Wednesday, 25 November 2015

One Good Turn

I was recently interviewed by writer and blogger Chrissie Parker about my novel "Eve of Deconstruction". If you haven't read the interview, you can find it HERE.

I thought it would be quite fun to turn the tables and ask the same questions of Chrissie herself that she had asked me about her excellent book "Among the Olive Groves". So, what follows is exactly that, an interview with (lots of links) with a very creative lady...

Click Here.

Book description:
Elena Petrakis adores living on the Greek island of Zakynthos.  When World War Two looms her way of life is threatened.  Left with no choice she joins the island's resistance to fight for what she believes in - her family, her home, and her freedom.  

Decades later, thousands of miles away in the Cornish town of Newquay, Kate Fisher prepares to celebrate her twenty-first birthday, but her joy is fleeting when she learns she is adopted.  Abandoning life in England, Kate flees to Zakynthos, where she is forced to acknowledge a life she has struggled to come to terms with, one that will change her future. 

From the beautiful crystal turquoise seas of the Ionian Islands to the rugged shores of the Cornish coast, 'Among the Olive Groves' is a story of love, bravery and sacrifice.

Interview with Chrissie Parker, the author:

Welcome to my blog Chrissie. Can you give the readers a brief overview of your book, Among the Olive Groves?
Among the Olive Groves is a work of historical fiction set on the Greek island of Zakynthos, and in Cornwall and Bristol in England. It spans two periods of time; World War Two and the 1990’s/2000’s. It’s a powerful and emotional story that centre’s on the lives of two main characters Elena Petrakis and Kate Fisher, and the struggles they face in their lives; Elena having to live through the horrors of World War Two, and dealing with becoming a member of the resistance. Kate learning that she is adopted and having to come to terms with the fact that everything she thought was true about her life is actually the opposite.
    The book is very much about family, change and learning to adapt. It’s also about fighting for what you believe in and having the strength to see things through to their very end, whatever happens.

What inspired you to write Among the Olive Groves?
In 2005 I visited my family and friends on Zakynthos, and whilst talking to a local I learned a few things about what happened to islanders during World War Two. It was a really interesting discussion. One of the things I found out stayed with me for a long time, and played on my mind.  I thought that it would make part of a good story.  Eventually I sat down and worked out a plot and the character of Elena Petrakis was born.

What challenges did you face when writing Among the Olive Groves?  
One of the biggest challenges was writing about the island during World War Two. I love history, but I’m more into ancient history than modern history, so researching World War Two was a steep learning curve. The other problem I had was trying to learn about what happened on Zakynthos during the war. Many locals who lived during that time don’t like talking about it, which is understandable.  There isn’t a lot of written information now, as a massive earthquake hit the island in 1953 and a lot of records were destroyed in the fires and general destruction of the time. Luckily a friend living on the island managed to get me some great information from one of the few remaining sources, and this information has been woven into the story to make it as authentic as possible which in itself was a huge challenge!
    The other challenge I faced was making the story of the war as realistic as possible, without being too horrific. A lot of what people endured during World War Two was just too awful to talk about, and even though I wanted to be honest to the story and what actually took place during that time, I had to be careful not to make it too violent or graphic; readers wouldn’t appreciate that.

Why was it important for you to write Among the Olive Groves?  
As well as telling Elena’s story, I wanted to show people what happened to Zakynthian’s during the war, and remind them that there were very brave people during World War Two who fought not only for themselves, and their family, but for the rest of the world, and we should never forget them. 
    I also wanted to highlight the island and its people nowadays. When I originally came up with the idea, Greece and the island was going through a bit of a rough time (something that sadly continues) and I wanted to show the world what a beautiful place Zakynthos is, despite the hardships and negative press. 

Did writing Among the Olive Groves involve a lot of research?
Yes, as well as researching World War Two I had to research what life in Greece was like from 1939 to 1944. It was a very different time then, they didn’t have tourism, and most of the islands like Zakynthos didn’t even have airports. Life was about family, community, and tradition; some of which still exists now. The difference was, that back then, each island was like a little bubble, they were a long way from the rest of the world, and things rarely changed. Then World War Two came along and their lives altered dramatically. 
    The war in Greece wasn’t straightforward. They were ruled by both Italians and Germans and it was important to get all the facts right. I also had to research the role of Greek resistance fighters, which proved to be a real eye opener. Some of their accounts were equally brave and harrowing.  Many resistance fighters were women who fought and died for their cause, and most have been forgotten about, which is quite sad really.

What do you enjoy the most about writing?
I enjoy creating a story, letting the characters run wild and seeing where they take me. My head is always coming up with new ideas.
    I like being able to combine my love of history with my love of writing. Writing is a huge part of me and has been for many years. I always carry a notebook with me wherever I go and my brain is constantly coming up with ideas and plot points. It’s very rare that I am stuck for something to write about! I love what I do and it makes me very happy. 

What you dislike the most about writing?
I don’t think there’s much that I dislike, the thing I find the hardest though is not having enough time to do everything I want or need to do. I have Epilepsy, so I can’t work long days and need regular breaks so that I don’t get over tired. 
    I think this frustrates me more than anything!

Do you read?  If so what type of books do you read? 
Yes, I read every day. I read all sorts of books, everything from Women’s Fiction to murder mystery, the only genres I won’t read are Horror and Erotic Fiction, just because I don’t really enjoy them that much. I think that reading is so important, something that everyone should do, it’s the best entertainment around!

Do you have a favorite author?  If so, who and why?
Yes, my all time favourite author is Agatha Christie. I love how she is so clever with her plots and she writes the most engaging characters; Poirot is just fantastic! I think her books are so well written, and like me she had a huge love of ancient history and archaeology.
    I also love reading books by Iain Fleming, Elizabeth Peters (The Amelia Peabody Series), Belinda Jones and Nora Roberts (her thrillers/suspense books). 

What’s next for Chrissie Parker?  Will you be writing more books and if so can you give us an idea of what they will be about?

What’s next? So much!
1) I’m in the processing of revising a novel called Wind Across the Nile that has already been through one round of editing that will hopefully be released next year. 

2) I’m half way through writing Retribution the third book in the Moon Series, which I also hope will be released next year.

3) I have a book called Under the Scorching Sun finished that needs to go for editing, it was previously published in 2008 under the name of Nabataea, but I wasn’t happy with it so it’s undergoing a re-vamp!

4) At the request of my readers I am also in the process of planning a follow up book to Among the Olive Groves that will be called A Night of Thunder

5) There are also a few other projects in the planning stage! 

Quick fire round...

Sweet or savoury? - Sweet

Beach or countryside? – A hard choice, I love both! 

EBook or paperback? - Paperback

Cream tea or Fish and Chips? – Cream Tea

Classic or modern? - Classic

Sun or Snow? – Snow!

About the Author:

Chrissie lives in Devon, UK, with her husband and is a freelance Production Coordinator working in the TV, documentary and film industry.  

Chrissie also has other works an Author.  Her thriller Integrate (Book One of the Moon Series) was released in October 2013. Her historical fiction Among the Olive Groves was released in July 2014. Her thriller Temperance (Book Two of the Moon Series) was released in October 2015.

Other written work includes factual articles for the Bristolian newspaper and guest articles for the charities Epilepsy Awareness Squad and Epilepsy Literary Heritage Foundation.  Chrissie has also written a book of short stories and poems, one of which was performed at the 100 poems by 100 women event at the Bath International Literary Festival in 2013.

Chrissie is passionate about Ancient History, Archaeology and Travel, and has completed two six-month Archaeology and Egyptology courses with Exeter University.   She is learning to play the Ukulele and likes to read, collect books, listen to music. To find out more about Chrissie visit her website

You can also catch up with this very busy girl with the following links:

And finally, a few more words from me...
I feel quite exhausted after reading about all the stuff that Chrissie Parker gets up to. If you haven't read "Among the Olive Groves" yet, then I can heartily recommend you do so. 

If I'm being honest, which of course one should always be, I (and it's purely down to taste after all) wasn't particularly fond of her writing style for the first, maybe 25% of the book. But I'm so glad that I stuck with it. In "Olive Groves" Chrissie has produced a work that may not be as epic in volume (word count that is) as "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" but story-wise it certainly competes.

The book in my humble view is screaming out for someone to turn into a movie, only hopefully without being truncated as was the travesty of a movie that Captain Corelli became. Anyone who actually read De Berniere's book must agree that the movie's ending was a huge, monumental disappointment.

Chrissie Parker's book definitely, though, does in my mind for the island of Zakynthos what Captain Corelli did for Kefallonia.

I shall most certainly be reading the sequel, A Night of Thunder as soon as it comes out.

This post has been somewhat of a departure from my usual type of post. I hope, though, that you've enjoyed it and that you'll go and investigate Chrissie's work after reading it.

There'll be a bunch of posts about our current visit to Crete coming up soon.

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