Fulfilling her mother’s dying wish to discover her roots, Athena Vallas journeys to Greece and finds more than history as she reunites with a part of her family she didn’t know existed. While documenting her grandfather’s heroic role as a Greek Orthodox priest in Plaka, sheltering Jews during the Resistance in WWII, Athena meets Luke, a dangerously charismatic man who sees her as the ideal wife.
Drawn into an extravagant lifestyle, her attraction to Luke is intense until she discovers that he plays a high stakes game of illegal pursuits. When she attempts to distance herself, Luke refuses to relinquish his plans. Ruthlessly, he keeps his eye on the prize—Athena—who won’t compromise love for wealth or fidelity forlifestyle.
Affair in Athens includes a set of authentic Greek recipes at the back of the book, passed down through Matina’s family. Read, eat, and enjoy!
The old priest’s Byzantine chant, the heady smokiness of burning incense, the power of icons hundreds of years old staring down on her intoxicated her senses. She looked about the ancient Greek Orthodox church tucked under the Parthenon with a deep sense of awe and respect. This was where her grandfather had been priest for fifty years, where her mother had been christened and prayed and left behind so long ago. There were no pews, no chairs in this church. After all, “orthodox” meant upright. Dozens of candles in ornate brass candelabras flickered and cast mysterious shadows.
Athena’s eyes brimmed with tears. The altar swam before her. She was overwhelmed with a sense of coming home, of belonging. She knelt, covering her face with her hands, remembering her mother’s last days. Filled with love for her daughter, Amalia grieved that she would not live to see Athena married or have children. How could any daughter deny her mother’s last wish? Athena had promised to visit the tiny church in Plaka, learn of her Greek roots and her grandfather’s role in sheltering Jews during the Resistance.
Tears slipped through her fingers and dropped to the stone floor, the same stones where her grandparents had stood when they married, baptized their children, where their coffins had rested before they were buried. This was where her grandfather and his parishioners heroically stood when the Nazis trained their machine guns on them—Father Peter, in his black robes, face and arms raised in prayer, radiating strength and courage to his parishioners as they stood facing him. They had done God’s will by hiding and smuggling the Salonika Jews out of Athens into the remote countryside. “Pater Ev-lo-i-son Emas. Father bless us,” they chanted, their voices abruptly silenced by the sharp, staccato bursts of the machine guns.
“My daughter.” Athena felt strong hands on her shoulders. She raised her tear-stained face to see an old priest in the customary black robes, looking down at her. His bright blue eyes peered over his wire spectacles, his face creased in concern. “I am Father Nicholas. My child, how can I help you?” His English was quite good.
- Hello, Matina and thank you so much for stopping by Books to Get Lost In. Let's get started into some fun and interesting questions, that I'm sure will give just as fun and interesting answers. So how much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
I suspect no author can totally separate his personality and experiences from his writing.
My writing is based on my perceptions and experiences. If an author attempts to write in
another voice except his own, the writing may not have authenticity.
- What kinds of things do you do for fun?
Fun is an early morning at the beach with my dogs, breakfast with my editor, lunch on the run before a movie with a friend, cooking dinner for family or better yet, dinner out at a waterfront café.
- Do you ever ask boyfriend/husband/significant other for advice and/or input for a particular scene?
No, I don’t. Ever. Input from a significant other can deter the plot’s path or create a problem if the advice isn’t taken. Input from my writing group is another matter. They are detached from any emotional ties to me or my writing.
- Do you have a particular writing routine once you start a book?
I start writing the minute I wake up, usually around 5:00 a.m., before the world around me awakens. It’s the purest time that produces the most effective writing for me.
- What comes first for you? The story? Characters? Or setting?
The germ of a plot usually hatches just before the characters come knocking…and they always do, sometimes taking the plot out of my hands and into theirs! The setting is usually involved in the plot so that would be simultaneous to plot development.
- What would you say are your biggest influences and/or inspirations in your writing?
Past experiences and certainly personalities in my past and present life ignite sparks of writing energy. Being of Greek descent, there’s always drama in my life…or what I perceive as drama with deep emotional roots. Those roots send up energy that flower into characters and how they react to situations.
What kind of research do you do? And what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
I do a thorough research on the history and geographical areas my plots will be based on.
Authenticity is important.
I contacted a photographer I found on Google who travels world-wide taking incredible photographs. I asked for permission to use his photos in essays I wrote for a news publication and for the cover of my book, Affair in Athens. He was gracious in granting me that request.
- For you what makes it a great/epic romance?
Great romance = selfless devotion, no matter what the cost. It’s as simple as that!
- What do you find is the easiest part of writing?
The easiest part is actually writing the story with dialogue and plot. The hardest is finding the spark that will ignite my imagination to develop a plot and the characters to carry it out.
- What’s in your TBR pile?
I have best sellers and issues of Time Magazine piled up . . . and on hold. I find when I’m writing I tend to put aside any reading I have to do and concentrate on getting my writing in the best possible form I can.
- What are three facts about you that no one knows and should?
- That I’m sometimes psychic
- That I am still a street-smart kid from Brooklyn, able to size up people situations in an instant
- That I have endless patience but once I “lose it,” watch out!
- Do you have an embarrassing guilty pleasure that you partake in?
Eating ice cream out of the box!
- If you weren’t a writer, what other path might you have followed?
A chef…with a Greek family in the food business, what else would I have been!
- If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Probably back to Greece, to Sounion, truly an idyllic spot on the earth.
- What are your feelings toward Zombies?
- Who is your favorite superhero/heroine?
My mom and dad who overcame great odds to become successful in raising an American family through hard work and conscientious upbringing. They were superheroes who emigrated from family and country to make their adopted country their own.
- If you could meet someone alive or dead who would it be? And why?
I’m conflicted between Christ and Cary Grant! Christ for the obvious reason of his being and Cary Grant because he seemed to be the epitome of charm and debonair maleness.
- If you were stuck on an island and could only have one type of food and one other “object” what would they be?
Anything dark chocolate.
One object wouldn’t be a cell phone or any electronic device. I’d love to be rid of those. An endless supply of matches would be a life-saving object.
- Do you have any encouraging words for aspiring writers?
Join a writing group. Don’t try to go it alone. And read, read, read, all the newest books that are published so you can see what’s selling.
- Is there anything else you’d like to share with our guests today?
Develop a pattern you follow for writing. Set times for writing and times for proofreading. Share you work with other fellow writers but try to choose those who write better than you do so you can benefit from their experiences and advice.
And read, read, read the writing of others and study their styles to develop your own.
EPPP!!!! Those were some awesome answers and (for me) such an insight into this amazing author. Thank you sooooo much for taking the time to answer my questions and giving such great answers and stopping by my blog today!!!!
About the Author:
With a background in English and Education, and a dedication to transmit her love of writing to her students, Matina Nicholas taught writing and literature at university and high school levels. She has been published in educational texts, professional periodicals, and journals. Currently, she writes for the Condo News under the name Tina Chippas. Her writing pieces can be read at condonewsonline.com under Commentary andEssays.
A confirmed dog-lover, Matina is involved with her two dogs, Chelsea, a geriatric-but-far-from-over-the-hill toy red poodle and Lukie, a spunky, stubby Miniature Pinscher. Their eagerness for adventure and fine canine dining is the source for some of her essays for the Condo News.
This is her first novel.
Where to Stalk Matina: