it could take a while and that rejection is par for the course. I think the main thing is, never giving up. Whenever I get butterflies about the possibility of approaching agents in the future, I remind myself of what I’ve got to offer.
I’m so excited that you’re writing a snippet of an original piece of writing to publish alongside this interview. Can you give us a little intro?
Yes, of course! So this piece is about a character with a devastating secret who is trying to make a new beginning out of something shocking. Let’s just say if word gets out about this, everyone around her will be in for a nasty surprise!
Truth Hurts by Sophie Sierra
I’m scorched with the glares of a dozen eyes as I lug my suitcase out of the stuffy pub. I’m not leaving through the back exit as requested, I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. As soon as I step outside the intoxicating taste of freedom churns like a greedy prospect in the pit of my stomach. I dial his number. I don’t expect him to answer but I realise I’m eagerly anticipating he does. Mindless but determined hours spent trawling online had finally unearthed him. They can’t find out. What if they uncover us? That’s all we kept saying. I’m playing russian roulette by getting in contact. Our secret won’t survive the second time round. Hadn’t we caused enough devastation? That was our problem, we knew how much of an impact all the potential heartbreak could wreck, yet we carried on because we couldn’t, wouldn’t stop. But… a fresh start, a new beginning. If we play by the rules this time, we might just make it. I don’t want denial to infect us, not anymore. The truth hurts, but the dishonesty is harder to bear. He doesn’t answer. But I know where he lives. He’ll have to face me; I’m not going to give him any choice. Like it or not, the both of us are going to have to face the past by starting this new chapter together. And if it unleashes all the hell we’ve held back for so long, then so be it.