Indie Author Interview: Mario Panayi

Mario emailed me back in September 2018 to tell me he’d love to publish at least one of his poetry books (he had written many by this point).

I set to work on helping him self-publish his first book, Birth, Life, Burial: A Poetry Collection. Before I’d reached the formatting stage, Mario decided to proceed with publishing a second poetry book and launch them at the same time, and so I began working on Myths & Make-Believe.

Both books were published simultaneously a few weeks later and are a real credit to Mario’s passion for his writing.  Although profoundly different they are also intrinsically linked (if that’s not an oxymoron) and will spark your imagination, tickle your funny bone, and have you reaching for the tissues within the space of five minutes!


Congratulations Mario! Your poetry collections are available on the Amazon bookstore. How did it feel when you saw them there for the first time?

Thank you, Michelle. It was a delight to see the poetry collections available on the Amazon bookstore. It brings both tingling sensations and a pleasant feeling. But when I actually received the books in print myself that’s an even greater feeling because they are there in your hands and you can see the books and it feels a lot more impressive, realistic and euphoric when you are holding them and they look so much better than just on a screen. Although it’s a cliché, it really is a surreal feeling, and again when someone refers to you as an author it literally brings a smile to your face, part pride and part embarrassment – only because I am still getting used to the idea.

 

That’s wonderful! You also have a full-time job as well as writing your poetry, and I know you have many books written and in the pipeline, so my question here is, how on earth do you find the time to write?

It’s actually a part-time job that I have (almost full-time hours) but the majority of weeks I do work more than full-time hours. I have always enjoyed working and keeping busy. For example, in the past I have either had two part-time jobs at the same time, or a full-time job and voluntary work, or even working and studying for a degree or masters. At one point I was working part-time, studying for an honours degree and studying for a Masters.

 At the moment working and writing is complementary because writing can be very cathartic. Also, sometimes work and/or life in general can spark the imagination into writing something funny or sad and endearing.

In my third and fourth volumes of poetry which I am currently writing there is a lot of content that can be originally traced to an actual person or actual event, and often a merger of different people’s personalities and characteristics or an embellishment of events which is often exceptionally entertaining.

The third book is called Do you recognize yourself? And the fourth book I keep changing the title. At the moment I’m torn between Do you recognize the animal in you? Or simply Animal in you. I have had genuine fun writing these books and each one has over one-hundred poems. Ive ll send you over a sample of the poems to go with this interview.

There is one major downside to spending so much time working and writing. I’ve put on two stone over the past two to three years because I’ve left no time for walking and exercising which I really need to get back to.

 

Yes, it’s not good for the waistline, is it? Your poetry spans different people, lives, legends, myths, countries and legends. Can you tell me where your eclectic inspiration stems from?

People and situations are so amazing, inspirational and wonderful. Obviously, there is often a sadness involved, but there is also so much warmth, humour and entertainment out there. I suppose most of all I value people.

I was born in the UK and this is very much my home. However, my parents were born in Cyprus and much of my heart is in Cyprus. As a child I used to visit Cyprus every year during the summer holidays. It was a very different Cyprus than it is today. In 1974 Cyprus was invaded, and so visiting Cyprus in the 1970s and 1980s included seeing the aftermath of war. Each household had running water half a day per week, which had to be stored to last the week. Over two thousand people had disappeared and presumed dead. This included two of my cousins. I come from a very close family and I will always be grateful for their guidance and support through life. Seeing what people went through in Cyprus and how fortunate we are in the UK makes me appreciate life, people and to try not to be judgmental because we just do not know what someone has gone through. Every person has a story to tell – the story of their life and the ups and downs of their life.

Another inspiration is my work. I have worked in a variety of jobs including the voluntary sector. In the voluntary sector you come across people from all walks of life and again you come across amazing people and amazing lives. People can be quick to judge why a person might be homeless or on benefits when the truth can be heart-wrenching.

The myths and legends element of my writing comes from my studies. Again I have encountered a variety of studies. For example I have honours degrees in Psychology with Sociology, and Creative and Professional Writing and Philosophy, and Masters degrees in Human Resource Management, and an MBA (Masters in Business Administration). Myths I have studied at GCSE, A Level, and degree level.

 

Now you’ve gone through the whole book-writing and self-publishing journey, would you encourage other aspiring authors to do the same? What advice would you offer them?

I would definitely encourage people to write and self-publish. Writing, as I’ve already mentioned, can be hugely cathartic. Self-publishing seems to be the modern way of getting published. I’ve read so many horror stories of people spending a lot of time approaching literary agents or publishers and if you go down the self-publishing route that can save the writer time to get on with their passion for writing. My advice to aspiring authors is this: 

  1. Do not give up. If you enjoy writing then continue to write.
  2. Edit, edit and edit.
  3. Join a writing group. I joined the Time To Write group and we have an entertaining time, support each other and enjoy listening to each other’s writing and accepting each other’s critiques. Accepting other opinions and suggestions will help you grow as an author.
  4. Find someone like Michelle Emerson. I would not have self-published alone. Michelle is excellent in the services she provides. From proof-reading, to formatting the book, bringing the cover design and content to production and pressing that all important ‘publish’ button. And she will help promote the book through her social media as well.
  5. Keep a positive mind. There are people who can be jealous and try to put negative ideas into your mind. Take those negative ideas and thoughts and turn them into criticisms, and from that transform them into solutions.
  6. Sometimes you need a break from something that you are working on. I’ve developed the habit of when I need to take a break from one of my writing projects to jump on to one of my other writing projects. This system works for me.

 

Do you have any more books in the pipeline for 2019?

Well I’ve mentioned Do you recognize yourself? as the third book, and Do you recognize the animal in you?/Animal in you. (working title) for book four. Both are poetry collections and I am aiming to have them published in June 2019. Originally Stag Story was going to be the fourth book but the fourth book that I’ve now chosen compliments the third one. So Stag Story will be a future publication, hopefully still in 2019.

I would like to have another two published in approximately October 2019. The following are some of the titles I am currently working on:

  1. Cyprus Collection (a poetry book).
  2. Philosophical Perspectives (a poetry book)
  3. Banned Book of Poetry (a poetry book)
  4. Glimpses of Epic Greek Myths (extracts from future novels)
  5. Banned Book of Greek Myth (a novel – 100 chapters)

Obviously, some will be left for 2020. I also have some ideas for other writing projects but they are still very much in the ideas/planning stage.

Thanks very much, Mario, for those fascinating insights. What a fab interview.  All the best with your books!


 Find out more about Mario’s poetry books here: Birth, Life, Burial and Myths and Make-Believe.


Samples from Mario’s first four books

Copyright Mario Panayi, 2019

  1. The Bed (From Birth Life Burial)
  2. Eyes (From Birth Life Burial)
  3. Labyrinth (From Myths and Make-Believe)
  4. Atlas (From Myths and Make-Believe)
  5. Funeral Song (From Do you recognise yourself?)
  6. That Man (From Do you recognise yourself?)
  7. Animal (extended version) (From Animal in YOU)
  8. Wolf Within (From Animal in YOU)
  9. Cougar (From Animal in YOU)

 

The Bed

When lying in my cot I barely made an indentation

Eyes closed tight and my breathing so silent

Tiny lungs, too small to make a sound

Except when I was hungry

My cries would fill the room and the entire house

 

A child’s bed so strong and sturdy

Able to put up with being jumped up and down on

Dived into

Beaten with fists when in the depths of a temper tantrum

Even a shelter beneath for when mum wants the room cleaned

 

Loud creaking of a double bed

Pleasurable groaning and thrashing

The sounds of kissing and rolling

Conception within the bed of a new born life

Deep indentation of a coupled silhouette within the mattress

 

A bed that once ricocheted with life

No longer a bouncing castle for the children

A pleasure palace for the young and middle aged

Creation of unconditional love through gentle caressing

Or a place for tears of happiness and sorrow

 

I lie in the bed and try to listen

Echoes of people from the distant past

Parties downstairs with laughter fade away

Along with my breaths;

Now long-drawn and shallow

 

Hands withered and scrawny-looking

Blemished and rough

Once so smooth

They used to glide over another’s hands and body beautiful

The other having departed so long ago

 

Bed no longer creaks its sounds of life

Inhabited by a ghostly figure

Barely able to move

Hollowed bones encased in a stoic river of blood and shrivelled skin

Too light to even make an indentation

 

Eyes

 

I look into those widened eyes

The ones that seduce young guys

Like a spell those men you hypnotise

They’re yours to sexually demoralize

And marriages you do destabilise

 

Ten years from now, I look into your eyes

Obviously older now, but still unwise

You seduce men as your ultimate prize

But one sure thing you do not realise

Is that your life, others begin to satirize

 

Looking in the mirror at your own eyes

Can you remember and memorize

All those lives that you did scandalize

Or do you still completely rationalize

And feel your life others should epitomize

 

Twenty years from now those beautiful eyes

Will be worn out from all those tearful cries

You’ll have run out of the seduction lies

And even with mascara you cannot disguise

That over your life you do now agonize

 

Labyrinth

 

Deep beneath the earth and caves of ancient Knossos

Adjacent to the Palace of King Minos

The legendary Labyrinth was constructed

By Daedalus and his son, Icarus

The tunnels of this maze were so convoluted

That no mortal or creature could escape

So the fierce and uncontrollable raged Minotaur

Was locked within the confines of the Labyrinth

 

Year after year fourteen young Athenians;

Seven men and seven women

Would be cast into the depths of the Labyrinth

Sacrificing a few souls to the savage half-man half-bull

In order to satisfy his hunger and anger

And to save the entire Minoan civilisation

Until of course the young Prince Theseus

Slayed and killed the offspring of Queen Pasiphae and the Cretan Bull

 

It has been many centuries since the Myth began its story

The ancient relic of the Labyrinth still on display

For brave men and women to enter the interwoven maze

To feel the rough tall walls of the home of the Minotaur

With the sun baking on their skin

 

There are some who can still hear noises from the ancient times

The huffs and puffs from the snout of the half-taurian creature

Its hooves quickly running on concrete and solid dirt

Frightened beating hearts of the youngsters running for their lives

Merging with the angry and adrenaline-pumped heart of the Minotaur

Screams meeting a sudden end

Replaced by the sounds of flesh been torn

The munching of bones being crushed by tough teeth

Followed by the snoring and snorting of the Minotaur

Having filled his belly with tender meat

Sounds which you hope

Are merely echos of the past

 

 

Atlas

 

On the edge of the universe

Far from the view of mortals

Is the giant Titan, Atlas

Bound with indestructible adamantine

Shackled around his ankles

He is kneeled as though in prayer

With arms stretched across the sky

Making sure that Ouranos and Gaea

Are separated forevermore

 

It is his punishment

For siding with his brothers and sisters

During the Titanomachy War

Where Titans and Olympians clashed

His head is bowed down as though in shame

With his muscular torso and limbs on display

As he carries the weight upon his shoulders

Cobwebs adorn his physique

Like glistening tinsel in a dark room

Lit only by the stars of the night

 

He dare not move his frame

For even the slightest of movements

Will cause the sky to tilt

And the earth to shake

Far more dangerous than any earthquake

Or tidal wave

So he continues to be stoic

As though a live victim of Medusa’s eerie eyes

A ridiculed statue of antiquity

 

 

Funeral Song

 

I want to choose my funeral song

Something appropriate and memorable

It’s so easy to choose songs for other people

Elizabeth Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor both should have had

Going to the Chapel and we’re gonna get married

Pity that song didn’t exist when Henry VIII was buried

Although Eight is the magic number also seems ideal

Of course Nelson Mandela certainly deserves Freedom

Mohammed Ali should have had either

Eye of the Tiger or We are the Champions

 

Donald Trump will obviously want I did it my way

And maybe he could pre-record Push the button just for Kim Jung Un

Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson should have Rule Britannia

David Attenborough ought to have The lion sleeps tonight

In fact he should also have the hymn, All creatures great and small

If they ever rebury Elizabeth I she could have Like a virgin

Unlike Hugh Hefner who should’ve had House of the Rising Sun

A totally new meaning of Maggie May for Margaret Thatcher

I’m sure all records would have been broken

If the Iron Lady and Arthur Scargill did a duet

Those were the days and Working in a coal mine might have been their songs

 

Jackie Kennedy Onasis would have probably chosen

Devil in Disguise for Marilyn Monroe

Perhaps Hilary Clinton should have Stand by your man

Especially after her spat with Tammy Wynette

But back to MY funeral song

Always look on the bright side of life is not loud enough

I was leaning towards Staying Alive

But in the end I decided to take into consideration where I’ll end up

Not the original meaning of the song, but hey ho

Sounds of the underground

 

 

That Man

 

There is a man whose heart is like a stone

Hard and heavy

Impenetrable and icy cold

His soul is without light

Living and thriving in total darkness

Revelling in his demonic traits

 

There are many things which he does love

Much more than his wife and children

Power and ambition

Making more money than others he knows

Demeaning virtually all those around him

Whilst offering false platitudes to those he thinks can further his societal standing

 

Devious and cunning

Convincing in his lies

Ruins lives with delight

Honours himself as superior

Arrogance rises

With the ferocity of volcanic lava

 

He thinks that he is admired

That people are envious of his good fortune

Of his position, possessions and even looks

Oblivious that he is pitied

Disrespected and hated

That man who is devoid of humanity

 

 

Animal (extended version)

 

My man is such an animal

He’s built as strong as an ox

But he’s not clever like an owl

Or as alert as an eagle

He is not cunning like a fox

Not caring like dolphin

Or even loyal like a faithful dog

 

Instead he’s got a goldfish memory

With a belly that belongs to a pig

Furry chest like a gorilla

His stomach roars like a lion

But most of all in bed

He is so animalistic

Just like a sloth

 

 

Wolf Within

 

Its eyes watch

Wide and fixated

On its intended prey

 

It circles that prey

Silently

No noise

As each soft paw

Carefully paces

 

It stretches and flexes

Its muscular frame

Lean and taut

Tense

Echoing its brooding nature

 

Its nose twitches

Inhaling your essence

Your fragrance

Even your wanton desires

And your fears

 

The wolf can pounce

Taking you by surprise

Its body on top of yours

Holding you down

Your breaths merging

The anticipation of what is to come

 

Or it can chase you

Energy and adrenaline

Pumping away

Adding to the experience

Of the wolfs encounter

 

The wolf allows you

To stroke its fur

To soothe his natural temperament

To ruffle its intrinsic instincts

Before the wolf

Unleashes its wildness

 

 

Cougar

 

I know that you know

Where this poem will go

She watches from a distance

With a sultry and sexy stance

Smouldering with passion

There will be no compassion

For the one that she selects

Just another of her conquests

 

Drink up guys

She’s chosen her prize

As she walks steady and stealthily

Towards her victim who willingly

Will leave with her tonight

Two bodies that will unite

She has experience and expertise

Beginning slowly and with tease

 

Her body is no longer smooth

As it once was in her youth

But she knows exactly what to do

That’s naughty through and through

Bringing you to heightened delights

Including those delicious bites

You won’t notice her savage ways

Because you’re already in a daze