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Author Spotlight: Greek Author Danai Christopoulou

by Maria A. Karamitsos   ·  1 month ago   ·  

Let’s put another Greek author in the spotlight! Come along and meet Novelist, Editor, & Freelance Writer Danai Christopoulou.

Author Spotlight: Danai Christopoulou

Welcome back! This time, I put Diaspora Greek Danai Christopoulou in the Author Spotlight Keep reading to learn more about her and her work.

Meet Danai Christopoulou

Born and raised in Athens, these days Author Danai Christopoulou calls Sweden home. Not only does she write fiction, but she works as an editor and freelance writer. Let’s meet her!

Q&A with Danai Christopoulou

… on her Greek roots

Where is your family from in Greece?

You know, for the longest time I would simply respond “Athens”. It’s the city I was born in, the city both my parents were born in, the city I called home—often begrudgingly—for the first 33 years of my life. But then, if we go back a generation, things are less clear cut. There was so much immigration happening in Greece at the turn of the 20th century, both from the Balkans and from Asia Minor and the Levant. My maternal grandfather came from Romania as a child, my paternal grandmother was Egyptian, living in Cairo for some time before she came to Greece. And then my other two grandparents both hail from the Peloponnese. It’s an interesting mix of cultures and languages for sure! And ever since I left Greece, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation and interest in all the distinct parts of my heritage.

Tell us more about your Peloponnesian roots.

My maternal grandmother was from Kalamata (I have opinions about olives) and my paternal grandfather was from Arcadia—the domain of Pan, in Greek mythology, the god of the wild.

Does your Greek heritage influence your work?

Oh does it ever! You see, I often joke that I’m not a one-trick pony when it comes to my writing, I’m a one-trick Pegasus. I always manage to write either explicitly about Ancient Greek mythological figures, or to weave in implicit elements of folklore and references. My father raised me on myths instead of fairy tales. I read the Odyssey when I was 7. He was similarly obsessed with mythology and he would often quiz me about different mythological characters as a kid. It’s inescapable.

But it’s not just the antiquity of it all. It’s also the more contemporary influences, the dimotika tragoudia (folk songs/poems), the poetry (from Elytis and Seferis to Ritsos and Dimoula), and also navigating your everyday life amid ruins, in the shadow of Acropolis. I think that does something to a person, that superimposition of the ancient on the contemporary.

Author Spotlight: Greek Author Danai Christopoulou. Image of a woman with long pink and purple hair, green eyes and wearing a navy sweatshirt.
Greek Author & Editor Danai Christopoulou

… On Life and Work

How long have you lived in Sweden?

For 6 years. I originally moved to Norway, as my sister lives there, but I found it too cold, haha, so I moved to the country right next to it which of course isn’t cold at all. No, I’m being silly. I met my partner while in Norway, and moved to Sweden mostly to be with him. We live together in a Swedish forest, with deer, foxes, and woodpeckers for neighbors.

Tell us more about you.

I have three cats and on an average day they feel like thirty. I’m a perpetual student, a chronic overachiever, a fierce friend, and a mild foe. I prefer the company of most animals to that of most humans. I could survive on mushrooms and cheese, though I’m trying to give up cheese for vegan reasons. I’m a very fast reader and a very slow walker. I’m a recovering party-person, I cry at the stupidest songs, and believe in the power of stories to change the world.

Do you have a job outside of writing?

I’ve always written for a living—just not fiction. I started as a copywriter for an advertising agency, then moved to women’s/lifestyle magazines, then to marketing copy for websites, travel content, and ghostwriting. These days I make my living as a freelance editor, editing short and long fiction, and contributing monthly to Marie Claire Greece.

… On reading

What types of books (genre) do you like to read?

Between the manuscripts I edit, the Advance Reader Copies from authors I want to support, the books I read for my literary agency internship, and the titles I pick for fun, I consume a broad spectrum of speculative/genre fiction, from horror to fantasy and sci-fi. I love romance, particularly queer romance, but lately I find myself only choosing it if it has a speculative angle. So I’m very happy about the rise of romantasy as a genre, let’s do horrormance next!

Who are your favorite authors?

The list is exhaustive and ever-changing. I’ve read a lot of classic literature in my teens, translated to Greek, but I preferred theater plays to novels, so I’ve consumed more Shakespeare and Bertolt Brecht than is probably healthy. As far as Greek authors go, Nikos Kazantzakis haunts my dreams and inspires me to this day. Today I mostly read fiction in English. I adore Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, I’m in awe of Nnedi Okorafor and V.E. Schwab. But the most exciting thing is to discover new authors to love with every new release!

… On writing

When did you start writing?

I’ve always written nonfiction, and have been lucky and privileged enough to see my bylines since I was 19 years old, featuring in magazines such as Glamour and House & Garden. But although I always had several drafts of first chapters sitting on my computer, life and work always got in the way. It wasn’t until early 2020, when I finished my second ghostwritten novel for a client, that it hit me: if I can do this for someone else, on deadline, then I can do it for myself. So why don’t I? Ever since that lightbulb moment, I’ve written 3 novels and I’m currently finishing my fourth.

What inspires you?

Nature. Beautiful prose. Florence Welch’s entire existence. And, of course, Greek mythology.

What do you write?

I write as I read: speculative fiction, almost always with a strong romance element.

… On your written work

Tell us about your novels.

Well… They exist, despite evidence to the contrary. Just a little publishing joke. So I have three novels currently out on submission to editors and publishers, that my agent and I are eagerly waiting to hear back from. Pursuing traditional publishing is a long, slow, agonizing process. But let’s see: one of them is a Greek myth romantasy about Pasiphae, the queen of Minoan Crete. Another is a sci-fi mystery co-written with two friends, A.J. Van Belle and Len Klapdor. The third is a Greek myth retelling of the myths of Iphigeneia and Daphne, again with A.J. Van Belle. The book I’m finishing now mixes Greek myth with Shakespeare and a sapphic romance story.

You also write short stories.

Yes, short fiction saved my sanity while waiting to hear back from editors on my novels. Because of the shorter word count, I’ve been more fearless when it comes to form and content, playing more with horror imagery and different points of view. I published 4 short stories in 2023, and I’m so happy about how well they’ve been received. Two of them have been included in the official Nebula reading list, one has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and one for Best Small Fictions 2024.

Check out some of her stories:

  • Pegasus, in The Icarus Writing Collective, issue 01, about Medusa’s child and about familial love and revenge.
  • When We Became Trees, in Hex Literary, about sentient trees who try to take over the world (this one is probably my most horror-adjacent one yet).
  • Sunset With the Sixth, in Fusion Fragment, about the stolen sixth Caryatid escaping the British Museum and coming home.

Tell us about khōréō.

Khōréō is a magazine of speculative fiction with a very important mission: to publish and uplift voices of immigrant and diaspora authors. I first met them as a writer, when they accepted ‘Bride of the Gulf’ for publication in August 2022, and was immediately impressed by how much care they extend to authors. In December 2022 or thereabouts, when I noticed they were looking for a proofreader, I volunteered. After proofreading for them for a year, I was recently promoted to editor—since January this year I’ve had the pleasure of reading submissions and considering them for publication, and can’t wait to get to work with authors on accepted stories!

… on the future

What’s next for you?

Hopefully a book deal or two! Seriously, I’m going to keep writing my weird, queer Greek books, and I choose to believe that publishers will warm up to them. In the past year I’ve also been interning for a literary agency, because I’m very interested in the agenting side of things, and would love to be able to start working as a junior or assistant literary agent in 2024.

Anything else you want to share?

Yes! If you’ve read my stories and liked them, I’d be eternally grateful if you nominated any of them for a Locus Award: nominations are open until April 15, and anyone can vote! You can simply write the title of the story and my name in the ballot’s write-in fields. Vote here.


Visit Danai Christopoulou’s website

Follow her on Twitter, Tik Tok, Instagram, Tumblr

Read more:

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Poet Spotlight: Meet Greek-American Marigo J. Stathis

Maria A. Karamitsos

Maria A. Karamitsos is a journalist, author, and poet. She's the founder & former publisher/editor of WindyCity Greek magazine and former associate editor & senior writer for The Greek Star newspaper. Maria currently pens a literary column for NEO magazine and also contributes to Greek City Times and TripFiction. Her work has been published in The Magic of Us-A Moms Who Write Poetry Anthology, The Pen Poetry Magazine, Voices of Hellenism Literary Journal, Highland Park Poetry, GreekCircle magazine, The National Herald, GreekReporter, Harlots Sauce Radio, Women.Who.Write, KPHTH magazine, XPAT Athens, and more. Maria has contributed to two books: Greektown Chicago: Its History, Its Recipes and The Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook. She's currently working on her 1st novel.

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