A Creative Eye: TMU creative industries student publishes debut novel

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By Anastasia Blosser

Andrea Bougiouklis hadn’t planned on becoming a published writer, but on Feb. 8, her novel The Art of Becoming a Traitor was released worldwide.

Bougiouklis, a creative industries student at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), said The Art of Becoming a Traitor was her first substantial writing project. 

Bougiouklis said she found inspiration in the cyclical nature of human history. She started writing while witnessing the political culture surrounding the 2020 American presidential election. 

The novel follows Eleri, a young woman who discovers she has been used as a political pawn for a corrupt government. Working with her best friend Fyodor, the pair must overturn a war in a dystopian society that threatens to execute an entire population. 

Bougiouklis noticed that current political affairs resembled what she was studying in history class. She drew from real world examples of corruption and societal downfall to flesh out her futuristic setting. “Looking back, I feel like a lot of the themes still remain consistent with different world events,” she said. 

Rather than planning a plot, she wrote the story backwards—beginning with the final scene and drafting around it. Whether it’s working around a clever piece of dialogue or an idea for a scene, Bougiouklis said her artistic process varies from one project to the next, so her creativity stays fluid.

“There’s no timetable for how this is supposed to work, just keep writing. I know it’s terrible,” Bougiouklis said, laughing. “It’s probably the worst advice, but honestly, just write. If you believe in your story, someone else is going to as well.”

Before the novel was published, it was a Microsoft Word document written in three weeks. The first person to read an early draft was Bougiouklis’ high school friend, Chloe Elek. 

After reading it in two days, Elek encouraged Bougiouklis to reach out to agents and get the novel published. 

“I was so sure that someone would want it,” Elek said. “Even if they didn’t, she would get it done herself because she’s so hard working and determined. I have always known that she would accomplish anything she wants to.”

“If you believe in your story, someone else is going to as well”

Bougiouklis ultimately signed a contract with 5310 Publishing, which edited her manuscript and kept her involved creatively. By choosing a smaller company, Bougiouklis had a say in design choices like the cover and text formatting. 

“It’s not about finding a publisher who’s just going to put your work out there,” she explained. “It’s about finding one that fits you.”

Before coming to TMU, Bougiouklis was a devoted soccer player and wanted to play in the U.S. until an injury stifled her aspirations. Suddenly, she was in her late teens and faced with the growing pressure to change her life’s plan. She then realized her love for writing—which she had been doing her whole life—could be channelled into a career. 

“There was never a time where I wasn’t writing some type of story,” she said. “This is what I’ve always been doing. I might as well just keep making that happen.”

Bougiouklis said writing came easily to her and she was often exposed to it growing up. It became her go-to hobby whenever she was bored. Rather than doodling in margins, she would write little scenes during classes.

After landing a season-long internship with the Vancouver Canucks, Bougiouklis moved to the West Coast in August and deferred her fourth year of studies. She said working in media production for the team combines her interests. “Sports and media—like films or books—have always been the two biggest things in my life. It would feel right if I was doing something that merged both of them as a career.”

Though she could count on friends to buy the book, she said others have been “overwhelmingly kind” online. “The most rewarding part is seeing people enjoying it and connecting with the story in different ways. I want to resonate with people.” 

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