Author Interview with Paul Kiritsis

Paul Kiritsis Bio:

I was born in Melbourne, Australia to Greek migrants in 1979 and together with my younger brother who is five years my junior, was reared in a somewhat overprotective environment by my grandmother since both my parents worked full time. I quite freely admit I was spoilt from a young age as there was nothing my parents wouldn’t do to satisfy my young ego. If you’re remotely familiar with Greek culture and Greek migrants in particular, this type of red carpet treatment is quite common if not painstakingly regular. Greek parents exist for their children. ‘Everything we do we do for you,’ is something my ears have heard innumerable times over. In their eyes, their dreams are exalted when you succeed in becoming a valuable and successful citizen of society. (Many, if not most traditional Greek parents equate success with the faculties of law or medicine. None other will do.) Despite our differences over the years, and believe me there have been many, I couldn’t possibly fathom my life without them. They have definitely had a hand in shaping me as a person and in turn I have successfully managed to extirpate some of their backwardness and pave the way for their thinking outside of the square. (I’ve given myself a pat on the back for this on many occasions!) You might also say they are my backbone; my Djed Pillar, as the ancient Egyptians would have commended. For me, they are eternal symbols of stability and indestructibility.

As a preschooler, I had much difficulty communicating with my fellow peers and teachers because my knowledge of the English language was very limited. I only spoke Greek at home although in time this wrong was righted. By the time I reached second grade, I was competently bilingual. In 1988, my parents decided to move me from Keon Park Primary School in Reservoir to St Johns Greek Orthodox College in Preston, a school known by the Greeks of Australia for its strong cultural and religions ties to the motherland. It was a decision that was fuelled by the influence of my aunty – my dad’s sister – whose children had been attending the institution since preps. I completed my VCE (HSC) and graduated from St John’s in 1997, going on to complete degrees in Behavioral Science and Professional Writing at Latrobe University. I used to think that the biggest mistake of my young life was studying a field (psychology) in which I had no invested academic or emotional interest. That half the course was based on statistics, a subject that never failed to evoke endless yawns from a lecture room full of students, didn’t help either. In hindsight studying psychology was probably a necessary precursor in my voyage of discovery and it was many years before I rediscovered the sparks in which I had excelled at in high school; Classics and English literature. I am indefinitely a man of the arts rather than of the sciences.

As a person, I am both easy-going and down-to-earth. There are no surprise packages here. What you see is what you get. (I’m not one who turns out to possess a dark secret, double life or works under false pretenses.) I am lively, fun-loving and even goofy and aloof at times. I adhere to a high standard of personal morals and ethics and expect the people I associate with to do the same. I respect and honor those who return the favor but above all, respect and honor themselves. I am empathetic and compassionate; something which I feel is evident in the line of work I choose to be involved with. (I work for Drug Safety Services in Collingwood and help injecting drug users get onto methadone/buprenorphine programs and access community services which are otherwise reserved for the mainstream community.) My interests are wide and varied, encompassing physical activities like thrill seeking, diving, playing sports, working out and biking that are balanced by my critical inquiry into world mythology, world religions (both east and west) including early Christianity, Neo-Platonism, Gnosticism, Hinduism and Buddhism, history and archeology (both mainstream and alternative), English literature and ironically, Jungian psychology. I also love occult studies and have spent much money on acquiring books on magic and reincarnation. Just like the ancient Greeks, I wholeheartedly believe in concurrent training of both body and mind to achieve a state of balance and wellbeing. In the last five years or so, I have also succumbed to the seduction of travel, an interest which has fuelled a treasure trove of experience and has spurred me on to write about them creatively. I have penned many destinations around the world: America, Europe, and Africa, and have traveled extensively within Australia. I plan to travel to French Polynesia in November and Borneo early next year for what promises to be an awe-inspiring jungle adventure.

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It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?

Paul Kiritsis: Yes I do! I work for drug safety services in Melbourne’s inner city region. We offer primary health care services for injecting drug users who more often than not, are a marginalized minority of our society. These include medical and dental services, counseling, allied health, family support and pharmacotherapy. For accommodation and legal services we refer elsewhere. I have learnt so much working there and have seen things others wouldn’t see in a lifetime of traversing the city streets. What’s certain is that I will never take anything for granted ever again! I have been involved in pharmacotherapy for five years now. Before that I was working as a barman and waiter in some well known inner city cafes.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Paul Kiritsis: I’ve always known that I would eventually end up writing. When I was a teenager I was captivated by the flamboyant lifestyle of the journalist and pursued it until the time of my graduation when I realized that it was all that movies and books made it out to be minus the glamour part. I wasn’t too enthused about working under a huge amount of pressure with the added stress of strict deadlines either. I’m hopeless with deadlines and appointments in general. I’m never on time.

Tell us a little bit about your book/s.

Paul Kiritsis: I’ve released two so far. The first is a poetry collection titled Origin: Poems from the crack of dawn (2006) and the other is a literary collection called Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems. (2007) Both are united by my love of ancient wisdom. Origin is probably the more generalized work of the two, dealing with aspects of life like love, friendship, hate, wisdom and greed. There is also much on religion, philosophy and mythology. Hermetica goes a step further and hones in on Egyptian mythology, Hermetics and esoteric knowledge that Egyptian culture was famed for. It culminates with seven stories written in verse prose that work to form bonds with known Egyptian myths and are a testament to the power of ancient folklore. All of them are original; they can be found nowhere else.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Paul Kiritsis: Yes I am. I’m working on a book called Fifty Confessions which will be out by January. It is my most personal work to date; not to mention my most confessional. I am really looking forward to releasing it. It is a huge shift from my other two books – raw and visceral prose. I am also working on a non-fiction autobiography/memoir titled Shades of Aphrodite which relates to my travels through Greece, a country I regard my second home. I have an intimate connection with the Hellenic land and try to provide insights into the psyche of a culture that is not to be found in any other textbook. That will be out after Fifty Confessions.

Have you ever won any writing awards? If so, what?

Paul Kiritsis: Yes, I won a literary award for Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems with Reader Views. I came first in the categories of fictional poetry and best Australian book.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

Paul Kiritsis: It’s really weird seeing your name on the cover of a book for the first time. My first reaction must have been, ‘Wow, I’ve done it!’ What I take great pleasure and comfort in is that a few centuries from now, my books will have hopefully survived in libraries or personal bookshelves for others to read. The act of opening up a book and reading its contents in a way reinvigorates the psyche of the person who wrote it. The ancient Egyptians believed that you caused one to live again merely by reading out their name aloud. Indeed, the pen is mightier than the sword. I take great comfort in this.

What type of music, if any, do you listen to while you write?

Paul Kiritsis: I write in complete silence. Music, television or radio is just too distracting for me. Some people can do it but I can’t. I’ve tried to write with classical and relaxation music before; it’s only worked the few times that I was in a zone. And that was with poetry; not prose. On other nights I found that it would just put me to sleep.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

Paul Kiritsis: The colorful past and my adopted spiritual mother; Egypt.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

Paul Kiritsis: Yes I did. I liked reading a lot of fiction when I was a teenager. I would absolutely love getting lost in the pages of Dean Koontz and Richard Laymon novels. I’ve read most of Dean’s work and all of Richard’s. My favourite from each was Phantoms and Funland, respectively. I think Funland was shortlisted for the Bam Stoker Award. I know he actually won the award in 2001 with the Traveling Vampire Show. Dean and Richard have inspired me beyond comprehension.

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

Paul Kiritsis: I don’t really have a favorite author now. There are many great books around. I try to read works from all areas of literature: fiction, non-fiction and poetry. I am mainly interested in non-fiction/spiritualism and occult works at the moment. The last book I read was Mister. B. Gone by Clive Barker. I read it all in one go. Very interesting book I might add.

Hey, let’s get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?

Paul Kiritsis: Good one! Um…I want them to say that I was very passionate and dedicated in the areas I chose to study and write about. I also want them to say that I gained recognition and fame and picked up a few awards on the way, but for that I suppose only time will tell…

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?

Paul Kiritsis: Well, I live in a house built on a hill overlooking a golf course. It was designed and built by my parents and is a testament to open-style living. There aren’t many walls or rooms in the house and there are many windows which makes it well lighted. My glass writing desk sits in the lounge room and overlooks a spectacular view of the golf course and the surrounding Melbourne hinterland. There isn’t much spare room on my desk as it’s usually clogged up by books that are stacked one on top of the other in messy piles, my laptop, a lamp, an incense burner, pens, notebooks and other research materials. I love burning incense or oils when I write. It’s so relaxing and never fails to induce a copious amount of inspiration.

Is there anyone you’d like to specifically acknowledge who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?

Paul Kiritsis: Yes, there is. My mother and father, Christos and Chryssoula, for their unyielding support and my cousin, Harry Toulacis, for the inspirational chats and all the hours he spent reading and re-reading my work and offering his constructive criticism. I thank them all with requited love.

Is there any one particular book that when you read it, you thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I’d written that one!”?

Paul Kiritsis: Yes! The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown…I think everybody wishes they’d written that. Look where it got him.

What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by your writing?

Paul Kiritsis: My primary purpose is to gain acknowledgement and credit in the fields I choose to write in. The other is to meet somebody one day who tells me, ‘I read one of your books and it inspired me so much that I wrote one of my own.’ That would be a reward unto itself, making my endeavors all that much more worthwhile.

Is there any lesson or moral you hope your story might reveal to those who read it?

Paul Kiritsis: Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems is a real-life compendium of morals and lessons. Each literary piece weaves its own tale and brims with meaning and life lessons which are there to be comprehended by those whom possess a keen mindset.

Now that you are a published author, does it feel differently than what you had imagined?

Paul Kiritsis: You want the honest truth? No. I always imagined that I wouldn’t change, no matter what came about in my life. In actual fact, I don’t feel any different to what I did before I was published. I am still the same person with the same personality traits, weaknesses, emotions, fallacies, hopes, aspirations and dreams.

Now, use this space to tell us more about who you are. Anything you want your readers to know?
Well I am of Greek origin if you haven’t already guessed. My parents migrated to Australia in 1978 and I was born and bred in Australia. I am bilingual; I speak, read and write Greek. I have traveled extensively within Australia, America, Europe and have touched on Africa. I am an open-water diver – a true Cancerian with a love for the ocean and water in general, despite the fact I nearly drowned swimming around the Santorini caldera in the European summer of 2003. I love keeping fit and body sculpting – I am a fitness instructor. I have been tutored in the language of music; I can play the piano and organ and have to my credit a fourth grade certification in musical practice and theory (ANZCA). I love stimulating conversation on world religions, philosophy, mythology, ancient history and the occult, and love being challenged by people who are interested in the same areas of inquiry. I am also a lover of controversy; I’ve been branded outrageous on many occasions. I am an all-or-nothing person; a man of extremes. I love my thrill seeking and adventure. I consider writing to be an extension of me.

If you would like to know more about me, please do not hesitate to visit my website at www.paulkiritsis.com or send me an e-mail. There is a plethora of material on my website: reviews, sound clips of me reciting some of my favorite poems, commentaries, interviews that I’ve done, analyses of some of my work, a short autobiography and a section on upcoming releases. My books can be purchased either through my website or through Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and iUniverse.com. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries.

Cheers folks!

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