BackStory: Five Questions with Mileva Anastasiadou
Author of rEVOLt
What inspired you to write ‘Revolt’?
The Polytechnic Uprising took place in Greece in November 1973, starting as a students demonstration against the military junta imposed in 1967, and ending on November 17th with a tank crushing the gates of the institute and people killed. Commemorative services are held each year on November 17th in Greece. It’s kind of a topical anniversary, I know not many people in the world are aware of it outside my country, yet in 2019, many demonstrations and uprisings took place around the globe, some we noticed, some we didn’t, not to mention the numerous demonstrations that happened here in Greece after the economic crisis and the austerity measures imposed during the last decade. I wrote this story on the day of last year’s anniversary of the Polytechnic Uprising, with the intention to share the event with the world, but after I finished it I realized it wasn’t only about that, rather it was about every single bloodshed uprising that has happened anywhere or will happen. And given the current situation with the pandemic I realize it wasn’t such a bad choice, as it has become clear how connected we all are, a virus in a distant part of the world will soon affect us globally, austerity measures imposed in a country will soon be imposed elsewhere. It’s becoming all clearer that we are all one and we must act as one.
How much research did you do while writing and editing this piece? Did you discover anything that surprised you?
I didn’t have to do research, the story is very clear to me, very well-known and each year on the anniversary of the event documentaries are played on the national TV to remind us of the details. What I mostly find surprising is that each year I tell myself I will remember the names of the people killed and I always forget most of them and that makes me sad, I don’t want to remember those people as numbers, they were people with names, each one of them a tragic loss for their family and friends and perhaps that’s what I wanted to to do with this story, to make it personal, to underline the ‘love’ in ‘revolt’.
What is your favourite part of the writing process? Your least favourite?
The idea, that first spark of inspiration is my favourite part, especially when the proper words come to mind at once, building the story, filling the page. That’s the most ecstatic part of the writing process to me. I also love that part of editing when the story is still like a jigsaw puzzle and you have to fit the right words in the right place and you try different combinations to see what works best and that final ‘eureka’ moment when the puzzle is complete. Correcting typos is my least favourite part and unfortunately I often miss them, even if I check the story multiple times. At first I thought this happened because I’m not a native speaker in English, so mistakes don’t stand out for me to see, then I realized my mind works this way, my brain sees the big picture, finding it hard to focus on details.
What, if anything, do you have in common with your main character?
I can’t be certain. I haven’t been through what she’s been through, so I can’t possibly know how I’d react under similar circumstances. In all truth, I hope I’ll never find out. Admittedly, I have felt that subtle despair she feels in the end, that feeling that we will never win, the infantile disorder of the revolutionaries of everyday life, as Raoul Vaneigem put it, but hope wins most of the times.
I mostly identify with the baby in the story, since I’m the baby in the story. I was 4 months old and my dad who worked as a cab driver back then, took mom and me downtown to check what was going on. I don’t have any memories of the event of course, but I jokingly claim that perhaps that drive shaped traits of my personality and truth is that was the first demonstration I have ever attended.
What do you like most about writing flash?
I started out my writing life with a novel (in Greek), before I dared to write a short story. I’ve always admired condensed writing but felt it’d be too hard for me. I still feel like this; flash requires skills different to my natural inclination to expand and analyse for pages. You have to stay focused, insinuate, choose the proper words. Flash has its own rules which I find truly fascinating and challenging.
Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist from Athens, Greece. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart, Best Small Fictions and Best of the Net anthologies and can be found in many journals, such as Jellyfish Review, Gone Lawn, Ellipsis Zine, Litro, Moon Park Review and others. She can be found online at @happymil_ and https://www.facebook.com/milevaanastasiadou/.
Photograph of The Athens Polytechnic Monument covered with flowers to commemorate the anniversary of the uprising students against the Greek junta in 1973, taken on November 17, 2019. RODKARV/Shutterstock.com