Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A conversation with Chris Katsaropoulos

Chris Katsaropoulos is the author of more than a dozen titles, including two novels, Fragile and Antiphony, which is scheduled for release in September 2011. He has traveled extensively in Europe and North America, and enjoys collecting books and music. 

Tell us about your new novel?

ANTIPHONY is the story of Theodore Reveil, one of the leading lights in string theory physics, who is about to present his research at a major international conference of particle physicists when he discovers he has lost his notes for the presentation. As he is ransacking his hotel room in search of the missing notes, he has a vision—hears a voice—and thinks he may be going off the deep end. Nevertheless, he goes to the podium to deliver his speech, and in the midst of his distraction and confusion, poses the question, “What if the universe, instead of being a giant machine, as we have looked at it and studied it for the past 300 years, is really a giant thought?”
Then he crosses a line which he can never step back over again, saying “The infinities and singularities in our equations may be telling us that what we are missing is unknowable in terms of physical science. These unsolvable terms in our equations may be roadsigns pointing to consciousness—to God—as the missing piece of the puzzle.”

The novel traces the downward spiral of Theodore’s career in the wake of what he has said. His life unravels, but he also goes through a remarkable transformation that leads him into the depths of madness . . . or the revelation of the Final Theory of Everything, the ultimate secret of the universe.

How is this novel different than your previous novels?

This novel is similar to FRAGILE, my previous novel, in that it explores altered and higher states of consciousness, ways of knowing and experiencing the universe that go beyond the physical world we can experience with our normal five senses. In FRAGILE, one of the main characters dies, and re-connects with her childhood sweetheart from the realm beyond death. In ANTIPHONY, Theodore experiences several visions of higher dimensions beyond the physical world, but neither he nor the reader can be sure whether Theodore is really seeing a higher reality, or simply going insane.

What do you see as difference between literary and genre novels?   

I suppose the main difference is that genre novels have a framework of somewhat standardized conventions that provide a context for telling the story and developing the characters. Literary novels lack these kinds of constraints and provide a more open platform for exploring form and structure within the novel.

What are the difficulties and pleasures of writing?

I love all the parts of the writing process- love spending lots of time developing the themes and ideas and structure of my novels even before I write the first word. I may spend a year or more developing the novel before I begin writing. Though I don’t map out the entire book, I have a very strong idea about the central themes and characters of my books before I start writing, and I have a very specific visual image about how the novels begin and end- then I let the story in between flow from there. I spend a year or more writing and revising the manuscript, crafting each scene of the book and letting it evolve into the final product.

When did you know you were a writer?

When I decided to write the novels I always wanted to write, rather than trying to write something I thought would be easier to sell or would sell more copies.

What’s a work day like for you?

I spend many months working on the themes and ideas and characters for my books during the day- making fairly extensive notes about what I want the novel to be like when it’s finished. Then, when I’ve started writing the manuscript, I write in the middle of the night, when no one else is awake or around. I don’t write every night, maybe once or twice a week. If I wake up in the middle of the night—usually around 3 a.m.—I know enough ideas have boiled up through the subconscious to get me out of bed and downstairs to the laptop. I may spend 2 hours or so in a writing session, and write 500-1,000  words each time.

What’s a day off like for you?

 Most days are days off, but I’m always thinking about the next book, and writing down ideas as they come to me.

If you could be anything other than writer, what would it be?

A buddhist monk, or concert pianist!

Any advice for new writers, especially those considering self-publishing instead of taking the traditional route to publishing? 
Because of the technology, there are a lot of different ways to get your book on the market, and fewer gatekeepers between you and your readers. There’s no silver bullet any more- getting a contract with a major house doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a big PR budget behind your book, so now more than ever, authors have to be prepared to reach out to their readers, and use as many ways as possible to do that. The traditional route still works for many writers, but there are other ways too, and that means more people can get their stories in front of readers.

How do you define success?

In terms of my writing, success is when I can open to a page of one of my novels and find a spark of magic in it, something unique that sets a passage apart and makes it memorable, or makes the reader stop and think.

What’s next for you?

I’m in the idea-building phase for my next novel. I have the basic idea in mind and am starting to get bits and pieces of how I want it all to fit together. May be a few more months before I get to the point where I’m ready to write. In the meantime, some of my recent poems are appearing on my blog, http://antiphonyck.blogspot.com/

ANTIPHONY is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/vrpHjT

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