Greek writer-director Jimmy Corinis is a master of crime fiction and one of the few authors who writes in Greek and English. He sold his first crime story at the age of 14 and became a full-time professional detective story writer at 18, writing for the cult magazine Maska, the equivalent of the American pulp magazine Black Mask. Five of Corinis’ books in the series featuring the hardboiled private detective Plato Cartessis are now available in English on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format with a sixth one on the way. With an effortless style that hearkens back to an earlier era, a gift for snappy dialogue, and great attention to detail, Corinis has created an impressive body of work in a sometimes overlooked genre. The prolific author spoke with The National Herald about his writing career and offered his advice to aspiring crime fiction authors.
TNH: Did you always want to be a writer?
Jimmy Corinis: There was no other way for me. I started reading (secretly, of course) crime fiction in the legendary Maska Mystery Magazine at the age of 9, stealing the issues from my eldest brother. I was bitten by the writer’s bug at the age of 11 when my classmates decided we should publish a (handwritten) school magazine. Each one of us was asked to write something or other. I said I was going to write a story. And I did. The “Editor” read it and rejected it, saying: “We said no cheating. Write something of your own.” It was my own, I hadn’t cheated, but I said nothing. Months later, my first crime story (400 hundred words) was published in a literary magazine. That was 1949. In 1953, I started writing stories for the daily newspaper Empros using American names (Jimmy Courley). I was fired when the Editor found out I hadn’t finished high school. In 1955, I became the main contributor of Maska from which I was fired because I was too ambitious, I was told. I remained jobless for three years. In 1958, I became the main contributor of Mystery Magazine, Maska’s opponent and in 1963, I became the Chief Editor of my beloved Maska, a post I kept for 11 years, when the magazine ceased its publication.
TNH: You're a prolific author, what inspires your work the most?
JC: Crime reported in all its forms by the media as well as some of my personal experiences.
TNH: Among your many books, do you have a particular favorite?
JC: No, I Iove them all because I have put a lot of work into them and I mean a lot of hard work. Maybe I love the Ionian Intrigue a little bit more because I was personally involved in a couple episodes.
Books by Jimmy Corinis now available on Amazon. (Photo: Courtesy of Jimmy Corinis)
TNH: Your books are inherently dramatic and you are a member of the Directors Guild of Greece, are there plans for adapting them for film or TV?
JC: That was attempted and done years ago (1970-1990) for the Greek TV as you can see if you visit my page at YouTube [J. D. Corinis], but my involvement as writer/director was opposed by such envy that finally made me self-exile to another country for 30 years.
TNH: What is your writing regime like, do you write at certain times of the day?
JC: Very early in the morning (5 AM or earlier) when everybody else is in bed, there is no noise in the air and my mind is crystal clear.
TNH: What advice would you offer someone interested in writing crime fiction?
JC: He or she should never think it’s an easy job. A sharp mind is required, combined with an elephant’s memory so that one remembers what he wrote before what he is writing at a particular moment and the will and the power to put his ego aside that he or she has written a masterpiece and edit his/her work again and again until there is nothing to change, exhausting all better words that could have been used to describe a scene or a situation.
TNH: What are you working on next?
JC: I am writing the 6th Plato Cartessis book for Amazon, actually adapting it from another novel of mine that is proving the hardest job I have ever had to do, literally exhausting me. What keeps me going is the fact that the story is good and I mean it – really good!
Jimmy Corinis’ books are available on Amazon.