Q1: When did you start writing and who influenced you the most now and currently?
Elena: I had the urge to write since I was a child and, at the same time to destroy everything I’d written. I’d kept half-written diaries for a while, in which one could find napkins scribbled with deconstructed notes and doodles, and then I’d throw them in the garbage bin. I guess I couldn’t stand the permanent nature of writing; now I feel differently, of course. As a teenager, I was influenced by the Greek classics, the myths and the legends and the tragedies – I still am, and the Russian and French writers, majorly Fyodor Dostoevsky and Albert Camus. Then came Umberto Eco, Gabriel García Márquez and José Saramago. And somewhere in the middle of this, I discovered J.R.R. Tolkien. Now the list of influences has grown and includes, to name a few, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, William Carlos Williams, T. S. Eliot, Louise Glück, Tracy K. Smith.
Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Elena: It’s strange; I don’t have a good memory of my life events, but I clearly remember this moment. It’s not that at that moment, I wanted to be a writer, the same way I knew I wanted to be a scientist, but I knew that writing was important to me. I was fourteen years old, during a very challenging period and not in a good way, and we were assigned at school to write an essay about Happiness. I’d written what I felt rather than what I knew to be right, and the teacher praised me for my lyrical essay, metaphors, and associations. I opened my heart and wrote my truth, and another human being read it and connected to it. I’ve been chasing that warmth and raw feeling ever since; the connection with the reader.
Q3: Who has helped you most with writing and career?
Elena: I’ve my writing circle, individuals I appreciate and care for, and I hope I’m helping them as much as they help me. A person that has helped me evolve is my editor, Victor Pseftakis. He’s seen through my psyche and knows how to help me reach deeper into the unconscious, bring it up to the surface and ferment it into conscious words and structured sentences.
The most important person, though, who has helped through my writing and basically everything, is my partner in life, my husband, Antonis. He’s my Alpha and my Omega, and he believed in me long before I believed in myself.
Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence you? Have any travels influenced your work?
Elena: I grew up in Athens, Greece. And this by itself has been a major influence on the way I think and therefore write. Athens is a multicoloured capital; every corner is embellished with ancient history and modern culture. The old and the new are intertwined into a dynamic diorama; you can be lost if you’re not careful, but if you watch your steps, you’ll be showered with impressions that will follow you wherever you go.
I’m travelling quite a lot, owing to my profession; I’m a scientist by trade. Every sunset is different: Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Madrid, London, Amsterdam, Rome. Thanks to my travels, I know now the blue in the skies of this world will never be the same as the blue of the Attica sky.
Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work creatively to you?
Elena: That’s a good question. It sounds like something that should be easy to answer, but it’s not. I think my most meaningful work, creatively, is the one I kill. Following what I mentioned earlier, that is the tendency to destroy my writing, I now find creative freedom in the words I toss away. Not delete. I speak of the physical act of writing something on paper and then throwing it in pieces in the recycle bin. “Murder your darlings,” kind of thing.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Elena: Reading philosophy, poetry, fiction, anything that can trigger my thoughts. Watching TV shows with my partner and do yoga. I run too but nowadays, not as much as I’d like.
Q7: What is a favorite line/ stanza/lyric from your writing?
Elena: It’s from a poem written in Greek, and now I’m re-writing in English:
“A word is a word – an array of letters
A word is as strong as the weight of its
meaning upon your spine
Your spine is made of bones, not words
Your bones are full of cells and fluid –
there’re no meanings here
A word is a word but you’ll never say it as
you’ll never open the door and walk the path
that leads to that awful house”
Q8:What kind of music inspires you the most? What is a song or songs that always come back to you as an inspiration?
Elena: I mainly listen to metal music. Favourite bands are My Dying Bride, Septic Flesh, Rotting Christ, Dark Tranquility, Paradise Lost. But I also listen to David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Portishead, Patti Smith, and Led Zeppelin, of course.
A song that always comes back as an inspiration for its music, lyrics, performance and imagery is Space Oddity, written by David Matthews and performed by David Bowie.
Q9: Do you have any recent or upcoming books, music, events, etc that you would like to promote?
Elena: I’ve sent my poetry manuscript to a few Greek publishers, but without luck, so I’m re-writing the poems in English and taking it from there. I’m recently published in the anthology of short stories ‘Orpheus + Eurydice Unbound’ by Air and Nothingness Press, in which I contributed with my story ‘Under my own shadow’. And my poem ‘Descending on Jupiter’ appeared in the literary journal ‘Grim & Gilded’.
Bonus Question: Any funny memory or strange occurrence you’d like to share during your creative journey?
Elena: The moment I realised the absurdity of being and living creatively free ever since.
Bio: Elena S. Kotsile (pen name) is a writer and scientific editor based in Berlin, Germany. Her words have appeared in English (Anti-Heroin Chic, Rabid Oak, Grim & Gilded, Air & Nothingness), Greek journals, and anthologies. She writes speculative poetry and fiction in English and Greek, and she’s working on her first novel. She discovered late in life that she’s a neurodivergent individual, which is fascinating as it explains why her mind works as it does. She cannot escape existentialism and absurdism and tweets whenever she feels like it @Elena_Beate.