The National Herald spoke with Demetra Tsavaris-Lecourezos about her children’s book series and her life. So far, she has written four books and recently crossed the country on a book tour of the US.
The National Herald: What inspired you to write children’s books?
Demetra Tsavaris-Lecourezos: My daughter is my inspiration for all I do. When she was just an infant, some 11 years ago, I wanted to teach her everything I possibly could! At that time, I used Baby Einstein as a teaching tool. I was a huge fan! I sat there one day thinking, how clever. I wonder what they will come up with for the next level. My brain started working. I had this incredible idea, and I decided to call Disney. I was transferred to the legal department. I briefly explained why I was calling – it was really to just give the idea. I wasn’t trying to sell anything. The attorney’s response was like a slap in the face. “Ma’am just be aware, anything you tell me, we can use.”
I stopped talking, graciously thanked her for her time, and I hung up the phone. At that moment, I said, “I can do this!” and decided to write. Initially, I wrote a movie script about a family going to Greece for their summer vacation. One movie script has turned into this children’s educational book series.
At the moment, I have stories about New York and Greece published. Ancient Egypt will be published early next year, and England is already written. I promised Katerina she can select the next country the Young World Travelers visit.
I have recently expanded my Young World Travelers “reference library.” My “Letters from Around the World” series encourages children to speak other languages by helping them sound out foreign alphabets in a fun way which I refer to as Edu-tainment! Naturally, “Learning the Greek Alphabet” is the first in this series.
TNH: Can you give us more details about your recent book tour?
DTL: My tour typically includes storytelling, book signing, and an author talk. This past spring I had toured Louisiana. In July was my “Lake Michigan Loop.” The National Hellenic Museum in Chicago invited me as a guest speaker. I had decided while up north, I would make my rounds, scheduling book signings through Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.
Recently, I visited Ocean Avenue Elementary School n Northport, Albany Avenue Elementary School in Farmingdale, Archangel Michael Greek School in Port Washington, PS 175 in Rego Park, and a sponsored book signing at the Stathakion Center in Astoria.
TNH: Your first book got five stars from Reader’s Favorite program and you are a Member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. What is the key to your success?
DTL: KEEP PLUGGING AWAY! As I am typing this, I just received notification that my second book, Ready, Set, OPA! has also received a five-star rating from Reader’s Favorite!
Networking is a key tool if you want any type of business venture to succeed. Someone always knows someone who knows someone. It is no different for an author. Though I must say, it is quite rewarding to have people searching and reaching out to me for appearances!
TNH: You were raised in New York, but recently decided to move to Tarpon Springs. How did you decide on this big change in your life?
DTL: My parents were born and raised in Tarpon Springs. All of my grandparents were born on the Dodecanese Islands of Symi and Halki. They all came to America in their younger years, in the early 1900’s, and made Tarpon Springs their home. They were involved with the community and our St. Nicholas Church (now a cathedral). Actually, my father’s parents were the first couple to be married in the original St. Nicholas Church. They all had businesses here. I have several cousins who live in Tarpon, and several of the “old-timers” here went to school with my parents. As a young girl, we often visited for summer vacations.
When my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the doctors had given him 5 years to live. Now that I know more about the disease, I think it was cruel to give us all false hope. He survived one year and three months. While going through treatments, he told me one day that he wanted to leave New York. With the strongest New York accent in me, I turned to him and asked “Where duh ya wanna go?!” We were both born and bred in New York. He had obviously been thinking about it because he quickly responded with “Arizona, Texas, or Florida. Make it happen.” Considering my roots and that his parents had a summer house nearby, we decided on Tarpon. Moving to Tarpon was like moving home.
We decided we were going to open a boubounierra shop together. He had named it “Given With Love” and he even signed the corporate papers with me. But he never got to see the beautiful shop which I had to close last year after I too was diagnosed with cancer.
TNH: What are your future plans?
DTL: At present, I continue to schedule tours promoting my current books. God willing, after the New Year, I will focus on getting the book about Egypt published. My goal is to have at least one book published per year and to expand my Young World Travelers reference library.