INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
Edward G. Kardos
Today, my guest is Edward G. Kardos, the author of two books. His first is Zen Master Next Door (second edition was released in 2012) and his second book is a novel for young and young at heart readers, Elias and The Legend of Sirok. It was published just this year. He has a third book coming out in early 2014.
Welcome Ed and tell us what to you want to start with–telling us about the story or about yourself?
Thanks Madi and thanks for inviting me to talk about some things I love—that is, after my family.
Elias and the Legend of Sirok is a special story for me. It is a tale of a young man who is struggling with who he is and who he is becoming. Something I think all of us grapple with in our lives. That’s why I think of the story as one for young and young at heart readers. I think all of us need guidance and help in our lives, but when it comes down to it, we have to make our own decisions and if we are true to ourselves, we can never be wrong.
What do you mean—be true to ourselves?
As we grow up, we sometimes lose our way due to the strong influences around us. We are conditioned by others to move in directions that are socially or economically acceptable—don’t rock the boat. Also, others influence us and sometimes guilt and fear take over. Elias fights these demons, so to speak, and learns to follow his heart—his true essence.
Why did you set the story in Hungary?What makes the story work?
Hungary is a very interesting place. So many cultures converged in that country over 1000 years ago to form a very wonderful and unique culture. Not many people in my country—the US—know much about Hungary. I am half-Hungarian, I am among those who know very little, and I wanted to change that. Once I learned of the people, the history, the mythology and the beauty of the country, I thought I just had to set my story here. Elias, I imagined, was my great grandfather as my family were rural people who lived outside of Budapest.
Many readers tell me that they feel they are right there with Elias as he journeys in this mystical and magical world. They hear what he hears and sees what he sees and when he battles the three-headed dragon, they are right there with him. I think we all love adventures–as a kid, I always wanted to be in a sword fight. I still do! I wanted to ride the mystical horse and use powers to thwart the enemy. The adventure is exciting and real and blends well with the theme.
What is the significance in Sirok?
I’ll answer that by quoting one sentence from the story–“Sirok was never to be the same again and those who came to know Sirok were forever changed.”
What makes Elias a special character?
Elias is 15, soon to be 16, and is an artist. He is at odds with his life on the farm and his papa forces him to make a decision about his future. His grandmother, Nagymama, prepares him for a journey that will help him make such a decision. This journey takes Elias through a magical land somewhere between Sirok and Budapest. Here he faces mystical being and forces that he tries to understand. Sometimes he is forced to battle them. With help from a sage, Zoltan, he confronts the Sarkany, a three-headed dragon that changes shape confusing Elias.
Elias is special because he is like us. He has an idea of who he is but with the forces around him, he has to make decisions the best he can and stay true to himself. I would say anyone who stays true, or at least tries, to themselves is special.
That’s why I called your campaign A Quest of The Heart, because in legends the hero is going on a journey to find a treasure, an object .In your case Elias is setting out on a Quest to find and learn more about himself and about how to be himself and what to do in his future life.
Madi, I think you hit it on the head. What better treasure may we find than our own heart?
Who are Elias’ demons? What are his fears and confusion?
I don’t want to give too much away, but I’ll say that the Sarkany, the three-headed dragon that changes shape at whim and will plays a huge part. All three evils, so to speak, are a part of this beast and he deals with each struggle one at a time.
An intimidating question now. At Elias’s age, did you have your own demons? What were they and how did you fight with them?
Wow! I didn’t expect that one. That’s a tough one. The short answer is “yes”. I remember so many forces out there telling me that I better be this way or that. I didn’t know why it was so important to so many people to want to control who I am. I was a shy kid and loved art. I remember being bullied because of this. As I got older, I figured I should conform where I could and blend in. That’s why this story is so important. We all struggle with being true to ourselves. As a father, I try to encourage my children to be true to themselves. As an adult, what I know is true comes through my writing and other means to stay creative.
Tell us something about the people he met during his journey and what he learned from their motivational stories.
Elias befriends a dog he names Cimbora. Cimbora helps Elias out of a jam here and there. Elias also relies on a mythological bird called a Turul. The Turul is his guide. He meets a man named Lantos who has been shamed for how he looks but plays the lute with splendor. Gaspar is the goldsmith who teaches him a lesson that helps him battle the Sarkany. Zoltan is Elias’ mentor as he helps him put all of his experiences together. There are others but these are a few.
From whom did you learn the most important life lesson when you were Elias’s age?
I’ll take a bit of a different twist to your question. When I was 9 years old, and in school, I had a negative experience that I, throughout my life, have used to help me in difficult times. The teacher would ask each of us to read a paragraph of a story and when it was my turn, I struggled. She told me to stop reading and walked up to me and proceeded to tell me that I was nothing like two of my older siblings whom she taught and that I was not going to amount to much. I told myself that I would never allow anyone to pass judgment on me and discourage me again if I could help it.
Summarize somehow in a few words the main advice, which you can give to your young readers? What they can learn from Elias’s quest?
I didn’t make this up but I believe it—never, ever lose your imagination. It makes us human. It allows us to enjoy beauty in people and all in the world. Our imagination is powerful because if you can think it, you can figure a way to do it.
What are your ambitions for your writing career? Do you have any work in progress? Any projects?
Thanks for asking. I write because I feel I must. As I write, I learn so much about people and our world. Most of what I write, of course, will never be published. I don’t think of myself as a writer but as a re-writer. I get the ideas down on paper and keep working at it over and over again. I always want to be able to be creative whether anyone reads my next story or not.
My next book is scheduled for publication next year. It is very different from Elias and the Legend of Sirok and Zen Master Next Door—Parables for Enlightened Everyday Living. It is a story of friendship—a coming of age story that I call One Leap of Faith.
What are you doing when you are not a writer?
I love my family and want to spend as much time as possible with them. My wife, Kristin, and I have been married for 26 years. We have a son who is studying to be an English teacher. I have three beautiful girls who are all forging their own paths.
Where can we buy or see your books?
Any online bookseller will have it—Amazon or any of them. Also at any bookstore. They can order it for you.
Do you read much and who are your favorite authors.
I try to read as much as I can. Currently, I am reading Life of Pi. Some authors I enjoy reading are Mitch Albom, C.S. Lewis and Paulo Coelho just to mention a few.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I have not included?
First of all, I want to thank you for giving me an opportunity to talk about something I truly love. I want to encourage children of all age and old folks too, to read. Read whatever they like to read. I want to encourage everyone to write even if it is just for you. That’s how I started. I wrote for me and wrote what interested me the most. Our creative expression makes us human.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Ed’s Publisher is Grey Gate Media — http://greygatemedia.com/
Thank you very much for taking the time to take part in this interview.
Be True, Be Yourself, Be Happy
AuthorsPR – Madi Preda’s Interview with Ed.G.Kardos The author of Elias and The Legend of Sirok and Zen Master Next Door