I was born in 1970 in Athens. Greece. In 1995 I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, where I received my PhD in Digital Architecture from the University of Edinburgh and taught various publishing courses at Napier University. Since 1995 I have owned Istomedia, a web design company.
In 2000, I moved back to Greece, working as web designer and teaching design and publishing at various colleges and universities. I love reading and have written a score of children’s books, numerous award-winning short stories and Pearseus, a best-selling Sci-Fi dystopian-metaphysical novel.
I live in a forest outside Athens with my lovely wife Electra, a beautiful dog and two remarkably silly cats.
What inspires you to write?
My fascination with writing probably stems from my unusual childhood, as an only child in the middle of a forest outside Athens, with maybe two houses nearby. Having no friends nearby, I would borrow a dozen books each Friday afternoon from the school’s library, read them over the weekend and return them on Monday.
The concept of my best-selling sci-fi series Pearseus came to me after reading Martin’s books, followed by Jim Lacey’s “The First Clash” and Herodotus’ “Cyrus the Great and Rise of Persia”, which describe the fatal battle on Marathon between Greece and Persia in the 5th century BC. Marathon is a 20’ drive from my home, and I’d often visited the tomb where the ancient Athenians buried their dead, so I thought at the time, “wouldn’t it be great if someone did what Martin did for medieval England, only with the story of Greece vs. Persia? And in space? How cool would that be?” Then it occurred to me: so, what’s stopping me from writing it?
The rest, as they say, is history. The funny thing is that my fascination with the period has landed me in hot water, as a reviewer complained that Pearseus is too dark a book. In fact, all the atrocities in it are actually described by Herodotus. So, if you find my book too dark, it’s a long-dead guy’s fault.
Tell us about your writing process.
Sadly, I can’t write x amount of pages every day, as some suggest, because my life and workload are too messy for that. I write whenever I can spare a few moments to do so, usually early mornings or late nights. I have a vague story arc in my mind, but I let my characters take the story wherever they want. As they say, inspiration usually visits you while writing; not before.
The problem with a strict outline is that, as I’ve come to realize, books write themselves. Characters have their own story to tell, and they can surprise you, so you should always be open to change. For instance, one of my characters in Pearseus suddenly died on me, despite me having already sketched out their next moves! I’m trying not to give anything away, so I’ll only say that I was writing this scene, and found my fingers typing the description of that character’s death, although the notes before me clearly outlined their continued exploits. I spent days changing the plotline to reflect my unexpected loss!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Sadly, for me these are not mutually exclusive; I both listen and talk to my characters. When I started writing it, I happened across a little secret: authors don’t write books. Books write themselves.
I know this sounds crazy, but in my case it’s remarkably accurate. From what I’ve heard, other writers, too, have this feeling that the heroes follow their own path, and the author’s role is simply to jot it down, document it for the readers.
What advice would you give other writers?
The thing that’s shocked me most in my life, is the realization of just how free we really are. If you think about it, there’s very few limitations on us, but the ones we place on ourselves. Of course, one has to pay the consequences of their actions, but to me that’s only fair.
What stops us from doing all sorts of crazy things, is usually fear. Now, fear can be a great thing and a useful tool. However, it can also strangle us, stifle our creativity, steal away our life. So, if someone decides, even for a second, to ignore the fear of failure, ridicule and loss, they may realize that life is far richer and filled with beauty and potential than they could possibly imagine.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was debating the pros and cons, then decided to submit it to agents and publishers, while I mulled it. Most rejected it, some haven’t got back to me yet. People say you should keep trying until you succeed, but I hate waiting for months for someone to reject me, and the thought of self-publishing started to make a lot of sense.
Then, success! A publisher made me an offer for one of my children’s books. They loved it, and yet the terms were crushing; they pretty much kept all rights and 90% of the money. It sounded just crazy, and it was then that I started seriously considering going Indie. Whatever the risk, I figured, it’s best if you fail or succeed on your own merit.
The final push was Jessica Park’s article, How Amazon Saved My Life (http://indiereader.com/2012/06/how-amazon-saved-my-life/). It made me realize just how many people were in the same position as me, including successfully published authors like her.
A few days later, I took the plunge.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
As it happens, I recently wrote an article about that, as guest post in http://selfpublishersshowcase.com/guest-post-open-fences-and-jailed-dogs/
In it, I compare today’s publishing situation to a house near my home, that’s still under construction. Although it has no fence yet, it does have a door at the garden’s edge, standing alone in the middle of the road, like a white version of Clarke’s monolith. One day, I saw a dog standing inside the fenceless garden, right behind the closed door, waiting for someone to open it so he can go out for a walk.
This is exactly what’s happening with the publishing industry. Writers and authors are still courting agents and publishers, who have acted like gatekeepers for decades. And yet, they ignore the simple fact that the gates are no longer surrounded by fences.
It used to be that publishers were the only way to ensure a book’s mass distribution; having their backing was the only way to reach an audience. Nowadays, however, there’s Amazon, Lulu, Createspace and so many more; the possibilities for self-published authors are endless. So, why don’t more people self-publish?
One of the reasons is that it may seem like self-publishing is an admission of defeat. Writers are a notoriously insecure lot, so we need someone’s stamp of approval on our work, to validate it and reassure us that our work matters. That we matter.
But the public doesn’t care about that. It cares about our work. And if our work is any good, if we can build a community and talk with people in an honest and personal way, we can reach them; introduce our work to them; make them care about our characters, stories and books.
So, what’s going to happen to publishers and agents? In a way, the industry is going through the same transformation the music industry went through a few years ago. At first, music companies fought the internet, mortified of its massive reach. Wishing to control every aspect, from production to promotion to distribution, they almost ended up losing everything. Artists started publishing their music online, even for free. CD sales plummeted, downloads sky-rocketed. It was only when the industry embraced the change instead of fighting it that things turned around. Nowadays, the internet is a nice earner for music companies, while allowing people to legally download the music they like, unconstrained by the producers’ opinions.
This, however, has made finding good music harder. If one hears the same 100 songs on the radio, it’s easy enough to know which ones they like; but if they have to choose between millions of them, people quickly become overwhelmed. So, music labels increasingly act as media companies, promoting bands and artists through their networks.
I suspect that the same will happen with the publishing industry in the near future. Right now, it has fractured into many complimentary services. Each day, I receive offers to help me distribute my work; promote it; and prepare it for distribution. What used to be a single publisher’s job has now been torn into many competing elements.
I for one am very excited about this, because it empowers everyone involved: readers get more choice, while authors are free to experiment with different genres and break the rules. It is only those publishers who cling to the old ways of thinking that need worry about it. In Tokien’s words, “the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.”
And, it seems, baffled dogs behind non-existent fences.
What do you use?
Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Science fiction, fantasy, children’s books
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print