To be completely honest, I was unaware that Instagram novels were a thing. When I found out, I was intrigued, maybe because the first one I came across was Sophia Gatzionis’s “Princess Saltwater”. When you see her Instagram posts, you’ll know why.
I decided to approach her for a mini interview and here we are. Enjoy.
Hello, Sophia. Would you like to introduce your real self?
Hi Stefanos, thank you so much for interviewing me. This is actually kind of a tricky question. On Instagram I write as Sophia Gatzionis, but apart from my name I don’t really mention anything else about myself. Which I think is part of the fun. Princess Saltwater wouldn’t be as believable a character if my readers knew too much about me as a writer. And my story’s chapters are so small that it’s difficult to keep up the illusion of a constant character presence. So at risk of ruining the illusion, I’ll reveal that I’m a student and that I’m currently reading English at Cambridge. I will also reveal that I really really love chocolate. Like, with a passion. The rest will remain a closely guarded secret. Protected by the Princess Sal’s royal guards.
How did the persona of Princess Saltwater come about?
Princess Sal’s character is a combination of many things. She’s a princess, which is something I’ve always wanted to be. Obviously. And she’s also quite brave, which I like to think she takes from F. H. Burnett’s “A Little Princess”. And she really likes stories, to the point where she’ll willingly believe a falsehood if it’s more interesting than the truth. Which is a bit of a self-critique. So there’s a little bit of me in there, and a little bit of everything that I wish I was. And of course there’s a lot of all of the novels that I’ve read in my life, and all of the people that I’ve met. But I’ve always wanted to write a fairytale. I was devoted to Gail Carson Levine when I was younger, and I was practically raised on modern-day Cinderella stories. I loved Meg Cabot. And I adored Hilary Duff’s “A Cinderella Story”. So it just seemed like the natural choice.
I do, actually! I was on a beach in Greece and I was trying to write a really strategically complex chapter for my first (non-Instagram) novel, which is also a story about fashion and spies. Although not about princesses. And I just could not decide whether my character should use a hairpin to open a door or whether she should just blast it open with some exploding chewing-gum. And while I was caught in the teeth of this dilemma, I decided to write something small and simple. I wanted to write something long and immersive, but that wouldn’t have to be agonized over for hours on end. So I decided that a serialized novel would be fun. Easily produced, easily digested. And being on the beach inspired me to combine it with pictures. So Instagram it was!
Do you want to tell us a bit about the story and how came up with it?
The story is a bit of a homage to all the princess-related stories that I’ve read over the years. I really love Young Adult literature. It’s the thing that made me want to keep reading and writing as a teenager, even when schoolwork became really overwhelming. And I’ve always associated YA literature with a sense of escape —escaping the routine, and the mundane, and the stressful. So I thought I could combine my love of fantasy with a more literal interpretation of “escape”. That’s why Princess Sal leaves the palace and the path she’s been groomed for her whole life, and runs away to make a future for herself. So, in a way, it’s a metaphor for the imaginative potential that YA literature always seems to offer. The space for fantasy and dreaming. Although now I think I’m delving too deep into my own story. “Princess Saltwater” is really just meant to be fun.
Well, “Princess Saltwater” is very much a work in progress. And it’s being written in real-time, so it’s very open to being influenced by its readers. I would love it if people posted comments about what they would like to happen in the story. I want readers to feel like Princess Sal is an actual person, and that her story is running in parallel to theirs.
I think I would like to turn it into an actual book some day. But that might change. I feel like it’s a very experimental form, because the chapters are so short and because I want it to be very reader-dependent. If I did turn it into a printed book, I would love to conserve the visual factor. So I think it would be a non-traditional printed book, if it ever becomes one.
Do you work on any other projects?
I’m currently working on my first novel, which I hope will be completed at around Christmas-time. It’s a spy/fashion story, so again very lighthearted and fun. And it’s set in London. Well… primarily. But if you like “Princess Saltwater” you’ll like this one too. Even though there aren’t any princesses involved.
Thank you for your time and kindness
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me! I really appreciate it. And I hope you enjoy my story!
Hello Instagram 🌞 I’m Saltwater. Princess Saltwater. I’m in hiding. ‘Saltwater’ is a temporary pseudonym. If I told you what my real name is, we would all be in ✨very✨ grave danger. So for now you can call me Sal. Maybe we should start at the beginning. I belong to the very old, very #royal family of Saltwaters. Mother Saltwater is the beautiful ruler of a beautiful Queendom. (I can’t tell you where it is or what it’s called. That would be dangerous. I’ll explain.) Daddy Saltwater is a duke and a rock star. 🎸 Or used to be, back in the 80s. Now he’s a wonderful King, a loving father, and a winemaker with a passion for linen suits. Thankfully, I’m not the heir to the Saltwater throne. 👑 No, that unfortunate distinction belongs to my elder sister. I get to be the mildly spoiled and very charming younger #princess. The only duties I every really had were 1) to marry well and 2) to not lose my royal jewelry. Which makes me a very bad princess indeed. Because I’ve failed miserably. On both accounts. Kind of. The first is a story for another post. As for the jewels…💍Well, those I lost when I was packing my luggage. Equipped with as many parasols and #swimsuits 🌂👙 as I could fit in a single suitcase, and accompanied by my very dear butler Mr. Benedict, I left the palace. And the Queendom. And I’m not sure when —if ever— I’m going back. I’m currently living a life of secrecy on the #Mediterranean coast. What better place to spend the #summer in? I guess it’s fitting that I’ve substituted my diamond tiara for a seaweed one. It’s soft, pretty, and totally waterproof. 💦Splash. 💦#instastory