Author Spotlight: Irene Sardanis
Welcome back! This month, meet Greek-American Author Irene Sardanis and learn more about her work.
Meet Irene Sardanis
Born in New York to Greek immigrant parents, Author Irene Sardanis, PhD is also a retired psychologist. She and her husband John now call California home. I recently learned that sometimes she likes to moonlight as a jazz vocalist. Keep reading to find out more.
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Q&A with Irene Sardanis
… On her Greek roots
Where is your family from in Greece?
Although I was born in New York I feel I am also from Greece. When I visited my mother’s island, Mytilene, I realized she never left but took the village with her to the Bronx. That’s why I rebelled.
Does your Greek heritage influence your work?
Of course. I had to work hard not to be judgmental. My mother’s values had a profound influence on how I saw the world. It took a lot of therapy to have a broad view–and not a narrow one.
… On life and work
You’re a retired psychologist.
As a psychologist, I felt honored to help others. There was a Greek woman who came to see me because she believed she lost her identity. “I don’t know who I am anymore,” she said. In her 30’s she lived with her parents. Her father was very strict. When she came home late one evening, he threw all her clothes out into the street. Our work was to look at options she had in dealing with her father’s domination.
Did your work inform your writing?
My writing came mostly from family issues, not my work. However, in my new book, Connections, I mention an unforgettable couple I worked with.
… On reading
Who are your favorite authors?
Of course, Nikos Kazantzakis, plus Cheryl Strayed, Anne Patchett, Natalie Goldberg, and Stephen King.
What are some of your favorite books?
Kazantzakis’ Zorba the Greek, and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.
… On writing
When did you start writing?
In my book, Out of the Bronx, there is a chapter called “The Steno Pad”. When I was age 16, my mother would stalk me to see if I was talking with boys. Of course, I was. When I got home my mother would whack me around. After the beatings I’d go into my sister’s room and grab her steno pad and write. Strangely, I felt better after I’d write my feelings out. That was the beginning of my writing.
What inspires your writing?
Writing classes, conferences with teachers with good prompts to write about. When Natalie Goldberg gave the prompt, “I remember…”, My first sentence was “I remember what I would like to forget…” I’m greatly inspired by travel and the people I meet.
What do you like to write?
Nonfiction–but it is actually all fiction because I write about my view of what. I’m taking classes to learn about writing poetry and it’s exciting to explore another way to explore feelings.
What are you trying to convey in your writing?
I wish to offer the reader a view of a different culture, a different experience, a different view of the world.
… On her books
What made you write a book?
There was a social worker I was referred to at age 16 because of the problems with my mother. I thought it was a good time to see her again and tell her how much I loved and appreciated all she did to help me as a troubled teen. In my mind she hadn’t changed and was still the young woman I remembered. When I learned she had died that was the moment I knew I had to write my book. If she saved my life, I hoped my story would save someone else’s. I’d been taking writing classes, but it was Miss B’s death that was the pivotal point to write my book no matter how long or how much it would cost. Yes, it took a while and yes, it cost.
When did you publish your first book?
Out of the Bronx: A Memoir (She Writes Press) was published in May 2019. My second book, Connections – The Power of Connecting with Strangers (Palmetto Publishing), was published this year.
Have you published anything else?
My work has been published in Sun Literary magazine and in many anthologies. The most recent is “The Magic of Memoir.”
Tell us about Out of the Bronx. What’s it about?
Out of the Bronx is a memoir about my relationship with my mother. Childhood abuse is very private. Don’t tell or let anyone know what goes on in the house. Shhhh! It was hard to deal with the critics that said I should not tell. But I had to do it, no matter what the consequences. My mother had a powerful influence over my life. As the youngest of four I was held hostage by my mother. It was painful to write some chapters, especially ‘Sotiris’, but with my book coach urging me to write it, I did. It was published in 2019.
I thought my issues with my mother were over, but there were other memories that came up and I thought my second book would be a sequel to the first, but I got tired of the subject.
What’s Connections about?
As I sought something else to write about, memories of the people I met on my travels came up and that became Connections – The Power of Connecting with Strangers.
I had a lot of fun remembering some of the Greek women who were wonderful, kind, and loving in ways I wished my mother could have been. Other chapters were about other significant people who stood out in my memory.
How have your books been received?
Out of the Bronx, has received three awards for the best inspirational book, 2020/2021. I continue to receive emails from women who have read my book and loved it because they could identify with some of the issues all women have, not just Greek women. Connections just came out a few weeks ago.
…On the future
What’s next for you?
I’m honored to be one of the four authors to speak at the YWCA Women Author Festival in March.
I am a great believer in God who I believe has been with me every step of the way in my writing my book and getting it published. I wanted to give up many times, but I kept hearing His voice saying, “Don’t give up. Keep going.”
Anything else you want to share?
My books are available on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble and Audio.
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