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A selection of answers from interviews




…on the adventure of writing

…My writing, like my involvement with Psychology (and, before that, Philosophy), probably stems from my fascination with people, with the fleeting intangibility of experience which is gone before it can recorded, even deep within, in clear and articulate terms. It’s like a thirst to trap in words that which somehow always evades you: the mystery of being, of experience and consciousness of the self, of communicating with your inner and outer world. (Anatolia, 2005)

…The adventure of writing is the adventure of coming into being, of putting into words that which is, but also that which never exactly was, at least exactly like that, until it was trapped in words. Words can entrap and substantiate things. The adventure of writing is the adventure of discovering what you know deep down, but could never quite put your finger on. (Diavazo, 2002)

 …I’m interested in the process of transferral, of transubstantiating a fluid experience, a feeling or hazy thought—because we record everything non-lexically somewhere deep down in our brains. I’m fascinated by this process of translating experience into discourse that is both communicable and efficacious. (Socrates Vasileiou, Apeiros Chora, 2005)

…Describe a writer in a few words? Impassioned. Over-sensitive. Stubborn. Insatiable. (Stylianos Manousakis, Symvoulos Ygeias, 2010)


…on the novel

The novel is the literary form that interests me the most, the long, demanding format that requires the author to orchestrate words, plot, narrative and dialogue into a semblance of truth. The reader has to live what you have trapped in words; your words have to sweep the reader along with them without drawing attention to themselves; they must conjure up images, emotions and thoughts that leave a clear imprint on him. (Apeiros Chora, 2005)

…I believe in suspense, in not boring the reader. The writer has to activate their reader’s expectations and transform them into an active participant in what they’re reading. I’m a fan of humour and irony, too, when they can be worked in, and of economy of means. I like clarity, coherence, flow, beauty in language, of finding a way of saying exactly what needs to be said - no more, no less. Of course, above all else, I believe in telling a story and telling it as well as possible in a way that expresses something of your inner truth... because if you’re lucky, your inner truth and your reader’s will intersect at some point. Which is a writer’s greatest joy and justification, because it means you’ve managed to express something collective, beyond you. (Apeiros Chora, 2005)

... When you’re writing a historical novel, you can use the context as a guide. Of course, the context imposes limits, too. You’ve got to take care not to strike a false note, everything has to match: your use of language, the characters and their problems, the events you describe and the way you describe them. Everything has to be convincing and contribute to a sense of time and place, which is hard to pull off. At the same time, though, you’re using motifs that are human constants - meaning that you, a creature of the 21st-century, have to identify with your characters, have to care about their fate. You have to write characters that are alive, but who aren’t out of kilter with their era. (Anatolia, 2005)

...You have to live what you write. So if you haven’t already experienced it for real, you have to find a way of doing it, for the novel’s sake. You’re got to appropriate that experience, you have to make it your own. And that’s as true if you’re drawing indirectly on your life experiences of situations in general, on other people’s characters and experiences, on research, reading, travelling, asking and your imagination as when you’re drawing directly on your biography. Writing is a continual give and take between what you’ve lived at first hand, and those elements of your mental world you’d like to midwife into reality. (Anatolia, 2005)

Novels take time. They need duration and continuity, meaning it’s hard to pop into a novel you’re writing when you’ve an hour or two free. The short forms, poetry and the short story, are easier to combine with time-hungry professional or family obligations, because they’re more receptive to being worked on in fits and starts, to sudden inspirations followed up by careful crafting. (Elpidoforos Idzebelis, Tachydromos Artas, 2003)

...You can’t start out wanting to write about yourself, then camouflage the result behind a story. What you have to do is draw on yourself and anything else that proffers itself to the needs of your story. Because the story comes first. (Anatolia, 2005)

...Writing means re-writing everything, literally, all the time. You’ll need everything you’ve got inside - knowledge, experience, emotion, memory—to put meat on the bones of your myth. And anything you haven’t got, you’ll have to find, uncover, discover or create - by digging a little deeper into the Self, or searching a little further afield beyond it... Because you need to feed the ravenous monster that is your writing, meaning the insatiable appetites of your plot and characters. (Boss, 2003)


...on authorial fixations

All authors have their fixation or fixations, though it might be better to call them the ‘life motifs’ that leave their mark on the way a writer thinks or is. So, yes, I think they’re right to say that every author essentially writes the same book over and over again, meaning they keep working on the same idée fixe, which they can never fully get a handle on. Of course, we’re not talking about a book’s subject-matter, plot or form. The fixation’s deeper down than that, more profoundly relevant to the author, and sometimes hard for them to define easily as a result. Personally speaking, I only start to discover what it is I’ve written, what my fixations are and how they’ve manifested themselves, when a book is finished and I’ve put some distance between myself and it. (Anatolia, 2005)

...There are always a lot of different ideas and subjects which would, in theory, be interesting for me to write about. That said, I know full well that if they don’t start haunting me with the intensity of a dream, if I can’t step inside them and wander around, feeling the colours, the smells and emotions, that if they don’t interest me to that extent, that they won’t impart the energy I need to write about them. The dream’s the important thing for me: if I can dream about it, I can write about it. That’s how I feel, at least. (Anatolia, 2005)

...I’d say writing’s greatest pleasure - or one of them, at least - is the way it lets you sneak into the lives of others. (Symvoulos Ygeias, 2010)

...It’s the person I’m interested in, the person behind the image who we so often ignore, even if they live beside us, even if they are us. I’m interested in the human dimension, in the weakness, passion and pettiness that come hand in hand with the grandeur of Man and his works, forming an inescapable whole that is nothing more or less than the beauty of the human experience. (Symvoulos Ygeias, 2010)


...on the places, memories and experiences of childhood

...Childhood experiences are important for every writer. They are the source, the raw material of their work. It’s there that their deepest feelings, memories, longings and fears are recorded, the unprocessed emotions which give their work its energy and thrust. (Anatolia, 2005)

...The place we grew up in is special for everyone, precisely because its ambience usually marks the first years of our life. My childhood memories of Metsovo are bound up with a sense of joie de vivre, with something vital and utterly itself, with the simplicity of being, with a sharpness of perception, with the beauty and majesty of nature. (Anatolia, 2005)

...For me, Epirus is... the people, the mountains, the shadows, the crystal clarity of depth and light. And the sounds, too, the smells, the sensual impact of them all at once: the unique sound-smell-image of a huge beech or a flock of sheep, a meadow abuzz with life or an old woman in church. As though impoverished Epirus were the source of every feeling and first-hand experience. I know that might sound a little overly poetic, but that’s what thinking about Epirus does to me: it elicits a heartfelt reaction, because its landscape is part of me, recorded somewhere deep down in the wordless zone where childhood lives forever on. (Tachydromos Artas, 2003)

...Of course, I’m mostly talking about Metsovo, which is where I spent my childhood summers and which I still visit often. But the whole of Epirus has its own special beauty, dignity and magnificence. And for me, it will always be associated with freedom. It was the place where I could do what I couldn’t cooped up in the capital: wander free, explore, discover and do a thousand things by myself. It was also the place where I discovered my father: we had more time together, did things together which made us both happy, because he was ‘cooped up’ in Athens, too, because of his work. (Boss, 2003)


...on politics, society and the young

In practice, politics is more about ‘image’ than ‘vision’ or ‘action’. The everyday responsibilities of a contemporary politician quickly erode whatever desire they may once have had to ‘make a difference’. Power doesn’t do it for me, and neither does fame. In fact, they repel me, because of how they change you, how they dry you up inside. So few people manage to survive them, to stay creative and true to themselves or whatever choices and values they once held dear. The few people who manage to hang on to themselves do so by combining two worlds I find mutually exclusive, and my admiration for them is boundless. Personally, I prefer to concentrate all my efforts in fields that suit me, which move me and in which I have something to offer. Because in the broad sense of the word, everything is ‘politics’. (Symvoulos Ygeias, 2010)

...Our generation hasn’t done at all well. What are we handing over to the young people of today? Are we giving them anything that hasn’t lost its value in our ‘care’, that they could use to implement their own choices and make a go of it in this chaos-of-our-doing. I believe life goes on, and that we have to find new ways of being and new values amidst the uncertainty and pluralism of our contemporary era. We have to learn to live without heroes. Every one of us has to be willing and able to enter into the arena and reconstruct our heroes and models to produce a model that’s all our own: a virtual hero, a permanent mental construct, a point of meaning amidst the chaos and relentless choice in which we can believe and which is right for us. (Kostoula Tomadaki, I Sfina, 19-06-2009)

...I don’t think young people find it very easy to forge relationships. They are so very absolute: they live in the expectation of finding the perfect friendship or the perfect love, and the first hint of imperfection is enough to sour communication and create an unbridgeable gap. There’s also a tendency towards unhelpful ‘tact’, which is really cowardice, as in that SMSs we send because we haven’t the courage to pick up the phone, because we don’t want to ‘be a nuisance’. All of which fosters a preference for riskless acquaintance, and leaves us in need of real contact with another. (Loris Keza, To Vima, 3-5-2009)

...You can’t steer an adolescent in the direction you want. You’ve moulded them as best you could: they’re done. What’s important now is to be there for them, not to burn any bridges, not to do any damage. (Stavroula Papaspyrou, Eleftherotypia, 15-3-2009)

...Perhaps the young read less because they dream less, play less, think less, find less time and space to express their curiosity and their need to discover and create. And if it is true that the young read less, I’d say it started long before the Internet, with our educational system and families-on-the-edge, with all of us--educators, parents, legislators, mayors, civil servants and professionals alike. (Apostolis Zois, Eleftheria Larisas, 24-5-2009)

...The Internet is a significant tool, a whole world opening up before us and offering incredible opportunities for communication, for equal opportunities and knowledge, for a thousand useful, important things. But we need to bring a certain level of maturity to this new acquisition of ours, and we need to adapt to it, too, to ensure it is the positive, balanced influence it should be on society. (Eleftheria Larisas, 24-5-2009)

...I understand today’s teenagers. They’re under much more pressure and face far worse impasses than our generation ever had to. I mean, we had a dictatorship, a cause, an enemy who justified our reaction and our rage, who made us feel we were doing something, that our voice would be heard, that we were worthy, that we can be proud of ourselves. So no matter what road we chose—rejection or assimilation—there were numerous mitigating circumstances either way. This generation will have to struggle harder than we did, if they’re to find their path. Theirs is a heavier burden, but I feel their vision is clearer than ours, that they can look social realities in the face through fewer distorting lenses, that they’re carrying less ideological and other baggage. Optimism is a conscious choice for me: I believe in life moving forward, and want to hope that the adolescents of today will find the strength they need to make a better job of it than we did; to give something better of themselves to themselves and to the world. (Eleftheria Larisas, 24-5-2009)