Mileva, are Greeks, especially your new generations, good at English? Does the English language have a notable role in your daily lives?
I think most people of my generation speak relatively good English in my country, and younger people even more. On the one hand it’s a cultural thing, we have been raised with English speaking films and songs, on the other hand, speaking English is considered essential for most jobs.
You published Once Upon a Dystopia in 2017. As far as I know, it was your first chapbook in English. How long did it take you to write and prepare Once Upon a Dystopia, and what motivated you to write it?
Yes, it was my first chapbook in English and it included three short stories which had been previously published in Molotov Cocktail, Menacing Hedge and Big Echo: Critical SF and shared a common theme, they were dystopian, but also relevant to our times. Ever since the recess started, I’ve become more and more politically aware, and felt a need to inform the world through fiction, especially because Greece was one of the countries that were hit hard by the crisis. I’ve heard some criticism about the stories being topical, which was fair at the time, but current times have proven how interconnected we are, how those policies tend to expand and how we have to stand together to resist them.
I’ve been reading your short stories for at least a year now. Let’s highlight five of them here. If someone wants to read some of your short stories today, which five of them do you recommend that they read first?
It is really hard for me to choose, they’re all close to my heart, and it’s all about personal taste but if I had to make a choice, I’d suggest these five stories:
1. The First of the Gang to Die (Litro)
2. The Sad Song in Every Story (Okay Donkey)
3. Stumbling on Concrete (X-R-A-Y)
4. rEVOLt (FlashBack Fiction)
5. Love is a Warm Gun (Eastern Iowa Review)
Let’s talk about Greek readers. What genres do they like and buy the most? What differences have you noticed between Greek and English readers/commenters?
From what I know, Greeks read a lot, but this could be my impression, since I tend to circulate among people who read. I think crime fiction and also historical and speculative fiction are the main trends at the moment, although I can’t say I’m an expert at noticing trends or following them. I can’t really find any differences between Greek and English readers, but that’s perhaps because I’m not familiar enough with what people read in different corners of the world.
In your opinion, who’s currently the best Greek short story writer? What are Greek fiction writers mainly interested in these days?
There are many great short story writers in Greece at the time, especially among the younger generations, I can’t really say who the best is, I can only speak for myself, and my favorite Greek writer who has written many short stories along with longer works is Angela Dimitrakaki. She doesn’t write fiction in English, but she has written many essays in English, some of which you may find online. I think most writers, like all people, are confused about the state of the world, and mostly write about it in different genres, either about the past that led us here, or the current situation.
Dr Angela Dimitrakaki is a writer and Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Edinburgh, which she joined in September 2007. She is Programme Director of the MSc in Modern and Contemporary Art: History, Curating and Criticism and teaches undergraduate courses on art and its contexts since the 1960s, including on aesthetics, politics and globalisation, feminism and sexual politics. Since her appointment at Edinburgh she has been supervising an average of five doctoral students per year. She works closely with her doctoral students, often collaborating in projects, to enhance art history’s social relevance.https://www.eca.ed.ac.uk/profile/dr-angela-dimitrakaki
How much time, typically, do you spend on reading in English every day? How do you manage your time, and which literary (online) journals do you visit more often?
It depends on the day. I may spend a few minutes to many hours, depending on my obligations and my mood. Managing my time isn’t my strong point, I’m a huge procrastinator, yet one of my main goals in life was to have time for things I enjoy. Leisure time is the ultimate luxury after all. There are some journals that resonate more, but it’s not that much about journals, as it is about writers. I know many writers whose work I admire, so when they publish something new, I always find time to read it.
Who is your most favorite contemporary writer? And why do you like her/his works?
I have many favorite writers and I tend to prefer fiction which is also philosophical, so I’ll have to mention Jostein Gaarder, he’s an author from Norway, who always includes some philosophical ideas in his books and I have read and reread all of his books many times, and also Tom Robbins, who has a wonderful way to include humor in his stories, while writing about serious issues.
We all need to update and improve our writing skills consistently. What are some of your plans to enhance your works in the future?
I haven’t attended writing workshops, not only because I couldn’t afford any, but mainly because I have the tendency to ‘swallow’ rules which, in my experience with other creative endeavors, then tend to destroy the fun. In a way, I love writing too much to let anything take the fun out of it. Truth is I discover rules with time, I discover patterns and techniques, I play with them and explore them on my own, which suits me best, even though I completely understand and respect those who decide to learn through workshops and MFAs. My writing has improved with time, mainly through reading and writing as much as I can, and that’s what I intend to keep doing to make it better.
Do you also write poems, Mileva? If yes, would you please share one or two of them with us here?
I don’t write poetry often, but one of my favorites is the poem I had published this year in the June issue of Versification.
WHAT STARS ARE MADE OF That’s how life must be, she said, as they made love, up and down, back and forth, always, until the swing crumbles down and it all ends. That’s how they spent life, on a swing, up and down, back and forth, falling and rising, pulling and pushing, until they jumped high into the night sky and became stars, that is life, until it all ends, not with a fall, but with a blast, remnants of life orgasms hung bright in the sky. By Mileva Anastasiadou
And here is my last question. Is Mileva Anastasiadou an optimistic, hopeful woman? Is she, generally, satisfied with her life?
I’d love to think myself as a hopeful, optimistic person, I’m not sure I am and I’m certainly not all the time, although at the core, there’s always a ray of hope, I wouldn’t write otherwise, I wouldn’t fight death in all its forms, not only as a writer, but also as a doctor, or better as a human being. As far as my life is concerned, I can say I’m satisfied, I’ve grown into the person I always wanted to be, or even a better version that’s been formed in time, as a kid I had strong convictions, people said that I’d outgrow them, but I didn’t, and I would if I discovered they were wrong, only I still believe they’re right, and I was lucky and privileged enough to have found my people who understand me, support me and share the same values as me.