Every other Monday, we introduce you to a writer from the Writers’ Mastermind. Today we are excited to present Sara Cristia H.J.. She is a storyteller and freelance writer who was born in Venezuela and lives in Lebanon.

Sara writes historical and contemporary dramas with touches of surrealism, the paranormal, and fantasy. She also creates blog content for websites and is now in the editing process of her first fiction novel.

You have seen her reading an excerpt of her story, The Witch’s Amulet, in the Writers Mastermind Mash Up. Learn more about her rich Caribbean/Mediterranean life and her dreams for the future.

Tell us a bit of yourself. Where are you from? Where are you now? What has your life been like?

My background is a mix of Caribbean and Mediterranean. I was born in Venezuela to Lebanese parents who raised my siblings and me there for the first ten years of my life. Then, my father thought it would be best for us to grow among our relatives and culture. So we moved to Lebanon, where my interest in historical, religious, and esoteric topics caught my genuine interest.

Afterward, we were constantly moving or traveling from Lebanon to Venezuela and vice versa. This caused me some gaps in the three languages I know. Though I manage them fluently, except for Arabic, which I know at a medium level, I still needed to improve my writing skills. I realized that the only way to do so was by reading.

Today, I live in Lebanon with my husband, three lovely and smart daughters, and my spoiled mini-toy poodle, Lassie. Life has been a bit of a challenge in every aspect, and I still don’t feel like settling here for a long time. Yet, what helps me to carry on with the tedious routine is my constant learning. I’m so grateful for the online education to find something new to upgrade my skills.

My life has been a mixture of adventure, freedom, adaptations, drawbacks, up-scaling, self-growth, and excitement with a bit of the Caribbean warmth and the traditional Mediterranean freshness. I consider life a journey that we have to travel as positively and thrilled as possible, taking the challenges and lessons for our benefit and enjoying every detail of it.

What kind of stories do you write?

I write historical and contemporary romantic dramas. I’m editing my first novel, which is a stand-alone but also the first in a series. The story revolves around two lovers who find each other in the late Austro-Hungarian Empire, but a fatal incident and mysterious events separate them. They’ll meet, however, in another lifetime where sharper challenges will dare them to stay together. I’ll treat diverse topics in this series, such as emotional abuse, anxiety, reincarnation, Latin American corruption, etc. 

I also write short stories with bits of surrealism, paranormal, and real-life events.

More recently, I decided to give my creative writing a break while exploring the objective world of freelance writing. I must say I am most satisfied since I consider myself a logic-thinker, and I love researching and writing about various topics that defy my intellect and skills.

What sets you apart from other writers in your space?

Each writer has their unique spark. I think what sets me apart from other fellow writers is that I like to treat subtly real-life facts and conditions through fantasy and fiction.

My perseverance in upgrading my writing skills, despite all the educational challenges I had when I was younger, and consistency are also keys to my writing. I don’t like the words “give up,” so I try to do my best to find my way and show others that if I can do it, they certainly can, too.

Writing fiction not only liberates our creativity but also provides us with endless ways to see and treat life’s events. We can entertain, enlighten, and guide people through our stories and make them reflect on the different facets of life.

Sara Cristia H.J.

What drives your writing? What do you mean to accomplish with your stories?

We can achieve so much through the written word. You can say the world’s most significant truths through the beautiful lies of fiction and state life’s facts through well-crafted and researched articles. You can influence a generation with your opinion and stories, soothe the depressed, and guide the one who seeks the light. This and more is what I want to accomplish with my writings.

Who are your favorite writers and books? What are your other creative influences?

I have a bunch of favorite writers and books that have influenced my writing. Among those I most enjoyed reading and learning from are: The Lord of the Rings books; Pachinko, by Lee Min Jin; almost every Jane Austen’s book and Lara Temple’s too; The Thorn Birds; Three Daughters of Eve, by Elif Shafak; and books of Paulo Coelho and Gibran Khalil Gibran.

Some of my favorite non-fiction books are: You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay; the Rich Dad, Poor Dad series, by Robert Kiyosaki; The Giant Within, by Tony Robins; Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. I also love Dan Brown’s style.

There are certainly more, especially among indie books, such as Through Her Eyes, by Sophie Fahy; Murder at MacBeth, by Samantha Goodwin; The Seven Lives of Grace, by Elena Shelest; That Truthful Place, by Patty Lesser; The Last Nautch Girl, by C. Phillip; Lilia, by Linda Ganzini; Seeker of Time series by, J. M. Buckler; and Behold the Dawn, by K. M. Weiland. Now, I look forward to exploring more indie jewels, like those of Joe Sale, Christa Wojciechowski, Clennell Anthony, and Bia Bella Baker.

Do you write in silence? Background noise? Or music? What kind?

It depends on the scene’s mood. If it’s an action or mental health issue, you will find me writing with some metallic or gothic rock in the background, such as Poets of the Fall, Nightwish, Disturbed, or Within Temptation. If I’m writing a rough-love scene, I’ll listen to Lady Gaga, Allan Walker, or Demi Lovato. Otherwise, I’ll be listening to softer and more classic melodies, like Beethoven, Chopin, BrunuhVille, Sade, Jazz music with rain, or coffee shop background sounds (my favorite when I want to chill out), etc.

As you see, my music list is as eclectic as my readings.

What is your favorite thing to do when you are not writing?

I think I don’t have that much free time. When I’m not writing or researching, I’m with my girls, helping them with their studies or watching a movie together. I have to attend to my house chores and my online learning. But I would much prefer to have a fixed time to go for a walk or hiking. I also love gardening and reading, of course.

Who is your current celebrity crush?

Celebrity crush? Not now, lol! But when I was younger, I liked Johnathan Brandis, the first time when I watched The NeverEnding Story and then SeaQuest DSV.

I also loved Gerard Butler’s role in The Phantom of the Opera.

Why do you think it’s important to write fiction?

Writing fiction not only liberates our creativity but also provides us with endless ways to see and treat life’s events. We can entertain, enlighten, and guide people through our stories and make them reflect on the different facets of life. Storytelling is such a powerful tool to plant the seed for a better future.

Who would be the best writer, alive or dead, to tell the story of your life?

I have never thought of this, but I think I’d like Paulo Coelho to write the story of my life for his magical and surrealistic style and his vast exploration of the Mediterranean and South American lifestyles. 

What are you working on right now?

My creative/fiction writing is somehow slow-paced now because I’m more dedicated to my freelance writing and internship at the Digital Nomad Writing Club. However, I always spare some time for my editing, mainly because my characters don’t give me peace of mind.

Besides, I’m building my portfolio with a variety of topics, though I’m niching down to more specific themes on B2B strategies, emotional and mental wellness, self-growth, and productivity. I’m also completing my specialization in SEO which will serve my blogging skills greatly.

Thank you for sharing your fascinating writing life with us, Sara!

Connect with Sara Cristia H.J.