Κυριακή, 20 Σεπτεμβρίου, 2020
    Αρχική Συνεντεύξεις Interview with Eirini Demirtzaki

    Interview with Eirini Demirtzaki


    Interview with Eirini Demirtzaki

    Interview: Hara Delli

    Today, let us introduce author Eirini Demirtzaki, someone who lives and breathes for the many different forms of art.


    Studies on industrial design, theater studies and film studies, creative writing, radio, comic books, theatrical projects, short-film scripts, co-founding a theatrical company. Who can ever doubt that you were born for the arts, and that you fight for them on a daily basis?

    Eir.D.: Only myself. I was my own worst enemy. Many times, we are setting obstacles to ourselves that only we can overcome. However, I would say that I was born to write. The other art forms through which I express myself are my personal way of getting to the one that really represents me: writing.

    How did you decide to move from Crete to London? Isn’t Greece a favorable environment for creativity and inspiration? Why did you choose the UK in particular?

    Eir.D.: I moved from Crete to Kozani, then from Kozani to Athens, and from there to London. The UK wasn’t a conscious choice. Back in 2009, I felt like I was suffocating in Greece, and the UK was simply the easiest solution since I already could speak the language at a basic level. At the time I believed that Greece wasn’t a favorable environment for literature – nor for the rest of the arts, to be honest.

    It’s too small a market for everyone to share. It took me eight years to reach the same conclusion but in a different country. However talented you may be, however hard you may work, you may still not achieve anything. And how long can someone fight against such monsters? You are aware, of course, that there is a divide between the rich and the poor, and this chasm in society constantly widens. This truth is reflected on the arts as well.

    Interview with Eirini Demirtzaki

    Working class people have access to small theaters, they play music in small shops, they write short stories in blogs. The elite has its books published by big publishing houses, has access to the media, performs in the big theaters, etc.

    I may not have used the best example, but unfortunately there is limited space to elaborate here. However, due to growing up perhaps, my views have changed, and I’m not bothered by the cliques and the status quo so much anymore. The circumstances might never become favorable, but fighting is what’s most important. That is the only way we can live our lives: fighting as hard as we can. I won’t let anyone stand in the way of my dreams, even if that means moving forward at a terrifyingly slow pace because I’m not moving in the “proper circles”. What matters to me is that my stories are read and my readers are touched by them, even if I never manage to produce a best-seller…

    Tell us a bit about Vertebra. What does a theatrical company do? If we assume that writing starts off as a lonely process, how is the experience of working with Maira Stergiou? Are you like allies?

    Eir.D.: In London, apart from putting up plays, a theatrical company can also be involved ineducative processes. It organizes festivals and seminars, cooperates with other companies, and of course tries to acquire funds, grants, etc. It takes hard work and constant effort for it to establish itself and become successful.

    Working with Maira has broadened my horizons, especially in the way I work with other people. In Greece, respect between co-workers is sometimes absent. I’ve happened to come across a director that threw his car keys at an actress because she made a joke during a rehearsal. When I arrived in the UK and started working with actors there, I realized I’d carried a lot of Greek bad habits with me. Maira introduced me to a different way of working: adapting to your partner’s needs, not offending or dismissing them, making constructive criticism that aims to their improvement instead. On my part, I tried to show her a few things about organizing and producing a play. Therefore we can’t call it an alliance exactly – more of a partnership where one takes up the role of the student, the other takes up the role of the teacher, and those roles interchange all the time.

    What is your opinion on creative writing? What are the different parts that constitute the whole of a writer, and in what percentage should those be?

    Eir.D.: I feel that “creating writing” is a bit misunderstood. The way I was taught creative writing in the UK, the term refers to the encompassment of play writing, script writing, poetry, short stories and novels. Oftentimes, when they talk about creative writing seminars in Greece, I feel they confuse it with free writing or writing from experience, and that they mistake writing exercises for creative writing. Of course those are parts of creative writing, but that’s not all that it’s about. That said, I fully support creative writing seminars. I’ve participated in some and organized a few. Even with a bad teacher, anything we write makes us better.

    I’d say it’s fifty percent talent and fifty percent hard work. When I say talent, I mean the emotional intelligence to transform thoughts into words. Hard work means discipline, resilience, persistence, continuous education. Similar to “an apple a day”, I’d say “a page a day” is a necessary routine for a writer. Otherwise you are a weak writer. Of course, we can’t control external factors that might affect a writer, like circumstances, austerity, etc.

    «…What do a dog, a homeless woman, a student during the exams, a woman that suffers from bulimia, a journalist, a boy with disheveled hair, and a girl that talks non-stop have in common? I… do not know that yet!»

    “What I don’t know yet”, a collection of twenty short stories. Did you agree with the velvety cover? How can a hard subject like your book’s be combined with softness?

    Eir.D.: I found it very hard to agree with the cover. It was too… velvety, as you say. The publishing house had a different view. In the end, I decided to trust the direction of Anima’s marketing department. In the book, violence and love for life coexist, after all. Moreover, a cover with an innocent little girl in white is also symbolic to me. Symbolic of the purity of human existence before it becomes acquainted with violence. What the little girl on the cover “doesn’t know yet”.

    Interview with Eirini Demirtzaki

    What kind of messages is your book trying to convey? Did you find it easy to jump between narrative styles and change roles?

    Eirini DemirtzakiEir.D.: I’m not sure I am trying to convey messages through my stories. It’s more about sharing my personal views and worries, and pose questions. In this particular case, why violence and not love? What suppressed emotions of ours spew rage the way volcanoes spew lava? I enjoy changing roles and narrative styles. Probably because I am a person that gets bored easily. This is reflected in my way of life, after all. I’ve been working since I was 19 years old, and in those 17 years since then I’ve tried thirty different jobs, not counting the art projects. I’m wading through life and work a bit like an actress: today I’ll get dressed as a graphic designer and work in advertisement, yesterday I was dressed as a delivery girl, the day before as a camera operator. I will continue taking up roles until I am able to financially support myself and make a living solely by writing, and then I’ll be free to discard the mask of the “actress” and fully reveal the face of the author.

    Is it easier to spark off thoughts and emotions through sarcasm and humor? How does such a blinding truth fit in such short stories? I believe it is a book that one comprehends after they finish reading it. How naturally did its writing come to you?

    Eir.D.: I am a sarcastic person and that reflects in my writing. When something hurts me, I joke in order to avoid it. In recent years I’ve been trying to work this out, to allow myself to feel the tough parts of life, without using jokes to deflect.

    I am honored by your words. If the book stayed in your mind after you finished it, that means that its goal has been achieved. Its writing came out naturally because that is the way I write. Usually a story is born in my head, I write it down, and afterwards I take my time to edit it. Our truth may very well fit inside short stories. Like life. Each day is short. I avoid excessive wordiness in my writing, anyway. I don’t like descriptions. I keep only the essential for the reader.

    Interview with Eirini Demirtzaki

    What have you learned about the arts all these years? Or, better yet, what don’t you know yet? Which famous artist have you met? How shocking is realism?

    Eirini DemirtzakiEir.D.: I am reluctant to meet other artists because I usually get disappointed: they prove far less interesting than their work. I would have liked to have met Lily Zografou before she passed, and Irvine Yalom. From the people I have met, I will always remember Marcello Magni, co-founder of the Complicite Theater, for his brilliant way of teaching acting, and Gavin Glover who teaches microfilmmaking, because I could see simplicity in his eyes, and an infinite love for what he does. There are too many people out there that have followed the wrong profession for them, in the arts and every other field. It is rare to find someone who truly loves what they’re doing and honors it by working hard on it.

    Realism, as well as imagination, are concealed within our reality. It’s all about the way we face life. When I was writing “What I still don’t know” I approached life in a different way than I do now. I considered life hard, I considered people lost or cruel, and therefore realism wells up in my stories in a startling way. If the reader takes a closer look at my work though, they’ll notice my endless love for life and my fears for the human existence. My heroes go through hard times, but they survive, they struggle to liberate themselves from what restrains them and most times they succeed. Not all of them. But isn’t that how life is? Some people move forward, others backwards, some run ahead, others move in circles, and others fall apart.

    How much does violence, in its broader sense, concern us? How easy is it to recognize it when it creeps up on us? What happens when exhaustion, crisis, age, insecurity for the future, lead us to cover up or forgive such violent behavior? How many reactions are concealed by tolerance or ignorance?

    Eirini DemirtzakiEir.D.: Violence is every action that rejects us. From the smallest thing… A child clipping her doll’s hair and telling her mom that she wants to be a hairdresser when she grows up, and the mom yelling at her that this is stupid and that she has to become something “important”, like a doctor or a lawyer… To raw violence, in any form this can take: sexual, emotional, etc. If we could X-ray our bodies and see how much violence we’ve consciously or unconsciously received over the years, we’d be terrified. You know, it’s really hard to truly love ourselves. Most of the time we don’t actually know ourselves, and when we lack this connection it is very difficult to put boundaries or express ourselves. All these suppressed emotions easily transform into violence.

    Do you usually see the positive side of things? Or is evil lurking behind every moment of our lives? Were you scared of cruelty? Did symbolism help you?

    Eirini DemirtzakiEir.D.: I used to be a person that not only saw the glass half-empty, but couldn’t see a glass at all! Why? Who knows? The way I grew up, my genes? Through soul-searching I realized I am a deeply optimistic person after all! My natural curiosity, wanting to constantly discover and learn new things, keeps me mentally healthy.

    Interview with Eirini Demirtzaki

    After you tell us how one can contact you and what ideally are your plans for the imminent future, could you share a wish with us?

    Eir.D: For the time being, I can be found in London, and also spending nights on my Facebook page and my web page. Ideally, I would like a small house by the sea, with a desk, a chair, and a laptop. I hope my new novel will be out in 2018. My wish is that all of us are free to do what we love.

    We sincerely thank Miss Eirini Demirtzaki for her willingness to answer our questions, her natural kindness, her time, but also everything she offered us through her short stories. We, the Custodians of Arts, wish her a very successful and creative future, and to never lose the courage to speak about hard truths.

    Interview with Eirini Demirtzaki


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