Interview with the authoress Theoni Brili
Please tell us a few things about yourself and your books.
I do not have many significant things to say about myself, I am an ordinary person, a woman from next door, let’s say. I am a working wife and mother, who struggles to respond to her obligations as best as possible. I have majored in “Commerce and advertisement” at the Technological Institute of Athens. I started working when I was still a student, the last years I am self-employed and I work in, the, nowadays, susceptible field of commerce (Is there a professional field that has not suffered from the recent crisis, I wonder!). I like spending my time in the company of my favorite people, I feel good in the presence of people who know me well and love me. In a sentence, I think that my life is quite balanced within the madness that surrounds it. As far as my writing is concerned, things are simple: I am at the beginning.
When did you realize that you wanted to become an authoress? When did you start writing?
I will start by answering the second question, since I had no purpose of actually becoming a professional writer. The meaning of the term “writer” is quite “heavy” for my shoulders, so I am not sure I can actually be characterized as such. I started writing, when I felt the need to so, about two years ago. It was an internal need, and I am still seeking what caused this need. I think that, the key-point that made me long to write, was the suffocation we all experience as citizens of this country, facing the current situation. So, I simply felt unable to “breath”. I was at work, I opened a new blank document at my computer and that was it. My personal remedy against the notorious crisis, is writing. It makes me forget, escape from whatever causes me sorrow, anger and indignation. And now I come to the first question. My answer is that I never actually wanted to become a writer. It just happened and I started writing.
What is the first thing that you wrote? (Unpublished)?
My first book, will be actually published in the near future by Dias Publications. It bears the title “What is love, you want to know…”. That was actually my first attempt to write, excluding of course the school essays and my girly “dear diary”. The human soul can be truly complicated, as we all know.
Your first book will be published soon. It is a love story. Where did you get the idea from? Tell us a few things about the characters of the story.
Out of nowhere, uninvited the plot just came into my mind and it wouldn’t leave me in peace. It had to do with love, a feeling that, in my humble opinion, marks the life of every human being. So, I wanted this theme to be presented through the eyes of a young girl, Eva, the heroin of the book, and through the actions of Stephen, a mature man, who is the main male character of the story. Eva represents the youthful dreams, the romanticism, the innocence and the thirst for experiences. A young girl at the beginning of her adult life, she is a student, a beloved daughter, she has not experienced any exacerbations in her life, helplessly romantic, she is dreaming and waiting for the one that will shake her existence. Stephen, on the other hand, is a mature man, who is interested in his career, he is dynamic and… amazingly handsome. The hero is at the pick of his existence, he has everything, or almost everything! He still hasn’t learnt that nobody can escape from the power of love! The whole story is told by Eva and it illustrates the emotional fluctuation of the heroin, from the moment she meets him, till the end. This journey is full of moments: romantic and erotic, friendly and full of motherly love, moments of desperation, of self-critic, of awareness of the cruel reality. It is a book that, I believe will offer a pleasant break to the lives of those who will read it.
Was it difficult to write a romantic piece of literature, taking place in our so flat and unromantic times? Do you believe that we luck romanticism in contemporary life?
I had no difficulty, whatsoever, no matter how flat our era is, I stubbornly refuse to abandon dreaming. Actually it was my fear that I might lose my ability to dream that made me start writing, try to let the mind wander, to let myself leave the black and to enter into warm and colorful lights. I believe that the contemporary way of life is raping the romantic notion in each and every-one of us, it is molesting romanticism, it struggles it. Around us there is panic, stress, a bunch of difficult problems. People get tired and what worries me most is this quagmire of frustration. It might sound silly, but I believe in the magic and the remedy that human relations can bring. Still, please, just let me live in my own world..
Which were the difficulties that you faced while you were writing this book?
The difficulty for me was,when my fingers were not typing as fast as my thoughts. Up to a point I managed to co-ordinate them. Actually there were dilemmas not difficulties. Is it permitted to express one’s self freely when writing something that other people might also read? Taking into consideration that I started writing for myself and not for publishing anything, what was truly important to me was the journey and not the destination. I let myself and I devoted my attention to the “voices” that were murmuring in my head day and night, I gave my heroes the freedom to guide me. You cannot do any differently, the “voices” will not stop. Sometimes I manage to enforce my rules, most of the times though the victory is theirs. I have accepted it!
Have you written any other books? Do you plan to publish them?
Of course, after the first book I did not stop. Now that I have started…I don’t know how it will end. In my computer there are five more stories, love stories of course! If they will be published or not, it isn’t up to me. If the readers and the publishers express their interest, then, why not? What is important is the beginning, a door opened. The publishing house which will host my book, Dias Publications, has shown trust in me and I hope that we both remain satisfied from this co-operation. Don’t ask me about tomorrow, it remains unknown.
Who are the authors that have influenced the way you handle your own work?
Tough question. I like modern writing, contemporary writing, the everyday writing. Perhaps this makes me rather ephemeral, but I can’t change that, as I can’t express myself in any other way. I would say that I love romantic stories, stories with emotions, stories that grab you and throw you into oceans and then lift you up into the skies, as long as you keep on reading. The social, romantic stories are my favorite, but I don’t consume them like candies. I prefer them to be lively, to have tension, to make me think. Of course there are authors that I read that don’t write exactly as I have described, because they have different stories, different way of writing, different style etc, still I love them for this tiny piece of knowledge that they offer me.
I don’t know if I have been influenced by certain authors, I believe that each one of us has his/ her own style, so there is no point of reference. It would be pointless and inappropriate to say that I wish to be able to write like him or her, this cannot be done, even if you want to! The way of writing is like a finger –print!
Tell us three books by other authors, that have stayed with you.
The weathering heights- Emily Bronte
The bronze horseman Paullina Simons,
50 shades of grey – Erika ;James
I could say thirteen more, or one hundred three more.. these just came to mind first.
Which are your hobbies and pass-times?
Besides writing? Reading is the only pass-time that always appeals to me. Also music, I listen to music almost all day long. There are moments that I write while listening to music, I seek music, I look for these trucks that match the mood I am in. Other than that, some constructions (creating little things with my daughter, like frames or decorative ornaments, or we change already existing ornaments. Brushes, paint and decorative ornaments), some gardening, traditional Greek dances (after years they are in my schedule again). One of my favorite pass-times is to meet friends or family, for coffee or lunch.
Are you a member of a group or a club about books, creative writing e.t.c?
I am a member of some e-groups about avid readers, that way I get informed about new editions, I meet people that love books as much as I do, I exchange views and opinions about favorite books, I get to know new books through critics from other readers. Through these groups I have made friends that I respect a lot, even though I don’t know them personally.
Are you writing something new? Would you every consider trying to write a non romantic novel?
The same story again. I have began something and this time I am the one that “tortures” it. The last months, due to some issues that I had to face, I did not have the necessary spare time- do we ever have enough time?- to get more involved in my new project. So, it lies there, rather morose, waiting patiently my attention. I am not in a harry, I just scribble down whatever fantastic idea comes into mind in small scraps of paper, a piece of paper here, another there… I seek information for things I don’t know, generally, I should say that I work in slow pace, accelerating from time to time!
Among the books I have written, there are also stories that are not considered romantic, even though love and romance have always had a major part in my books, there also other themes that I explore. Besides, love is known to use many “faces”, it is unpredictable and unaccountable. I guess if some of my work can be characterized as “less romantic” it remains to be seen. To write a book without love? I don’t know if there is actually a book that doesn’t have even a tiny quote regarding this naughty, winged god.
What makes you choose a certain book to read?
My mood is the only thing that influences me when I choose a book. Personally, I have a special weakness for romance, but sometimes I need to read something else. So, I “move” to a different category: crime stories, books about psychology or philosophy, historic novels or social stories. I try to improve myself as a reader and as a person, I try to see things from different perspectives. Each book covers a need; it can offer you knowledge, entertainment, a pleasant break, to give food for thought and introspection. Some books satisfy your wishes in many ways, some others just certain aspects.
Do you have your own website/blog?
I have a blog, www.soulmatearound.blogspot.gr, , where I used to publish my stories, till recently, in order for people to read them for free. I was using a pseudonym, since I was not interested in advertising myself, I preferred people who wished, to “travel” through my stories, to be able to do so. It was, and it is still is, a beautiful experience, communicating with other people that way. Let’s say that in a way you feel happy that you managed to keep company to some of your fellow readers. I would like to thank very much all my readers, who gave me strength, encouraged me and most of all, offered me their love.
Which would be your advice to a new author?
Never to give up! Many things have been said and even more have been written about the cruel road that leads to publishing. No road in our lives is covered with roses! That doesn’t mean that you should give up. Personally, I believe, it depends on what each author is seeking, on what he is looking for. The ideal of course is, his work to be published, to be widely known, to be loved, to flourish. All is then well, perfect! But… there is a huge “but” in this utopia. We don’t live in a country that has millions of readers, there is of course love for books, but the times we live in are not romantic. My work has been rejected many times, I got disappointed, but I did not stop writing. I did it for me. My aim is not to have my work published, it just happened and I feel very happy about it.
Being an author is not a profession, there are hardly any authors in our country that live from their books. Also there are authors with great works that still remain in the shadows.
Many factors contribute to the outcome, which door you will knock, how they will treat you there, how your work will be advertised, what kind of books you write, how you write, why you write, even if Mercury is retrograde! (Just joking of course)
Let’s stop taking things too seriously. As an author you expose your soul on paper, you create a story with love and care, using the talent you might, or might not have. Gaining money is nice of course, nobody would reject a reward. The word “author” isn’t a title to use and to shout about. It is a capacity that shows your internal need to express yourself. You cannot silence this need, so you write. Therefore, my advice is that a new author, besides having patience and perseverance, must also have humility. After all, what matters in the end isn’t what we think about our writings, but what the reader thinks. It is a blessing, if your work is loved!
Translation into English by Stella Chatzi