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Wednesday, 29 August 2018

What If I Change My Genre?


Suddenly, it was not so important. Having spent twenty five years in Eastern Europe, describing the political changes, and analyzing the people behind the throne, it was clear to me that the public was becoming a little tired of Communism. Mr. Putin was doing his best to revamp the past, but the Cold War was now over, and with just the slightest taint of intrigue remaining, it seemed to be time for me to move on. Even the Oligarchs were becoming old hat, and few readers could care less if another Knightsbridge mansion was bought at an inflated price by some Moscow gangster. It also seemed that DCI Michael Lambert - my ever present police detective - might also have chased his last miscreant halfway across Europe.

Happily tucked up in bed with Countess Beatrix, Lambert - who had recently become the Honorary British Consul in Acona - finally seemed content to simply smell the roses. And me? I am just the author, so it has always been clear that one day, I might easily become the victim of my own fictional characters, and that - if they wanted to put their feet up and do nothing for a bit - there was very little I could do about it. Or was there? There was always the possibility of a change of genre for me, and perhaps DCI Lambert was not the only person due for a well deserved rest?


I live in a very provincial and isolated community of farmers and artisans in the very north of Greece, and while I got on and wrote about Lamberts trials and tribulations, they remained largely ignored. A great place to live in peace and quiet, as well as for fresh fruit & veg, it never occurred to me then that underneath all their peaceful toil, was a tribe of people who together had survived not only the wrath of Atturturk; and the great migration, but the horrors of two World Wars. Decent, hardworking and uncondescending, what would they be like if there was a disaster, what would happen if there was a terible flood, and how would I cope with writing in a new genre?

Rather like Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov - permanently receiving tragic news from the village or through a third party - Goddess of The Rainbow was my tribute to the largely forgotten and neglected part of Greece in which I live. An area which had sustained more grief than most parts of the Balkans during the 20th Century, what was it that made the people of Evros so resilient, and able to maintain their pride? In sixteen chapters of intertwined short stories, ranging from love to hatred, greed, kindness, selflessness, goodness and an unwavering hope for the future - I try to explain what it is that makes these people so special. Even the Greek Orthodox priest - who is experiencing a crisis of faith - when the floods come and the rain never stops, he too is influenced by the courage of ordinary people as they face the trauma of flooding, their lives fractured by disaster, as he has been by his own doubts. And, murder mystery? That seems to be taking a sabbatical too.