interview to Aria Socratous
Demetra ‘s life sounds like a fairytale exactly like the fairytales she writes. Born and raised in Woodside NY, she suddenly decided to change her whole life after her husband’s loss and move with her daughter to the so called Greek village”Tarpon Springs” in Florida, where she came with the idea of creating “Young World Travelers, a movie script about a family going to Greece for their summer vacation and has turned into children’s educational book series.
So far, she has written four books and recently she had a tour in many states of the US in order to present two of her books. Her tour typically includes storytelling, book signing and an author talk. To date, she has toured New York twice, and she is scheduled to go back in October. She also toured Louisiana and has been invited to speak at a Greek writer’s conference in Bethesda Maryland later this month.
The National Hellenic Museum in Chicago had invited her as a guest speaker and so far she went through the motions of scheduling book signings through Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.
As Demetra Says, her daughter Katerina is her source of motivation and inspiration
- Where were you born and raise and how did you create this beautiful niche of yourself?
While I was born and raised in Woodside, NY , my family roots stem from Tarpon Springs, Fl where I currently reside with my daughter Katerina.
In 2001, I bumped into my high school sweetheart, Constantinos (Gus) Lecourezos, on a street in Manhattan. For 21 years, we had lived separate lives. In 2004 we were finally married, and the following year Katerina was born. In 2008 misfortune hit home. Gus was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and lost his battle in 2009. Before leaving us, Gus and I worked to create Young World Travelers.
- How did you come up with the idea of writing Children’s literature at the first place?
My daughter is my inspiration for all I do. When she was just an infant, some 11 years ago, I wanted to teach her EVERYTHING possible could! At that time, I used Baby Einstein as a teaching tool. I was a huge fan! I couldn’t wait for their next DVD to come out! And then, Little Einsteins was created for toddlers. I sat there one day thinking, how clever… I wonder what they will come up with for the next level. My brain started working. I had this incredible idea, and I decided to call Disney one day. I was transferred to the legal department. I briefly explained why I was calling – it was really to just give the idea. I wasn’t trying to sell anything. The attorney’s response was like a slap in the face…. “Ma’am just be aware, anything you tell me, we can use.” I stopped talking, graciously thanked her for her time and I hung up the phone. At that moment, I said ‘I can do this!’ and decided to write. Initially, I wrote a movie script about a family going to Greece for their summer vacation. One movie script has turned into this children’s educational book series.
At the moment, I have New York and Greece published. Ancient Egypt is in the works, and England is already written. I promised Katerina she can select the next country the Young World Travelers visit.
I have recently expanded my Young World Travelers ‘reference library’. My ‘Letters from Around the World’ series encourages children to speak other languages by helping them sound out foreign alphabets in a fun way which I refer to as EDU-tainment! Naturally, ‘Learning the Greek Alphabet’ is the first in this series.
- So far, you’ve written 4 books and recently you had a tour in many states of the US in order to present two of your books. Can you give us more details about your tour?
My tour typically includes storytelling, book signing and an author talk. To date, I have toured New York twice, and am scheduled to go back in October. I also toured Louisiana this past Spring. I have been invited to speak at a Greek writer’s conference in Bethesda Maryland later this month.
My most recent tour was my ‘Lake Michigan Loop’. The National Hellenic Museum in Chicago had invited me as a guest speaker. I had decided while up north, I would make my rounds. So, I went through the motions of scheduling book signings through Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. It was an incredible trip for Katerina and me.
Naturally, being a Florida resident, most of my appearances are in-state. I have visited churches, schools, libraries, luncheons, women’s clubs, yacht and country clubs, fundraisers, camps, book stores and other similar venues.
- Your first book got five stars from Reader’s Favorite program and you are a Member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. What is the key of your success?
KEEP PLUGGING AWAY!!! As I am typing this, I just received notification that my second book, Ready, Set, OPA! has also received a five-star rating from Reader’s Favorite!!!
Networking is a key tool if you want any type of business venture to succeed. Someone always knows someone who knows someone… It is no different for an author. Though I must say, it is quite rewarding to have people finding and reaching out to me for appearances!!
- You were raised in New York, both of your parents are Greek and recently you have decided to move to the Greek village Tarpon Springs in Florida. How did you decide this big change in your life?
Indeed, I was born and raised in New York. My parents were born and raised in Tarpon Springs. All of my grandparents were born on the Dodecanese Islands of Symi and Halki. They all came to America in their younger years, in the early 1900’s, and made Tarpon Springs their home. They were involved with the community and our St. Nicholas church (now a cathedral). Actually, my father’s parents were the first couple to be married in the original St. Nicholas church. They all had businesses here. I have several cousins who live in Tarpon, and several of the ‘old-timers’ here went to school with my parents. As a young girl, we often visited Tarpon for summer vacations.
When my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the doctors had given him 5 years. Now that I know more about the decease, I think I was cruel to give us all false hope. He survived one year and three months. While going through treatments, he told me one day that he wanted to leave New York. With the strongest New York accent in me, I turned to him and asked “Where duh ya wanna go?!” We were both born and bred in NY. He had obviously been thinking about it because he quickly responded with “Arizona, Texas, or Florida. Make it happen.” Considering my roots and that his parents had a summer house nearby, we decided on Tarpon. Moving to Tarpon was like moving home.
We decided we were going to open a boubounierra shop together. He had named it ‘Given With Love’ and he even signed the corporate papers with me. But he never got to see the beautiful shop which I had to close last year after I too was diagnosed with cancer.
- What are your future plans?
At present, I continue to schedule tours promoting my current books. God willing, after the new year, I will focus on getting the book about Egypt published.