Thursday, September 15, 2016

Authors To Watch: Georgeos C. Awgerinos, author of 'Eugenia: Destiny and Choice'

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

Title: Eugenia: Destiny and Choice
Author: Georgeos C. Awgerinos
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 280
Genre: Romantic Thriller

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

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am Georgeos “Georg” Constantin Awgerinøs, author of EUGENIA: Destiny and Choice.
When did you begin writing?
I was an early writer. When I was an elementary school pupil I started writing essays and short stories, and gradually tried some not-so-short stories. In my teens I realized that I could write theatrical plays and completed six of them. I was the producer and the main actor for one of the plays and received an award for it.  
Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?
My writing mechanism is very chaotic. Actually I never really understood the mechanics of my literary creations, but since it seems to work I just let it be. Usually ideas come to me at unexpected times. It could be in the subway, while I do my bills or when I am in the middle of a discussion with someone. About twenty percent of my ideas come while I am sleeping, so I have to wake up and immediately write a few lines about the concept of my topic. Always when it comes to novels I write while visually I see my story unfolding like a movie. I can work day or night but I am more productive and creative at night; in the early morning my writing slows down and it is time for rest. I often talk to myself when I write. I pace a lot and my table is untidy, filled with documents with notes. There are a few bottles of water on my desk and a lot of coffee. When I have a lot of tension I like to eat while I am working—truffles or some other junk food—healthy foods like fruit don’t contribute to my creative process! Music enhances my creativity—usually jazz, classical or opera, depending on the story. Sometimes I like folk sounds like Scottish bagpipe, Zen theta waves or flute. I don’t like to have people around me or talking to me when I am in the creative dimension. I have discovered that neighborhood cafes with all these young people with laptops, many of them creative types, also inspire me. Some of the most intense chapters of my writing have been composed inside those bohemian cafes. There have been many times when I’ve spent half of a week writing a chapter and then deleted it all.  Many times I start with a scenario in mind, but as I progress I glimpse a better idea so I change the plot and the direction.  For instance in one of my stories, in the middle of the writing I decided to change the sexual orientation and the race of a central character. In another case, in the middle of EUGENIA’s sequel, I considered creating a conspiracy because I realized that it would fit well in the plot. Actually in EUGENIA’s sequel one of the turning points, a key scene, was created in the process of writing something entirely different.  When I write I rarely monitor grammatical or syntactical errors. I usually go back and do this work after I have finished a few chapters. Usually I feel very intense and the music makes me emotional, so I live the scenes and participate as though I am the characters. Then later, I go back to polish a chapter many times
Can you tell us about your most recent release?
EUGENIA: Destiny and Choice is available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.  EUGENIA: Destiny and Choice is both a love story and political thriller during one of the most turbulent eras of the twentieth century. The novel follows one woman’s remarkable journey to wholeness through the horrific saga of political upheaval in Southern Africa. More information is available at my website:
How did you get the idea for the book?
It came to me unexpectedly. But let me give you some background. I come from Greece, where WWII and the Nazi occupation left very deep imprints in the psyche of the people. After the war the country was a mass of rubble and the loss in human life was enormous. My parents used to describe in detail the uniforms, the salutes, the late-night goose-stepping, the curfews,  the Nazi banners, and you would encounter hanged people twitching from poles or trees, wearing signs labeling them “terrorist,” “agitator,” “communist,” “Jew.” The trauma from starvation and the daily encounter with death never left them; and my father, even late in his life, had claustrophobic panic attacks from those times spent in the bunkers. In the movie The Pianist, there is a scene where, during a roundup, a German officer pulled out twelve people at random and executed them. At the age of thirteen my father encountered an identical scene, since this type of execution was a daily routine, not an isolated incident. Some of my scenes in the book, like the roundup in the central plaza of Volos, and even specific addresses, are based on family accounts.
My family liked to discuss politics, not just Greek affairs but international issues: Pinochet’s junta, the war in Rhodesia and Angola, apartheid, Nixon’s visit to China. So I was accustomed to world affairs and I enjoyed talking with tourists during the summer about their countries. Instead of going out with my school pals, I could spend hours with Navy officers asking them about their experiences in distant lands—Brazil, Tanzania, Newfoundland or Indonesia—and at night I would check the encyclopedia to read more about these distant places. So although I grew up in a family that was not world-traveled, we enjoyed discussing world affairs. When I left my white-collar job, before traveling to Australia, I had considered traveling to Central and Southern Africa, but I changed destinations because of an unplanned incident. I am not sure how all the elements of EUGENIA, from civil rights, the Waffen-SS, Rhodesian settlers and revolutionaries, to a love story between a Greek-American and a German, came together. This is a mystery even to me. 
Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
I think that all the characters, especially the central ones, good ones, boring ones and villains reflect aspects of myself, but I find two of them the most inspirational. Dietrich’s mother, Brigitte Helga Schlegel, the violinist and pianist, is basically the moral force and the inspiration of the story. Dietrich, one of the central characters in the narrative, was an aspiring international banking lawyer. But the bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama (at a time when “Black lives didn’t matter”) and Brigitte’s story, inspired him to make a U-turn in his life, and become a crusading international human rights attorney. Brigitte’s fascinating life during the cabaret era in Berlin, and her heroic sacrifice during the dystopian Nazi world, awaken a deep sense of humanity in Dietrich. Paired with his guilt about his Nazi officer father and his country’s past, Dietrich idealized his mother, although he never met her in life, and projected her on Eugenia, a young idealistic Columbia University feminist, activist and intellectual who aspired to change the world. Brigitte is basically the vibrating power and moral bastion of the story even if she is presented only within flashbacks of the past. Dietrich is the enlightening figure of the epic, the persona who represents Light and wisdom. He is reminiscent of a hero from Wagnerian opera, a warrior of Nordic mythology or character of classical Greek tragedy. Dietrich, serious, phlegmatic and detached, is not as colorful and charming as his flamboyant nemesis, the antagonist Henderson, but he is an imposing and captivating figure.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
The language. As a non-native English speaker, I found writing literature in English an enormous undertaking.  The second great challenge was finding civic maps, for streets, plazas, buildings and other public areas in Rhodesia. The Zimbabwean government had tried to eliminate everything related to the colonial past, and when I needed maps to describe the areas I mention in the story, it was extremely difficult to find them. Most Rhodesian expats I spoke to could not recall the street names, stores or other details of the colonial times. Today, of course, we can find all this data in Wikipedia; but back in the 90s when I was writing the novel it was a tough process. The next issue I encountered, when I traveled to Africa, was the contradictory information I received about the era, and the reluctance of many people to open up about the Rhodesian War and the Ian Smith era.  Many of them tried to discourage me from writing about some of the topics I mention. The next major problem was my own economics. Since I don’t have a private trust fund, I had to work; and so writing, researching, interviewing, and traveling presented a major difficulty that prolonged the period of writing. I turned down a few career opportunities along the way, for the completely unsafe pursuit of writing.
Which authors have inspired your writing?
Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Pasternak, Homer, Goethe, Tennessee Williams, Kafka, George Orwell, Len Deighton, Charles Bukowski, James A. Michener, Nikos Kazantzakis, Brontë Sisters, Collette, Agatha Christie. Two authors who did not inspire my writing, but whom I find inspirational and provocative, and with whom I recognize similarities in style, are Stieg Larsson and William T. Vollmann.
What projects are you currently working on?
The sequel to EUGENIA, and the first book’s promotion. From time to time I work also on my next story, a provocative one about morality, conflicts of what I call erosexuality, and alternative expressions of erotic love. In this story the protagonists are more conflicted than those in EUGENIA.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
I would not provide any advice. There are many paths to authorship, as many as the people who write. The writing realm is a jungle. Some will flee back into town after encountering the monsters; many will die in the dense forest; some will make it; and a few will strike it big. Unlike accounting, medicine or any other mainstream occupation, writing, like many forms of art, is a very abstract pursuit. Its outcome is completely unpredictable and the author has little control over the commercial process.

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