* Noblesse Oblige:
Ceci N’est Pas Une Démocratie
*How do I pronounce your name?
******WATCH THIS VIDEO******
In June 2015, I did a library interview with FL teens via Skype that was fraught with technical difficulties, prompting me to create this video response to all their questions. If you’re going to ask me to do an interview, it would definitely behoove you to watch this video first.
*Who is your agent?
Alethea’s agent is Deborah Warren at East/West Literary Agency.
*How do I contact you?
There’s a lovely email icon on the right side of this website, for intarweb letters .
If you’d like to send me physical letters (and I do love them!), please use this address:
PO Box 512
Mims, FL 32754
*How can I get a book personalized and signed by you?
Come see me at any of my appearances–you will have a beautifully signed book and all the swag I can carry! I’m currently working to obtain a personalizing-special-order arrangement with a bookstore here in Florida. In the meantime, you can always get an e-signing from Authorgraph.
*Are you a Person of Color (POC)?
More and more this is becoming a hot button issue for folks, so I figured I’d address it here. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for you.
I identify as Greek. I was baptized in the Greek church and was raised with many of the Greek traditions and superstitions. However, my father’s father was not from Greece–he and his family were among those victims of the Catastrophe of Smyrna (Turkey) in 1922. My great-grandfather was killed on a death march. His wife, who escaped to the docks that day, was a direct descendent of the Komnenos family — Byzantine Emperors that ruled over what became the part of Turkey that exists in Asia Minor…where my family lived happily until the Turks decided they didn’t want any more Greeks or Armenians in their country.
My grandfather and his family escaped to Greece, but they were refugees, and thusly viewed as second-class citizens. When he was of age, my grandfather joined the Merchant Marines, to show his patriotism…and then the Nazis invaded Greece. My grandfather was trapped on his ship with the crew–men without a country–and they survived at sea until finally docking in America. He became a citizen, joined the US Navy, and changed his last name from Kontaridis to Kontis. Then he married a nice Greek girl name Helen, whose family had emigrated from the Peloponnesus.
My mother’s family is French, via Canada. My father’s Anatolian Greek ancestors were victims of genocide. No one seems to be able to pronounce my name, despite the fact that it’s spelled phonetically. Am I a POC? No. Yes. You decide. Either way, thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell the world a little about my heritage–it’s certainly not something that’s taught in American public schools.
*I’ve written a children’s book. How do I get it published?
My experience getting AlphaOops traditionlly published was one of those one-in-a-million flukes…but as I get asked this question a lot:
1.) Check out the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market from your local library.
2.) Check out the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org), their local chapters and conferences. (I love going to conventions and meeting people face-to-face, so this would be my first choice.)
Getting a book published is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do and getting a picture book published is darned near impossible. Have a thick skin, and prepare yourself for truckloads of rejection and humiliation. But if you’re just masochistic and hardheaded enough to never give up, you’ll make it happen. (Just like anything else in this world.) I wish you the best of luck!
*How did you get AlphaOops published?
I grew up writing stories exclusively for my entertainment and that of my friends and family. It was one of these friends who forwarded AlphaOops along to another friend, who handed it to someone at Candlewick. The Art Director found it and read the story out loud to the entire office (can you imagine?) and had them all laughing hysterically.
There was nothing on those pages but the title of the story and my name (NEVER give a story to anyone without a little contact information), they had to hunt me down (thankfully much easier to do in the Internet Age than it used to be) to ask me if they could pleasepleaseplease publish it (if this ever happens to you, say YES!).
I said yes.
*Where do you get your ideas?
How do you get ideas? If in your whole life you have never, ever had an idea, then you should really get out more. Wake up, open your eyes, and pay attention when your teachers are talking.
I can tell you where I’ve gotten my ideas for specific projects. Most of those discussions can be found on my website. (You can also find bonus essays that accompany my short stories for sale on Nook and Kindle.)
*Are there other writers in your family?
My Nana (paternal grandmother Helen E. Kontis) is a poet. I was an avid reader of poetry when I was young (Ogden Nash, Gelett Burgess), and my first attempt at writing was poetry.
*How long have you been writing?
I officially started writing when I was ten years old. It’s one of those moments that’s just frozen in my brain. I was in a gifted program called ALERT when I was in elementary school, and we did a unit on poetry where we each had to write our own poem. Mine was called “Friendship”:
Sometimes I wonder why
I am who I am
I tell the truth, I never lie
I’m gentle as a lamb
I don’t have much to give you
In friendship as in pen
But I’ll always need you
For you’re my only friend.
I looked at my round handwriting on the paper and the world clicked. I knew then that THAT was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
*You did some acting when you were younger? Do you still?
I had a brilliant Music teacher in elementary school, who put on elaborate school-wide musical plays every year. My first part was the role of Marcie in “We’re all Stars, Charlie Brown.” I was seven. My large-scale theatrical debut was as Kim, the Ravenal’s daughter in “Showboat.” Shortly after that, I starred in an eight-part PBS educational miniseries called “Pass it Along.”
I haven’t done any acting since high school — but I am still a huge fan of my exceptionally talented friends and former classmates, like Patrick Kramer (who can be found acting and directing at the Boiler Room (www.boilerroomtheatre.com) and Paul Pierro (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1123920/). There’s also that fantastic low-budget horror flick Blood Oath (www.myspace.com/albatrossfilms) that I helped produce…and a few others I’ve helped out on…
You never know what tomorrow will bring.
*How long have you know Sherrilyn Kenyon?
Sherri and I met at a booksigning she had in 2003. (Eep! Are we really that old? Nooooo….)
She and Nicole and I hung out for a couple of hours — I remember leaving that day and thinking, you know…it’s too bad she’s all famous and stuff. She would be a really great person to have as a girlfriend.
*What was it like to work at Ingram Book Company? What does a “book buyer” do?
I did an official interview with author Maurice Broaddus for the Horror Writers Association that answers all of those questions HERE. I also did a guest blog for Magical Words in April 2008 outlining a day in my mad life as an Ingram Buyer. Prepare to be exhausted.
I worked at Ingram from 2000-2009.
*Your YouTube user name is “Thieftess.” Where did that name come from?
Back in the halcyon days of the internet, when we neophytes were clamoring to be on AOL, I had to pick a screen name. (My boyfriend and I were hooked on the “Movie Quote Trivia” chat room.)
Back when we played D&D (and in the novel my friends and I wrote during high school), I was Llogan, Queen of Thieves. (A nod to my first fictional love, Tamora Pierce’s George Cooper.) “Thieftess” was like “Chieftess”, only more perfect. I used it for everything — even my original Hatrack screen name.
When I started to gain some certain degree of fame (ha!) I realized that it was silly to use any screen name other than my own, so I became Alethea Kontis (or Princess Alethea, which is close enough). But I didn’t want Thieftess to totally disappear…and YouTube seemed a harmless enough place to do that.