Yiannis Ragos

Interview: Maro Voulgari | Photo: Dimitris Vranas

A writer deserves to be called a writer if he is primarily a reader

He is a writer, journalist, founding member of the Greek Club of Detective Fiction Writers, a lover of Chandler and Hammet and a Parian on his mother’s side. Yiannis Ragos has told us that detective literature is not a literature of brain teasing and that a writer deserves to be called a writer if he is primarily a reader.

How did you begin writing detective fiction?
I started by writing scripts. When I decided to write literature, the form of detective fiction came naturally. It is the only literary genre that makes two opposing moves. One move goes outwards, with an eye at the society and the other immerses in the existence.

Was this something related to your readings?
When I was a child I read the classics: Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie etc. and at one time my father who was a lawyer and an intellectual with a broad education told me to read Hammett and Chandler. So, I discovered that the detective fiction was not a brain teaser literature, but a literature with political and social features, a literature which is ultimately deeply existential. I consider detective fiction as fully embedded in literature.

Your great love for Yiannis Maris is also apparent.
My readings also took me to Yiannis Maris who fascinated me. I think he is an outstanding story teller with fascinating narration strategies. He has exceptional psychological insights, has created an emblematic character, police officer Bekas, and of course his atmosphere is unique. Despite his defects, which are apparent, for me he is the patriarch of the Greek detective fiction.

What could inspire a good detective story?
I believe that the detective fiction should be called the fiction of delinquency. It is the point at which what we call normal life gets reversed. Man becomes interesting when his tragic destiny makes its appearance. When he crosses a red line. Of Law, of God, of morality…. These are the people who attract me. This is true of their stories as well. Happiness is not interesting in literature or art.

What is the role of location in the plot of a story?
In my opinion the field of action in a detective story is the urban area. Chandler loved Hammett and had said the famous phrase: “Hammett took murder out of the mansions and gave it back to those who had reasons to commit it”. Even when the murder takes place in the countryside or some province in reality it “comes” from the city.

How do you see and enjoy the island through the years?
I come to Paros since the first summer of my life. I think that its anthropological profile has changed many times. Now that the invasion of newly rich and the frenzied party came to an end, the island has the chance to revive its agricultural production, return to the fundamentals, dedicate time on self-reflection.

Summer 2017