Just before Christmas, I went with my husband to attend the launch of The Long Shadow which is now published by Okeanida.gr in Greek. It’s new title is O Iskios tou Polemou or The Shadow of War. I wish I had given the English version this title too as suddenly several books called The Long Shadow seem to have popped up! But that’s the way it goes as there is no copyright on titles.
The cover for the Greek book is really lovely and seems to attract the eye which a good cover should do. Covers do help sell, that’s a fact, drawing someone to pick up the book and take a look at least. You can imagine how happy I was to walk into Ianos Bookshop, a prestigious store in Aristotelous Square, and see my book amongst the greats like JK Rowling and other famous names. Years ago I sent the Long Shadow to Ruth Rendell, the crime writer, who was most indignant when I asked her for an ‘econium’ as she put it. Now my book is published by the same publishers who once published her books in Greece. I confess to feeling a tad smug about this!!
The launch took place at Ianos in their pleasant upstairs room. It’s a great bookstore with amazing sliding shelves which reveal yet more books behind. In my ‘thank you speech’ (in Greek!) I told the audience that I had been in the shop a couple of years before when researching the sequel to The Long Shadow. Dying Phoenix is set in the time of the Junta, a group of colonels who took over Greece in 1967, banished the King forever, and ruled the country for seven difficult years. I wanted to explore the theme, talk to people who still recalled some incidents and had stories to tell. So I went to Ianos bookstore to find a good map of Thessaloniki as I also intended to walk the streets and explore. As I looked around, I thought wistfully..’wouldn’t it be wonderful if my book was ever published in Greek’ And now it is! I am honoured and thrilled.
Mrs Maria Kyriakidou, a historian and lecturer at the American College of Thessaloniki, who loved the book and was determined to help me find a Greek publisher, was at the launch and gave a show mentioning the Scottish Nurses in the Balkans and the Great Fire of 1917 which swept through the city. Anna Kostinidou read some passages from the book and Aigli Brouskou gave a talk on her grandfather’s box from WW1 in which she also discovered diaries, letters, photos much as the one discovered by Andrew in my story. Aigli was also instrumental in finding my publisher who turned out to be an old friend of hers since her infancy! Thus another happy event when they met up again after many years.
It was a wonderful evening with many of my Greek cousins coming along to have their books signed and other good friends also. I’m left with a warm, glad feeling of being welcomed, praised, honoured and fired up to write something else about my Greek heritage. And I’ve learnt a lot more Greek!