A chat with Dimitri Iatrou - author of Damastor


Dimitri Iatrou, a Canadian (Nova Scotian) writer, has recently released Damastor – available from Amazon.

With “themes of heaven and hell”, it’s a supernatural thriller set in the Middle Ages and in the present-day. It features a junkie, Kameron, who steals for his fix, and three mid-fourteenth-century figures whose lives have been devastated by the arrival of the Pestilence, or Black Death.

Dimitri Iatrou
Dimitri Iatrou
Tell us about the timeline of the novel, Dimitri. And this Kameron is a hero/antihero?

It's past/present. Goes from England 1349 to the present. Back and forth. Kameron is a druggie who mugs people for a living. But he's connected to the past somehow; moreover, he keeps having memories which do not belong to him. They’re becoming progressively more lucid and more frequent and he’s freaking out because he figures he’s going insane, that the voices are all attributed to years of drug abuse.

Have you done any marketing for your book? Book signings, events, etc.?

I haven’t yet had my official “book signing” event, but it is in the works. I've sold quite a few paperback copies just from my Facebook acquaintances alone, so I was very excited about that. I'm very lucky to have their support. Never thought so many people were in my corner. It's humbling. I never even intended to publish in the first place.
It was only when I was contacted by a publishing house saying they wanted it as their "baby" that I even began to think it was good enough.

Wow! Tell me how you got the deal.

Interesting thing about the publishing deal – It never materialized!
Damastor took me ten years to write because I was never planning on publishing it in the first place. I did years of research on the black plague, superstitions, language used in the middle ages, religion, gang warfare, drug addiction, etc. I had no time constraints and loved creating these worlds and the characters in them. 

Then I got an email from a senior editor who was interested in reading my manuscript. (She contacted me three years ago.) I sent in my manuscript to her on a Friday and a few days later she contacted me and asked if we could meet. So my wife and I met up with her and she basically said how impressed she was with it. I couldn't believe she was talking about my manuscript! She said that she had spoken to her boss and they wanted to make it into a hard cover. I was overjoyed to say the least and we talked about how we would move forward. I was given great insight and advice by both the senior editor and the owner of the company. Fast forward three years, I was made aware that there were certain problems at the company, so I decided to self-publish, full of confidence in my manuscript and my writing ability. I owe my editor full props, as without her seal of approval, I would not have had the courage to publish it.

So now you’re doing your own promotion?

I'm thinking of planning a book signing at my local library, but I'm nervous as heck. It can be overwhelming to think about your ideas being so public.  When one writes, there is a very intimate interaction taking place between thought and written word. To then have a party to celebrate that can be daunting: what if people don’t like what I’ve created? What if they don’t like my imagination? This can be hard. But then I think, “Oh well, never know until I try, right?”

I’ve had my own struggles. An agent had been sitting on a novel for about eighteen months a few years back when it got shortlisted in a contest – first prize was publication. Now, I should’ve continued shopping around while he was considering. But I had to prompt him and ask “Will I publish it with these guys if I win, and/or will you represent me?”
His advice was No, don't go with the small publishing house, and (due to the recession at the time, and the work it would take to get the novel up to scratch) No he wouldn’t be able to represent me. Then, someone else won the contest anyway!

It's stories like this that make me realize how lucky we are to be able to take control of our own publishing now with sites like Create Space.
Eliminate the gatekeepers! LOL

Yeh but it's a tough industry.

It really is. That's why indie authors have to stick together and help each other out, just like you’re doing for so many authors. A little share here and there, a positive comment about an author’s work not only gets the word out, but also instils belief, joy and confidence in that person that someone would take the time to ask them about their creation.

So does Kameron turn good or is he a Freddie Krueger / Faustus type?

Not going to spoil that here, haha! But I will say his supernatural stalker is hell bent on making Kameron see things his way, even if it means Kameron’s death.

It looks great just scanning the opening pages there, the healer nurse woman and the other chap - how do they play into the present day?

The female doctor (Ann), Herendin and Nestor are part of the past [storyline] and all three forge a very close friendship. But this time period (not the characters) also ties in with the present day where violence is widespread all over the world. Kameron is a druggie who gets his narcotics by mugging people. One day when he's about to attack someone, something jumps out at him from the shadows. Kameron decides to solicit the help of his best friend Macky, who also happens to be the leader of the most ferocious gang in the country, the Core. But even the Core isn’t enough to stop the thing that's following Kameron.

Damastor book cover featuring a tree with a winged humanoid in the branches in silhouette
Damastor by Dimitri Iatrou is available from Amazon
Tell me more about this group in the Middle Ages!

They’re basically trying their very best not to catch the curse. Everyone around them is dying. There’s chaos everywhere. Reason has lost its way. Their journey is full of tribulations. I love making my characters suffer! It makes what they fight for all the sweeter. Thank you, Richard, for giving me the opportunity to talk a little bit about Damastor. It's true what they say... once you release your novel into the world, you can no longer hear the characters speaking to you… Until the sequel, that is.

Ha! This is true. The Death of the Author and all that.

Ann is the daughter of a brilliant doctor who died from the plague. She is a realist, has quite a wit, she’s a strong personality and does not hesitate to put you in your place if you irritate her.
Herendin is an elderly man, formerly a knight of King Edward's army. His is a story of glory, love, and immeasurable torment. Nestor is a young man with mental and physical challenges, who has been abused all his life by his father. Only his precious mother loved him enough to force him to flee his village, for everyone there was "cursed". Nestor’s journey involves him trying to locate his mother. who told Nestor she would meet up with him a few days hence.

Sounds like an adventure alright! Nestor probably pre-dates Hodor from Game of Thrones, but he sounds a bit like Hodor.
Oh yeah! Never noticed that. I love Hodor’s character! The innocence and faith he possesses makes him so lovable. Nestor is very much like Hodor.

Do you watch GoT?
Absolutely! Can't keep all the characters straight, but GoT is awesome!

Or Nestor sounds a bit like that other guy. Jon Snow’s pal Sam.
So I heard the Bubonics culled England’s population (to be very crude about it) in a way that freed up farmland, raised prices, gave people an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. Basically the rise of the middle classes!

Exactly. As the plague spread throughout Europe, people either died or fled their estates, manors, etc. So these places were left abandoned. No one was left to bury the dead. Because of widespread labour shortages, serfs were able to revolt against the nobility that sought to work them for lower wages in the past. They had the skills, and were smart enough to demand higher wages for their labours.

Unlike us today, eh?  Struggling writers one and all!

HAHA yeah!

Do you have a process or do you set aside the time to write?
Finding the time to write is tricky for me. What with work, a three-year old, an awesome life-partner and the gym, my time is limited for sitting and actually getting quality time to write. But writers write. We find the time, don’t we? We steal a moment here and there whenever we can.

Must be tough! But it’s worth it, right?
Absolutely - When you're so energized and excited about how your manuscript is progressing, you tend to lose track of time. The characters become a part of you. They’re real. I remember starting at 7 pm, next thing I know it's 5 am and I'm freaking out because I have to get up for work in an hour! Guess it's better than being hung over.

It's like day-jobs don't matter. You get through them and you're sustained by whatever you're working on, in terms of whatever story you’re writing.
It's a drug full stop. You’re creating worlds and characters and have the power to do anything your imagination wants to do to them.

It sure is. Hey! Thanks for the interview.
Cool man. It was great chatting. Thanks for the opportunity to speak on your blog. It's a first for me and I really appreciate the exposure you’re offering to so many people. It was my honour.
You can find Dimitri Iatrou on Goodreads and Twitter. Damastor is available from Amazon and elsewhere. He has a website too: diatrou86.wordpress.com