Ekaterina Botziou is prolific, exuberant and essentially a woman of her Greek roots. Her life tends to leave me breathless just reading about it. Based in Wimbledon with her husband and two young sons, her writing is witty and absorbing and it's hard to keep up with all her projects. Apart from writing she also acts and keeps a blog and a website or two. Her "Greek Wives Club" site is described as a "one stop directory for all things Greek" and is tremendously absorbing. I count myself a member (in this PC non-sexist world) for being a 'Greek husband'!!
To check out her written works, here's the link to her Amazon Author Page.
Ekaterina is the latest to subject herself to my 15 questions so, without further ado, here we go...
1. Where do you live?
In the land of the Wombles - Wimbledon, UK
2. What do you write about?
Mainly my life! My first book 'Greek Expectations: The Last Moussaka Standing' is essentially a memoir based on my own experiences growing up in a semi-Greek household, and later marrying into a Greek-Cypriot family. It provides a tongue-in-cheek insight into the trials and tribulations of being a modern woman faced with the demands of age-old Greek traditions and shows readers how to survive each stage of life with a Greek man and his family! My second book 'Theseus & the Mother-in-Law' is a parody of all the Greek myths and legends, (with a Greek mother-in-law thrown in for good measure) and I wrote my third completely UNGREEK book ‘Seraphina’ as an experimental short story in verse.
3. Why Greece?
My father is Greek and we spent many summers there when I was a child. My husband is Greek Cypriot, so I’ve been provided with plenty of material over the years to fill a whole bookshelf with comical tales.
4. How long does it take you to write a book?
My first book took me the longest as I wrote it in stages and initially wasn’t sure whether it should be a story or more of a guide. I also had to wait for feedback from various friends and other authors before I was happy with the final draft. I remember starting it in January 2013 and sending a first draft and notes to the author Eve Makis who I then met in Cyprus that May. She gave me such positive feedback that when I got back to the UK I steamed ahead and within a month or so the book was finished. So all in all it took about 7 months.
I started my second book in May 2014 and it was finished within 3 months. My short story in verse took me about a month. Usually once I get going on something, there’s no stopping me.
5. What do you enjoy most about writing?
The escapism. I go into a bit of a trance when I write, so much so that a few times when people have asked me about passages in my books I’ve completely forgotten that I even wrote them!
|Ekaterina feels a trance coming on.|
6. What, in your view, is/has been the greatest gift from Greece to the world?
Democracy. And souvlaki.
7. How do you come up with an idea for a book?
I came up with the idea for my first book shortly before I got married. I had already set up my blog and was sharing stories about the horrors of preparing for a Big Fat Greek Wedding when I decided to do some research into self-help books that dealt with how to make a successful marriage. I couldn’t find any information on the topic of traditional Mediterranean relationships, so I decided to pick up my pen and write my own. I have since realised that when you are married to a Greek man, you need more than just a self-help book!
The idea for my second book came about when I was still writing my first. As a child I devoured all the Greek mythological stories and was fascinated by the historical aspect to many of the legends. My grandmother in particular had a deep interest in the mythicism of ancient Greece and I think many people find the combination of history and fictional narrative highly appealing.
After reaching the final shortlist for Australian literary journal Vines Leaves Press with a vignette entitled Stripped Bare, I wrote my third completely UNGREEK book ‘Seraphina’ as an experimental short story in verse.
8. How do you go about writing, that is to say, are you organised, do your research, disciplined, are are you a messy sort who gets it done one way or another?
As my second book was based on the Greek myths I did a fair bit of research and planned the general structure so that all the stories would be in chronological order. My first book was a bit messier as I wasn’t sure which chapters to put where and I re-wrote a lot of the book in the later stages. As for my short story in verse, I literally just let the pen (or rather the keyboard) lead the way. I really think how you write a book depends on what the book is about. If I were to write something based on historical fact I would definitely plot and plan each section, but when it’s a memoir sometimes you just go with the flow and piece everything together at the end.
9. Which other authors do you read?
I have had the great pleasure of getting to know many of my favourite authors who write about Greece. I was a huge fan of Eve Makis’ work even before I met her and I am very excited that one of her novels ‘Land of the Golden Apple’ is now being made into a film. Sofka Zinovieff is another highly talented writer and I found her debut novel ‘The House on Paradise Street’ deeply moving. I also enjoyed all of Victoria Hislop’s books in particular ‘The Island’ which left me wanting to visit Spinalonga, which I finally did a few years ago!
10. What's your preferred kind of music?
I have a very eclectic taste in music. I love soundtracks because they can combine every genre from classical to rock, and I also love anything with a good beat to it.
11. Do you like Greek music and if so, which kind?
Greek music has been a huge part of my life since I was in the womb (!). My father is very into his bouzouki music but I prefer more contemporary artists such as Anna Vissi, Elli Kokkinou and Thanos Petrelis. Demis Roussos was a favourite in our household – he will be greatly missed.
12. Favourite Greek dish?
Pork gyro. I could eat it every day.
13. Favourite place in Greece and the reason(s)?
I really couldn’t say. I love the islands but there is so much of Greece that I haven’t explored yet.
14. What links would you like the readers to explore in connection with your work, including, of course, sites where your work may be purchased?
Ekaterina's Blog and Author Website:
The Greek Wives Club:
15. And finally, reading device or real book?
For a time I was absolutely set against reading devices. I love the smell and feel of a good book in my hand. However, to save on space and money I eventually bought myself a Kindle and I haven’t looked back.
There you go folks. I hope you'll go check out Ekaterina's work if you don't already know about her. I've got a fairly major male author lined next, so I hope you'll tune in for that one, coming up some time soon, but firstly I'll be getting back home to Rhodes imminently, so there'll be a couple of actual Rhodean ramblings first.