By Agathi Rodi
Zoe Frangou-Karoutzou is a children’s author who lives and works in Athens. With her family hailing from both Thessaloniki and Crete, Zoe has a huge passion for Greek culture and tries to enlighten as many children as she can through her storytelling.
“World Tour With A Couple of Shoes” is one of Zoe’s most well-known books and takes kids on a modern tour around the globe, with the story being told through a pair of shoes, who meet heroes from different countries, including Popitsa (Popi) from Greece, Melit from Syria, Charlie from Australia and Kim from China.
With a degree in psychology, Zoe also works as a HR consultant, however, her real love is her family and inspiring kids worldwide to read at every opportunity they get.
Zoe recently took some time out of her busy schedule to chat to GCT about her passion for writing.
When did you start writing children’s books?
I’ve been in love with writing since I can remember. During my teenage years, I wrote quite a bit but then as soon as I gave birth to my son, it became imperative to me.
Did any specific book influence you to begin writing?
It's not only one specific book but mostly my own need to express my feelings and to share my thoughts with the world.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
I’m inspired by everything. It could be an icon, a thought, traveling, discussions, my everyday life.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on the actual book but on average 2 to 8 months, without corrections.
How do you ensure a picture book lends itself well to being read out loud?
With my books, the pictures are complementary to the text. Not the opposite. So a fine combination of both operates perfectly.
What about the process of editing and working with the illustrator?
I have wonderful cooperation with both my editor and illustrator, it's a matter of chemistry. We listen to each other and have respect, so it all goes well.
How do you connect with your little readers and the writing community in general?
I am constantly invited to many private and public schools all over Greece to speak and discuss with children and teenagers about the benefits of reading fine literature books from a young age. This is where I also get a chance to present my books. Till now I have made more than 80 visits to schools in Greece.
What are some of your favourite Greek children’s books?
Too many but I think many Greek children's books are amazing. If I had to choose, I would definitely select one of Pinelopi Delta's books, one of the greatest female authors in Greece from the previous century.
Tell us about your book “Black Cats, White Chickens.”
The main character Ismini is the girl next door and she allows us to gain an insight into her everyday life. Some of the other characters are her family. Mother Sofia, her father Michalis, Nikolas her brother and somewhere there, Thanasis the grandfather, emerges with a special way of thinking and expressing himself, which sometimes troubles Ismini. With adolescence now approaching, she prepares to bid farewell to her childhood, timidly taking her first steps in the adult world!
What's coming up next for you?
I have two books ready in text for children and two for adult ones in the making.
Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring picture book authors?
Live your life to the fullest and you will find inspiration everywhere you go.