Amalia Niniraki was born and lives in Heraklion, Crete. He is a mathematician with postgraduate studies in lifelong learning and vocational education and training.
Amalia Niniraki with her pen gives life to her heroes thanks to her unique writing skills. It effortlessly and naturally enters the psyche of modern man and brings the reader in front of his mirror.
Amalia Niniraki is a mother of three children. Since 1995 she has been the owner of a secondary school and since 2009 she has been active in adult education. Although she was a lover of literature from a young age, Amalia Niniraki started writing in 2007, when she started attending creative writing seminars with the writer Lefteris Giannakoudakis. Mathematics, beliefs, friendship, love, death are the ingredients of her stories, with the setting of most of them being Crete at the beginning of the twentieth century. Her short stories have been awarded in national competitions.
Interview editor: Vasiliki Evangelou-Papathanasiou
“Tangled Circles”, tell us about your book.
“Tangled Circles” is my first attempt at writing. The book consists of 14 short stories that span from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day and have as a common feature that all of them take place in Crete.
Crete. A beautiful place. What does it express about Amalia Niniraki?
Crete is the place where I was born and live. This is where my roots are and from him I received the values that I carry as a human being. It is a place of contrasts, blessed by climate and geographical location, with people with a strong sense of hospitality and honor, but also with the highest rates of female abuse, an issue present in most of my stories.
Do you believe that fate determines our lives or do we choose our lives?
I believe that fate plays an important role in our lives, but our choices play an equally important role. Arif did not choose to be born in Pakistan, nor did Aris choose to be born to his birth parents and then become a racist. I am talking to you about the two heroes from the short story Aris and Arif. On the other hand, Irini chose to be in Chania and be the third person in an abusive relationship. I refer to Irene from the last short story entitled “Golden Numbers”.
How long did the preparation and research take before you started writing this particular book?
I dare say I’m a vacation writer. I started writing after creative writing seminars with the author Lefteris Giannakoudakis. Every Christmas, Easter and the fifteenth of August I also wrote a story, so calculate how many years it took to complete it.
What is your favorite short story?;
My favorite short story is Padam Padam, perhaps because there is a greater identification in it with my life. Manolis dreams and strives all his life to achieve his goal, which is the trip to his beloved Paris, which is also my favorite city for me, and in the end the Cavafian conclusion is proven that it is not the destination that matters but the journey to to get there.
What is the basis for starting to write a short story?
The basis for writing a story is events that I experience and stories that I hear in my daily life, which are of particular interest to me. For example, years ago at a family table one of my cousins told us about tollonias, a kind of haunted figures that, according to Cretan legends, become unbaptized children when they die. I remember hearing them shuddering and as soon as I found time on the fifteenth of August I wrote the eponymous short story that takes place at the beginning of the twentieth century. The short story “Ares and Arif” was born in the same way. I will never forget the day one of my students told me that he and his friends punched a Pakistani man who glared at them and knocked out his teeth. This Pakistani became Arif and my former student became Aris, who gradually takes the form of the first one after he kills him and through this transformation he feels and feels like the Pakistani he killed.
Along with writing, you also work as a mathematician. Tell us about your daily life?
Teaching math is one of my many daily activities. I own two secondary schools and a Lifelong Learning Center with all that entails.
Do mathematicians deal with words besides numbers after all?
Of course. There are many writers who are mathematicians and let’s not ignore the fact that people are not one-dimensional and the fact that someone deals with one subject does not exclude dealing with another.
Is the writing process an intuitive process, steeped in the writer’s experiences?
Undoubtedly, the process of writing is an intuitive process, but at the same time also an inner need for the writer’s expression imbued with his experiences.
Your books, the road to publication, what does this path leave in your heart?
So far only one of my books has been published. Being published by Pnoi publications leaves me with a sense of satisfaction that my stories are finally printed, read and liked by readers, according to the feedback I receive.
We live in a time when literature has a wide “gamut” of authors. What is your opinion on this?
The large “gamut” of authors unfortunately does not correspond either to quality or to timelessness.
What books did you grow up with and what are your life’s favorite books?
I was lucky enough to have a lending library in the village where I was born, in Agia Varvara, Heraklion. So I grew up with books of classics like Tolstoy’s Resurrection and Anna Karenina and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Favorite books of my life are: “Madame Bovary” by Flaubert, “Love in the Cholera Years” by Marques, “The Alico Gramma” by Hawthorne, “The Marseille Trilogy” by Izzo and “The Brothers” by Kazantzakis.
Amalia Niniraki back cover
The untimely death of an unbaptized child, the dilemma of a good-natured villager, the visit of a beggar, a pomegranate and a cat. The voice of Edith Piaf, the remorse of a monk, a sexual crime, the calculations of two mathematics students. A visit to the fish market, a policeman, a private beach and the secret that the golden numbers may hide.
Fourteen stories set in Crete, starting from the beginning of the twentieth century, extending to the present day and intertwining with each other like the fate of their heroes.
We thank Mrs. Amalia Niniraki for the photographic material