Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Daring Dogs and Other Diversions

Ruth Zavitsanos is of partial Greek extraction. Her maternal grandfather was from Corfu and emigrated to the USA in 1919. She has a degree in journalism and has written a clutch of very successful and popular childrens' books, among others.

As of yet, only one of her books is particularly centred on things Greek, this one...

The Old Fortress Dog is actually called Leonidas and he takes his responsibilities very seriously. Set in Corfu it's a delightful and in parts moving tale for everyone's children, even some of us slightly older kids too, and has been well received by Grecophiles of all ages.

Although she has only the one title to her name that specifically relates to Greece, she has something new in the pipeline which will appeal to Grecophiles and thus, in addition to the fact that she's part-Greek anyway, I thought RFR readers would like to know a little more about her as well as discover her work.

Thus, dedicated as ever to bringing RFR fans something of interest, I subjected Ruth to my fifteen questions. Her answers are below.

1. Where do you live?
I live outside of Philadelphia or, as I describe it, halfway between the city of Philadelphia and Amish country.

Rocky and Pebbles. Inspiration for Ruth's writings?

2. What do you write about?
My writings vary. I have children's chapter books told through dog's point of view set in exotic locations and the latest, a historical fiction, is set during the Winter Encampment in 1778 at Valley Forge. Though they are classified as children's (illustrations and easy read) adults enjoy my books, too. I recommend them for travel enthusiasts and dog lovers, as well as the educational community. Currently I'm working on my second Novella, A LIFE UNFOLDS IN THE CITY. This historical fiction takes place in 1906, New York City and is part of a Novella series of stories that all take place in NYC during different eras. I'm also working on my Memoir/travel essay which leads to your next question.

3. Why Greece?
Why Greece? My paternal Papou (grandfather) came to America in 1919 from Corfu, Greece. I've always been interested in my heritage and am fortunate enough to have visited Corfu more than a dozen times over 30 years. I consider my memoir (which will be completed after this next trip to Corfu in late June) to be My Big Fat Greek Wedding with a slice of Moonstruck meets Eat, Pray, Love. [See, I told you something was in the pipeline!  - Ed.]

4. How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on the length of the book. My children's books take about three months to write and then I go back and forth with some revisions and edits, along with working in the illustrations. My novellas take about six months to write since they are close to 100 pages. I have a full length historical fiction, SISTERS INN, that took me a year to write. And, I've been working on COME TO CORFU for five years on and off. [Yet more for Grecophiles on the way! = Ed]

5. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Writing is truly my passion. I love when the scene unfolds and my dialogue flows, bringing my characters to life on the page for readers. Of course, the most satisfying part of writing is knowing my stories are read and enjoyed. I'm very grateful for the positive feedback. People have so many distractions these days that the fact someone took the time to read my words and then tell me they enjoyed the story, is very gratifying.

6. What, in your view, is/has been the greatest gift from Greece to the world?
The greatest gift from Greece to the world? Ha, my Papou would say there are too many to mention. Language, Democracy, Astronomy, Theatre, Sports (Olympics), Yogurt (ha, that last one is somewhat of a joke!) and the list goes on and on. Some of the greatest Greek Philosophers are still being studied today. All that Greece has "gifted" remains in modern times.

7. How do you come up with an idea for a book?
I usually come up with a setting and then go from there. For instance, THE OLD FORTRESS DOG, takes place at an actual ancient ruin in Corfu. Since I love to travel, finding settings to build on is a joy.

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?
My writing flows. I don't plot. I write names down and do research to add to the story.

9. Which other authors do you read?
Like my writing, I tend to read a variety of authors. For suspense, I enjoy Lisa Scottoline. Women's fiction, Robyn Carr, Dorothea Benton Frank, Lauren Wittig (historical fiction) and Arianna Huffington, Thrive (self-help).  I also read a variety of Memoirs/Travel Essays, too.

10. What's your preferred kind of music? 
I prefer music from when I grew up and danced in Discos. That said, the 60s, 70s and some 80s, too. I also enjoy some of the latest from Pink, Katy Perry, and a few of the popular country artists. However, while cooking I put on Dean Martin and classic Italian music CDs. My grandfather played the Mandolin and Bouzouki so I have a soft spot for Greek music at times, too.

11. Do you like Greek music and if so, which kind?
The Classic Greek dance music. ZORBA gets me going.

12. Favourite Greek dish?
 I love Spanikopita and make a very good one! [I'll be round later Ruth - Ed!)

13. Favourite place in Greece and the reason(s)?
 I've toured the mainland and Athens, along with visiting Santorini. There are other islands I'd like to visit. However, my heart will always find its joy in one place, CORFU.

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?
I hope your followers will follow me on my Facebook page Villa Dog and visit my website: to learn more about more books. 
They can also follow me on twitter @ruthzavitsanos. 
I'm a HuffPost blogger and all of my books are available on Amazon. Here's my author link:

15. And finally, reading device or real book?
In that I like to consider myself adaptable and versatile, I use both a real book and my Kindle/Nook. I lost my Kindle, bought a Nook and then found my Kindle. So, I'm showing no favoritism in that respect! :)

If you're reading before the first weekend in June. Ruth's doing a book signing in Corfu (kommeno) on Saturday June 3rd, 7-9 pm.

Hope you enjoyed getting to know Ruth. Regular post coming up next.

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