My Exclusive Writer Interview with Dr Stephanie Russo on MQ’s Literary Podcast ‘From the Lighthouse’

Claire_Catacouzinos

Hi Everyone,

Some more wonderful news to share!

I was interviewed by Dr Stephanie Russo on Macquarie University’s Literary Podcast ‘From the Lighthouse’ about my journey as a young writer, my publications, the impact of my Greek heritage, historical fiction, and helpful tips I can give to young aspiring writers managing a writing career. There’s also the casual mention of Harry Potter; Melina Marchetta; the Great Historical Epics of Hollywood; Ancient Greece; my first children’s book coming out soon by my publisher, Zoozil; working at MQ’s student publication magazine, Grapeshot; and my four major tips for any aspiring young writer.

You can check out my interview here.

You can download the ‘From the Lighthouse’ Show on your Podcast app on your phone.

For more info visit the English Department’s podcast website at: https://www.fromthelighthouse.org

I was initially contacted by Stephanie to speak to some MQ students about my writing career as part of the English Department’s PACE internship unit. I was very humbled that I was given the opportunity to share my writing journey and book publishing knowledge to MQ students. To then be asked to be interviewed on the English Department’s new Literary Podcast about my work and life as a young writer was amazing. Thank you, Stephanie!

I hope you all enjoy the interview!

Also just a heads up that I’ll be blogging over the next couple of months about my holiday in Italy and Greece from August 2017. So watch this space!

Best wishes,
Claire

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Sneak Peek of me at Herculaneum in Italy, August 2017

For more information about my writing check out:
My Publications
My History in Review Column from Grapeshot
My Creative Writing Blog Posts
My Ancient History Blog Posts

 

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Drum Roll Please! Book Announcement!

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Hi Everyone,

I’m super thrilled and excited to announce that I’ll be publishing my first children’s book with US publisher, Zoozil!

For anyone who knows me, this is a dream come true!!! It’s been a long time for me trying to find a publisher who focuses on historical fiction for children, and I’ve hit the jackpot!

Zoozil’s books let’s young readers go back in history to direct the characters, explore new perspectives and even change the ending! Zoozil promotes history, and advocates for literacy skills in children and they can achieve this while getting lost in a story. As a Zoozil author, we pass over our control and give it back to our readers by offering them different pathways to choose from with our characters to go on different journeys. More information on their website: http://www.zoozil.com/

zoozil logoMy children’s book is obviously set in Ancient Greece! My favourite historical period to write about, and what I’m known for with my first ever publication, Helike. I’ve been writing historical short stories for a long time, and have four historical short stories published at Macquarie University’s English Department’s e-journal, The Quarry. You can check out my historical short stories here:

Helike https://clairecatacouzinos.wordpress.com/short-stories/short-story-helike/

Taras’ Parthenians https://clairecatacouzinos.wordpress.com/short-stories/short-story-taras-parthenians/

Golden Drachmas https://clairecatacouzinos.wordpress.com/short-stories/short-story-golden-drachmas/

Asklepios https://clairecatacouzinos.wordpress.com/short-stories/short-story-asklepios/

Book Announcement

There is more information to come soon about my Zoozil book. So please watch this space. I’m so thankful and humbled that I’ve been given the opportunity to help children find their favourite story and connect with reading.

A huge thank you to Joseph Heinzen (President & Founder of Zoozil) and Eric Raue (Zoozil Board Member) for giving me this opportunity.

And a shout out as well to Dr Jane Messer for being a wonderful mentor throughout my time at Macquarie University, to Dr Victoria Flanagan for getting me in contact with my publisher, and to my manuscript supervisor during my MA degree, Elizabeth Claire Alberts! You have all been an instrumental part in my writing career and success.

Lastly, a huge thank you to Mum and Dad for supporting me and my writing dream! I love you both!

Again, more information to come soon about my book! But in the meantime, I have a special holiday gift for you! @Zoozil has redefined the way kids get to explore the world by putting them in control of the story. This is a great opportunity for you to read a book from my publisher for 50% off!  #IChangedTheStory #ChangeTheStory #Zoozil

Best wishes,
ClaireZoozil 2017 Promotion

Poetry Publication in the Greek-Australian Cultural League’s 2017 Antipodes Periodical – “Uncover Pyrrha”

Hi Everyone,

I’m super excited to announce that my poem “Uncover Pyrrha” was published in the Greek-Australian Cultural League’s 2017 Periodical Antipodes, Issue 63. Pages 189-190.

My poem is about the persona yearning to connect with their lost heritage and learn the unique and untold stories of hidden cities. It is a journey of uncertainty and anticipation as the persona moves closer and closer towards a Wonder.

The poem explores the concept about the magic of place and the emotional pull it has on different types of generations in Australia. It personifies the earth, the sea, and time and their input in the erosion of a place, but also the question about sustainability. Fundamentally, it is a poem about discovery and hope.

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This poem was written in late 2013 as part of my unit “Poetry Seminar” during my Master’s degree. It was workshopped in 2013 and then in 2014 until finally, this year, I was able to finalise the meaning in the poem that I was trying to achieve. A huge thank you to all my fellow MA students from Macquarie University who gave me vital feedback.

I’m hugely grateful for the Greek-Australian Cultural League’s ongoing support and the fact that they provide a platform and environment to write about the Greek Diaspora, especially for emerging generations in Australia.

If you would like to purchase the Periodical Antipodes, you can become a member online on the Greek-Australian Cultural League’s website here, where you will receive a free copy of the bi-lingual periodical.

Two Poetry Publications in the Greek-Australian Cultural League’s 2016 Antipodes Periodical – “Lesvos” & “Metaxy”

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Hi Everyone,

I’m super excited to announce that two of my poems “Lesvos” and “Metaxy” were published in the Greek-Australian Cultural League’s 2016 Periodical Antipodes.

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The first poem is titled “Lesvos” about the persona feeling linguistically alienated when they visit their motherland, and yearning to be reconnected and accepted by anthropomorphising the island, Lesvos. It questions the concept of home for emerging types of generations in Australia. It explores the issues of our identity, of being assimilated into the Australian culture and yet yearning to be part of (and accepted by) our cultural background even though we might be different – a common conflict amongst young Australians.

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The second poem is titled “Metaxy” which is a manifesto showing that it is permissible to be in two different cultures (as an In-Betweener, a Metaxy), even if you feel cultural displacement growing up in Australia and with the relationships that you have with others. It explores the issues of the quest for self and our identity. I decided the poem would show my own personal growth, on how I define myself as Australian-Greek, and to see the bigger picture that there is a generation in Australia like me, that I want to represent as a poet.

Both of my poems were written in late 2013 as part of my unit “Poetry Seminar” during my Master’s degree.

I’m hugely grateful for the Greek-Australian Cultural League’s ongoing support and the fact that they provide a platform and environment to write about this important material on the Greek Diaspora, especially for emerging generations in Australia.

Best wishes,
Claire

If you would like to purchase the Periodical Antipodes, you can become a member online on the Greek-Australian Cultural League’s website here, where you will receive a free copy of the bi-lingual periodical.

For more information about the publications of my two poems and to read them, please go to their official pages on my website: “Lesvos” and “Metaxy“.

And for more information about the 2016 Antipodes Periodical Launch party click here.

Dual Poetry Publications – “Name Day” in the Contrappasso Magazine & “Mnemosyne’s Amaranthos” Won 1st Prize for the GACL Literary Competition 2015

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Hi Everyone,

On Saturday the 14th of November 2015 I attended the launch party of the Contrappasso Magazine’s special issue Long Distance where my poem “Name Day” was published. I was the first writer to read out their poem as I had to leave early to my brother’s girlfriend’s 21st Birthday party. My mum and boyfriend came with me to celebrate this momentous occasion. This is my first poem that has been published outside of Macquarie University. It was rejected twice from two different publications but I still kept my fighting spirit going – as a writer you learn to deal with rejection and you must build a backbone in the industry and keep persevering. I’m so grateful and humble that it was selected for this special publication! A huge thank you to Theodore Ell for choosing my poem. I found out the news in January that my poem had been chosen for publication and I’ve been eager to share with everyone.

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Also, I was invited to attend the launch party of the Periodical Antipodes of the Greek-Australian Cultural League in Melbourne on Sunday the 15th of November as I had submitted another poem of mine for their Literary Competition. So off I went, the next day after the launch party of my other poem and arrived in Melbourne where my boyfriend and I were picked up by his wonderful aunty. And we attended the GACL launch party and I’m ecstatic to announce that I won first prize for my poem “Mnemosyne’s Amaranthos”!!! It’s wonderful to get recognition for the ideas about Greek-Australian identity that I represent!!! And this is only the beginning. I also love the Antipodes’ cover of the flower – it’s beautiful! The word ‘amaranthos’ in Greek means ‘everlasting flower’.

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Both of my poems were written in late 2013 as part of my unit “Poetry Seminar” during my Master’s degree. I didn’t know there was a poet in me until I started this unit – it’s refreshing for my writing, and poetry gives me the space to let me address issues and ideas about cultural displacement. The poems will offer readers an awareness about multicultural issues and the emerging types of Greek generations in Australia.

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Once again, I’m hugely grateful and humbled by the recognition I have received with my poems. I would also like to dedicate the publications of my poems in loving memory of my Yiayia Claire who died this year in August. I would have loved to have celebrated the publication of my poems with her, especially “Name Day” that expresses ideas and issues about our name.

Best wishes,
Claire

Yiayia Claire 2015

For more information about the publications of my two poems, please go to their official pages on my website: “Name Day” and “Mnemosyne’s Amaranthos”.

To purchase the Contrappasso: Long Distance book, you can go to Amazon. Check out their website here.

And if you would like to purchase the Periodical Antipodes, you can become a member online on their website here, where you will receive a free copy of the bi-lingual periodical.

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Poem “Name Day” Published in the Contrappasso Magazine – Launch Party Announcement

Hi Everyone,

I’m excited to announce the publication of my poem “Name Day” by the Contrappasso Magazine for their special issue ‘Long Distance’. I’ve been waiting all year to announce the news since my poem was selected. The launch party is on the 14th of November 2015. More information about the event is available from the flyer above, and on their Facebook Page. I’m hoping to do a reading of my poem in front of the audience on the night.

Best wishes,
Claire

Superwog – Talk Shit Get Hit Tour – Will There Ever Be A Female Perspective?

I attended the Superwog – Talk Shit Get Hit Comedy Tour at Enmore Theatre on the 2nd of October 2015. Theo and Nathan Saidden have done an amazing job presenting the generalised stereotypes of Wogs and Aussies. We’ve got the old traditional mentalities of grandparents and parents; weird and in-your-face uncles and aunties; egocentric, hedonistic and arrogant single guys who show their vulnerability through concern and love for their mothers; and crazy, loud mouth, over-the-top single girls.

However, even though Superwog continues to embark on characterising multiple roles between themselves and one other cast member, Sasha Sutton, my question to them is: have you thought about taking on a female cast member and exploring young adult relationships? Yes, we get the boy meets girl scenario and the married couple scenarios – but what about young relationships that reflect their own age group in their mid-twenties? Like their peers getting engaged, married and having kids – what about exploring those relationships beyond what they specialise in to produce new content?

And a female cast member – she will be able to contribute a dynamic skill-set and perspective to their ever-growing fame. I would like the female perspective to be represented by a girl, and also have her perspective acted upon while she is acting as a guy. It’s all about collaboration and collective learning from one another. The only problem is, is there a young aspiring Australian-European female keen to take on the challenge to alternate between acting as a girl and a guy all in one comedy skit while contorting her face to produce over-the-top facial expressions and speaking with a husky voice while swearing and producing her own comebacks? Yet, is the general public familiar with girls acting as over-the-top guys? Is it easier for guys to dress up as girls to make their audience laugh? Can girls get away with the same reaction and hype or will they be considered as ‘weird’, ‘crazy’ and ‘unattractive’ because of social paradigms and ideologies? There is a lack of the female perspective in the comedic medium when it comes to the representations of Wog stereotypes in Australia – besides Effie Stephanidis (portrayed by Mary Coustas). But the question once again arises – did she ever portray a male European character, and if she did, where the hell are other aspiring Australian-European female comedians?

So, will Superwog ever expand their male cast and invite a female voice to their group? Or is this a group that will stick to an all-male cast and continue creating Youtube clips and comedy skits like their famous comedic forefathers (Wog Boy and Fat Pizza)?

Your Creative Genius & Fuel – ADMA Conference 6 August 2015

CC Pink

Hi Everyone,

I was invited to attend ADMA’s Festival of Marketing, Media, Analytics and Advertising, which I was very thankful for. So on Thursday 6 August I attended the Creative Fuel Conference at the Seymour Centre at Sydney University. It was held in a huge auditorium after an appetising breakfast and in four consecutive blocks with grouped speakers.

The first block consisted of Billy Sorrentino, the Creative Director of WIRED – and what was drilled into us was that WIRED is not a magazine, it’s a design, with good evidence to back it up, of course. He talked about the design being influenced by Dieter Rams, a design guru that inspired content design. He mentioned 10 basic principles we should have about good design:

  1. Good design is innovative
  2. Makes a product useful
  3. It’s aesthetic
  4. Makes it understandable
  5. Is unobtrusive and not invisible
  6. Is honest
  7. Is long-lasting
  8. Is thorough down to the last detail
  9. Is environmentally friendly
  10. Has little design as possible

And this fantastic catch phrase: design is an experience and not an image! I’ll never look at a magazine ever the same again! Sorrentino also talked about giving a new experience to the audience, and adding value – and that’s where from print publication we have the fantastic and multiple dimensions of the digital online world. Design becomes a philosophy instead of an execution where images, iconography and typography would not create a sense of hierarchy, insead, the scalability of things can be changed around constantly, every minute of the day, and each time, create a new experience for the audience. He also talked about creative thinkers coming together and comparing processes and learning from each other. This idea reminds me of my Big History unit I did in my third year of my BA degree where David Christian talked about humankind being innovative thinkers and that by collaborating together, we exchange networks of knowledge to one another and it’s called collective learning. This world system was shown profoundly well with WIRED’s March 2015 Issue about Sex in the Digital Age, where they had to rethink the design of the cover to make it engaging, not too raunchy, not medically sage, and yet educational. And they came up with this.

Brilliant isn’t it? So design, after all this, is about making an experience, and if we are right and pure about it, then it’s for everyone, thus making it relatable and marketable and worthy.

And then there was Graeme Simsion, the author of The Rosie Project (which I’m aiming to read!) and his partner, Dr Anne Buist, the author of Medea’s Curse who talked next. They were a lovely couple reclining on comfortable sofas and talking about the creative genius, conception, development, progression, and publication of their novels. They gave terrific advice about making writing a routine, always writing a first draft by never stopping (you can go back to fix mistakes later, just get it out of your head and onto the page), and to always think about the reader and the emotions you want to play with – using intensity, suspense, prolonging, foreboding and so on. All of their advice was useful, however, I already knew about these tips from studying creative writing, and it was just beautiful music to my ears. Although, I loved it when they spoke about that there’s a lot of discipline in writing, and that with writers, our creative process is to plan the book, and think, write, and let it incubate. Love that word, incubate, like mother hens sitting on their eggs, waiting for their darlings to hatch. And last of all, that of course no idea is original anymore, however, if you put Idea A and Idea B together, you have something unique! So keep that in mind.

There were some other great speakers as well, like Vin Farrell, the Global Chief Content Officer of Havas Worldwide, who spoke about capturing an experience on your Instagram using your iPhone and how it can build a business. Our iPhones are tools. Then there was Tania De Jong, Founder and CEO of Creative Universe of Creativity Australia, who talked about that every human being is creative, even if they don’t believe it. If you can problem solve, that means you’re creative, you’re using your creative tool box – what an eye opener and simple way to think about things! And then she talked about how creativity leads to improved wellbeing, social inclusion, innovation, leadership, productivity and transformation – so I think I’m doing a pretty damn good job with my writing then. And the last thing she said was that we all need to use our creative voice.

IMG_0818Then there was Andrew Evans, Product Designer and Magician of IDEO, and his spectacular magic tricks and using a metaphor to tell us how magicians create impossible moments on a stage, which is what designers do too, they create impossible experiences in the world. And I can’t forget to mention David Shing, Digital Prophet of AOL, who spoke so brilliantly and fast that I was typing like a maniac to keep up with him and his amazing mind. He just kept going and going – nonstop, faster and faster about technology, content distribution, consumer ownership – how technology helps gives us control, digital alliance with the physical product, how marketing always follows audiences, how culture and code together gives us creativity, and that whenever you are going to fail in life, which we will all come across, fail forward – and that if you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun!

Wow – what a miraculous day about the creative genius and harnessing your creative fuel. A huge inspiration and insight into the world of business, marketing, technology and advertising. A clear and clever day to get me motivated and writing.

Till next time,
Claire

Writerly Update, August

Hi Everyone,

Wow, I didn’t realise that I haven’t written a writerly update since January! I have been reading and researching contemporary YA novels for my creative thesis from last year. I have currently finished the 2nd draft of my YA contemporary novel that I had started for my Manuscript Project. I’m at the moment undergoing a structural edit of the 100,000 word manuscript and then I’ll need to copy-edit and proof read it in the following weeks. I’m really pleased with the development and exploration of my characters and the contemporary themes in the novel. I just need to get it finished before the 14th of September so that I can submit it to the Ampersand Project by Hardie Grant Egmont. It’s going to be a challenge but I’ve been working on it for the past 2 months and I know I can get it done. It’s going to be such a nice feeling to know that the novel is finally finished after 6 years since its conception.

Also, I wanted to share with you that I was featured on the MQ Faces of the Arts activity on Facebook back in June. It’s an honour to be featured as one of MQ’s Arts’ students showcasing my interests and achievements.

Best wishes,
Claire