Why did you become a children’s books author? Were you interested in stories and pictures as a child, or was it your own child that needed stories, or is it a way to make the world a better place to live in?
It is as if I am asked why I respire. Children’s literature gives me, first of all, the unique opportunity to keep my imagination vivid, to extricate myself from the bondage of the adult, tired rationality, to recreate the world improved, as the children only can do. Tasos Leivaditis, one of the greats amongst the postwar generation of Greek poets, writes somewhere “Any door I opened, I entered into my childhood”. Similarly, Paul Gauguin said “Sometimes I go back, far away, further than the horses of the Parthenon, to the wooden rocking horses of my childhood”. As for me, I declare being a nostalgic fan of my childhood. Children’s literature constitutes the ideal vehicle for this journey to the past, a journey which I experience equivalently thanks to the excavations I conduct as an archaeologist. Since I was a boy, I was fascinated by fiction stories and starting by images, printed or not, I was making my own ones. I dwelled happily inside them. Actually, I think that I “was writing” stories before learning to read and write – I was a kind of prewriting stories-teller. Undoubtedly, writing for the children, with solemnity and awareness of the significance of this role, we can achieve at least a minimum contribution to the creation of a better world. There is always space for improvement. And if we want to change things, I believe, that we should have to begin with the children, who, eventually, will pass on the torch to the future.
Do you write also for adults?
Since my childhood, I experience writing as an act of personal identity as well as a communicational necessity. So, despite the fact that my literary activity focus on children’s books, it covers though simultaneously other forms of literature, like poetry (5 collections of poems published), short stories, theatrical plays, essays, literary reviews etc. This broad range involvement in adult’s literature and the continuous exercise on its fields help me actually, as I believe, to write better literature for the children.
Do you believe that children’s books should be read by grownups as well?
I firmly believe that a good book for children, written with respect and principles, as well as with all the ingredients of true literature, can broaden the restricted age group of the readers. This multifaceted issue, of course, cannot be discussed within a few lines. However, one of the infallible criteria of a high quality children’s book is to be read pleasantly by adults as well. I would underline here the great impact books, like the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland of Lewis Carroll or Le petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, as well as many of the stories of Hans Christian Andersen or of Oscar Wilde, have on the adult readership until nowadays.
Do you remember when and where your first text was published?
How could I forget? I was about 10 years old, when my beloved grandfather, the father of my father, passed away. Deeply moved by this incident of great loss, I felt the necessity to write a short story, which was published soon afterwards in the then prestigious children’s magazine Diaplasis ton Paidon (“Children’s Guidance”) – periodical with a long publishing “tradition” from the late 19th century onwards. This was the prolific starting point. So, my grandfather contributed, in some way, to become a writer.
Do you have a favourite among your books?
It is difficult to answer this question. It seems as if someone had to choose the most beloved among his children. However, I always keep a special place for my first book for children entitled The strange love of the white horse and the poplar tree (1987), since it made a wide path for me to the children’s literature. Simultaneously, every time I grant favors to my latest book, which, like a newborn child, demands my special love and care.
What are you working on right now?
Usually, a pile of ideas for children’s stories and tales springs in my mind or in my notebooks. This “jam” seems often tantalizing, since time has its own cruel logic. Which of my ideas will have the occasion to take form, to be completed? However, recently a short novel with the title “The little shop which was selling time” appears to take form. It is actually a story, articulated by different short episodes, some of which are funny, while others are “dramatic”. It is based on an idea conceived many years ago, the basic theme of which is the time management. As I am writing it, I think that it is aimed at all ages, starting from children.