Mario Routi has been writing from an early age. He completed his first short story by the age of ten and his first theatrical script by thirteen. He has garnered many favourable reviews. Routi spoke to Charles Packer from his home in London…
Charles Packer: When you were growing up was literature an important part of your family background?
Mario Routi: Definitely! I can remember kids in the neighbourhood playing soccer, and me there sitting in a corner under the shadow, with a book in my hands.
CP: Who were your earliest influences and why?
MR: Julius Verne influenced me deeply when I was a child. He enriched my fantasy.
CP: Who or what fuelled your desire to put pen to paper?
MR: From authors it was none other than JRR Tolkien and Stephen King. My dad however was very supporting in this too.
CP: What made you decide to embark on a project the size of a novel?
MR: It’s something I wanted to do since I started to understand life. I always knew I’d do it, I just didn’t know when that would be.
CP: The demographic for fantasy and science fiction would appear to be young males. Was there any meaning behind you choosing a young woman as your central character?
MR: I believe young males will love to read a novel with a woman heroine for a change. At the same time, I want to attract more women into reading fantasy novels too.
CP: Given the age of your main protagonist, where you aiming for a predominantly young adult audience?
MR: When I first starting the novel, I aimed at kids, meaning 10 to 14-15 years of age. As the story grew bigger, so did the average age of my potential readers. When I finally finished the book, I realised I had written a novel suitable for all ages besides the kids I first aimed at, so I rewrote some parts and changed a few things to make it readable for younger ages too. However, the book still isn’t the most appropriate reading for a child under 12 and I think that – although older people will probably enjoy it too – its targeted best to young adults readership.
CP: Is the Flame supposed to be representative of anything other than a giver of eternal life?
MR: The Flame represents the internal power we all have. Our will to be good and do good. The Flame is our own soul!
CP: King Turgoth and Lord Light are very similar in character, in that, they both feel that they are doing the right thing by their respective peoples. How important was it to you that the lines between these two characters should remain blurred?
MR: That’s an important part of the story. Turgoth is a rebel, while he wants to search for everything. Lord Life is a peaceful man and doesn’t like to enter things that might be beyond his powers to explain. However, they both are ethical leaders who try their best for their people. They are bright and brilliant, each on his own way, although they are so different. And they seem to have a bond that connects them, that connects these two characters, these two great leaders, that can be no other than the struggle to do the right thing.
CP: The mythical creatures in the book come from differing cultures, did the choice of creatures come from a personal preference or did you feel that you needed a cast of characters which your audience might be familiar with?
MR: Actually, most of the creatures and characters aren’t familiar to the readers. The Minotaur is presented to be good and not evil, like it is in the Greek mythology. The Gorgons are ugly creatures and not beautiful women like most ancient scripts want to present them. Also, I have a completely different image given for the Sphinx. As for the Porths, they are completely creatures of my imagination. My Cyclopes with the Greek Mythology Cyclopes, have in common the one eye, but nothing else further to that. Finally, the Centaurs are described the same, but like the Minotaur, they are good and not evil. It is only the Amazons that could match a very similar description to the late Mythology.
CP: Talking of myths, the idea of a young adult discovering that they have a secret destiny is very popular in most societies, why do you think that is the case?
MR: Because we all see that things are going from bad to the worse and worst, so we are all hoping that the miracle will happen and the Knight in the shiny armour will come and save the day.
CP: Are you working on a sequel?
MR: I’m already on it!
CP: Do you still believe that history is one of the most distorted of disciplines and if so how are we ever going to tell fact from fiction?
MR: Yes, I’m absolutely convinced that history is being modified, and as the years go by, it’ll be more and more difficult to tell fact from fiction. For the moment, we can only study the historians, compare them and make our own judgements.
CP: The book is very visual. Do you think that the story could translate to film without loosing its philosophical core?
MR: It can translate into film and it probably will.
CP: Do you find the process of writing easy or arduous?
MR: To me, writing is like swimming to a swimmer. I enjoy it and it’s usually easy. But times come when the sea is upset and the swimmer can get tired to get out to the sour, or even drowned.
CP: Do you still get the same pleasure, from the publication of your newest work, as you did from the publication of your first work?
MR: Yes I do, and actually even bigger.
CP: Would you have any advice for any young budding authors?
MR: Write a lot, read more. Don’t give up. Use your imagination, then put it to paper and let it flow. Most important to me: While you are writing a story, you mustn’t know where it’ll go and how it’ll end. You must feel the suspense and agony to see what will happen next, till the very last moment. That will make you write more, in order to find that out. If you have the agony for that, then probably your readers will too. If you don’t, then why should they!
CP: Thank you very much for your time.
MR: Thanks for yours.
The World of True Fiction
My contact with Mario Routi and his work led me into a magical meandering in the imaginary, though not so imaginary, world. To me, it is a great example for how books can serve as a gateway to another place. Same applies to some special people. Mario Routi is a person who lives inside his books, or that his books live inside him. He originally explored the worlds that he presents to his readers, mastering certain fields of knowledge and inspiration. He is a collector, a globetrotter, a noble, an artist, an eccentric thinker, a philosophical theorist, a manifold and ingenious person, who since we met, has graced me with his friendship, which I enjoy during nights of eternal conversations over our common interests. He is a low-key and modest man, and some times distant towards most people, absorbed by research and any kind of interesting aspect. There are many people who tried to talk him into giving an interview, without success, since he generally avoids publicity. Even though his work has been recognized and met success, his interviews and appearances are very few. Usually, he moves between London, NYC, Thessaloniki and Athens, sojourning in variant places, when he is not exploring the worlds of fiction or the lost stories of the past. For a very long time, I was trying to talk him into an interview for Strange, but my attempts were colliding with his great humility, until one night I brought him in front of a fait accompli and I held in front of him a tape recorder. In the following pages are written only a few parts of our interesting recorded conversation that I dragged him into… I believe that our co-travelers will enjoy it the way we did…
Mario Routi was born in 1970 and he is father of two children. He loves Greece, his family, Literature, Philosophy, History, Mythology, Semiology, Metaphysics and their labyrinths. At the same time, he is mastering marketing and finance, with interests in many different businesses accompanied by a wit in cinematography, script-writing, the field of publishing industry, newspapers, and so many others that literally outstrip the term “manifold” that I used above. His work has received dithyrambic feedback from many renown and reputed names in the field of fiction literature, publications, journalism, literature-critics. He is a “strong pen”. It is our pleasure to host him with this rare exclusive interview in Strange.
Pantelis Giannoulakis: How did you begin your writing activity?
Mario Routi: Since I was a child, about 10-11 years old. I remember I had written a short novel, a small book of almost 50 pages about aliens. An alien spacecraft had arrived on earth and a young boy saw it and they came into contact. This was the first story I wrote as a young boy myself. During middle school I wrote a story for Fantoma! Of course, it never came into life, but I didn’t give up… I had always an inclination to writing. During school years I was writing sport news and articles, I was attending soccer games and, then, I was writing a reportage of the game to a sports newspaper. My favorite subject was essay writing; I was reading books, keeping notes for everything, something that some one had told me, something that I read. When I sat for the Pan-Hellenic exams, during hard year for me, I wrote really good essay that was among ten best essays that scores the highest grades in Greece. I was writing essays making unusual analyses. I was engaging different kinds of paradox and semiology in the subjects; I was adding things from Greek mythology. They were elaborate essays. I continued this way, writing for my own pleasure, until in 1998, when I started writing articles for newspapers and magazines of big range, as well as, comments and short stories…
P.G.: When did you write your first fiction novel?
M.R.:In 2000 I conceived the idea for my novel and in 2001 I went deeper into the world that I start writing about. I finished it in 2003, and later that year it was published in Greece (from Livani publications), finding its way to its readers. Since then, after this experience, I never left writing again. I am writing all the time, it is a passion…
P.G.: What are you writing this period of time?
M.R.: The Rebecca Newton series.
P.G.: I hope that we will soon be able to enjoy reading it… Let’s take things from the beginning, from the art of fiction novel. You had written your first fiction novel; how did you like the experience? As a writer myself I am aware of the difficulties in writing a story. Especially a very complex novel of a large size. Your stories are not simple, like, let’s say, a love story, or a drama, like the ones that are written by some women writers lately, that I reckon it takes them less than three months to finish each one of them. You have constructed a whole new universe, an imaginery new world, or better, new worlds. A difficult, long-termed, endeavored, filigree and complicated writing. Once writing a novel, any novel, we are creating a microcosm, which the writer is being called, every now and then, to enter inside it, to keep it alive, detailed and accessible at any point of the writing; in the end, the writer is being haunted by the microcosm, he is traveling throughout it, he explores it, and he accomplishes his correspondence through writing. However, you are in this particular case, a writer for whom this microcosm is a whole universe, an imaginary universe. How was the adventure of the construction of your ownuniverse? Could you talk to us about the details of the creation?
M.R.: It was really weird. I started writing a fiction novel for kids. This was the beginning, my first intention. I was already writing about dragons, wizards, for stuff like that, and then, suddenly, the idea of parallel worlds awakened inside me. Of course, it was not something exceptionally original and new, there have been written a lot stories about it, but inside me I had the need to combine things from Greek mythology. Therefore, I put in these worlds, for instance, the Cyclopes, the Minotaur, the Amazons and a lot other similar characters. Wandering from my first intention, the weird thing happened. Regarding the constructing issue: From one side, as a writer I made my survey, the mythological and historical hereto, but, also, the encyclopedic survey. From the other side, however, my universe, I would dare say, it was created by itself! I mean, during the proccess of writing and whilst I had started writing a children’s book, it was developed into something totally different! As if it was standing-alone and had its own will, that finally guided me. Actually, I got carried away! It was driving me wherever it wanted. I was like the middle-person, the tool for it to speak. And the novel was no more a children’s story, since a child cannot understand it and enjoy it; it is more appropriate for people over fifteen or sixteen years old. A very deep immersion had happened that started by me, and this deep diving into the things really surprised me; I had not foreseen such huge depth , and such a complicated and admiring path, it was something amazing… For example, the idea for the power of the Sacred Flame that offers immortality was developed in this, starting from something utterly different…
P.G.: In those points I reckon that there are a lot of mystical basis – and your books have a lot of such points apart from the example of the Sacred Flame-. Did you went through a huge mystical survey regarding those things, or were they send to you uncut from the “Radio Nowhere”, as we say, from the unknown “radio station” that “broadcasts” those inspirations? …
M.R.: Exactly this was the weird thing! All those things came to me literally by their own. I did no survey in the beginning. I was, let’s say, writing about a battle with dragons and this was leading me in writing somethings totally different. Dragons were leaving from my script and they were replaced by other things, different meanings and messages. Through my exploration, I was taught, also, what were all those things that I was writing about, through many parallel studies I made after due to this phenomenon; And all the things, that the novel wanted to speak about, emerged. It was the entity of the book itself. I had an idea that was spread on paper and, along the way, it was constantly changing into something else. I, myself, could not know what was going to happen in the next page, I had lost the control over it. However, it was possessed from an unknown superior force. It was so weird that me, my own self, was curious about what was going to happen further down!
P.G.: To wit, you were exploring these worlds while you were writing them, the way the reader does while they are reading them… Even you, the writer, was experiencing the suspense of the story of the book… The book was as if it already existed and you were only trying to recall it, to become conscious of its existence. Well, this is a strange writing-experience that is common for many special writers.
M.R.: Exactly… As if it preexisted! I could not have mentioned it in a better way, this was what was happening… For instance, when the new-brought characters were having a tour in their land, I, also, had the curiosity of what they were going to see during the tour. I was guided, too, and I was writing what I was seeing! This is an indication of what was generally happening in the worlds of my book…
P.G.: Could this reach the point of “automatic writing”? …
M.R.: Yes, perhaps in some points. However, the description of the battles is clearly the result of the author’s way of writing and, of course, the genealogy and the systems are not included in the “automatic writing”. However, in many other parts, I felt as if something was reading them for me, a second voice, a second me. It was a great experience for me, a communication, possibly, with my higher self… I have not studied the matter of the “automatic writing” to a big extend, to know whether all my experience belongs to this category, but, there is a chance, that in many cases it really happened. Something, which, of course, is invisible in the final story, but it is something I experienced before the final outcome. Perhaps, something similar has happened to other authors, too, but, since this is not obvious to the reader, we are not able to see it and be sure about it, unless the writer himself/herself describes it to us, the way I do now…
P.G.: Do you believe that writing could be used as a method of contact with, hmm, our “higher self”, or with higher spirits, or with parallel worlds, or with glimpses in existing alternative realities??… That is to say, the connection of the author to the writing object, when the object might not be the writing object itself, but in some cases writing constitutes, let’s say, a motivation, an alibi, for the author to become an intermediate for something else, something very mysterious. And for the detailed communication with a world that appears to preexist, that is mot created that moment, that it is just being communicated, experienced and recorded. And, suddenly, the writer achieves to become a correspondent of another reality, of another situation of the consciousness, name it however you wish, of “something else”…
M.R.: Yes, indeed… A lot of what I write -and the same applies to other authors may be real! I cannot easily be convinced that there are no parallel worlds, for example…I believe there are. I have experienced them. And I believe that many writers, through their work, become closer to that “unreal”. They acquire contact with them. They understand the way that it becomes feasible. They manage it. This may sounds weird or paradox, exaggeration of fantasy or anything similar, mysterious or cryptic; however, many times for the author it really exists, not just because he believes it does or because he is writing about it. In some way, the writer usually is one step closer to this than the rest of the people, and, indeed, there are a lot of chances that he experiences even very mystifying situations in relation to this. Through, his own work, which is, in any case, by itself an experience, where you write some things as if they preexisted and were given to you to be written. Ultimately, by writing, the writer is having an experience at that moment, a spiritual experience that is very similar to the material experience that we are used in our everyday life, he normally experiences that very strange thing that is happening in the creation, and many readers experience something equivalent as well… Through this unavoidable process, perhaps, after all, he is experiences a contact with “something else”… something that, also, can be experienced and described…
P.G.: Have you ever seen in your sleep, in dreams, plots from the book? … That you wrote, afterwards, in the book? It is an interesting phenomenon that appears frequently in writers, especially in Fiction authors…
M.R.: Yes, It happened to me as well. Seeing in a dream some progress of the plot and then inserting that in what I am writing. But, along the way, as I was including that, it was changing again, being transformed while essentially getting in touch with the rest of the text. The dream was interacting with the writing and was changing. The other strange thing that happened to me was that during the whole time of writing, the known blackout that happens to the writers after a long time of writing, never happened to me. It was as if I was easily connected to the “television channel” that was playing my story and I was “recording” it on paper. Without any particular difficulties or “interferences” or connection inabilities. What surprised me, which I have often give as an advice when asked by new writers, was that the writer, especially when writing a novel, must be anxious himself about what is going to happen next. It is a different aspect that you have the general outline of what you are writing, and another one that you have decided in advance what you are going to write in detail. When you know exactly what you are going to write, you fall into a paradoxical trap, that somehow causes the phenomenon of the reader knowing as well what is about to happen, resulting the work to be non-suspense, uninteresting, monotonous, predictable or boring. The state of the writer during writing is reflected on the story itself and finally the reader connects to that. The reader knows what you know. He expects what you expect. I always give the writing advice of surprising the reader, as well as surprising yourself while writing… When even you are looking forward to seeing what is going to happen, when you are composing a story, then that somehow enters what you are writing and the reader is curious and interested in what is taking place, while reading it. Let’s say it in this way: The perfect creation of suspense, is the suspense-creation.
P.G.: Yes, indeed, this is a good method. When the writer experiences what he or she is writing (or is writing what he or she is experiencing), the reader shares the same experience with him, as well. And your works are very “alive” books, they catch the readers attention even from the first few pages, in my belief, and that is certainly an indication of the existence of a good author. Regarding the suspense of the story, of course, there are many techniques, mainly the “directing” and the “editing”. But it is amazing to experience your work while it is evolving…
M.R.: It worked that way to me. I was constantly writing, for many hours, I was getting tired and almost falling asleep on the script. I would go to bed and keep on thinking of waking up early in the morning in order to return to the text, to see what was going to happen further down! I was writing to that excess… I wonder, is it normal the same thing to happen to the reader? It usually happens, almost the same way it happens to the writer. For instance, I think that I had not decided for any point of the story how any of the characters of the story would act in a situation. For example, if you remember at a point, where the Princess is trying to convince the Sphinx to get into the battle to fight against the other Sphinx, I didn’t know whether she was going to persuade her or not… I mean, I was trying along with her to persuade the Sphinx to go into that battle! I was really anxious to see if she would enter the battle, and – if and when she did so- what was going to happen at last…
P.G.: The “Sphinx”, who is it eventually? Who is the one that your hero was trying to talk into doing something, and that you, along with her, were trying to persuade? Who is she? Is she, I wander, a secret part of yourself, that Sphinx? Is she something out of you? Is she “something else”? Is she an archetype? Is she a stand-alone being? Is she the muse? What is she? This is a mystery as well…
M.R.: Well, according to the novels, in the Land of the White Sun,in that parallel world, in that other dimension, the most powerful being is the Sphinx. And there are only two Sphinxes. The one is with the powers of the Good and the other with the powers of the Evil. So, if the bad Sphinx decides to do something evil, only the Good Sphinx has the power, maybe, to prevent her from that. She is too strong for anyone else to confront her. That is, concerning the novel in a superficial way. From there on, mythologicaly, the Sphinx is hiding messages of great depth. And here we are dealing with a mixture of the Egyptian Sphinx with the golden wings and the long claws, that was half huge lion, etc, and the Greek Sphinx who, as you know, is a big story. To me, as a writer, the Sphinx here represents the Hope – but an Allegory, too, of course – for the Good. The Evil came to cast a shadow upon the situation and extinguish the hopes, so as everybody felt helpless and powerless.
P.G.: You have a big love for ancient Greek mythology. Would you like to talk about it?
M.R.: Firstly, lets separate myth from fairytale. Myth means story-telling, the story, the facts. It is not something invented. One the other hand, fairytale (from the Greek world «παρα-μύθος»), means a sub-story, a rephrase of a story, an alternative view of the facts, an invention… Utopia (from the Greek word, «ου-τόπος»), means the place that does not exist. The place that we believe it does not exist, for we have never visited it and we do not included it in the maps of the reality. But, at some point, this may exist for ourselves, since we may believe it somehow, we may visit it, experience it or drew it on a chart. While for the rest, it will still be an utopia… Mythology means to talk about the myths, to tell the story of the chronicles. I am really influenced, as a writer but, also, as a human being, from the ancient Greek mythology. Yes, there is a big love here! Since childhood I was reading Greek mythology a lot: the first story a read in my life was the Labours of Hercules. Later, I was literally bewitched from Homer. The archetype story-telling, I reckon, is Odyssey. It is almost impossible to comprehend the amount of things that Odyssey includes. It is a whole life. I, also, wandered in the adventures of the Argonauts or the ones of the Theseus. I, also, hunted for the Golden Fleece with them. But, the Odyssey holds a special place in my heart… To me, mythology is reality, is an allegory, is history in a different way. It is the Cosmogony. Most of people simply believe that, for example, the battle between the Olympics and the Titans is a fairytale. In reality, there is a serious and very important allegory behind it, and it is firmly connected to the Cosmogony. The same applies to Greek mythology. It is everything; everything is hidden inside the mythology. Particularly, the more someone studies Homer, the more he realizes what is happening, what happened in the far past. And this messages are being delivered to us, unchanged, unabridged in all its wonderful levels. It is something… admiring! Only with feeling of awe and admiration they can be approached… Only this way the heart of the myths can be approached…
P.G.: This means, that during the far ancient years, there were some people who had a much higher Knowledge. What happened to it? Was it lost? Was it imparted? Are there people, nowadays, who still have this knowledge? And do we actually know the real history of our world? What is your opinion about it?…
M.R.: I have written, and I am still writing, a lot about it. There used to be, a different Earth, where a much superior and developed world existed, before it got destroyed and perished. The Earth was destructed and the Gods reconstructed it. Who do we mean when we say “Gods”? Who are they? … I believe that there used to be a very enhanced and superior civilization on earth, with developed technology, that came from outer worlds. Who are those? What are they? … This is a question that, I reckon, no matter what we believe, it must be left open…
P.G.: I aggree… Really, what would you advice a new writer who would like to write in the future a book of honors? And what message would you give to our readers?
M.R.: Well, for an author, writing is just like swimming for a swimmer. You swim. Adn it is simple and nice. But, time comes that the seas are heavy and you are struggling to survive and not to get drowned. Or you are swimming far into the sea, but you are an amateur swimmer. Therefore, swimming needs prudency and attention. Thereafter, once you become a good swimmer, the art of swimming and the experience that you obtain out of it, are guiding you. You can go anywhere you like and do anything you want… Each of us, lets keep his/her mind open and explore. And let everyone do their individual duty, whatever it is in the best way they can. And lets all be good with each other…
Hi Mario, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. For those readers that may not have come across you or your work before would you please introduce yourself?
I am a 40+ year-old, slightly sloppy dude who, as a child, worked hard to persuade friends and teachers that I am just a normal guy who is indeed from this world and not some dangerous alien. Years later, I escaped from the business world in order to become an author. Soon, I created my own world, which lives inside my skull. I currently flow between the Earth and the Land of the White Sun, wandering in the deepest places of both worlds, bringing my readers back tales of the adventures of my heroes.
How would you describe Rebecca Newton and the Sacred Flame to hook a potential reader?
Rebecca Newton and the Sacred Flame is a tale of epic wars, grand passions, mythical creatures and ancient Gods. It is an unconventional and emotional fantasy adventure that unites ancient and modern, combining myths with atmospheric legendary battles, romance and mystery.
RNatSF has its base in Greek mythology, how much research did you do before you started writing?
I am Greek originally, so I have studied Greek mythology for my whole life. It has always fascinated me and hopefully this is reflected in my writing.
Are the Orizons based on characters like Hercules, Perseus and other demi-gods of Greek myth?
No, the Orizons are completely from my imagination. The inspiration came from discussions with several very interesting people that I have the honour to call my friends. These are scholars, writers, conspiracy theorists, artists and researchers; they are all lovers of Greek myths, alien life and legendary fantasy epic works, such as the works of Tolkien.
Have you ever read YA books by other authors based in Greek myth (e.g. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan) and if yes can you recommend any of them for YA readers?
I have read Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, which is very good indeed. I don’t know of any other YA book that is based on or influenced by Greek mythology. There are several movies, however, that I would recommend, including The 300, Clash of the Titans, Perseus and Andromeda, The Legendary Journeys of Hercules (TV series), Troy, Immortals, The Odyssey and others.
Moving on from the previous question, can you recommend any non-fiction titles on mythology and good and evil for those inspired by your book to read more?
The work of Homer is the ultimate read for any author, scholar, and readers of all ages. Many of Steven Pressfield’s books of historical fiction are also very interesting.
RNatSF is the first book in a planned series, do you know how many books will make up the series and do you know how it is going to end yet?
The saga is meant to be at least a trilogy and that’s what it’s designed for, but with such a project, you can never know when it will end, and so, I don’t really know how it will end either.
Will Rebecca’s future stories bring her into contact with other pantheons?
The Elysian Fields is the place of the Gods in my mythology. However, within the Elysian Fields, Rebecca might meet with more Gods, other than the Ancient Greek Gods, either from the Egyptian, Roman and Scandinavian mythologies.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!
Thanks for yours!
With a writing style that will keep you on the edge of your seat, the author paralyses you with his extraordinary, evolving plot, keeping you eager to turn to the next page.
To what extend is your personal experience presented in your books? Do you think it offers you guidance?
A writer always embellishes his writings with personal experience that guides him or influences him and his novel, up to a certain point, depending on the subject of the book and the relation that the story may have with his life.
You are considered to be an accomplished writer; you are an excellent page turner. How are you managing this? Are you, yourself as a reader, expecting this from a book?
Yes, this is indeed very important to me and I want my readers not to be able to stop reading until they finish my books… It is a lovely feeling, that I adore experiencing and I demand lately from the books that I read. A writer in order to accomplish this should be curious about the outcome of the story of his book. He shouldn’t be aware of what is about to happen until the last moment and let the story lead him. When he is looking forward to continue writing in order to discover what is going to happen in the next page, then it is almost certain that the reader will feel the same way.
You like creating heroes – symbols? Do you reckon our times are in need of such heroes?
I like it and I consider it important, because I believe that in our era we are indeed in need of such heroes – symbols. When the reader is bound and identifies with the hero, seeing that they have a lot in common and that perhaps he himself could be the hero – symbol. Then it is possible that there is room for improvement in everything around him, in his life, society, his surroundings; besides nothing is impossible.
Your previous books became best – sellers. In what extent does the readers’ acceptance influences your writing?
The writer first writes for himself. He feels the necessity to express himself and say, with his own way, some things that concern him. However, these things should be comprehensive, fill the hearts of the readers and stimulate their thoughts. Therefore, it is self-evident that each writer should bare deep in his mind the aiming target group of his upcoming book. To me, at least, it is a vital issue which I always bare in mind while writing.
Have you already started your next book? What is it about?
I am working on the Rebecca Newton series.
Mario, thank you so much!
Rebecca Newton grew out of your 2003 adult book Orizon. Why did you choose to rework it as a young adult novel nearly ten years later? And how different is the current text?
When I started to write Orizon, my intention was to write a fantasy novel for young adults. On the way, too many philosophical concepts were added into the story and Orizon finally became more literary fiction for adults. However, I always intended to rework it at some point and make it what I always wanted it to be, since Fantasy is my favorite genre both as a writer and a reader, and I felt that that time had come.
People often ask me if they need to have read Orizon to understand Rebecca better. The answer is most definitely not. On the contrary, it could confuse them. Rebecca Newton and the Sacred Flame maintains all of the epic adventure elements of Orizon, but with less of the philosophical musings. Rebecca is differently structured, written in a different style and there are several changes in the concept and plot though, even in the main characters. It also has a new beginning and after a certain chapter, it’s a whole new story. Most importantly, this book will be the start of a trilogy.
With her name now emblazoned in the title, Rebecca is definitely front and centre of the new book. How has she grown as a character in the past decade and what makes her so fun to write? It’s interesting that she is 18 at the start of the story as she is consequently on the cusp between her teenage and adult years.
Rebecca is now indeed at the center of the book. She has changed quite a bit, I’d say, as a character and I think she has become more likeable due to changes in the story. I have hundreds of letters and emails from readers and have spoken to many more at events, and I listened to their opinions carefully when deciding what sort of character Rebecca should become. That makes it interesting and really fun to write about and, hopefully, even more fun to read! Rebecca will discover the real meaning of life in this book, she’ll find love, she’ll face Evil and fight against it, she will come face to face with death and she will need to overcome her fears and weaknesses.
Can you tell us a bit about your background. Where did you grow up and when did you move to London? Have you always taken inspiration from Western authors like JRR Tolkien and Stephen King? And why write in English and why make Rebecca originally English?
I was born in Greece to Greek parents and grew up in the city of Thessaloniki. I studied in Greek College, followed by studying marketing and business courses in several colleges and universities. I have been writing since childhood and it had always been my greatest passion.
I have read legendary Greek authors like Nikos Kazantzakis and Vasilis Vasilikos and learned a great deal from their work; however it was always Western fantasy authors who inspired me the most. The first time I visited London at the age of 12, I knew that my future would be somehow connected with the city. From that point onwards I visited London for at least a month every year, until I decided to start spending more time in the UK back in 2005. It felt natural to choose London as the birthplace of the main character in my stories.
Rebecca Newton and the Sacred Flame is actually the first work that I wrote in English. Even Orizon was written in Greek and was translated into English, but I choose to write in English from now on, so that my writing style wont be modified or depend on others.
While you cite Tolkien as an influence, it strikes me that The Land of the White Sun – and the novel overall – is closer in tone to the likes of Narnia and His Dark Materials as it involves a protagonist being transported from our Earth to a mythical land rather than being a story set entirely in a mythical land like Middle-Earth. Do you like that contrast between the ordinary and the fantastic?
As a writer, I have many influences, including JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. Jules Vern has influenced me a lot, as well as Stephen King and so many others. However, I consider JRR Tolkien as my ‘Mentor’, even though you could say that my own mythical world resembles the works you mentioned more closely. The reason for that is that I do indeed like the contrast between the ordinary and the fantastic; I enjoy exposing that contrast in several ways in my books. It’s not always the easiest way to go but, like my heroes, I some times choose to follow the difficult path.
The novel also boasts many parallels with Greek mythology such as Tartarus, Centaurs, Minotaurs and Cronus? Did you want to reinvent such myths for the 21st Century and have you enjoyed combining them with your own concepts and twists? How would you compare your take to US/ UK stories that are also based on Greek mythology such as Percy Jackson?
I love all mythologies, but Greek mythology is my favorite and I’m very much inspired by it. Incorporating Greek myths and mythological creatures into my work is something I really enjoy and I hope that readers will do too. However, in most cases I don’t exactly follow the mythology, but use it as a tool, so I’d say that I just twist and tweak it in a way to make it suitable for my stories, without insulting the originals. I think that the author of the Percy Jackson series did something similar, as he doesn’t actually follow the mythology either, nor could we say that his story is based on the mythology, but it’s inspired by it. In general, I feel that mythology can be the number one inspirational tool for any fantasy novelist, screenwriter or director.
Can you tell us more about the Sacred Flame and what else we can expect from the remainder of the series, which I believe is a trilogy?
The Sacred Flame is the Source of Good. It’s the Cosmic Energy that balances the universe. It’s also the source of immortality for the Orizons. It’s the reason that Good fights against Evil in my stories and it must be protected by all means, in order to not fall in the wrong hands. Allegorically speaking, to me, the Sacred Flame could even be our own Soul and internal power, our Light Energy…
The Rebecca Newton series is going to be at least a trilogy. For now I’m focusing on the first three books and I’m already finishing the second one. As for the next books, I can promise more romance and even more breathtaking adventure, because in the first book I wanted to focus on introducing the reader to my characters and the worlds they live in; their habits, strengths and weaknesses, their enemies, the dangers they’re facing and above all: their eternal mission!
to Mr. Tony Mulliken at Midas PR