Musings of a great career – Author Patricia Lee Sits down with Debut Author V.C. Birlidis
I am so pumped having my guest with me today. Not only is he one of a handful of men who are authors with my house, but he has the most wicked and warped sense of humor!!
When I asked Vas to describe the experience of when he got his “call” to be published, he came through with flying colors:
‘It was a usual, crazy day at SBC Advertising. We had just pushed out a major proposal, which we ended up winning. I decided to check my email to see if I had received any responses on my novel. I didn’t expect to find anything new in my email.
I had recently decided to self-publish because no one seemed interested in Muse Unexpected. I had received some amazing feedback from various publishers who believed my concept had promise, but was still a diamond in the rough. Taking the advice from one publisher, I worked with an editor and managed to refine my novel, pairing it down from 125K words to 98K words. Crescent Moon Press was one of the first publishers that I sent the revised novel to.I found an email from Crescent Moon Press and my first though was, “Great… another thanks, but no thanks…” I almost didn’t open it. But I did.“Holy Shit!”I read it again.“Oh my God!”I then promptly spilled my coffee all over my shirt, jumping up and hitting my head on the bookcase in my office and my shin on the edge of my desk.’
So sit back, grab a cup of java and join the fun while I interview Vas about the characters in his debut novel, Muse Unexpected.
Pat: Okay, Vas, I won’t ask you about what you said AFTER you hit your head and shin!! Start off by telling the readers a bit about you.
Vas: Well, it was a delicious rant of other four-letter words, followed by me declaring it disco Friday as I celebrated. Disco Friday consists of me playing songs on my iPhone and basically dancing around the agency…yeah…typical day at SBC. But I digress…I was born and raised in Miami, Florida and have always been involved in the arts. I attended the New World School of the Arts and was a member of The Miami Ballet. L’amour, l’amour brought me to Ohio…that and attending college where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in marketing and communications from Capital University. I’m the Director of Marketing at one of the top midwest advertising agencies, SBC Advertising. When I’m not enjoying living in Columbus, Ohio’s historic Clintonville neighborhood, you can find me writing in my family’s lake-side cottage located near Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Pat: Yeah, I remember you’d mentioned something about a cottage when you first came on board at CMP. I’m going to have to stop by one of these days LOL!!(Silence. He’s not agreeing. Sigh)
Pat: Okey-dokey. Moving on…Give us some insight into Muse Unexpected.
Vas: What?? Sorry, I tuned out for a bit. The book? Sure.
The book is an epic adventure for sixteen-year-old Sophie Drago. After the death of her father, Sophie is horrified to find out that her mother and grandmother are Greek Muses (goddesses) and Sophie was expected to take up the family business.
At first, Sophie was sure her mother had reached an epic level of crazy. ‘We’re Muses?’ She thought Muses were lame, not to mention she found the idea ridiculous. However, Sophie couldn’t explain away her physical transformation that made Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries look like a bad Walmart make-over, not to mention why her mood swings triggered an uncontrollable ability to shoot powerful bursts of energy out of her hands.
Sophie soon realizes modern day Muses have evolved into powerful guardians of humankind, tasked with keeping mortals on the right path and the original Olympians locked away from the world. But old hatreds don’t die easily, especially for immortal enemies that have an eternity to plot and gather their forces. Well aware of the Fates’ foretelling of another Olympian war, and a young Muse that would rise up as a warrior and defeat them, the Olympians have vowed to either possess Sophie or destroy her. Either way, they will make sure everyone associated with their imprisonment will reap an eternal damnation in the Underworld, leaving the Olympians to restore Mount Olympus and force humankind into a future of never-ending servitude and misery.
Pat: Since Muse Unexpected takes place in modern day, how would your characters react if they were thrown into a fantasy world?
Vas: In the fantasy sub-culture of the real world, all of the characters struggle dealing with the supernatural in the modern world. I think for most of them they would prefer an either/or option, which is where a huge part of the conflict comes in. The Greek Gods greatly struggle with today’s reality, which often turn comical when they are reduced to dealing with the mundane.
Pat: Kay, this is my favorite part of the interview – what is the best line for both your hero and heroine and give a bit of a lead-in.
Vas: This is going to sound gross, but it is one heck of a funny line. After rehearsing for Sophie’s debut, which includes a lot of waltzing, Bennett is a bit sweaty and ripe. Sophie comments on this and Bennett’s response is : “Come on. You know my musk is one big slice of sexy. Smell my armpits.”
Pat: Hahahaha, I love that. And Sophie?
Vas: When faced with yet another embarrassing situation, in front of the guy she is madly infatuated with, Sophie has the following thought: “I may be covered in cherub guts, but the last thing I’m going to do is vomit in front of a hot guy. All that’s left for me to embarrass myself more would be to fart.” I love that line.
Pat: When I first read that I almost spewed my coffee!! And by the way, women don’t fart, they fluff.(Oh, the evil eye again and this time with a snort of disbelief while he’s waving his hand in front of his face!!)
Vas: You haven’t met my best friend, Lor.
Pat: A great book always has good secondary characters. Who is yours in this novel?
Vas: (aiming air freshener at me!) Aletheria, the Oracle is one of my favorite creations. She is so over the top and just the perfect example of Euro-Trash, you can’t help but loving her. Her world is full of “darlings” and massive portions of obsessive eating. She truly embraces life in a way that most wish they could.[spritz, spritz]
Pat: Very funny. Winding down now, if Muse was made into a movie, who would you like to see play your characters?Vas: Here is my dream cast, extended beyond key players: Bennett: (Sophie’s love interest, Half Human/Half Minataur) Charlie or Max Carver;
Sophie: Jennifer Lawrence or Amanda Seyfried or Amanda Stone;
Callie (Sophie’s Mother): Angelina Jolie or Sandra Bullock;
Angelo (Sophie’s Father): George Clooney;
Miranda: Diana Agron;
Penny: Judi Dench;
Persephone: Dakota Fanning;
Hades: Alexander Skarsgard;
Charon (The Ferryman): Ryan Gosling;
Angela (Half Gorgon/Half Witch and Sophie’s best friend): Amandla Stenberg;
Georgia (Sophie’s grandmother): Jessica Lang or Michelle Pfeiffer,or Meryl Streep (My dark horse selection would be Cher. Wouldn’t that be incredible!);
Winnie: Lesley Nicol (of Downton Abbey fame);
and lastly The Fates: Rose- Gena Rowlands; Agatha- Maggie Smith; Cleo – Octavia Spencer.
Pat: You’ve got a bang-up cast!! Where can we get our hands on a copy of Muse?
Vas: On Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Pat: What about you?
Vas: What about me…you want to get your hands on me??
Pat: Ahhh…Not!! I mean where can people find you on the web (geesh the guy gets published and he thinks everyone wants him!!)
Vas: Oh, (phew!) On Facebook, my website, Twitter and MySpace.
Pat: Well, time to wrap things up. I’ve had a blast having you on my blog today Vas, and wish you all the best with Muse Unexpected.
Vas: Thanks, Pat. I truly wish I could say it’s been great. Who am I kidding…? I mean really….
Pat: [exasperated sigh] Bye, Vas.
A Writer's First Mountain To Climb: The Blank Page
January 30, 2013
Staring at that first blank page, wondering what the hell you're going to write about, has to be the most daunting starting line for any author.
Five years ago I re-entered the corporate workforce. I had been a successful independent marketing and communications consultant, but thanks to the downturn in the economy my entire client-base disappeared. I had resigned myself to killing my creative side and focusing on the greater good of a regular paycheck.
Realizing how unhappy this would make me, my better-half suggested that I write a book.
"Why the hell not? Everyone tells you how funny you are and how you tell a great story. How hard could it be?" He said to me.
Yeah..... WTF... So there I sat, in my newly created "author's" office, with just the right amount of Arts & Crafts furniture, a few items that have sentimental value for me that would hopefully spark some sort of story. I carefully placed a picture of my mother, who had passed away when I was 21, to watch over me.
I was set. Off I went.And that damn blank page stared back at me. The cursor blinking at me and I was sure it was doing it in a taunting way. Like it was saying, "I friggin dare you to type one word."
So I did exactly that. I typed the word, "word". I quickly deleted it.
I sat there for about 10 minutes, mulling things in my mind and decided the problem was hunger. I needed to make a sandwich. 10 minutes later, I returned, sandwich in hand and decided...well I couldn't write and eat a sandwich at the same time, so I began going to my usual cyber haunts like CNN.com and Washingtonpost.com, getting caught up on my politics.
And then the spark hit me and I began to type. It was good. I was sure of it. I was working on the next, great American novel. Move over J.K. Rowling, I was the new sheriff in town. After I had written several pages I stopped and sat back satisfied. This writing stuff wasn't so hard and to prove it, I would reread what I had just created and allow myself to be amazed at my brilliance.
I had written the start of a story, about a little girl, alone in her room, at night. She was startled awake by a huge crack of lighting and thunder, she had a premonition that her father was going to die.
It sounded familiar...way too familiar.... It was stormy... at night.... Shit! I had just written my own version of "It was a dark and stormy night..." Perfect. I tore up the printed copies of my "masterpiece", shut my computer down and walked out of the room. It took me a month to return to my "author's" office when inspiration struck me in the form of Muse Unexpected.