1. Hi Effie, welcome to the blog! Evanthia's Gift is your debut novel. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Evanthia’s Gift is a multigenerational love story and family saga rooted in Greek heritage. The story spans fifty years, with some flashbacks dating back to World War II. More than a simple love story, Evanthia’s Gift proves the power of family, tradition, and friendship, as well as everlasting love in all of its forms.
2. Where did you get the inspiration to write this story?
The inspiration to write this story came from a couple of sources, but it was my mother’s passing that put me on the path to writing in the first place. In 2012 my mother passed away after battling pancreatic cancer for two and a half years. I was so busy being the strong older sister, the compassionate mother and aunt, and a supportive daughter to my grieving father. I never really let myself crack. One night I sat at the computer and just started writing. It was my way of working through my grief. I’d had a story in my head for a long time, one I kept developing over the years. I took that story and combined it with a story inspired by my mother’s life and wrote a saga. The novel is a work of fiction, but there are elements in it that are true. Personality traits, events and circumstances may be recognizable to all that knew my mother, but the story is in no way her biography. There were some difficult chapters where I sobbed every time I wrote, rewrote, or edited them. But I honored her, and our Greek heritage that she was so proud of.
3. Did you plan it out before writing, or do you just get stuck in and see what happens?
I knew the basic story, and how I wanted it to end, but when I started writing, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get from point A to point B. I began by giving my characters life – a timeline, character traits and a history. As I began to write the ideas just seem to come to me. I would say that I got sucked in and it took on a life of its own. The characters are so real to me that I feel as though they are an extension of me – part of my family or circle of friends.
4. What does your average writing day look like?
There is no such thing as an average writing day for me. I hold down a job during the day. Fortunately, it’s only part time, and I have two days off during the week in addition to Sundays. Yet, that still seems to interfere with my writing time. I generally do not start writing until after dinner, preferably after everyone has gone to bed. I stay up very late into the night writing. sometimes until 2 am. If I can, I plant myself in front of the computer for one of my days off for a full day when I have the house to myself. I have the ability to stay focused for hours, and there never seems to be enough time in a day.
5. What was your journey to publication like? Any tips for other aspiring authors?
This was my first experience, so the learning curve was huge. Thankfully, I had a couple of author friends who guided me every step of the way. Originally, I got my story down on paper and thought, ‘That’s it! I’ve got a good story here.’ Boy, was I ever naive. I had to learn to polish, trim and edit. I got beta readers, a critique partner, and a professional editor. I wrote draft after draft, until it was where it needed to be, some of the words painful for me to delete. But I took the advice of the professional who knew more than I did, and the result was richer for it. My tip for aspiring authors is to take all the above steps. DO NOT try to take short cuts. Do it right. Hire the right people to help you.
6. Are you a bookworm? Who are some of your favorite authors?
I’m not really into labels, but I have always been thought of as more the social butterfly type, not a typical stereotype for authors. I usually have one book that I am listening to in my car on audio and another that I am reading. I have a theater background and studied all the classic playwrights from ancient Greece to modern day, but Shakespeare still holds my heart. As for fiction, I love the classics there as well. Jane Austen and John Steinbeck are two of may favourites. My I love my lighter women’s fiction and romances. Nora Roberts, Jude Deveraux, Sophie Kinsilla, Adriana Trigiani, and Sylvia Day are among the novelists I read most often. But the one that has captured my attention the most is Sylvain Reynard who wrote the Gabriel series. His use of language is breathtaking, and he keeps me intrigued with his knowledge of literature, religion, art, history, and culture.
7. What do you like to do to relax, when you're not busy writing?
I don’t think relax is in my vocabulary. I love to cook and entertain. When I entertain guests at my home, they know everything will be cooked from scratch. It could take me days or up to a week to prepare. I write a food blog that not only shares my recipes, but usually a story or tradition that goes along with the food. When reading Evanthia’s Gift, you will notice recipes tucked between some of the chapters. These recipes have a direct link to the story line.I like to dance and play tennis, although I am the weak link on the court when playing with my family. In the summer, I spend my days off venturing out East on Long Island, visiting the wineries or lunching and shopping in one of the Hampton towns. On the rare occasion that I get to do absolutely nothing, I like to sit by the pool with a good book and relax with my husband and two daughters.
Thanks so much for coming onto Little Northern Soul, Effie!
In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance. But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets - ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family.
The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean,
who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for.
EVANTHIA’S GIFT is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and crossing two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families.