Theodore Pitsios’ new book shines light on immigrant experience in the United States

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“Since I’m an immigrant in the United States, I write about the lives of immigrants,” ex-merchant seaman and retired businessman Theodore Pitsios, tells The Greek Herald about his latest book ‘Walking in the Light’.

“In my writing, I’m attempting to say something about the lives of ordinary people in ordinary people’s language.” 

Born in Tsagarada, Greece, Pitsios graduated from the Maritime Academy and sailed as an engineer in the merchant navy. After some time in the Bahamas, he embarked on his own American Dream, beginning in West Palm Beach, Florida, and ultimately settling on the Gulf Coast. 

His book, follows a Greek seaman, Kosta, who jumps ship in the USA hoping to find his American Dream. But as an illegal immigrant, he starts to wonder if this dream is really achievable, or it’s a myth. 

We caught up with the author to discuss his new book, what inspires him and what are his plans for the future. 

TGH: In your latest book titled ‘Walking in the Light’, Kostas -the main character- is a Greek merchant seaman. You were one too before you retired. Does this book have autobiographical elements?

Yes, a lot of the material is based on first-hand experiences or on the experiences of people I knew. 

TGH: Kostas has a solid dream and to overcome challenges he uses his skills and resourcefulness. What are the skills he makes use of to go further in life?

He is a creative short-order cook. His mezedes, (appetizers), at the ouzeri (ouzo tavern) where he worked in Greece received praises and were responsible for the increase of business at that establishment. 

His goal is to have his own restaurant, or something close to it. In his new environment, everywhere he goes he looks at what he sees, people and places, as potential business opportunities. 

TGH: So, is the American Dream achievable or is it a myth in your opinion?

Yes, the American Dream is achievable. Unlike many other countries where family origin and social status are major ingredients for one’s success, in this country the quality of the final product, whatever that may be, is of the utmost importance. 

TGH: You have written three books so far and one of your passions is performing in community theatre. What is next for you?

As the years advance, the horizons of my long-range plans become shorter. Presently I’m endeavouring to get past page 55 of the umptieth draft of my memoirs. After that, a short trip to Greece then some seaward travel. As an ex-merchant seaman, I still enjoy the open sea and the thrill of visiting new ports.

TGH: What advice do you have for writers?

I’m a retired businessman who likes to write stories as a hobby and as such, I don’t consider myself a card-carrying author. Because of that, I hesitate to give advice for those to plan to pursue the craft as a revenue-producing means, but I have heard successful writers say that the correct path to this form of self-torture is three things: keep reading, keep writing, and keep a journal.  

*Theodore Pitsios is the author of The Bellmaker’s House, Searching for Ithaka, and Walking in the Light

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