1.Hi Marjory, so glad to have you on here. Tell me a little about yourself, do you have any other activities you enjoy unrelated to writing?
Thanks for inviting me to your website blog April. It’s an honour.
Writing seems to rule my life most of the time and when I’m not physically writing, I’m scribbling in my head as it were. I try to find time to study Greek since I love the language even though I’ve been battling with it for years owing to its degree of difficulty. I like to get out and walk when I can. Jim, my partner, and I are now settled in a village in rural Sussex, southern England and are still getting to know the area and its lovely countryside, so we try to explore it when we can. I also like to swim for exercise and I dabble with a bit of painting. I like doing fast and furious stuff because I’m not really a patient person.
2. I see that you've traveled quite a bit in your lifetime and resided in Greece for a long while? But you're originally from Scotland, is that right? What prompted the move to Greece at the time?
Well it’s a long story – how long do we have here? I am Scottish-born and migrated to Australia with my family when I was a kid and that probably set the scene for all my nomadic wanderings in life, going backwards and forwards, trying to find out where my roots really lie and I don’t think I’ve nailed it yet! In 2000, we left Australia and settled back in Scotland for 10 years. Then we detoured for a while to Greece before returning to the UK.
We both love Greece, but my relationship with it goes back further. A youthful working holiday in Athens when I left school in Australia started my life-long passion for the country and I’ve been going there all my life. In 2010, during a downturn in the newspaper industry, in which we both worked, Jim and I decided to pack up and leave Scotland for a mid-life adventure in Greece. It was a slightly mad decision perhaps because the economic crisis had just begun and it was an unknown factor at that stage. We picked the Peloponnese in southern Greece because it seemed unspoilt and we wanted to live as authentic a life as possible. We rented an old house in a hillside village in the Mani region for a year which became the inspiration for my first travel memoir Things Can Only Get Feta. The one-year adventure quickly turned into four.
3. Aside from writing your travel memoirs, you're also a journalist? What inspired you to become a journalist and how has it impacted your world view?
I had always wanted to be a journalist, even as a child, and after travelling in my 20's and studying English Literature at an English university, I returned to Australia where I finally got a job in newspapers. Before I left Australia in 2000 I was a senior feature writer on a popular Sunday newspaper in Sydney and then freelanced in Scotland. It has shaped my life in so many ways and I can honestly say it was a fabulous career choice. I have interviewed amazing people, sometimes famous, but mostly not – just inspirational souls with great stories. However, it makes me sad that journalists are much maligned in the world now, especially in the UK, where several newspaper scandals (in the tabloid press mostly) have dented the prestige of journalists and the industry. It has its negative side but it’s an industry we would all miss if it disappeared. We simply couldn’t have a democratic society without the media. And even with it, it's a struggle. As Jim is also a journalist, we can be a bit intense about the craft sometimes and tend to edit each other’s conversations. That’s a laugh!
4. Exploring your blog, website, and your books, I can't help but notice you've mentioned about your dog Wallace who goes with you everywhere. Sounds like he's quite the character? Can you share a bit of Wallace's story- how did he become a part of your life?
Wallace is amazing. He’s 15 years old now with quite a few health issues. He has mellowed but when we first got him as a puppy when we went to Scotland, he was hyperactive - manic! He certainly freaked out our quiet village neighbours. In my first book, I described him as a “pinball with fur” and that’s pretty accurate. When we decided to have our Greek odyssey there was no way we were going to leave him even though taking him to rural Greece where dogs are tied to trees and kept as guard dogs, was not easy. Wallace has a bigger personality than most Greeks are used to in a dog! In a strange way, however, Wallace steered our fate. It was really because of him we met the eccentric goat farmer Foteini in our first few weeks. It was my unusual friendship with her that inspired me to want to write books about our Greek experiences.
6. What's one thing in the world that you wish was different and why?
I wish the Greek economic crisis had never happened. I admit, as Greeks do, that some of it was due to their own mismanagement of finances for example but apart from that, the bailout deal instigated by the Troika (international lenders) and EU has been devastating and cruel and has brought so many negative changes to Greek society and its customs especially in poorer regions. My first experience of Greece was in Athens in the seventies at the tail end of the infamous military dictatorship and I never thought I’d encounter such a dire period of Greek history again – until the crisis came along. The colonels may be long gone, but today, because of swingeing austerity measures, unemployment etc many Greeks have said they now live without any hope for the future. For a race of people, characterised in the past by their optimism and kefi (high spirits), this is tragic. Greeks are stoical (they invented the word after all) but how long they can go on as they are without major debt relief is anyone’s guess. The way of life we witnessed in rural Greece is something that I don’t think will survive in its current form forever. It will change. As a journalist at least, it was one of the reasons I wanted to write about it.
7. Do you have a favourite quote or saying you'd like to share or maybe just some advice that you've found to be valuable to remember in life?
I like a line from Zorba the Greek, the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis which sums up the maverick Greek outlook and loosely translates as: “A man needs a little madness in his life, or else he can never cut his chains and be free.”
But I also like Mae West’s cheeky quip about life: “I’m here for a good time, not a long time.” I think that pretty well sums up my own philosophy. It ties in pretty well with Greek wisdom yet again, of ‘living in the minute’.
Thanks April. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Q7 Corner: Author Interviews
A.L.Deleon loves to find and interview authors, Indie or Traditional. This is where you'll find all the details of those interview spotlights. Typically you'll find her asking seven questions of each author featured.