Sunday, August 12, 2012

Interview with Demetra Fisher: Part 1.


In this two part interview, novelist Demetra Fisher talks about her life and her influences 
on what has led her to become a published author. Her first novel, In Your Dreams, will
be appearing shortly in book stores and online. Part one,  below, focuses on her background,
life experiences and interests. Part Two, which will follow next week, will focus on the
specifics of her book and the characters.

What is your ethnic background? 
Greek/American. My father was born in Greece and my mother was the first generation
of her family to be born in the United States.
Did your parents speak with a Greek accent?

My mother didn't.  She was born in Rhode Island and actually had a southern
New England accent, even though she was bilingual.  My father still speaks
with a very thick Greek accent, even though he has mastered English quite

How close to the "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" film was your Greek upbringing?

Ha, ha... Actually, very close.  We had the lamb roast in our front yard on
the Orthodox Easter Sunday one year and the police showed up because our
neighbors complained.  I lived in a predominately Catholic neighborhood and
in those days, not everyone was as used to diversity as they are now, so
they all thought we were pagans.  It was quite hilarious whenever we would do
something typically Greek and no one would have a clue as to what it all
meant.  I remember I was teased as a child for being the kid with the weird lunches...
I would bring stuffed grapeleaves instead of bologna sandwiches and all the
kids would be horrified.  It was rather funny.

Do you think any of that has shaped or influenced your writing in any way?
Only in that I realized at a very young age that I was different... that I
don't really fit any mold.  It was more difficult as a child to embrace my
heritage.  When you're young, you so badly want to fit in and it seemed
that I didn't really fit in anywhere.  My parents never really encouraged
me to learn Greek, since my father was trying so hard to learn fluent English.  
So when I would attend the activities in my church community, all of the elders 
thought it strange that I didn't speak the language very well.  Then again, when I
participated in school activities and sports, the kids all thought I had such a strange
name, and that made me feel different.  It took awhile for me to get comfortable being
me.As I grew older, though, I learned to appreciate my background and now I am 
rather proud of my heritage.
So, in some way, do you create characters that don't fit in? 
That's one way of looking at it.  I think I create characters that deal
with some of the same issues that I have had to or someone I know has dealt with.
Most of those are the classic "coming of age" issues... trying to
find yourself, experiencing love and loss, and just being able to make your
way in the world.  Most everyone can relate their experiences to those of
my characters.

You are from Vermont. Were you born there and were you raised there?

 No, I was born in NYC but my parents moved to Vermont when I was four.  My
father took a job at an engineering firm in Burlington and we moved just
before I started kindergarten. So, I went through school in Vermont.

How do you think living in Vermont has influenced your writing in any way?

 Well, Vermont is a scenically beautiful state, so that is definitely
reflected in my writing.  When you are that close to such natural beauty in
your environment, it can't help but come through in your depiction of the
setting of your story.  Growing up in New England has made me very aware of
nature and how much we all need to make time to connect with it.

Did you write much when you were younger?

Yes, all the time!  I started writing poetry as early as the third grade.
 By the time I was in middle school, I had won a few scholastic awards for
my poetry and also for a few short stories, I had crafted.  When I reached
high school, I remember writing song lyrics and more involved stories, but
by that time, I had become a voracious reader, so there never seemed to be
enough time to cultivate much more than that.

Any favorite teachers in high school, writing wise, or otherwise?

I got along really well with all of my teachers for the most part, but
especially the English teachers.  They all knew how much I enjoyed their
classes.  It's pretty obvious  when you are the only freshman in the school
signing up to take a Shakespeare class that is meant only for seniors, that
you are an English/Humanities buff.   However, my absolute favorite class
ended up being Supernatural Lit.  I became completely enthralled with the
occult and things that were unexplained as a result of taking that course.

Does that fascination with the occult seep into your writing now?

Oh yes! I like to write about the same sorts of unexplainable things that
I like to read about - mythical creatures, life after death, alternate
realities, reincarnation, etc.  All of it fascinates me, and I enjoy
crafting stories that somehow supply some reasoning to those phenomena.

Were you athletic when you were younger, play any sports in high school?

Yes, I was quite the tomboy pretty much all through school.  When I was
young, in elementary school, I always played with the boys on the
playground.  Most of the girls in my class never wanted to get dirty and I didn't
care about that, so long as I had fun.  I would much rather play kickball,
baseball, and tag  or fool around on the monkey bars.  I was elated when I
got to middle school and I was able to participate in gymnastics.  I was
quite the daredevil until I realized that you could actually get hurt, if
you weren't careful.
In high school, I was a three-sport athlete until my senior year.  By then,
I was working part-time, so didn't have as much free time to devote to as
many sports.
Has any of that crept into your writing as you go along?  
Only the willingness to carve your own path and not follow the crowd.And also the dedication
part. If you want to be good at something, you have to be willing to work hard at it. I apply
the same philosophies to my writing.

When you go out to the movies, what type of films are you drawn to?

Mostly films about human experiences or the trials of life.  I am a sucker
for romance, so I love epic love stories, especially the classics, like
Wuthering Heights, or Pride and Prejudice, but the modern day romantic
comedies will entice me as well.  Conversely, I also like action "guy"
films a lot, too, as well as anything paranormal.  I do have a dark side...  lol

This is your first novel, why did it take you so long to come out with your
first published story?

Well, life often does get in the way of dreams...  I was busy building my
career in Human Resources and raising a family, so there wasn't much time
to devote to pursuing another career.  Now that I'm older, I have the time.

Did you still write during that time, or did you stop?

Mostly, I was writing communication pieces relating to my work, but I never
actually stopped writing poetry and song lyrics.  It's always been
relatively easy for me to crank that stuff out, so I find that when I am
bored, I will write along those lines.  The stories, however, take more
time and a lot more thought, so no, while I was working full time, I wasn't
crafting stories.

Tell us what your first novel is called and what it is about.

In Your Dreams is a paranormal romance which is the first in a series.
It is about a twenty-one year old college student who has suffered from
sleep disorders all her young life.  As a result, she doesn't dream, since
she never fully reaches REM sleep.  When she returns to the university she
attends for her junior year fall semester, she suddenly begins dreaming.
In her dreams, she meets a guy who she is clearly attracted to.  The
attraction is mutual and as he pursues her, they begin a relationship.
While she is enthralled, she does question why this is happening to her
and why can she only "see" him in her dreams.  She soon discovers that he
has passed on, and that he is reaching out to her via her dreams because
that is the only way he can connect with this world... the world he left
behind when he died.  The story depicts their emotional journey as their
feelings for each other grow.  However, there is something sinister lurking
in the background that threatens their bond.  You will have to read it to
discover what that is.

How did you come up with that idea? Is it an interesting story?

I was doing the dishes by hand one night when I began
thinking about a story I had started to write but couldn't finish for some
reason.  Then it occurred to me that the reason why I couldn't finish the
story was because I needed to write another first... that the two stories were
connected in some way.  I left my dishes right there in the sink and didn't
even bother to dry my hands before I headed off to my desktop.  I sat down,
lit a candle for inspiration, and cranked out the first three chapters of In
Your Dreams.  At that point, I wasn't even sure where it was all going,
but I just let the story flow and over the next few days, it all came
together for me.  At least, it did in my head.  It took me the better part
of a year to get it all down on paper... and another year and a half to
fine-tune it.

Other than being a writer, what type of work have you done in your life?

When I worked in Human Resources, I designed and managed employee benefits
and incentive compensation plans.  Before that, I was  a cosmetologist for a
few years and I've also worked in retail sales.

What are some of your hobbies and things you like to do?

Well, I love reading, music, watching films, hanging out with my friends
and my pets.  I also like to dance and swim and go for long walks.  As much as I love
being with people, I need my alone time and I do enjoy that very much, so I
will often go off on excursions like antiquing by myself.  I do love to
shop as well, and my favorite place to spend time is by the seashore.  I used to ride
hunter/jumper but I haven't done that for quite a few years.  Even so, I
still love horses and enjoy being around them very much. 
 You are a big animal lover. Have you always been that way? What do you have in the way of pets now, and what are some of your favorite pets of the past you have had? 

Yes, I have always had an affinity with animals. When I was very young, I toyed with the idea of becoming a marine biologist or even just working as a trainer at Sea World. I loved dolphins and sea turtles... still do. I became very attached to the animals on my uncle's sheep ranch in upstate New York when I was in grade school, as well as all my dogs and cats. I have had so many over the years, it would be difficult to name them all. My favorite childhood pet was a tricolor rough collie my father named Iole.I remember that she would follow me everywhere, to keep watch over me...I was only 3 at the time... and I loved her so much. When we moved to Vermont, we couldn't take her with us, so we left her in the care of my uncle at his ranch. I remember my heart breaking every time we drove away, seeing her sad expression as she watched our car drive off. Within a couple of years, she died and I have never forgotten that, which is why I make sure to hug my pets and show them as much love as I can, in her memory. Right now, I have a 9 year old Shih Tzu and a kitten who's almost a year old now. They are my joys. 

How do you market your book or how do you plan to market it in the future? 

At this point, I am still working on solidifying my overall marketing campaign. My target audience is teen girls, but I suspect that any lover of YA fiction would appreciate my story and be able to relate to it, as well. 

When it comes out, where can we purchase your novel?

In Your Dreams will be available on both and Barnes& as either an e-book or a printed copy.

In addition to novels, you write poetry. Any chance of a book of poetry at some point? 

Probably not. Most of the poetry I write is mainly for myself, or one or two people that inspire me. I do have a middle grade book that I am putting together that is a compilation of some "round-the-campfire" ghost story shorts that will also include some of my poetry here and there to break it up. But, as far as a whole book devoted to just poetry, no.

Colonial Williamsburg

What interesting places have you traveled in your life?

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia comes to mind. For me, it was very interesting in that I got to see exactly how the colonists lived. The whole town is located near William and Mary and is completely devoid of any modern day facilities. The students who attend the school while living in the town of Williamsburg must choose a colonial craft as an internship and they are precluded from leaving the colony until their internship is complete. There is no running water, no electricity, and yes, they only have outhouses, no indoor plumbing. These students must live exactly as the colonists did. It was amazing to see the dedication that these young people have to their purpose, as well as the feeling that you get when you are that close to real history.

Part Two next week.

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