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Literature

Eleni Fuiaxis on Her Debut Children’s Book Picky Patrick

Eleni Fuiaxis, a New York City-based model, actress, teacher, and entrepreneur, spoke with The National Herald about writing her first children’s book, Picky Patrick, and shared the challenges she faced as a first-time author, the most rewarding aspects of the process, and what she is working on next.

TNH: What inspired you to write the book?

Eleni Fuiaxis: My children Zen and Billy inspired me to write my stories down but the whole thing came about by accident to be honest. Allow me to explain. Like many parents, I was a busy working mother of two young boys and exhausted all the time… especially at night but I recognized the importance of reading to them and connecting with them before bedtime. So I would read to them almost every night. However, on many occasions I was so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open so I started to make up stories instead. They seemed to prefer the made up stories and looked forward to them. That worked for me because I didn’t have to struggle to keep my eyes open and as an actress, storytelling came naturally to me. I would keep the story going until they fell asleep. Some mornings the boys would wake up and ask what happened in the story the night before and I genuinely couldn’t remember. That’s when they began insisting I start writing my stories down and I eventually did. That was over eight years ago and my boys are teenagers now.

TNH: How long did the book take from idea to publication?

EF: That’s a loaded question because I had the ideas and started to piece the stories together and had even found a publisher in 2014 but then my marriage fell apart and I lost my publisher. Then I got back on track with another publisher, Mascot Books in October of 2020 and my book Picky Patrick was supposed to launch last year in the spring but there were major delays due to COVID and a paper supply shortage. So taking all those things into consideration it took eight years (!) to publish my book and get it out into the universe. I intentionally included some of these details in the back of the book because I’m hoping to inspire others out there to never give up on their dream! Picky Patrick is officially launching on July 12th, less than a month away!

Eleni Fuiaxis. Photo: Courtesy of Eleni Fuiaxis

TNH: What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

EF: Despite the fact that it took eight years to birth this book and get it published everybody says that’s the easy part. I understand now why they say that. The most challenging part for me was not writing it but promoting it. As a first time author, it’s challenging getting the word out there that you have published a book. Most people know me as an actress, a model or most recently, as an elementary school teacher. So creating that awareness and being acknowledged and recognized as an author is definitely a challenge. Children’s books is also a very oversaturated market and it’s challenging to bring attention to your book, especially as a first time author.

TNH: What was the most rewarding aspect?

EF: The most rewarding part is by far getting to share and read Picky Patrick to children during my author visits and seeing their faces light up in delight and wonder and spending quality time connecting with them afterwards. I don’t just read the story and then head home. The magic happens when the story ends and we discuss questions and prompts at the end of the story. Hearing feedback from the kids firsthand has been incredibly rewarding and validating. For example, I had a first grade student who said to me immediately after a read aloud: “I understand people’s feelings better now. I understand life better. I can tell you’re really proud you wrote this book.” My book promotes social emotional learning (SEL which is part of the core curriculum in New York) and teaches self-acceptance, self-esteem, tolerance, kindness, inclusivity, problem-solving, and gratitude. Kids, parents and educators alike appreciate the story and the values it offers children. These are lessons that will serve them throughout their lifetime.

TNH: Where is the family originally from in Greece?

EF: Both my parents are from Sparta.

TNH: What are you working on next?

EF: I just got back from my book tour in Great Falls, Montana. I’m booking my author visits at elementary schools for fall and I have three other finished manuscripts ready to go to print. Picky Patrick’s siblings Smelly Nelly, Scared Steven, and Negative Nathan are excited to join him.

Picky Patrick is available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3NcMZ1S and on the Mascot Books website: https://bit.ly/3N5SuPR.

Follow Eleni Fuiaxis on Instagram: https://bit.ly/3HAYVZP.

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