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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Eva Asprakis: Thirty-Eight Days of Rain

By Katie Farr, Iona Fleming, Jess Scaffidi Saggio, Ayman Sabir, and Lucy Powell

Thirty-Eight Days of Rain is Eva Asprakis’ second novel, and it is clear that its inspiration largely derives from Asprakis’s own experiences. Having been raised in South London by her American mother and Cypriot stepfather, Asprakis now lives with her partner in Nicosia, Cyprus. Throughout her younger years, Asprakis struggled with her hormonal health and has been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). These experiences are central to the novel’s main character, Androulla, who shares a similar background to Asprakis. Asprakis wrote the novel’s first draft from a place of “so much anger;” her partner had just been told to leave Cyprus, and Asprakis had recently lost her unborn baby. She then isolated herself, and “it all came out.” Asprakis describes the process of writing the first draft as “a stream of consciousness.” Whilst Androulla’s life is not an exact retelling of what she has gone through herself, Asprakis nevertheless believes that “the feelings it was rooted in'' were “very much” her own.

Thirty-Eight Days of Rain covers several socio-political factors without pitting one against the other, which Asprakis attributes to the fact that she has “always existed between places.” Asprakis was a “child of divorce” whose parents had immigrated from different countries, meaning that Asprakis was raised “in-between” cultures. This “way of moving between places and people” provided Asprakis with an “innate sense” of how to juggle writing about these social issues. Though migration and womanhood seemingly stand at the forefront of this novel, Asprakis states it is “not so much about those specific topics as it is about inhabiting the spaces between them.”

When asked how she dealt with the sensitive topics of her novel, Asprakis admits it was often “very, very difficult,” because she had to relive the experiences, meaning at one point she felt as though she “hit a block.” During this period, Asprakis was unsure about including the intricate details of her experiences and more taboo topics, but ultimately knew that she had to because “there are some things around female experiences that get shied away from.” Asprakis adds that pushing through writing this made her unwell for some time, but that it was worth it in the end. 

Both this novel and Asprakis’ first novel, Love and Only Water, explore fractured identities in national and familial relationships. Asprakis states this theme “feels really central to whatever [she does];” she is drawn to “different [family] dynamics,” partly due to her own parental experience. Themes around identity, she explains, “will always find their way” into her work; Asprakis has occasionally tried “to write a set of parents for [her] characters that come from the same place,” but this has not felt “convincing.” Asprakis acknowledges that writing is an incredibly “cathartic process,” and much of her writing stems from a desire to reconcile her own fractured cultural identity, which then “comes out in the characters.” Asprakis explains how her biggest influences are authors that write about “growing up with immigrant parents,” even if not necessarily from Cyprus.

Use of pathetic fallacy through depiction of rain is “definitely a big part” of the book, which Asprakis describes as very “emotional and dark in some places.” The depiction of rain during pivotal or emotional moments was something she had envisioned as a structural device for a future book “months before” writing this story. As rain is so rare in Cyprus, Asprakis said that she could “remember where [she] was and what [she] was doing” when it occurred. These moments had a “significance” which she used as a template and served as an “interesting device” for the novel. 

Another aspect of Thirty-Eight Days of Rain, which Asprakis loosely drew from her own life,, is Androulla’s experiences as a writer. While in fiction there can be a romanticisation of a writer’s life, Asprakis portrays Androulla’s self-doubt in her work, her struggle to support herself as a freelancer, and the lack of opportunities for Cypriot writers. Asprakis signed with a literary agent at nineteen but felt discouraged away from “more character-driven books” that she wanted to write. She was also repeatedly told that “no one wants to read about Cyprus” and that her work was not commercially viable. It was a bittersweet experience for Asprakis seeing the huge success of Elif Shafak’s The Island of Missing Trees, which proved readers are interested in Cyprus, though there is still a “gulf of opportunities” for Cypriot writers.

Asprakis self-published both her first novel, Love and Only Water, and now Thirty-Eight Days of Rain. Asprakis describes the main drawback of self-publishing as “a lot more work,” juggling promotion, editing, and social media yourself. However, running her own social media means “the bonds that [she has] with [her[ readers now is a lot bigger than it could be with a big corporation.” The largest benefit Asprakis has experienced is creative freedom, feeling that her writing has improved since being “liberated” from the pressure of agents and publishers. Asprakis advises other writers looking to self-publish to “tell the stories that feel authentic, important and meaningful to you,” adding that “if you put the work in, you will find readers out there who want to read books like yours.”



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