Interview with Vasileios Kalampakas

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up at Pyli, near Trikala, a small picturesque municipality, smack in the middle of a gorge, a river overflowing. It did provide for daydreaming, and scenic ideas.
When did you first start writing?
If any sort of fiction counts, of any level, that would be at the age of six. Had my moment of eco-terrorism and gene splicing all mixed into one.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, Game of Po, starts out as a fun, light-hearted adventure reminiscent of pen-and-paper RPG and slowly unfolds into a coming of age story, mixed with intergalactic politics, mystery and dangerous escapades, trying to keep up with a comedic style of storytelling.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The distinction between an indie author and a signed, published author is the backing of someone who believes in your storytelling, your capacity as a writer. Until that person shows up, there is no other road to travel than that of an indie author.
In essence, I'm either hoping to develop a fanbase or attract a publishing house.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It has made my ebooks widely available, the coupons and the ease of distribution coupled with the capacity to give out free copies and track the views and sales all make up for a very friendly, centralised way to attract new readers.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The first and last words on a novel. The sense of closure for a story. The quirky little scene or piece of dialog. The appreciation from a fan. Everything, really.
What do your fans mean to you?
They mean a real lot. A story without an audience is like an empty tomb. Fans provide the impetus, as well as the criticism that makes an author better and better at his craft. They are the reason I like to strive forward with each new story.
What are you working on next?
Two novels currently, the prequel to "Bobby on a Stick" and a full length scifi novel, tentatively called "Omniad".
Who are your favorite authors?
That's an easy one - Iain M. Banks, who recently passed away, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Philip K. Dick, and Frank Herbert. Also, in an entirely different vein, Thomas Pynchon.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Life, you know. Hope. The next best idea. Sun rays.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Working a day job, pondering, cooking, cleaning. Just like a regular Joe.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mainly by looking for the next in a loved series, or by a friend's suggestion. Honestly, I'm not the type to go on a shopping spree. I'm really selective and fearful of being disappointed.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes! It was a couple of pages long, and it involved the secret gathering of an underground army made out of gene-spliced sentient tomatoes and cucumbers, led by an enigmatic snakehead figure. I was only six at the time, but with a major rework it could find its way into a novel, don't you think?
What is your writing process?
Depends. I have still to find what works best with each kind of story, although I would say I work best in bursts. Sometimes a story will form in my head from start to finish, and then each piece will be written in its own due time. Other times I start out without having the slightest clue where I'm going to end up. I've also tried fencing myself in and making sure I pace myself and the story, not doing the bold thing, keeping it simple and clear.
I do believe though that when I find myself unable to stop that I'm on something good and solid. I rarely revise the story, but I do try to change what doesn't feel right without sacrificing my initial feeling.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
If I'm not mistaken the first story I ever read was 'The Cask of Amontillado' by Edgar Allan Poe and it really imparted to me the sense of sheer, lonely terror of the character in the story. It's impact was that a story, words in general, can have an altogether very real effect on the reader. It made me feel, and that's how I knew there was something terrible, in all the good and bad ways, to be experienced when reading.
How do you approach cover design?
Hmm, initially I did the covers on my own, trying to use as much publicly available material as possible. I've also had my two latest covers commissioned. I believe that depending on the story and the feeling, one can do a good enough job on his own. Although, a professionally designed, arranged and created cover does give a whole other feeling to a book. It provides the reader with anticipation for something good and wholesome if done right.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Lord of the Rings - because of its beautiful, unmatched prose
Dune - because of its fantastic, clear shot at humanity's faults and future
VALIS - because of its psychedelic, mind-tripping lack of structure and the meanings within meanings
Thief of Time - because of the wonderful characters, smart plot, eloquent structure and fun factor
Use of Weapons - because probably one of the best written plot twists in a complex, antagonizing universe
What do you read for pleasure?
History books. Classic sci-fi. I've become a fan of the Horus Heresy series lately - I'm enthralled by the universe of Warhammer 40k.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My laptop, really. No kindle or nook for me, although I've been tempted.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Sadly, free pricing. And next to that coupons and any major site announcements.
Describe your desk
Cluttered yet spartan. Order out of chaos, that sort of thing.
Published 2014-01-16.
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