BOOKS TO WATCH OUT FOR!

Friday, August 22, 2008

VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR: Paul Kiritsis, author of HERMETICA

The son of Greek immigrants, Paul Kiritisis was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1979. He has completed degrees in both the behavioral sciences and professional writing and currently works for drug safety services in the inner city region. His keen interest in mythology and literature began in childhood and later sprung into a full-fledged investigation into folklore and poetics. Many of his poems have appeared in periodic anthologies. He is the author of the books Origin: Poems from the Crack of Dawn (2006) and Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems (2007), the latter having won a literary award very recently. The release of his next book, a memoir of his many travels through Greece, is tentatively scheduled for late 2008. He regards travel, reading and fitness as his greatest passions.

You can visit his website at www.paulkiritsis.com.

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About the Book:

Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems
(September, 2007) is a homeric journey into the night where the world of dreams and symbols has sculpted our mythological past.

Using the language of alchemy, astrology and magic this tome seeks to reconstruct the lost bonds between old myths contained in the oral folklore of Ancient Egypt; stories which once served as the backbone of a religion centred around Osirian ritual - the cosmic cycles of death, dismemberment and resurrection.

It also contains a sequel to the popular Middle Egyptian tale, The Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor; a visual and dramatic interpretation of the passion of Osiris; an astrological allegory of the war between the heavenly bodies and a hermetic saga between a white witch and her mirror. The accompanying collection of poetry is a homage to the alchemy of love.

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Welcome to The Writer’s Life, Paul. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

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 though, 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. Since that time, I have written a poetry collection, a literary collection for which I have received awards, and have penned my first memoir and novel due out in the not too distant future. (I hope!) I have been writing for approximately five years now.

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 favour 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, Neoplatonism, 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.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems (2007) is a literary collection comprised of both poetry and prose. The entire work hones in on the school of Neoplatonic thought and pagan ideas that are still prevalent in our society today; they just exist under modern guises. The poetry section is divided into seven subjects deemed essential learning by the ancients of late antiquity – alchemy; astrology; mythology; erotica; philosophy and music. The seven stories which follow are written in a style which is no longer employed today called verse drama. Plato, the father of Western thought, used this style to communicate many of his ideas concerning the politics, law and religion of his time. Some stories serve to explicate and extend Egyptian mythology while others are heavily steeped in hermetics and esoteric knowledge. I wrote this book as a testament for my love of world mythology (specifically Greek and Egyptian) and philosophy. I also wanted to honor an era which has long since passed but still echoes morals and life lessons that are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago.

What kind of research was involved in writing Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems?

I did a lot of reading in the fields of occult philosophy and hermetics to write this book. Naturally, when you’re writing to extend popular myths and other lesser known fables you better know their form and content by heart, otherwise you risk unyielding criticism and attack. I also studied ancient and modern astrology, something which came in handy when I wrote the lead prose piece Creation Myth. I also had to study literary devices in order to write a sequel to the popular Middle Egyptian tale The Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor. That was a lot of fun!

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

Well I designed it myself. The entire astrological motif was my idea. I like being actively involved in all aspects of the book publishing process since it is a mild extension of the creative process. I’m the one who wrote the work, it’s reasonable to assume that I’d know which cover would best represent it in its entirety.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Considering that the book is self-published with iUniverse, I wouldn’t say it’s been that bumpy! They’re pretty good with deadlines and getting proofs and corrections to you with ample time to spare. All rights to the book belong to me so if I ever get hitched by a traditional publishing house I can withdraw it quite easily. The bad thing with self-publishing is that laziness is not an option. You need to get out there and make you and your book known to your target audience since most of the marketing work falls on your shoulders.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

I signed the publishing contract in late April and the book was out by early September. I was very happy with that. They told me that it would take at most 120 days for the publishing package I choose and they were spot on with that prediction.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/she is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

No I’ve never had an agent before seeing as I self-publish my work but I believe having one would come in handy. Agents are good at sussing out what is currently on high demand in the markets and putting in all the hard yards in marketing you book and following up with potential reviewers, interviewers and other expository media. It’s nice to just handball it all to them and concentrate on what you love to doing best which is writing!

Do you plan subsequent books?

Providing I am well and healthy, that is a definite yes. I am currently working on a non-fiction memoir/autobiography titled Shades of Aphrodite. It deals with my travels and experiences in Greece, a country which I regard my second home. I hope to have it out by the end of this year or the first half of next year at the latest. I am also working on a poetry collection titled Fifty Confessions which is my most expository work to date. It encapsulates some very dark, dark secrets that I have been unable to voice until now. That should be out by December of this year.

Are you a morning or a night writer?

I’m definitely a night writer. I love staying up till two or three am in the morning making music with the keys of my laptop. As a creature of the night, the darkness seems to bring out the best in me. Everything appears so much more mysterious and accentuated at night as well; urges, sensations and emotions.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

Definitely the stream of media which is superior to all others and reaches most households; television. I would target commercials and ads at the times my target audience would most likely be watching (early morning or late evening) and watch the sales shoot up!

How important do you thing self-promotion is and in what was you have been promoting your book offline and online?

Self-promotion is very important. You have to get yourself out there at book fares and festivals, libraries, bookshops and schedule appearances at events which would generate sales for your book. This might often include making lists of potential buyers and going out of your way to initiate contact and send them press packs, posters, promotional banners and business cards to reel them in and seeing if they’ll take the bait. Persistence is important but not to the point of becoming a pain in the backside. I haven’t really promoted my book as much as I would have liked. I’ve been doing most of my promotion on the web seeing as I have a full-time job and find it hard to get out and about. I placed an ad with Parabola magazine for four consecutive issues and that seems to have worked wonders with my website visitations. They’ve shot up considerably. I’ve also done some online interviews and features with Readerviews.com and RebeccasReads.com which have helped with getting the ratings up!

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Yes. Always look to better yourself. Write, keep writing and then write some more. Know what you’re writing, have a target audience and a publishing house in mind who you know publishes the sort of genre that interests you. Non-fiction and autobiography are much more likely to be published than genre fiction. Small publishing houses are more likely to accept rather than larger more traditional ones. Oh, and one other thing. Write well!

Thank you for coming, Paul! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Yes, definitely. I can be found and contacted at www.paulkiritsis.com. There are links to buying both my books through my website. I have a wealth of material on my website for you to browse through, including a biography, analysis of the poems and books that I’ve written, upcoming works and sound files of me reciting some of my very favorite pieces. You can also purchase Hermetica: Myths, Legends, Poems through iUniverse direct or through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Thanks for having me!

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