With thanks to Love of a Good Book for the interview!
Your novel is called ‘GREEK EXPECTATIONS: The Last Moussaka Standing’ please could you tell me about it?
The book 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 an 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. Although I use my own culture as the main example, I hope that the book will appeal to non-Greeks as well.
You describe ‘GREEK EXPECTATIONS: The Last Moussaka Standing’ as part memoir, part rant and part survival guide. What inspired you to write it?
I started writing the 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!
They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
This is my first self-published book and I have learnt a great deal about the publication and distribution process through trial and error. When originally looking for a professional publisher for my book I encountered several challenges. On the whole, feedback was very positive, but I was told by several literary agents that the book was too short, or that it wouldn’t appeal to the masses, and even one who wanted me to change the entire story. Rejection is commonplace in both the literary and acting world, and it can be very frustrating when an idea you think will be a success is torn apart and turned into something completely different. While of course it is important to consider constructive criticism and be able to adapt if the need suits, you should never lose sight of your initial aim. I knew what the aim of my book was and I wanted it to have a unique twist on the average “growing up with a crazy family” tale. In the end, my decision to self-publish proved to be the right one and I had huge support from family and friends who gave me invaluable advice at every stage of my literary journey. I didn’t have the recognition of a well-known publishing PR team, or the advantage of a top cover designer, but I knew my own creative and marketing strengths were good enough and I was able to create the book exactly as I wanted.
If you were told that you could live any day without repercussions for your actions, what would you do?
Rob from the rich and give to the poor.
If there was one saying that could sum up your life to date, what would it be?
It’s all Greek to me!
What or who in life inspires you?
I have been inspired by many people, from teachers to fellow students to political figures. However, no-one instills a greater strength and belief in myself than my family. My grandmother in particular, who sadly passed away two years ago aged only 68 after a long battle with cancer, was a fine example of someone with fantastic fortitude and dignity. She was an incredibly strong, highly intelligent woman whose wit and zest for life shone through even in her final moments. I felt that it was only right to dedicate my debut novel to the woman who always encouraged and nurtured my love of the written word and taught me that no matter what, the pen is always mightier than the sword.
What is your all time favourite book?
My favourite book is one that has changed the course of history, a witty, highly intelligent, evocative, challenging and inspiring read that changed my life completely – The Diary of Adrian Mole: Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend. And all of the subsequent Adrian Mole books.
I love the mix of posts on your website, http://www.ekaterinabotziou.com/. For people who haven’t visited if yet, please can you tell them about what they can find there?
I initially started the blog as a little hobby – it was a place where I shared stories about my Greek showbiz dabbling life, a few Greek recipes, poems, and the odd theatre review. Since then the blog has become a platform for all my career goals – I continue to write about Greek life and post articles about my experiences within the film industry, reviews and promotions on theatre, film, books and magazines, videos, and collaborations with other bloggers. Basically the blog fulfils my all consuming need to share my rants, raves, recipes, and general Greek philosophy about life with the world and hopefully gets a few laughs in too.
There’s a saying on my family crest ‘Dum Spiro Spero’ which means whilst I breathe I hope. What’s your favourite Greek saying?
“The man may be the head, but the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she wants”.
Please would you share who your 5 dream dinner party guests would be?
Only five?! Even a small Greek dinner party would have at least fifty guests! I would make it an all-girl affair with:
Audrey Hepburn – she was a true icon of the silver screen with such elegance and poise that you don’t find in Hollywood today
Maria Callas – tragically beautiful and the most talented soprano of all time
Cleopatra – the last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt from a Greek dynasty, she left a lasting legacy on the world
Joanna Lumley – aside from being a wonderful actress and highly knowledgeable individual, her voice is just so soothing
My Nan – she was always the life and soul of the party
At your dinner party, there’s a cocktail in honour of ‘GREEK EXPECTATIONS: The Last Moussaka Standing’ what are the ingredients?
There’s only one drink that should be served at a Greek dinner party – Ouzo!
Thank you so much to Ekaterina for talking to Love of a Good Book