NEW YORK – Greek-Canadian author and filmmaker Christos Sourligas spoke to The National Herald about his latest book, The Island of Zoe, co-written with Athens-based author Dino Hajiyorgi. available for free on Wattpad — the world’s largest, Canadian-based, website and app for readers and writers with over 80 million users.
Sourligas’ My Big Fat Greek Cookbook, a #1 bestselling cookbook based on his mom’s Greek recipes, was published in 2019 and is distributed worldwide through publishing behemoth Simon & Schuster.
The Island of Zoe is a fantasy romance novel following a Greek-American woman named Zoe who journeys to her grandmother’s native island in Greece and uncovers some remarkable secrets about the Blue Zone island and her own family history as well. As the locals struggle to conceal the truth, Zoe begins to fall for a local young man about to be ordained as a priest, who takes her to the heart of the mystery, changing the fate of the island forever.
TNH: Following the success of your cookbook, what inspired you to write romance/fantasy this time?
Christos Sourligas: I create and I write all the time. I would go nuts otherwise. I normally have about a dozen creative projects always on the go. I need it. It’s my life force. I’m a storyteller at heart. And when my heart speaks to me, I simply take pen to paper and write, on and on. I almost never set out to write… it just comes naturally to me. It’s like breathing.
TNH: How long did the process take from idea to publication?
CS: It’s hard to say. I originally created The Island of Zoe as a feature film script and then shared it with a writer buddy of mine for comments. Dinos Hajiyorgi lives in Greece and we've partnered together before on other projects, so I totally trust his instincts. He’s a super talented, published author who studied film in California and we completely connect when it comes to storytelling. And he immediately fell in love with the project! We then decided to take turns writing a novel from my original material with the idea of releasing the book version first, which would then allow us to promote the eventual production of a feature film. So when the global COVID lockdown occurred, we thought it was the perfect moment to launch the book online for free on Wattpad- the world’s largest website and app for readers and writers with over 80 million users. Dinos and I simply wanted to share The Island of Zoe with the rest of world, especially since Greece is out of reach for North Americans for the time being. And with that, we edited another draft of the book over the period of 25 days, releasing one chapter of the book on Wattpad per day.
TNH: What’s your writing regimen like? Do you write at specific times of the day?
CS: I write anywhere, everywhere and at any time. I’m completely at ease writing at home, on a park bench, on the beach, sitting in public transit or even at the doctor’s office. And I almost never experience writer’s block… guess I’m lucky that way.
TNH: Where in Greece is the family from?
CS: I love answering this question! Because I get to proudly say that my roots are from Arcadia in the Peloponnese. The land of Pan. The land of the river Styx. The land of the ‘original’ Zeus of Lycaeus. As I mentioned in My Big Fat Greek Cookbook, to me, Arcadia represents “the life of the simple shepherd. The life idealized by Romantic poets like Lord Byron, Shelley, Keats. Nature. Pasture. Utopia. Where the wilderness is unspoiled and the mountainous landscape so vast, it forces you to connect with the bounty that is… life.”
TNH: Do you visit Greece often?
CS: Yes, I visit annually. Last year, I was there for six months. It was brilliant! I highly recommend it to Greeks and non-Greeks alike. Beyond the typical tourist corners, the vibe in Greece is so unique, so separate from the New World and most definitely different from the rest of Europe. My friend Erie Kirjia, who’s the Deputy Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Greece, said it best: “Greece is neither Europe, nor the Middle East — it’s the Middle West.” Which is totally true!
TNH: Your Greek heritage clearly informs your work, are there any other upcoming projects related to Greece, another Greek cookbook or novel set in Greece, perhaps?
CS: Another great question! I’m nothing without my Greek blood; it’s what drives me emotionally, mentally, and artistically. I’m currently developing my third feature film based on The Island of Zoe with Panos Papahadzis and his production company, Argonauts Productions. Panos is Greece’s top feature film Executive Producer, having produced well over 50 films which is simply unheard of! Also, I’m helping a well-known Athens-based television writer to develop, package, and pitch her first English language historical television series which is set in Greece. We have already attached both a Greek production company and television network and we’re now in talks with several potential international production companies. Plus, there are a few more projects that I’m currently exploiting with other partners that I’m not in the liberty to mention at the moment. More news to follow!
The Island of Zoe by Dino Hajiyorgi and Christos Sourligas is available online for free on Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/story/221789567-the-island-of-zoe.
My Big Fat Greek Cookbook by Christos Sourligas is available online and wherever books are sold.