10 Questions with Novelist Nicholas Rossis (@nicholas_rossis)
This Author Spotlight
The Power of Six
Nicholas Rossis was born in 1970 in Athens. Greece. He got his BSc in Engineering from the Technical Institute of Pireaus in 1995, before moving to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he received his PhD in Digital Architecture from the University of Edinburgh.
In 1995 he founded Istomedia, a web design company that has created some 450 websites todate. He also taught various publishing courses at Napier University between 1997 and 2000.
In 2000, he moved back to Greece where he has continued working as web designer and teaching design and publishing at various colleges and universities. He has written a score of children’s books, through Niditales, his ongoing collaboration with illustrator Dimitris Fousekis. He has also had numerous SF short stories published in Greek magazines and in Invasion, a SF anthology. Finally, he has written Pearseus, a SF novel.
Nicholas lives in a forest outside Athens with his lovely wife Electra, beautiful dog and two remarkably silly cats.
1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?
To be perfectly honest, I write because I have to. I’ve even tried to stop a couple of times in order to focus on other things that demanded my undivided attention at the time, but I found myself composing phrases and paragraphs in my head at night, half-asleep.
It all started with keeping a dream journal. Some of the stories I recorded were too good not to share. I wrote "Simulation Over", my very first story to be published, after a particularly vivid dream. It went on to be published by 9; a Greek sci-fi and comics magazine. When I was paid some $200 for it, I was astounded. So I could do something I loved and get paid? What is this madness?
I wrote another dozen or so short stories after that, then the stresses of my day job made me forget all about it. A few years later, I found myself in a particularly stressful job environment, and I decided to let off some steam by writing. This time, I chose to write in English instead of Greek, with the express aim of targeting an English-speaking audience. I completed my first Pearseus draft in four months, then spent almost a year trying to improve my style. During that time, I would wake up at unholy hours simply because the voices in my head demanded I put them down on paper.
So, to answer your question, I wrote because I had no alternative. Oh, and because a voice in a dream told me to.
2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?
I love everything about writing, even promotion.
There is this one thing I hate, though: when I’m in the zone and something snaps me out of it, like the cat scratching on the door or the phone ringing off the hook. When I write, I live my story, then write it down. It’s just like watching an engrossing film, then someone turns on the light and switches off the TV for a minute, before then going, “oh, alright, you can now continue”.
3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
My daily routine is too hectic for any sort of schedule. I write when I can, and network as much as possible. Not because I have to, but because I’m astounded by the amazing people I’ve met on this journey. I’ve met so many talented, wonderful writers and most of them are incredibly eager to help out a newbie like me. So, I’ve made it my goal to help my new friends succeed in whatever small way I can.
As for my writing process, I start with a general outline in my head and flesh it out.
So, you could say I’m a planner.
However, I’ve found that the story is much more satisfactory if I listen to my characters and allow them to lead me, instead of going against their will.
The most obvious example of that is when a beloved character in Pearseus died on me. I had his future moves figured out, and he was in my next book as well. However, I found myself typing his death at some point. I spent days trying to cope with the unexpected loss, but I figured that a twist that caught me by surprise me, would definitely shock the reader, right?
So, in that sense, I’m a pantser.
4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
Most of all, Philip K. Dick, whom I consider a modern-day prophet, visions and all. Also, I’m partial to Jorge Luis Borges and the magical realism school; they have influenced my work greatly.
5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
Why don’t I tell you whether I prefer Apple or Windows instead? It’s bound to be less controversial an answer.
6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
Seriously, what’s wrong with you? Do you want to start a minor war or two with these questions? I’m already a troll target for my passionate support of Indie authors (as a particularly weird 1* review of Pearseus can attest. There are no giants in my book!).
How about I tell you my solution for the Middle East problems instead?
7.What is your book Pearseus about and how did it come to fruition?
Pearseus is a sci-fi novel that describes a dystopian society formed on a remote planet by the survivors of a destroyed starship. It picks up 300 years after the accident, when humans have split up in three competing factions, all embroiled in endless intrigue and constant warfare. The planet also has a native population, as well as ethereal entities, all caught up in their own wars, and it all ties nicely together to form “an excellent read from a new writer, that leaves you expecting more,” as a review I’ve memorized put it.
The concept itself came to me after reading Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, followed by Jim Lacey’s The First Clash and Herodotus’ Cyrus the Great and Rise of Persia, which describe the fatal battle on Marathon between Greece and Persia in the 5th century BC. Marathon is a 20’ drive from my home, and I’d often visited the tomb where the ancient Athenians buried their dead, so I thought at the time, “wouldn’t it be great if someone did what Martin did for medieval England, only with the story of Greece vs. Persia? And in space? How cool would that be?” Then it occurred to me: so, what’s stopping me from writing it?
I have a long history of rushing in where angels fear to tread, so I did!
8.What’s your current writing project?
I’m editing Mad Water, the third book in the Pearseus series. I’m also publishing The Power of Six on May 15th. It is a science fiction anthology that contains six of my short stories. Finally, my first children’s book, Runaway Smile, is about to be published in Greece and on Amazon.
In short, I won't get much sleep until June!
9.What book(s) are you currently reading?
I have Philip K. Dick’s Exegesis on my nightstand. It’s a brick of a book, but sizzles with fascinating ideas. Apart from that, I’m reading Eye Candy, which I loved the first time around, and the Auguries of Dawn by Peyton Reynolds, a wonderful fantasy book I stumbled upon.
Generally speaking, I’ve found I’m reading a lot more since I started writing. I now read a couple of books each month, mostly by Indie authors and friends. You see, as I was growing up I thought of authors as these bearded, wise old gurus hiding away in castles or remote villages somewhere.
Then, I became one, and I started meeting my idols. And lo and behold! They were only human, too. Furthermore, they invited me to read their work, review it, help them promote it… and I became friends with them! As a result, my reading list has been expanding even faster than my waistline.
10.Who or what inspires your writing?
Like I said, Marathon is a 20’ drive from my home. I grew up minutes away from the tomb where the ancient Athenians buried their dead, following the Battle of Marathon, and there is both an ancient cemetery and an ancient theatre minutes away from my home. So, I would have to say that Greek history is a main inspiration behind my writing.
I would also have to add my habit of observing people. At parties, nothing pleases me more than standing in a corner with a drink in my hand, noticing others drink, flirt and chat, trying to figure out who they are based solely on their laughter, clothes or body language. I find it fascinating!
So, the second inspiration behind my writing is people. I love to figure out what makes them tick, and time after time I’ve come to appreciate how basic and similar our needs and emotions really are. In an ironic way, the distance between me and others actually helps me empathize with them.
Finally, the third inspiration is authors like you. Your amazing writing has a maturity and elegance that inspires me to improve my own. In the immortal words of Sedaris, me talk pretty one day.
Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
· You can read "Simulation Over" on my blog.
· The first book in the Pearseus series is available on Amazon.
· The second book Rise of the Prince is available on Amazon.
· The Power of Six will be published on May 15th, also on Amazon.
· Runaway Smile will be published on Amazon in late May.
You can find me on a plethora of social media, including the following:
· https://nicholasrossis.me (blog)
Don’t forget: for every new follower, my dog does a happy dance… :)
Thank you, Nicholas.
Fascinating stuff. That's so cool that you're in Athens, living there among one of the most historical places on earth, and that you can draw upon it via first-hand knowledge to fuel your writing.
Okay, everybody, be sure to grab a copy of The Power of Six when it is available May 15 (I'll be sending out a reminder; I'm currently enjoying an advanced reader copy and if you're a "Dickhead" aka a fan of Phillip K. Dick, you'll appreciate this collection of reality-bending tales). Also check out the first two books in the Pearseus series, so you can get caught up in time for Mad Water.