Author Spotlight: Kathryn Gauci
This month in the Author Spotlight, meet Award-winning Author Kathryn Gauci. Keep reading to for a Q&A about her and her books.
Meet Kathryn Gauci
Born in Leicestershire, England, this Brit author fell in love with Greece and is a true PhilHellene. She studied textile design at Loughborough College of Art and later at Kidderminster College of Art and Design where she specialized in carpet design and technology. After, she spend a year in Austria before moving to Greece. There, she worked as a carpet designer in Athens for six years. She is the critically-acclaimed, international best-selling author of 10 works of historical fiction.
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Q&A with Kathryn Gauci
You lived in Greece. Tell us about it.
I lived in Greece from 1972-78, in Kypseli, a suburb of Athens.
While there, you worked as a carpet designer in Greece.
I was part of a small team of designers in what was then, the largest carpet factory in Greece – Anatolia.
Talk about the experience living in Greece.
The carpet factory was situated in Nea Ionia/Kalogreza, in what was an Asia Minor Refugee area. There, I came to know the story of Modern Greece–from those refugees. Not only did I learn about their lives in Asia Minor before the Great Catastrophe and the population exchange of 1923, but I also about WWII.
What’s a favorite memory from your time in Greece?
That’s hard. I felt honored to be accepted by the Greek people. I grew to love the culture, music, food, and the history–both ancient and modern. The best times for me were exploring the ruins and walking through the streets when it was either siesta time or late at night. In those days, there were many houses which still had bullet holes from WWII and the Civil War, and then there was the fall of the Dictatorship. I was in walking distance from the Polytechnic so witnessed the rise of the protests and the terrible aftermath of the tanks being brought in. It was a time of change. A time of optimism.
Did Greece influence your work?
Very much so. I continued with my interest in carpets and textiles, even when I left, but Greece also influenced my personality. I think it suited my free spirit. It’s hard to explain, but I still feel as if a part of me is Greek.
… On Melbourne
How did you end up in Melbourne?
At the time (before the EU) I was married to an Englishman and it was difficult for him to get a work permit. So we needed to find stability; a place to put down roots. I would have stayed in Greece, but it was not possible for him. We went to New Zealand and then separated. Kismet. So I came to Melbourne–still thinking I would return to Greece, but as fate would have it, I met my husband here. (I later learned that stability can sometimes be a state of mind). He was born in Malta and came here in his early teens. I was very happy to find a man with a Mediterranean spirit, who loves Greece and the whole of the Mediterranean as much as I do.
Do you have children?
I am happily married, but have no children of my own although I do have three step-sons and a few grandchildren. The ones who live close we see frequently, which is lovely.
… On Writing
When did you start writing?
Just over ten years ago. Time flies.
I’d had a successful career as a carpet and home textiles designer for over thirty years, but the industry was changing. Plus, I wanted to do something else. Something that was still creative which combined my love of art, history and travel.
Why historical fiction?
I can create a plot with characters and places that my readers can identify with. I want them to feel a part of the story, walking side by side with the characters, as if they were there themselves. Historical fiction allows you to shape a story with light and dark, the good and the bad and to create empathy for the reader.
What are you trying to convey in your stories?
I want my readers to feel they are learning about history without reading a history book; to tell stories based on real events and for them to feel empathy for the characters–good and bad. For all we go through, at the end of the day, we are human beings with emotions. I want my stories to show that emotion.
When did you publish your first book?
You’re a USA Today Best-selling Author!
A group of us–all WWII authors–got together to produce the anthology The Darkest Hour: WWII Tales of Resistance in December 2018. It was only available for a few months and the proceeds went to the Holocaust Memorial in Washington. It became a USA Today Bestseller within the first week. After that period ended, we all had access to our own novellas and republished them ourselves. Mine is Code Name Camille, which I am happy to say, still does well.
… On Inspiration
What inspires you?
Nature, travel, art, films, reading, psychology, and by that I mean what makes a person act the way they do.
Who are some authors you enjoy reading?
Kazantzakis, Louis de Bernieres, D.H. Lawrence.
… On the future
What are you working on now?
I’m three-quarters through my WWII book set in the Pyrenees. Last year, for six weeks, I stayed in a small village, Querigut, in the Donezan in the Ariège Department, bordering the Pyrénées-Orientales. The villagers were extremely helpful. They helped me understand that part of the world during the German Occupation. I learned about the escape routes into Spain, the various maquis groups and resistance, and life in general. It was also interesting to know the huge role the Spanish who had fled Franco’s war during the Retirada played.
Will you set a story in Greece again?
Most definitely. I have a few planned, especially in Constantinople.
Author Spotlight: Kathryn Gauci
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