Author Interview: Peter Papathanasiou

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Peter Papathanasiou, author of The Stoning took some time out to have a chat with Beauty and Lace.

Get to know Peter in this interview.

Tell us about yourself…

I was born in northern Greece and then adopted as a baby to a family in Australia. This was the story behind my first book, a memoir, published in 2019, and I’ve now published my second book, a crime novel, in 2021.

I have a law degree specialising in criminal law, a Ph.D. in genetics, and a Master of Arts in creative writing. I’ve lived in New York City, Palo Alto and London, and now live in Canberra. For recreation, I play soccer and go mountain biking. Tell us about “The Stoning”…

Tell us about “The Stoning”…

“The Stoning” was published by Transit Lounge in Australia and MacLehose Press in the UK in October 2021; it is also being published in Germany in 2022. “The Stoning” is a work of outback noir, which is a modern marketing term for crime fiction set in the Aussie bush. It features Detective Sergeant George Manolis as the central protagonist, and is the first in a new series.

Manolis travels to the outback town of Cobb to investigate the shocking death of a local school teacher. The community is simmering with anger and resentment at the opening of a new immigration detention centre.

White skin, black skin, brown skin – everyone is a suspect. It ends up as a dangerous investigation of lies, secrets and silence, and an insight into the heart of a country intent on gambling with its soul.

What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

Peace and quiet. A clean desk. Fresh coffee. Drinking water. A view. But given the everyday chaos in which I often now find myself writing, most of those things are more luxuries than requirements.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given about writing?

First of all: finish your book! So many people abandon their manuscript or lose interest or get distracted. But without even finishing your book, the rest doesn’t matter. And second: if you seek to find a publisher for your book, don’t give up. Be prepared for challenges, but stay resilient and tenacious.

Name an underappreciated novel that you love.

I’m not sure how underappreciated it may be, but there’s an older Australian novel called “Wake in Fright” by Kenneth Cook. Despite being first published in 1961, it is still in print six decades later.

Set in the outback, the book is an unsettling, direct, brutal, atmospheric, powerful portrayal of Australian life and society. It has been adapted for the screen twice in 1971 and 2017.

If you could invite any three people for dinner, whom would you invite?

I remember always being inspired and moved by musician Jeff Buckley’s debut album “Grace”, which was released in 1994. Jeff tragically died in 1997 and came across as a deeply emotional and complex soul.

For intellectual enlightenment, a Greek philosopher like Aristotle, who is also from northern Greece. And because every dinner party needs some light relief, comedian Richard Pryor would be perfect.

Who is your favourite author?

It is impossible to name just one, but I can name the late Peter Temple, who died in 2018, as a major influence. He was the first Australian crime writer to win the Gold Dagger in 2007 for “The Broken Shore”. In a first for a crime novel, Temple’s “Truth” then won Australia’s most prestigious literary prize, the Miles Franklin, in 2010.

But it was “The Broken Shore” that I read first and was most influenced by. In “The Stoning”, my secondary main character – an outback cop named Constable Andrew “Sparrow” Smith – is actually an intentional doff of the cap to Temple and his own Indigenous cop character named Paul Dove.

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading a book by another Australian author with Greek heritage, Andrew Pippos. His debut novel “Lucky” was published in 2020 and shortlisted for the Miles Franklin. It is all about an old style Greek café restaurant, of which there were once several thousand across Australia between the 1930s and 1970s.

Pippos draws inspiration from his own upbringing, with the story jumping back and forward in time. The writing is superb and the characters compelling.

Where can our readers follow you?

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

What is next for Peter Papathanasiou?

I have a few writing projects in the pipeline. The first are screen adaptations of my books. My 2019 memoir “Little One” was given an injection of development funding in 2020, while producers and production companies have already shown an interest in “The Stoning” as well.

Crime is a genre that is very popular for screen adaptations and also has series potential. And along those lines, I’m now writing the second novel in the Manolis crime series, and am also beginning to sketch the third.

One thought on “Author Interview: Peter Papathanasiou

  1. Interesting story about the author. I am looking for books to buy for hubby for Christmas and this one sounds good and then I can read it after him :-). Always have to think ahead.

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