Thursday 25 April 2013

Writer - Nike Azoros

I'd like to welcome you to my interview with writer, Nike Azoros.  Enjoy.

Nike Azoros

Hello Nike, can you please introduce yourself?
I'm Nike Azoros, based in Adelaide, Australia and Mount Olympus Greece.
Very exotic.  How long have you been writing?
I have always written but I have been approaching it as my main activity for the last two years.
What first got you interested in writing?
I think it occurred when I first learned how to read. I liked the way the words became actions and I realised that words move people.
Reading is definitely the gateway into writing.  Do you attend a writing group?
The Kensington and Norwood Writers Group, I began around 5 years ago. I also joined a group about writing Migrant stories.
Why do you attend a writing group?
To be in a writing environment, with other people who cherish words and to get feedback about my written words from people who are well read and therefore good judges of what reads well.
What is the most valuable thing you have taken away from your writing group?
That the more you are in one the more you write. 
What genre(s) do you write?  What drew you to this/these genre(s)?
I write fiction and non fiction and all for the same reason, to tell a story that I think matters.
Are there any genres that you don’t enjoy writing?  Why?
Poetry is a discipline I am not made for and I  have never gone for science fiction/fantasy because I like the world I know.
What types of things do you write?
I write about my culture (Greek) and how it shaped me and so many others, I write fiction and I write current affairs.
Have you ever had anything published?  
To date I have published 3 books, Greek Funeral Traditions, getting to Know Thyself and a novel, The Eagle of Spinalonga. I am working on 3 more books, a young adult novel and two non fictions. I have also had many articles published online and in print.
Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers?  Have you received any rejections?
Of course, but they were all very kind and said I wrote well but they were currently not printing that genre. Once I discovered Amazon and its services I stopped submitting pieces altogether and focussed on polishing my work and getting it online.
Would you consider self-publishing/e-publishing?  
Yes, I did so on Amazon and I believe this trend will grow to the point that traditional publishers should worry.
 Who/what influences your writing?  Where do you get your inspiration from?
The ancient Greeks are my mentors. If I ever get stuck I just read a bit of Homer, Aristotle or Plato, Epictetus also gets a look in.
How do you come up with your characters’ names and personalities?
By the role they play in the story. A prankster gets a cheeky name, the hero gets a noble and easy to remember name, a villain gets an ominous sounding name etc. and sometimes I use the names of family.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
A writer writes. Write every day.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Don’t worry about what to write. Train yourself to write everyday and the words will come, writing is physical. The effort required to stay in the chair is exhausting but once you do – the words will come.
What is your writing routine?  
I write daily and in two stretches. Morning is best but often the day brings the day to day distractions so I am happy to get a page or two done then deal with the day and write some more at night.
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
I used to do both but now I find once I have the situation of what should be happening in my head, I can plot out chapters and then put headings to what should be happening. These headings become the chapters and I simply work on filling them in at around twenty to fifty pages per chapter.
Do you have an editing process?  Do you have someone else read over your work?  Do you read your work aloud to yourself in front of the mirror?
Yes, all the above. I sit the work for a couple of weeks then read it aloud AND have someone go over it plus read some of it out at writers group.
Have you ever attended an open mic night for spoken word performers, and either an observer or a performer?
Yes, our group often puts such events together.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions?
No. But I think they are great ideas and will do so.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
It is like asking a chef, why cook for others and not just for yourself. You do it for approval, you do it to feel like you matter, you do it for love.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
The most is the absolute satisfaction of creativity and of persisting with it until it is complete. It is the best feeling. The worst is the need for serenity and not being able to have it.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
Gardening, reading, cooking, walking, shopping, eating and anything to do with Hellenism.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
The Iliad.
What types of things do you read?  Do you think your writing reflects your book tastes?
I read almost anything as different styles intrigue me and I am eager to keep learning. yes I think I write what I would like to read.
Do you have any favourite lines from novels/plays/poetry/songs, or any favourite literary quotes?
My favourite quote of all time was written on the temple of Apollo at Delphi, does that count as a literary quote? It is “Know Thyself.”
What are you working on at the moment?
A non fiction about  living in Greece during its financial crisis and a novel about young people who discover they have an ancient gene that when activated gives them super powers like the ancient heroes.
Where can we find you on the internet?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Writing is physical. You need to train yourself just as an athlete trains. What you are training for is sitting down, stilling your mind and getting the words out; not talking about them but writing them down. That takes physical discipline and I think that is the biggest secret about writing. Train your body first and your mind will follow.
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work? 

Below is the opening 300 words of my novel “The Eagle of Spinalonga”
Chapter 1. The Funeral of Nikos Lambrakis
The priest placed a small bell on a table in the church and turned to motion to Nikos to move back further, he took two steps back, so did the priest; just in case. He opened his book of liturgical texts and began to recite the funeral service starting with the Trisagion prayer and going all the way through to the burial prayers ending as they all did with, ‘you were dust and to dust you shall return.’ The priest closed the book and waved the sign of the cross at Nikos.  “Am I dead now?”  “Yes, you no longer belong to the living.”  Nikos did the sign of the cross three times and bent to kiss the ikon of Christ,“No! No my child, please think of the others.”  “Forgive me Father, I do it from habit.” But instead of turning to leave he challenged the priest, “What about my kiss Father, don’t I have a right to the kiss of peace like everybody else?”The priest pursed his lips as he rocked on the spot and looked up at the ceiling; Ah that Nikos always was sharp, he’d remembered the kiss of peace, the obligatory kissing of the body to send it on its journey in love and peace. Father Manoussos was standing directly beneath the ikon of the Pantokrator, The Almighty, who looked back down at him commanding him to follow the tradition, but the priest did not move.Layman and clergyman stood in awkward silence until sounds from outside informed them it was time for Nikos to leave.“Be well Nikos.”  “But I’m not well Father, and never will be again. Give me better last words than the useless be well.”  “Safe journey Nikos.” The priest did not extend his hand.  “I’d hoped to walk out of this church one day as a bridegroom not as a living corpse.”
© Nike Azoros
Thank you very much Nike.

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