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Archive for September, 2012|Monthly archive page

Say Hello to International Author KOSTAS PARADIAS!

In Uncategorized on September 25, 2012 at 11:24 am

Please say hello to KOSTAS PARADIAS! He is an international author from Greece, who brings us an amazing childhood story called “Something in the Sandbox”, featured in this year’s anthology, An Honest Lie Vol. 4: Petulant Parables. Having read the story as an editor, I can say this is a must-read story, that is family friendly, with a Neil Gaiman-ish flair to his storytelling voice.

Let me get on with the interview. I know this is not your first work. Can you tell us a little about your other sites and pieces?

I have a blog called Shapescapes, where I showcase some of my short stories for all genres and ages, called Fairy Tales from Far Away, as well as my first English novella, called Stone Cold Countenance. I also try my hand at reviews, every week there and publish my Greek Science Fiction novel weekly.

Future projects are aplenty. There’s a limited comic book series (which is complete and I am currently in the process of submitting to various publishing houses) called Post Rapture, there’s a webcomic series that’s coming soon on my blog, there’s a science fiction novel that I’m translating into English which is to be the first in a series, there are short stories aplenty (mostly horror though) that I am looking to publish in certain anthologies and, weather and money permitting, a video game script.

As for my social accounts, I have a Facebook page under the name Konstantine Paradias which I use to present any anthologies with free submission I happen to stumble upon so I can help people also find something that will help them realize their dream. I pretty much do the same thing on twitter, @KonstantineP.

 

You sound incredibly busy! Now, you’re from Greece, and the publisher is in the United States, and distribution is world-wide. Can you tell us a little bit more about your Greek background, specifically writing and publishing in multiple languages?

To be a Greek writer is to bear a particular kind of burden. You see, the literary scene (and market) in Greece is fairly limited, which means that it has very few and narrow windows of opportunity, as well as a very small audience you can present your works to.

Not to say that there aren’t any creators worth mentioning. The influx of fiction from foreign writers and artists has given rise to a great number of aspiring authors, who wish more than anything to showcase their work and present new genres and ideas to the Greek public to the audience, but find that the publishing scene in Greece has yet to develop.

As a result, I turned to English. But to write in a language that isn’t your mother language is a difficult (though certainly not impossible) task. I started off very soon, at the age of 13 to be specific, when my mother convinced me to read H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds and I suddenly realized that I needed to learn more about the wonderful world of fiction so I could experience it in its original form. So I put my all into studying and comprehending the English language, even though I know I have a very, very long way to go yet.

 

As an editor, reader, and author, I can say with some authority that your second-hand command of the English language is superior to most of the native-speakers, as well as many published authors. Do you think you have an advantage as a multilingual author?

In this day and age where we’re at the cusp of achieving a global culture thanks to the vast and mind-boggingly fast methods of communication available? How can you possibly not be multilingual?

Allow me to elaborate: as I said, the English language is a perfect machine that allows the melding of other languages into a cohesive whole and also the new common tongue. To an English native speaker, these properties are lost, because he (or she) takes the language for granted. But to a Greek, it’s his chance to reach out and communicate with the world through his works.

But knowing a foreign language does not merely give a man the advantage of communication. It also allows him to think differently. It is said that Russians can see more colors, simply because their language has more words in its vocabulary for colors, therefore allowing their brains to adjust to the idea and, in fact, see them. Do you see where I am going with this?

A language, no matter how well-known or well developed, does not just allow you to restructure your ideas. It allows you to restructure you perception of reality, to understand things from a different viewpoint and in fact, see things from a completely different perspective than before. It gives you a certain kind of clarity that you could never possibly achieve through your mother tongue.

It also turns any travels to foreign countries into cultural walks through the kitchens to meet the chef, instead of brief, casual glances at the menus, with faceless waiters hovering over you.

 

That is truly an amazing way to look at not only different languages, but also vocabulary within existing languages. A larger vocabulary can certainly open your mind beyond additional colors. Do you think it is better to make the reader see your viewpoint, or that you make the reader see theirs?

Both. Some stories work for me as a means to present my feelings and opinions about people, situations and ways of thinking. Sometimes, I feel so strongly about those things that I absolutely can’t find it in my heart to distance myself from them, no matter how hard I try.

But sometimes, stories work as a mirror. I find that I can write better when I use someone else’s viewpoint. That I can actually make a much better story when I let the viewer fill in the blanks. These are also the stories that can be so much more than meets the eye.

 

You are a deep-thinking man, chock full of both intellect and humor. I’m afraid I haven’t showcased your humor, so let’s ask you something fun and see what comes out. Can you tell us about the last time you were pulled over by a police officer?

It happened about two years ago, just a week before I was to be enlisted in the army. I and some friends of mine had hit the clubs and since I had lost the rock-paper-scissors contest, I was to carry the burden of designated driver.

I started on the long drive home at about 3 a.m., with a carload full of good friends who were too drunk to even stand up straight, feeling strangely cheated in my sobriety. It was at that point that we were asked to pull over by a traffic control officer, who immediately began administering tests.

Despite the fact that I had not touched a drop, the officer did however put me through the entirety of the test curriculum (starting with the reverse recitation of the alphabet, all the way to walking in a straight line and touching my nose with the tip of my hands), with my severely inebriated friends laughing uproariously at their sober driver. I was so nervous that I thought that any minute now, the officer might change his mind and take away my license. I guess it is true how they say that innocent men are the ones that usually bear the greatest guilt.

 

Well, there you go, Dear Readers! I’d like to thank KOSTAS PARADIAS for taking the time to answer my questions, and for being a good sport about the answers. Be sure to check back later to catch his story, “Something in the Sandbox” in An Honest Lie Vol. 4: Petulant Parables!

KOSTAS PARADIAS BIO


Konstantine Paradias is a jeweler by profession and a writer by choice. His lifelong dream has been to publish a series of children’s books, since he considers it to be one of the loftiest achievements an author can have.

His short stories in Greek have been published by the fantasy and science fiction magazine Universal Pathways (Συμπαντικές Διαδρομές), while his work in English has been published in the Open Hearts Anthology, Vol4: Petulant Parables.

He writes science fiction short story reviews for the website bestscifistories.com and a series of comic book reviews for his own blog, (Shapescapes) and is in the process of publishing a webcomic, titled Aeternum.

His first e-book, Stone Cold Countenance is available for purchase on Bibliocracy and it’s only the first of many that are in the works.

– Eric


Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric’s work here: Publications

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Say Hello to Author AMANDA KABAK!

In Uncategorized on September 5, 2012 at 11:38 am


Please say HELLO to AMANDA KABAK! She brings us an amazing story, “Over the Rainbow,” in An Honest Lie Vol. 4: Petulant Parables, which I predict will be a fan-favorite in this year’s anthology. Her style and prose mark her as a seasoned writer, which begs my first question: What else have you written?

I’ve had a couple of short-short stories published on the Life with Objects site, and I’ve got a half-dozen other stories out looking for homes. I’m also one short draft away from a finished novel concerning love and friendship and the study of mechanical friction in a small college town.

I can’t wait to see more of your work in print, and after reading “Over the Rainbow,” I bet our readers won’t be able to wait, either. Your writing is fluid and effortless. Where do you write?

I write mostly at a Caribou coffee shop located between my day job office and my home. I have been going there just about every day for well over three years, and all the counter folk know not only my name and my habitual tea but also that they should expect me back at the counter for a refill of hot water. It’s a relatively loud place, but the kind of loud that actually helps me concentrate: the hiss of the espresso machine, the whir of the coffee grinder, the murmur of conversation. I can look outside at the ebb and flow of pedestrians on Wabash or the South Loop wind rattling the trees.

Ah, a coffee shop writer. I have my own coffee shop where I write sometimes, along with an Irish Pub if I really get stuck. How does that environment factor into your stories?

Coffee shops, for me, have always held a primary place in my social life, are places where we can connect that aren’t here or there but are still comfortable and, with enough patronage, become familiar enough to be a home away from home. While I’m at my shop, I am both there and adamantly elsewhere. I laugh with my baristas and scald my tongue on hot tea, but I am also a million miles away in an imaginary direction with my characters.

Although most writers tend to be eavesdroppers scrounging for material, I tend to let the hubbub wash over me. The only thing from my shop that bleeds into my writing is coffee itself, which is ironic since I can’t stand the stuff!

Given how much time I spend there, I’d love to hold a book signing at my home coffee shop.

Hopefully you will soon have a book for the signing. I am confident that if you keep putting out high-quality work like “Rainbow,” that you will land a dream contract one day. How do you feel about introducing religion and politics into your writing?

I don’t usually discuss religion or politics as a topic in-and-of-itself in my fiction, but I do explore how they factor into human nature. Both religion and politics are enduring human beliefs and behaviors and so are windows into the things in us that are universal and useful in illustrating commonalities and differences while also being able to rely on empathy as a gateway into the story.

I write about people. I am continually interested in the varied human experience, though especially around friendship and love. I find it fascinating how we both make and are made by not only our physical environments but our social ones as well, how we seek out and reject labels and roles, the things we do and say to each other to maintain the facade of us versus them. Politics and religion are two essentially social institutions that manage divisions between people–among other things, of course. They are two aspects of the human condition.

When I compose something new, though, it is entirely about my characters. His voice, her predicament. Fears, loneliness, need for connection, all that good human stuff that makes us who we are. My stories don’t work unless I get so deeply into my characters that their essential natures emerge, the things that are idiosyncratically them. Only by making these people come convincingly to life do I have any chance of evoking enough empathy in my readers so that they are open to what I have to say. If I get on a soap box or harangue without evoking empathy (or even with, frankly), whatever “message” I might want to pass along with my story will inevitably be lost.

Because of this, I will never write “about” religion or politics or any other of the many charged topics we have at our disposal. I will write about Cassie and Josh or Mitch and Carol or Julie and Diane, but if I write their stories convincingly enough, I trust that what I have to say about the larger constructs of their (and our) world will become clear.

Note to Dear Reader: You will notice that in this interview, I gave Ms. Kabak quite a bit of space to expound her thoughts on this prior question, and it was an on-demand question from me. If her story “Over the Rainbow” does not inspire something in you, then you did not read the same story I read during her edit (which was little more than a simple proof-read).

The point is, READ what she just wrote. If you skipped owing to length, go back and read it. Copy it to your notes.

Let me finish the interview with a flash-fiction request to highlight Amanda’s writing style. Here is the tickler: You are in the grocery store parking lot when you see a $100 bill on the ground. As you lean over to pick it up…

… your pants split down the middle seam and you know, finally and for good, that your love affair with burritos the size of your sizable thigh is over. You swing your backside into the waxed quarterpanel of the nearest Ford F-150 and contemplate your next move. Cold seeps through the thin fabric of your underwear, and you wish some of the heat from the flush in your face could be relocated to your other cheeks.

The hundred-dollar bill drifts away on a tendril of wind that also holds some cold, dry snow and an empty bag of Cheetos. Cheetos sound good. Or maybe Fritos with some of that jalapeño-studded cheese sauce. And a little ground meat in the spicy taco seasoning over in aisle 8. Oh, and sour cream. Yes, sour cream makes everything better, even a split in the back of your pants that lets in breeze enough to raise some gooseflesh.

When you think of the extra-large soft flour tortillas in the refrigerator case back of aisle 12, you pull the hem of your coat down as far as it will go and saunter into the store, rip be dammed.

Readers, trust me when I say that you need to pick up the forthcoming An Honest Lie Vol. 4: Petulant Parables, which will include Amanda Kabak’s “Over the Rainbow.” Unique and gritty, “Over the Rainbow” will make you see the world a little bit differently.

THANK YOU to Amanda Kabak for taking the time to answer my interview questions. I can’t wait to read more of her work!

BIO: Amanda grew up outside Chicago, came of age in Boston, and was recently reeled back into the Windy City for reasons beyond comprehension. After earning a degree in physics from Boston University, Amanda meandered through various jobs before parlaying her affinity for logic and problem solving into her current career as a software engineer. Despite the title on her business card, writing has always been her first love. Although she spent nearly fifteen years swearing never to return to higher education, Amanda recently recommitted herself to writing and has earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from Pacific University. Amanda’s short stories, “Three” and “Driving North,” have been published in Life with Objects, an online journal, and she is in the final revisions of a novel about love, friendship, and friction in a small town. Her story, “Over the Rainbow,” is forthcoming in An Honest Lie, vol. 4: Petulant Parables, published by Open Heart Press.

Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novel Out of the Great Black Nothing. He is currently represented by Debrin Case at Open Heart Publishing. See more of Eric’s work here: Publications