Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 8, 2017

Meet a Kiwi Author: Michalia Arathimos

Michalia Arathimos is a writer of Greek descent from New Zealand currently living in Melbourne. She won the 2016 Sunday Star Times Short Story Prize, and is the Fiction Reviewer for Overland Magazine.   I discovered Michalia’s novel Aukati (published by Mākaro Press) via the review at BooksellersNZ) and as you can tell from my own review, I was very impressed.  At a time when Nobel Laureate Kasuo Ishiguro is calling for more diversity in literature, Michalia has woven a story about an important contemporary issue with a diverse cast of characters who are negotiating the multicultural world they live in.  This is exactly the kind of writing that I find exciting.

So I was very pleased when Michalia took time out from work and parenthood and writing, to contribute to Meet a Kiwi Author!

  1. I was born in Wellington, Aotearoa, pronounced ‘Ouellington’ by my Greek grandmother, into a tight migrant community that was very good at assimilating whilst secretly keeping up their Greekness.
  2. When I was a child I wrote… this poem:
    ‘In the sparkling morning comes the blessing of the sun,
    spreading brilliant branches out: light for everyone!
    Birds sing tunes, so sweet to hear,
    waking things are everywhere.
    Shadows of the night, it seems,
    are but strange, forgotten dreams.’
    Yes, I remember it.
  3. The people who encouraged/inspired/mentored me to write were my family and teachers.
  4. I write in… bed, at the kitchen table, in cafes, and occasionally at my writing desk!
  5. I write when… the baby is asleep, or with someone else!
  6. Research is… excellent, but also a very good excuse for not writing.
  7. I keep my published works in …some kind of order in a file somewhere on my computer. But should you check on this, it would be scatty and incomplete. I keep my debut novel on my bookshelf, where at the moment it sits brazenly alongside Black Marks on the White Page by Witi Ihimaera and Atlantic Black by A.S. Patric.  (LH: Two of the most notable authors in Australasia! Good company to keep, IMO, and I hope you’re loving Alec’s one, Michalia, as you can see from my review I thought it was wonderful!)
  8. On the day my first book was published, I… was very sleep deprived because of my young child, surrounded by family and friends, and entirely too overwhelmed to process it. (Update: have processed it now; it’s great, thanks!)
  9. At the moment, I’m writing …a kind of scaffolding for my next novel, consisting of maps of interweaving narrative arcs, and fragments about characters. I’m also editing an article for Overland about ‘terrorism’ in Aotearoa, and writing my next round of Overland fiction reviews.
  10. When I’m stuck for an idea/word/phrase, I … go for a walk, or write a dialogue between myself and the character at hand. You’d be surprised what they can tell you; sometimes they are quite rude! But they always know what to do.

When I suggested that Michalia might like to include a photo of her muse, this was her reply!

And here are some excellent muses (with me in the middle): The NZ women writer’s of the Ladies Litera-tea, from left: Dame Fiona Kidman, Fiona Farrell, Sue Wootton, Annaleese Jochems, Tina Makereti, me, Carole Beu (owner of the Women’s Bookshop), Kirsten McDougall, Heather Kidd, Diana Wichtel, Courtney Sina Meredith, and Lisa King.

Photo credit: The Women’s Bookshop

You can buy Michalia’s novel from Fishpond: Aukati


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