Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest, Geórgeos C. Awgerinøs author of Eugenia Destiny and Choice.
Norm: Good day Geórgeos and thanks for participating in our interview.
Geórgeos: Happy to share this “virtual room” with you Norm.
Norm: How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
Geórgeos: I was an early writer but at eighteen I destroyed my writings and I went to study Economics; I was not particularly enthusiastic about going to Economic School but it was a family tradition and a safe - as I mistakenly thought-ticket to getting a white collar job. There was another reason I wanted at that time to study Economics: it was putting my inner demons to sleep, while writing was like a Pandora’s box for me.
When I was twenty-five a literary contest was announced by a major publishing house in Athens. I threw myself enthusiastically into the process, writing a novel about the erotic relationship between a mercenary commander in
Congo, who in his teens had been in the Nazi Youth, and a Jewish woman.
After completing the manuscript, instead of mailing it, I threw the package in the garbage bin. It was about two years before the story of EUGENIA came to life. This time, I wanted not only to complete and publish my novel, I wanted to understand why I was destroying my creative works.
I was always involved with psychology, Buddhism, and the mystery of the subconscious; and I have been faithfully “married to History” as long as I can remember. Themes such as Africa and colonial times, Apartheid, or the European wars, with their enormity of destruction and the psychology of those who were behind it, always fascinated me. Creating characters from unique geographical settings was always an exhilarating pursuit.
The storyline of EUGENIA came to me unexpectedly, but as I kept writing, I kept researching; and the more I kept investigating, the deeper I entered into the process of writing. There are autobiographical elements expressed through the narrative, so the book was a literary project, but it was also a journey of self-searching.
Norm: Why do you write? Do you have a theme, message, or goal for your books?
Geórgeos: The characters are archetypal, symbolizing metaphysical energy fields and levels of evolution: Dietrich is the boring and painful path to enlightenment, while Desmond represents the glitzy material world and the power of our senses. Eugenia symbolizes the psyche searching for evolution and Light but she is also tempted from the illusion of the dark side.
Many messages are embodied in the story, through the dialogue and action of the characters. The entire novel (Book 1: Destiny and Choice, and soon to be published, Book 2: Choice and Destiny) is about cosmological, social, political and psychological topics. One of the basic tenets in the novel (emphasized in the two subtitles) is that we don’t know if our life circumstances are the result of predetermination, karma, genes, luck or coincidence, fate, or something else, but we begin to create our own history, and design our destiny from the moment we choose our own reaction to what happens to us. Our own response will set in motion new circumstances that will be the result of our own choices. Thus, maybe we have no control over what happens to us, but we do have the power to respond in a new way and create a whole new life for ourselves and our surrounding.
The narrative demystifies power by exposing the intimate, vulnerable and dark side of individuals in position of authority. The dark side of the psyche is one of the main interests of the book. I could call Eugenia “the book of quotes and messages.”
Regarding the political aspect, I emphasize that we cannot expect politicians to change the world. Politicians are reflections of the society they represent; Humans evolve, and as they educate and transform themselves, a critical mass is formed that transforms societal standards; then as society grows will force politicians to adjust their agendas accordingly. So if we want change in the world, we should begin this metamorphosis firstly within us.
Norm: As English is not your first language, how difficult was it to write your first novel Eugenia, Destiny and Choice in English?
Geórgeos: It was an enormous undertaking. I grew up in Greece, and emigrated to Australia at twenty-seven. My English was passable then but it was unthinkable at that point for a reasonably thinking person to consider writing literature in English.
I had studied English at my Greek school, but that is completely different than living in an English-speaking country. Writing a thesis or a technical book is not that difficult, compared to composing an engaging literary work. Literature is more like composing music with words.
The day I conceived the idea of this book, I began writing the first draft. It was also the same day I promised to myself to complete it in English and to publish this story someday in the USA. It took me a couple of weeks to realize how difficult it was going to be; It was a long trek that lasted over twenty years. Of course the book has been edited and polished, but it never diverged from my personal style of prose.
Norm: Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.
Geórgeos: I could say that the story comes to me as an idea, I don’t create it. It comes unexpectedly like a flash, and I recognize instinctively that a story is coming. It can happen while I walk, read or wait for the train in the subway. It can be triggered by something, or it just happens.
Very often themes of stories have come to me while I was sleeping. I usually write down a few lines about the idea. The stories come from different genres. When I seriously sit down to write the draft, I keep notes: what research do I need? Medical terms? Historical, geographical, or technical details? From that point on, there is a combination of institutive process and logical sequence. When the story is completed, I enter the first editing phase, which I conduct myself. This is a tedious and highly unpleasant process. When the narrative is completed, re-written and finalized, then it moves to the professional editor.
Norm: What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
Geórgeos: I don’t think I ever “learned” to write, per se. I never learned literature or followed writing classes. Even my English is more self-taught than a product of disciplined and methodical instruction. Although I am a storyteller and can easily create a theme, there are a lot of flaws with my use of the English language and I find it intimidating.
One of my editors taught me the importance of “tell versus show” and it was a very simple but revealing technique. I cannot say I have a special way of writing. I focus more on the plot than on any particular format. I always have a visual picture of the story, like a movie unfolding. And self-destructiveness is my middle name. I have a strong tendency to destroy what I love and enjoy, and this psychological tendency is reflected in my plot and characters.
The fact that the book took me so long, and required so many prolonged sacrifices of all kinds, often brings me a deep sense of self-loathing (which I try to understand and restrain) for engaging in this novel. I often call it “a journey to nowhere, an Odyssey without Ithaca…”
Norm: How did you go about creating Jenny and Dietrich?
Geórgeos: It seemed that I didn’t create them, but that they pre-existed; somehow they came out to project, along with Desmond, three archetypes.
Dietrich is the expression of evolutionary spirit, the path to spirituality; there is depth, mystery paired with discipline, and also a lack of sensationalism. Desmond represents what we might call the Matrix, in all its glory and ugliness: material possessions, lust and sensation, glitz and adventurism, the primacy of the ego—all the virtues and vices that create empires and then drive them to oblivion.
Eugenia stands in between two worlds, aiming for the Light but unable to resist the lure of the Darkness. For whatever choice we make there will be a price later, often much later…
Norm: How much of the book is realistic?
Geórgeos: Eugenia is a mixture of fiction, a personal socio-philosophical dissertation, and historical facts. As I mentioned above, I carried out detailed and often tedious research, to make sure even the smallest details are correct. Taking into account a margin of error and the controversial subject matter, I tried to be as historically accurate as possible, when I describe actual persons and real events. However, I made slight alterations in some parts in order to fit my story, and treated some of the historical and geographical grey zones with my personal interpretations in order to establish my storyline.
Norm: How much research did you do before writing the book?
Geórgeos: I was familiar with the subject to a certain extent before traveling to Australia, where I started writing the novel. I had considered actually emigrating to South Africa, prior to traveling to Australia. I always had a fascination with the African continent, the colonial times, the explorers and the magic of Africa, which I saw back then from a romanticized perspective. I also had deep fascination for WWII, the Cabaret era, the Civil Rights period in America and all the events I describe in my story.
However I was not familiar in such great detail at the time. When I started writing, it was a generic plot which, as it developed, needed more detailed research. So as I kept writing, I was progressing in my research. I conducted multiple interviews with Holocaust survivors, former Waffen-SS combatants, mercenaries (including a sniper), South African Special Forces commandos, Rhodesian war veterans, diplomats, missionaries, Zimbabwean officials and former Zimbabwean freedom-fighters.
I also conducted one-to one meetings with members of communities from all sides, including British Rhodesians, Afrikaners, and Zimbabwean ethnic groups. I even visited cabinet members of the Mugabe government. I also approached UN officials, academics, intelligence officials, and, of course, commoners who lived during the Rhodesian war. I spent hundreds of hours in libraries across the globe: Harare Library, Waverly Public Library, Sydney Central Library, Columbia University’s Low Library, Budesarchiv, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library and the Athens Bibliotheca.
I visited locations where the story unfolds, from London to Morningside in New York, Southern Africa, Berlin, Volos, and Amsterdam. I adapted my story to the timelines and landscapes described. I even consulted an astrologer to verify if the protagonists’ birth-charts matched with their alleged personalities! The literary factors and the reality parameters were always working in parallel. After the year 2000 I used the assistance of the Internet and YouTube.
Often I had to read dozens of books just to get details for a scene. I remember when I went to Harare I knew the names of the streets and their old colonial names, and I could walk around without maps. I knew in advance which restaurant or bookstore or museum or pub was where. It was like I had lived in the country before.
Norm: What is next for Geórgeos C. Awgerinøs?
Geórgeos: The first priority is the sequel, called Eugenia: Choice and Destiny, which is the second part and conclusion of the epic. There are another fourteen stories next in line; some also need research, while others are easier. Some take place back in Roman times, or in the American Deep South, and some are “alternative history” or describing possible future scenarios about humanity.
My next novel after Eugenia will be a steamy trilogy taking place in New York City, with some similarities to Fifty Shades of Grey. I wrote it as a draft and registered it with the Library of Congress back in 1995. It is an erotic story with alternative and provocative sexual engagements, but it is less focused on erotica and the glitz of the setting, and more involved with the characters and their psychological dynamics.
The story brings two people together in an unconventional erotic relationship, and explores both their internal conflicts and the social implications, since their relationship challenges traditional gender-norms and conventional morality. Besides the strong New York setting, the story has also colorful descriptions of “kinky” cities such as Berlin, Paris, Prague and Copenhagen. The project to follow that one is a historical novel with a very unconventional topic that challenges issues of religion and evolution.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your work?
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.
Geórgeos: Thank you for the engaging interview. Best of luck to you Norm.