Saturday, May 1, 2021

Denise Bossarte – The IAN Interview

Denise Bossarte 

Denise Bossarte is an award-winning poet, writer, photographer, and artist. Denise is a certified meditation facilitator and contemplative arts teacher. She is an information technology (IT) professional working for a large urban school district. Denise holds a BA in chemistry, an MS in computer science, and a PhD in developmental neuroscience. And she is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.



IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

Denise Bossarte: Thriving After Sexual Abuse is an eloquent and empathetic self-development book laying out a blueprint for survivors to heal themselves. Denise Bossarte writes with fierce candor as she shares her own traumatic experience with childhood sexual abuse. Thriving provides tips and suggestions for readers to seek help, self-reflect, and pursue healing through a range of activities and practices and offers tangible strategies for readers to reclaim their lives and move forward to a life of Thriving.

IAN: Is Thriving After Sexual Abuse published in print, e-book or both?

Denise Bossarte: Print and ebook.

IAN: Where can we go to buy Thriving After Sexual Abuse? 

Google Plus – pending review

Apple iTunes – pending review

IAN: What inspired you to write Thriving After Sexual Abuse?

Denise Bossarte: I wanted to share what I had done on my healing journey as an inspiration and guide for other survivors.

IAN: Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

Denise Bossarte: I had an outline of that had the topics for each chapter in the book.

IAN: How long did it take to Thriving After Sexual Abuse?

Denise Bossarte: 4 years. I started the book in 2017. I took about 6 months of 2020 off from working on the book so I could try to get an agent. No luck there so I self-published my book.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Thriving After Sexual Abuse?

Denise Bossarte: Ideas on how they can start their healing journey and what things they can try to help themselves heal. The book is meant to be interactive with questions for the reader to work on in their journal.

IAN: How is Thriving After Sexual Abuse different from others in your genre?

Denise Bossarte: My book is not simply a memoir of an abusive childhood. Nor is it simply a self-help book. It is a combination of my story and a blueprint for other survivors of abuse and assault to find their own healing journey.

IAN: Name someone outside of your family members who you feel supported you in the creation of your work.

Denise Bossarte: My editor Candace Johnson was incredible! She was over the top supportive of my work and helped me to bring my dream of my book to life.

IAN: Who designed the cover?

Denise Bossarte: I had the concept for the images on the book and the title of the book. zeIena at helped me take it to the next level.

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing Thriving After Sexual Abuse?

Denise Bossarte: Getting past the writer’s block of being afraid of what people would think of my story and the information I was going to offer in the book.

IAN: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Denise Bossarte: You were not at fault for what happened to you. You are an incredibly strong human being to make it through what you did. You deserve to live a full, thriving life. Give yourself the gift of a healing journey!

IAN: Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, logistical) in bringing your story to life?

Denise Bossarte: There were a lot of psychological and emotional challenges in bringing my story to life. I couldn’t just sit down and start at the beginning with the introduction to my story. I had to approach the book slowly, sometimes one paragraph at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed with memories and strong emotions. I skipped around in the various chapters, doing ones that I felt the most comfortable writing about first. And in each chapter, I started with the questions for the readers and then went back and wrote the parts of my story that were related to the chapter topic. The very last part of the book I wrote was the Introduction that gives my story of abuse and healing. It took all the work on the other parts of the book before I was strong enough emotionally to write down my story.

Menelaos Gkikas – The IAN Interview

Menelaos Gkikas

Menelaos studied Industrial Management and Technology at the University of Piraeus in Greece and got an MBA specializing in Marketing, at City University of Seattle. He attended Public Relations Seminars at the Hellenic American Union. He has his own blogs on the internet, and he has attended seminars on Creative Writing, Screenwriting, Social Media, Digital Content, Communication and Conflict Management. He has self-published a romantic drama and a fairytale and he is a digital marketing specialist. Currently he attends Online AI lessons from The University of Helsinki and IBM AI Learning.


IAN: Please tell us about your latest book.

Menelaos Gkikas: My latest book is a fairytale, a fairytale fantasy entitled When Magic Truly Happens. A book for all ages above 9 years old that is self-published internationally in the world wide web as an ebook and a pocket book as print on demand. First of all, below I picture its summary:

Little Jennifer meets Jack, the elf, who plays the flute and, through the looking glass, they're magically shifted to a fantasy realm known as Flux, a world created by music. Together with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Jennifer makes new friends, while she discovers the magical mirror plays an important role in her life.

I’ve always dreamt of writing fairytales, enjoying and feeling the breeze around them. When Magic Truly Happens correlates with one of the greatest stories of Brothers Grimm that is Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs. It’s a technique entitled salad of fairytales, described by Gianni Rodari in his book Grammar of Fantasy. Rodari, who has been awarded with a Hans Christian Andersen medal in 1970 for his lasting contribution as a children’s author, names as salad of fairytales the technique of entanglement of different stories who occur onto the resultant of the two.

IAN: Are your books published in print, e-book or both?

Menelaos Gkikas: Both of my books, that is The Words of Emily Logan and When Magic Truly Happens have been self-published both as ebooks and prints on demand. Self-publishing globally with the sole power of the internet and creativity has made this dream come true.

IAN: Where can we go to buy your books?

Menelaos Gkikas: Some of the biggest markets for both of my books have been Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Walmart. Searching the internet for opportunities I discovered the Independent Authors Network, known as IAN into which I created my own web presence with an author’s page. So, aggregated, you can navigate some of my biggest book markets if you just click at my page here:

IAN: What inspired you to write the books?

Menelaos Gkikas: Here I would like to clarify the before and after of this inspiration and come up with causes worth spreading. I am a web creator knowing that before I officially started to attend creative writing lessons, the first one million words are practice. I came up to the conclusion that anything and I mean the cure to any complex situation can be explained with storytelling. I believe storytelling can change lives for good. Nevertheless, the unique subjects and objects of this sentence, is what made me quest my own dreams through creativity and not somebody else’s. I still bring into my memory a thought of an epic PC game that is Dreamfall: “Where have you gone to, dreamer? Whose dreams are you dreaming now?” All of the above thoughts have been the stepping stone of coming up with official projects.

The concept of The Words of Emily Logan, when I started writing it in January 2017 was mingled with thoughts and remembrances of the Woody Allen project Café Society. In the beginning of the film wannabe Hollywood stars decide in the end of the film that some dreams are just dreams. This was my motivation to make Joel, my protagonist, act in the screenplay the way he acts and make his dream of fame and fortune come true, at least as a start.

In When Magic Truly Happens, I was inspired by the musical universe of Narnia, described in the first book of the series, The Magician’s Nephew. I was also inspired by Gianni Rodari as I state above and making my main characters correlate with the legendary fairytale of Brothers Grimm was more than a simple motivation and inspiration.

IAN: How did you come up with the titles?

Menelaos Gkikas: I was inspired by Irish Eurovision winner Johnny Logan in my screenplay, singing the song ‘Hold me now’! I still remember how it starts: “Don't... Don't close your heart to how you feel... Dream... And don't be afraid the dream's not real...” Perfect tuning with my previous thoughts on inspiration… It’s also a motivation on telling words hence the title The Words of Emily Logan.

In terms of my fairytale, I just wanted to create a title that bangs! There’s an extraordinary fairytale about Christmas with bears, accompanied by plenty of audio-visual and web material, known as When Magic Really Happens. Here, there is a subtle and tiny distinction between truth and reality. We say for example, those that make the war on ISIS are right, this is a truth. The reality is that it needs violence, people are dying. These terms are complementary and do not substitute one another. That’s why I wanted to create a full of magic and heart fairytale, taking into consideration its potential.

IAN: What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?

Menelaos Gkikas: It’s the discussion I made with my mother. We were saying that what we have always loved in Disney’s projects is the keeping up and the maintenance of a delicate line among all its works. Nowadays, in many forms of art such as writing, music, movies, theater, there have been themes that are heavy, dark, purifying, metaphysical and often times revolutionary… Showing to the world the beautiful, sweet and full of culture and spirit side of the world was my main motive.

IAN: What books have most influenced your life most?

Menelaos Gkikas: As a result of my interests and education I read everything. There have been mainly 3 categories of books that I read: literature books, books related with my education and coaching books. So far these have been approximately 50 since I started lessons in creative writing back in 2015 fall. Hollywood vetted screenplays’ books have a special place in my heart, I am also keen on pure fairytales and fantasy such as The Little Prince of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Hobbit or Philip Pullman’s books. In most of the cases, the main influence comes from books that somehow boost my multi-faceted intellectual nature such as Myla Goldberg’s Bee Season. Apart everything else from Bee Season’s plot, I still remember the words of the precentor to his son inside his studying library office. As the child had been bullied and beaten by his classmates, followed by the discussion with his father where the father expresses the will to share ideas, I still remember his father’s words: “What we do in here, doubly cancels what the others do out there”. I truly believe that the world of letters is the true world of beatitude.

IAN: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Menelaos Gkikas: For both of my books I was being consulted by American writer, filmmaker, consultant and business woman Laurie Lamson whom I first met as a host in free International Screenwriter’s Association Teleconferences about the art and science of screenwriting. Nevertheless, here I have to make a few things clear. A supporter in general and a writing consultant doesn’t take you hand in hand to navigate you into all the analytical details of the movie industry. This is an issue of education, searching, networking, creativity, cross-checking of data, books’ reading and a few inspiring professors. That’s why I am also grateful for the help of Jacob Krueger and Jessica Hinds at the Jacob Krueger Studio in NY, a screenwriting school, who have showed me a different way of filtering my materials. The art that no matter whether something is good, bad, no matter what we have been exposed to as a material, we should not judge, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the ride. Conclusively, we writers are horrible judges of ourselves. But judgement comes from comparison in the end…

IAN: Do you see writing as a career?

Menelaos Gkikas: As a creative individual, digital marketing specialist and transformational leader, writing is the rolling DNA in my veins including my titles. Storytelling is the first and the last attribute that is omnipotent enough to transform everything. Leaders are being exposed to movies, theaters and scripts in terms of the arts, so that when they will have to do it for themselves in their own fields (data storytelling), they will be competent enough to come up with their own simplification crusade. But it is a crusade after all… Especially in the 21st century where digital information and Artificial Intelligence based on information have changed the world, science is being defined by art and vice versa. For the few of us who have the formal qualifications both in arts and sciences, it would be amazing to know how to delimit and frame technology through its creative assets or even better, make heavy weight champions in computers create art where manual work can’t function properly unless it is supported by technology. For all the above reasons, my reasons, I believe creative writing is the beginning of everything for lots of things. Right now, I worry more about the total quality of my whole work and my profile and not making money out of a tiny aspect of it. A writer, engaged into the world of letters that cultivates his soul and his creative expression multifaceted, can’t focus on money from day one. Here it’s important to remember Prometheus, the Titan who steals the creative fire from the Gods and gives it to humans, so afterwards he is being found tightened onto a rock with eagles eating his liver every day after it is being recreated. So, it’s important for me to isolate the good and the bad elements from the creative story of Prometheus without making mistakes. Although writing cases, worries or interests seem common to many people, solutions are strictly personal.

IAN: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Menelaos Gkikas: Creative writing found me - I didn’t find it myself. If I had taken the lessons earlier possibly worrying about my resume, I would have probably failed. It started as an extraordinary exploration of previous read books and materials. For the majority of writers years have to pass before they begin, contrary to the majority of performing arts. Perhaps I just found my calling! But it certainly existed behind the wish to make my artistic dreams come true, if compared with the trying ages of the past.

IAN: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Menelaos Gkikas: Antoine de Saint-Exupery has written one of the greatest and most allegorical fairytales. That is The Little Prince. Besides the fact that it has activated an animation movie and inspired Greek singers play music and sing about the little prince, it’s a book with plenty of messages about vanity, grown-ups and younger ones, hypocrisy, the stars of heaven, faith, effort, the fact that the universe listens, singularity and introducing to little children the issue of death. Although it is written for children it speaks to the heart of everyone!

IAN: What was the hardest part of writing your books?

Menelaos Gkikas: It took me years and plenty of expertise to realize that a script is not revelatory of someone’s character. It is an aggregation of attributes that simply resemble with a person. Man is much more than a sum of a few sentences… Einstein used to say that everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live his whole life believing it is stupid.

IAN: Did you learn anything from writing your books and what was it?

Menelaos Gkikas: I am used to think of my books including art in general as a metaphor and a self-reflection in which I get to know how the world works. One practical way to do that, in the sense of fantastic, is to receive stimuli and create chains of words within seconds that help me create thoughts, decisions and material. This can also happen at the audio-visual sphere. Depending on the temperament and the character of writers, I believe inspiration can come from anywhere. A feather, a book, a photo, nature, music, landscapes, by believing in the world’s fairytale. That’s why the daily processing of experience can be huge but daunting as well. It needs a balance between thinking, daydreaming and doing.

IAN: What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing them to life?

Menelaos Gkikas: The single greatest challenge for me was to be myself. All other roles are taken. Out of this, rise a lot. Rise the research challenges: What about the material, the theme and the multiple argumentations on the work? Confirmation knocks the lonely doors of my mindset recursively. Rise the literary challenges: What do I seek in writing? To portray aspects of my world and my fantasy. Rise the psychological challenges: What is my personal connection to these stories? My personal experiences, conflicts as well as traps in all arguments. Rise the logistical challenges: Is the path I chose logistically effective in terms of creating perspective? Can it be more effective in the future? Here I simply had to do my work, focus on creativity and the world wide web and self-improve with the cross-checking of data.

IAN: Tell us about your next books or a work in progress.

Menelaos Gkikas: There have been 2 books so far under consideration, the completed first draft of a screenplay and the future writing of a novella the concept of which is completed. These are the cases with which I have envisioned to make the great change. Ask for consulting in terms of my entire work, quest movie agents if the prerequisites are met and hunt my cinematic dreams. Nevertheless, the two screenplays plus the novella are concepts with which I wouldn’t like to rush at all. It will take time as Hollywood experts and cinema are not wishes that could come true from one day to the next. All my works are stand-alone projects.