Imagine, if you will, my excitement when bestselling author, SibelHodge, responded to my request for a Q&A interview this week!
She is the No. 1 Bestselling Author of ‘Look Behind You’, ‘Untouchable’, and ‘Duplicity’. Her books have sold over one million copies and are International Bestsellers in UK, USA, Australia, France, and Germany. With an eclectic mix of genres, Sibel is a passionate human and animal rights advocate. Sibel’s work has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize 2008, was Highly Commended by the Yeovil Literary Prize 2009, Runner Up in the Chapter One Promotions Novel Comp 2009, nominated Best Novel with Romantic Elements in 2010 by The Romance Reviews, Runner Up in the Best Indie Books of 2012 by Indie Book Bargains, Winner of Best Children’s Book by eFestival of Words 2013, Winner of Crime, Thrillers & Mystery | Book from a series in the SpaSpa Book Awards 2013, Nominated for the 2015 BigAl’s Books and Pals Young Adult Readers& Choice Award, Readers Favourite Young Adult – Coming of Age Honourable Award Winner 2015, New Adult Finalist in the Oklahoma Romance Writers of Americas International Digital Awards 2015, and 2017 Thriller Writers Award finalist for Best E-Book Original Novel. Her Novel, ‘Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave’, of which 20% of the royalties from the sales of this book is donated to The Poppy Project and Unseen UK, has been listed as one of the Top 40 Books About Human Rights by Accredited Online Colleges…
Among the madness, the fake perfection and arrogance we so often come across on the internet, meeting somebody as successful, yet, as humble as Mrs Hodge is like finding a diamond amongst broken glass. Unbeknown to her, I have followed her life after she had first caught my attention a little over a year ago, with a comment she’d posted on a social media site with regards to a humanitarian issue. It was one of those comments that we occasionally come across which makes your cellular structure dance a little- and I tend to pay attention to these unique individuals! It was an absolute pleasure and privilege to get some insight on her life, career, and the charitable causes she is so passionate about…
So Sibel, you’ve recently sold your Millionth Novel- that’s quite a feat! Congratulations! When did you realise you wanted to become an author? What starting point or inspiration?
When I was in secondary school my favourite subject was English language. I’d lose myself for hours. And even though I hadn’t thought about my forthcoming career before I left (apart from being Wonder Woman or an astronaut), I knew, even then, I had a love of creating and I was obsessed with reading. But when I left school no one mentioned writing as a career. I didn’t even know about creative writing courses back then! No one suggested journalism or further education in writing, and
I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do for a career, so I flitted from one job to the next, trying to find something that interested me, and eventually ended up working for the police for ten years. So there I was, too busy paying the mortgage, working shifts, and living in the rat race of life to have the proper time or opportunity to write a novel. But it was always in the back of my mind that one day I would do it. And about ten years ago, I wrote my first novel.
What was the title of your very first publication? Which company published you?
It was a romantic comedy called Fourteen Days Later. And I went down the usual route of querying publishers and agents and I had over 200 rejections. At that point I thought about giving it all up because I was never going to get anywhere. The competition was too fierce. My confidence had taken a beating. But after giving it a lot of thought, I decided, no, I’m not going to quit. I’d finally found that passion in my life that I couldn’t switch off the stories in my head that wanted to get out onto the pages. So I wrote my next novel, and I independently published them myself. Then I wrote another, and another. Fast forward ten years, and I’ve published 20 novels and been lucky enough to have won many awards for my work and had bestsellers all over the world. I hope this doesn’t feel like I’m blowing my own trumpet! I just wanted to show you that anything is possible. Because if I can do it, anyone can.
How did it feel to have that first Novel published?
When I hit that “publish” button, it was scary, rewarding, exciting, amazing, nerve-wracking – so many experiences rolled into one. What if no one liked my novels? What if I had all bad reviews? What if all the 200 rejections were right? But if you want to do anything in life, you have to tell yourself you can do it and not give up. Otherwise, I’d still be sitting here today, watching my self- confidence plummet, bawling my eyes out because I had another rejection letter. Sometimes you might have to go a different route to get where you want to be. It might not be how you originally pictured achieving your dreams, but you will get there if you believe in yourself.
Do you have a personal favourite out of the selection of books you have written?
They are all favourites for different reasons! It’s really hard to pin down just one.
You have many credentials, awards and recognition for your work- How did you get to this stage? Do you feel you have changed as a person as you have progressed? If so, how?
When you have a passion for something you have to carry on with it. I just really learned everything as I went along and kept on writing more books. The need in me to fulfil a dream inspired me in the first instance. Inspiration is everywhere, but if you don’t have the desire and belief to drive yourself, it’s wasted. If you tell yourself positive things all the time, eventually you’ll start to believe them. The same goes for negative thinking, too. I think from an early age we’re taught to criticize ourselves.
We’re not good enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough. I’m a firm believer that whatever we put out there, consciously or subconsciously, we get back multiplied. If you believe that you are worthy and deserving, you will be! Whatever your goals are, you don’t necessarily have to know how you’re going to achieve them, you just have to believe that you will achieve them, and the how will get taken care of. One thing will always lead to another, and that’s how amazing opportunities happen. How often do you hear of people overcoming amazing odds to gain success or beat incurable health problems? These people knew they could achieve what they wanted and had no doubt whatsoever – that’s the power of positive thinking. You are the only person who can make things happen. The only life you’re living is right here, right now in this moment, and you can choose exactly what to do with it. Success is just a state of mind. Throughout my writing journey I’ve stumbled into a spiritual journey, which is having a really positive impact on all areas of my life. I’ve grown in personal ways that I could never have contemplated a few years ago. Every day I get stronger, more resilient, and learn more. I can never stop growing as a person. You only get one life, so live it! And with that change, the subjects I wanted to write about changed, too. I started with the fun romantic comedies and comedy mysteries but then turned to the darker crime and thrillers because I wanted to tackle subjects that were close to my heart that don’t get talked about much in commercial fiction. I’ve covered human trafficking in many forms, child abuse, corporate and political corruption, and most of what I like to write about now is inspired by real life.
It was only very recently that I realised that you are a vegan. It’s amazing how we have normalised taking dead flesh of an animal, and place it into our bodies with the expectation that this won’t lead to illness! What lead you to veganism?
I know! I’ve been vegan 3 years now and was vegetarian for 3 years before that. For me it was an ethical and humane choice when I started to wake up to what happened in the meat, dairy, egg, etc industries. I remember watching the documentary Earthlings and went from vegetarian to vegan instantly.
Do you have any pets? If so, how many?
I have 9 rescue/stray cats. They all have stupid names like Piggy or Pointy Tail or Noisey! Some of them are actually featured in my children’s book It’s a Catastrophe.
I noticed that you are a supporter of the Charities ‘The Poppy Project’ and ‘Unseen UK’, who work toward battling against human trafficking while supporting victims of this disgusting atrocity. When did these issues come to your attention? Many of us know about certain causes, and though we may be vocal about our support for a cause/ our sympathy for victims- most do not become actively involved further than donating. What motivated you to become so active on behalf of these charities in particular?
I’m lucky enough to have a voice through my work so it’s important to me to cover aspects of society and social injustices that I don’t think get talked about much, or that are brushed under the carpet, because there are many people out there who are voiceless.
What is the next step for Sibel Hodge?
I have two thrillers coming out in this year. But, of course, it would be amazing for one of my books to be made into a film!
Do you actually realise that you are a role model?
That is an amazing thing to say, thank you!
Do you have advice for young women who feel trapped in the position of only having the future of being a wife although they aspire to more? Or some motivational word’s for everybody out there, male or female, who has supported you?
Here are some things I’ve learned in recent years…
Trust and believe in yourself. When you find your passion, don’t give up on it. Never let anyone tell
you that you can’t do something (unless it’s illegal and then you might have to think about it!).
Follow your heart and your dreams. Be a rule breaker and think outside the box. There’s no right or wrong way to do something. There’s only YOUR way. A rejection is never a rejection. It’s a lesson you need to learn along the way or a new path to a different doorway. There’s always a PLAN B round the corner, even if you can’t see it yet. And if you give as much energy to your dreams as you do you fears, that’s when amazing things start to happen.
By Serpil Kadirlar