Monday, September 5, 2016

PUYB Chats with Georgeos C. Awgerinos, author of 'Eugenia'

Geórgeos Constantin Awgerinøs, author of EUGENIA: DESTINY AND CHOICE was born and raised in Athens Greece. He lives in New York City.

About the Book:

Debut novelist Georgeos Constantin Awgerinøs paints an epic love story and political thriller in EUGENIA: DESTINY AND CHOICE. The title character, Eugenia “Jenny” Corais, a Columbia University graduate, is an idealistic young feminist and intellectual who charts her destiny against such volatile backdrops as cabaret-era Berlin, America during the Civil
Rights and anti-Vietnam War protests, and the violent final days of colonial Africa.

With its potent combination of politics and romance, EUGENIA: DESTINY AND CHOICE resembles  Erich Segal’s LOVE STORY, coupled with a tale of political intrigue that would fit comfortably in the novels of Graham Greene, John Le Carre or Stieg Larsson, and historical developments reminiscent of James A. Michener.

Awgerinøs’s title character, Eugenia, is complicated. Her idealism and social consciousness, the author notes, is tempered with “a compulsive curiosity for the weird, unusual, or forbidden. She aims at the light but she cannot resist the temptation of the darkness.”
Jenny’s co-protagonists include Dietrich Neuendorf, a charismatic and unyielding German human rights attorney haunted by his family’s past and his country’s history. He and Jenny quickly fall in love.

A third character, Desmond Henderson, attracts Jenny’s darker side. Despite his humble origins and abundant charm, Henderson has a deeply dark core. A former British colonial officer, he is the head of South Africa’s military industrial apparatus, linked to the high echelons of international corporate elite and secret intelligence. He is an immense figure who designs mass murder and forced relocations on spreadsheets and is involved in some of the most defining political acts of the 20th century.

But in this novel, even the most invincible have an Achilles heel. As Awgerinos puts it, “EUGENIA doesn’t romanticize power; rather, the book demystifies the powerful by exposing the intimate, vulnerable and disowned aspects of human psyche.”

Jenny, Dietrich, and Desmond cross paths and embark on a perilous journey together in an exotic African country, a wonder of nature that faces massive winds of historical tide and a catastrophic revolution.

“Through my characters and their interaction, I try to convey another view on love and sexual conflict, society, human nature and beyond-natural, democracy and collective mind control,” says Awgerinøs. “I also try to offer a historical account about a very volatile era in a turbulent region, Southern Africa.”

Awgerinøs hints that he is working on a sequel to EUGENIA: DESTINY AND CHOICE. Meanwhile, EUGENIA shows great potential to be adapted as an exciting and thought-provoking feature motion picture or TV movie.

For More Information

Q: Which part of the book was the hardest to write?

The first chapter was one of the hardest. The opening of the story is very crucial in order to capture the reader’s attention. In addition, Chapter One of EUGENIA is factual history blended with fiction, and introduction of two key-characters of the story. The first chapter describes one of the most obscure political acts of the twentieth Century. 

The second difficult element  was the civic maps. The country I describe (Zimbabwe) had changed the names of the cities, streets, plazas and buildings after its Independence. Finding accurate street names from the colonial era was extremely difficult because most of the Rhodesian expats I talked to didn’t have any Rhodesian-period maps and had blurry recollections of old street names. Today you can find most of these names in Wikipedia, but not when I started writing the story. 

The third difficulty was the contradictory information I received by white Rhodesians and Africans alike, regarding the segregation and the political landscape of the era I describe. When I traveled to Africa, I had a couple of times trouble with the law, regarding my research. It is interesting that both Africans and whites were suspicious and careful with the information they provided. 

Q: Does your book have an underlying message that readers should know about? 

The book is a love story with a peculiar twist along the way. At the same time it is a historical novel with strong political and social messages. I provide ample
details at my website

I would like to mention that the entire novel is highly symbolic, essentially a metaphor of one woman’s evolution, her path to enlightenment. The book is political but also mentions issues such as human progress and the illusions of the mind. A poem that Dietrich wrote when he was young illustrates the spirit   of the story:

Everything that crosses the gate of birth
in every cosmos including this tiny earth,
monuments, kingdoms, rich and poor,
 women of beauty, men of wealth and strength,
will experience rise, fall, and death.
From air to air and dust to dust
The future will immerse in the wheel of the past.
Everybody’s life is neither holding nor belonging,
life is a school unfolding……….(and continues)

I add a few passages to introduce my reader to the messages of the book:

“I am not enthralled by messianic saviors. Those radical revolutions ended up with Napoleon and Stalin. Radicalism only changes the face of tyranny.

“Oversized pedestals, miniscule worshippers”

“Lust may last for a night, but this night may last for a Lifetime.”

“This is the South African Republic, not South Africa, Inc.”
“It is the South African Republic, Inc. All states are corporate entities, monsieur, one way or another;”

“When I witness injustice and I remain silent,
I’m not only a coward, I’m guilty.”

“Temptation will test You, seduction will lure you, illusion will veil you…”

“Trying to understand people is like interpreting dreams.”

“Once, I believed that science is the answer to God but I have realized that there are areas of human capacity that it will take a long time for science to reach. Maybe one day we will discover that science is just one of the tools that lead to human expansion. The meaning of “I,” “Being, “Self” are a matter of experience not intellectual discourse or scientific examination.

 “President Kennedy in his inaugural speech, back in 1961, conveniently uttered the famous challenge, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.’ To this I have a rebuttal: I should not only ask myself what I can do for my country, but what my country can do for me as well. Responsibility must be shared, and commitment goes both ways. Unconditional allegiance is for serfs only! Dear friends, learn how to be free citizens of the world, not subjects of the state!”

Q: Do you remember when the writing bug hit?

In my elementary school years, I discovered that I was pretty unique in the way I wrote essays at home, and when I attempted to write my first short story. I noticed that my writing style attracted attention by teachers and classmates, and this gave me the confidence that one day I could become a professional writer.  I also realized that it was easy for me to create new stories and develop complicated plots and characters. I recall that after reading some Conan Doyle stories and watching a movie based on Allan Edgar Poe, I wrote a novel called Little Green Riding Hood. I recall the amazement; displeasure of my family and excitement of my friends when I started reading the completed story: they expected a children’s tale, but my novel was about a schizophrenic killer inside a psychiatric clinic who murdered his victims with medical instruments. I continued writing throughout my teens, focusing mostly on theatrical plays, philosophical essays and short novels. By my mid-teens I was dreaming of following a writing career. But that part was not meant to be, until much later in my life.

Q: Besides books, what else do you write?  Do you write for publications?

I used to write essays when I was younger, and more recently I attempted to create an essay-blog, but I abandoned that project since there was not enough time. The topics were related to the themes I touch in my book EUGENIA: secular spirituality, history and politics, social affairs, the mystery of human behavior, and erosexuality. I use the term erosexuality as a portmanteau of the Greek word Eros and sexuality. Eros and erotica are common labels in porn-shops and X-rated movie theaters, but in ancient Greece, Eros was a divine entity, the demigod of Love, representing physical/sensual, psychological, mental/intellectual and spiritual union. In other words, Eros in Greek antiquity had a Tantric denotation. In contemporary Greek the word means “deep passionate love” between two people. Since erosexuality as a creative force is also highly destructive, this double-edged aspect features prominently in my book EUGENIA. 

Q: Do you have a writing tip you’d like to share?

I don’t have a tip, and even if I did, I would not share it—not because I want to monopolize it, but because writing is a very solitary and individual path to authorship. 

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your childhood?

I could summarize my early days in the word complicated. Nothing special or exceptional, though. I was a pretty awkward and asocial kid, with very few close friends, whom I am proud to have as friends even today. I was not the center of the party and girls wouldn’t be upset if I didn’t ask them out. Although I have changed over the years, I still have this social discomfort and communication awkwardness. I was good with schooling and sports, though. And I liked the company of older people, especially the ones who had traveled or lived in other countries. I enjoyed learning about politics, history, other countries and cultures, and of course I spent a lot of time in my room with my readings and writings. I discovered Carl Jung, Buddhism, Kant, Marcuse and Gurdjieff early on, and I think these exposures are reflected directly in my book’s main male protagonist, Dietrich Neuendorf. I used to be fascinated by jungle adventurers, Arctic explorers, South Seas navigators, settlers in distant lands, and I dreamed of traveling one day around the world.  

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write at home? 

I have an office/library at home which I consider my lab. However, a great deal of my writing takes place in nearby cafes. 

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promoting your book?

I created a comprehensive webpage

The next step was to search for a P.R. consultant who could help me promote my work. 

Q: Are you familiar with the social networks and do you actively participate?

I’m learning there, and I admit I’m a slow learner.

Q: How do you think book promotion has changed over the years?

Book promotion today is directly linked to the modern-day book publishing. Social media have revolutionized the promotional landscape, and since there are more published or self-published authors out there, the promotional platform has become a necessity for every published or self-published writer. Today, as with every other service or product, writers have to become “authorpreneurs” in order to become known.

Q: What is the most frustrating part of being an author?

Every case is different. Authorship is not just about typing on your laptop a story you find exciting. It is about producing a story that captivates others. If you have to make a living, especially in a field irrelevant to your writing, it becomes draining, time consuming, a painful process, especially if you have family responsibilities. We are fascinated by the lives of Henry Miller, Hemingway or W. Somerset Maugham the adventures of Mark Twain, Karen Blixen or Joseph Conrad, the glory of J.K. Rowling, Halldór Laxness, Herta Müller or K.O. Knausgård and the prestige of Dan Brown, David McCullough or Toni Morrison but for the unknown gal or guy who strives to get by and have a completed manuscript is an uphill battle. And all this before the tough part begins. The real frustration begins when you email query letters to one hundred agents in order to receive after four months, three two line responses, wishing you good luck. Writers tend to be complicated persons; they tend to deal a lot with their internal issues, a disrupting factor in the writing process. 
Q: What is the most rewarding?

Perhaps the most rewarding experience is when the author types their story.  Or maybe if they becomes known and successful, the moment they receive the Nobel or Pulitzer price. Possibly, when the motion picture based on their novel receives an Oscar… who can tell??  

 Q: How do you think book publishing has changed over the years?

It has changed enormously! Indie publishing and e-publishing offer the opportunity to everyone to express their thoughts, ideas and stories. With so many millions of published authors, it is hard for readers to keep up, but at least authors have the opportunity to bring their voice out. In the past in order for someone to publish they had to go through the red tape of traditional publishing. Many argue that the quality of writing has gone down, but I don’t agree. Actually, we see many known names of politicians, celebrities, business personalities and public figures publishing books through major houses, and receiving mammoth advances, but in the end the readers regret buying such books.  At the same time there are many unknown writers with great stories to tell, who never become known. So in a way, the changes in the publishing industry widen the reader’s and writer’s market and opportunities. 

Q: If you had one wish, what would that be?

To hear from readers that they felt touched by the story of Eugenia and appreciated the messages the book tries to articulate.

Q: If you could be anywhere in the world other than where you are right now, where would that place be?

Berlin, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Edinburgh, Scotland; Dublin, Ireland;
Ghent, Belgium; Copenhagen, Denmark; San Francisco, CA; Lambertville, NJ; Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Stockholm, Sweden.

Q: Your book has just been awarded a Pulitzer. Who would you thank?

I would thank many, but firstly I would express my gratitude to my readers.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Georgeos .  Do you have any final words?

I tried for half of my life to produce a character-driven, impactful and epic story with controversial but socially important messages. I hope that EUGENIA: Destiny and Choice succeeds as a call for self-observation, invites questioning of our value system and contributes to the expansion of what it is to be human.

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