Welcome Matina Nicholas! Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.
Curiosity may have killed a cat and it’s almost done me in a few times as well. My trip to Greece to explore my Athenian heritage, also turned up a few dozen relatives, living and dead, who embraced the Americana teacher from New Jersey as one of their own.
I found myself on a luxury yacht owned by a handsome Greek drug lord, then in the midst of a band of Greek gypsies or as they prefer to be called “Roma,” while trudging through the Greek mountains and ruins discovering the glory that was Greece.
The romance of the Greek islands is not to be denied, nor is the delight of sitting across from a charming Greek determined to win the affections of a rather straitlaced Americana. That memorable trip provided background for my book, Affair in Athens.
Is Affair in Athens a single title, or part of a series?
Affair in Athens started out as a single title but my friendly readers have suggested a sequel to it.
What were your inspirations for the story?
My parents were Greek immigrants who had a dream for their children and loved their adopted America more than their homeland. I was always so proud of their courage, honesty and moral values and was so happy to be able to incorporate their principles into Affair in Athens.
Please share your setting for Affair in Athens. Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most?
My setting for Affair in Athens, is in Greece. It begins in Plaka, that tiny, white-washed village of narrow streets, in the midst of a bustling city of Athens. Tucked under the slopes of the Acropolis is a Greek Orthodox church built in the 14th century. My grandfather was priest in that church until he was executed by the Nazis for helping transport Jews out of Greece before they could be killed. The church has an undeniable mystical quality. It’s where my trip and my book begin.
When did the writing bug first bite?
I was always a voracious reader and when I was nine years old, I was given a gift of Little Women. I was inspired by Jo March whose “scribblings” in an attic gave me the incentive to put pencil to paper in my mother’s attic. I was reporter for my school paper, often giving more color to articles than was possible in an all-girl school setting.
Who are you favorite authors, book/series?
Shakespeare for his insight and portrayal of the human psyche, Nelson DeMille for his suspenseful plots, Louisa May Alcott for her inspirational devotion to family and writing, Charles Dickens for unforgettable characters and drama, Janet Evanovich for the fun of her characters’ working and living in Trenton, New Jersey, Mark Twain for his masterful, yet subtle descriptions of human nature and the issues of those days.
If you could have an author roundtable discussion with any authors, who would you invite?
James Patterson to discover what the process of his incredible production of books is, Chris Matthews to learn how a busy person can continue to write volumes of books that require such attention to detail and facts, F. Scott Fitzgerald, just because.
Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?
I write a commentary column for a local paper, Condo News. My commentaries and essays can be read at condonewsonline.com. I have sculpted and painted and donated those pieces to organizations to raise money for charity. Through the years, I have rescued too many dogs and cats to count. I find the pureness of a pet’s devotion cannot be measured nor should it be ignored. I spend a portion of each day with my dogs in parks, giving back to them a small measure of the pleasure I’ve derived from their company.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen?
I had an experience that, even today, years later, seems so eccentric to me. My brother was killed in a war. On the exact day that was the twenty-fifth anniversary of his death, I was at work and had to call an applicant for a job with the news that she had been chosen. I called the number and a man answered telling me that the woman wasn’t home. I asked who the man was and he gave me the exact first and last name of my brother. We spoke for a while and when I hung up, a clap of thunder shook the building. I was stunned. I am hard pressed to call it a “coincidence” since the last name is quite unusual and it was a sunny day. I’m told it was a “contact” from my brother. I’d like to think it was.
Its rare in a romance book that you will actually learn something but I did in Affair in Athens. Filled with historical facts that sometimes made me what to cringe but nonetheless, fascinating. My husband and I watch a lot of those Hilter shows on cable and I swear I’ve never heard of this aspect of the genocide.
But what I really enjoyed was watching Athena get to know her roots. Having her connect with her mother’s family and finally coming into her own as a woman was brilliant. While the first part of the book was the history lesson, the second half of the book was the “romance” part. I feel in love with Athena, Yinnia, Byron and Shayne. I even liked Luke in parts. In the end I felt sorry for him and it was tragic. He knew better because his actions cost him Athena in the end and he never got over it.
The introduction of Shayne was sweet. A red headed half Greek is something that I would love to see. 🙂 Plus, he wasn’t pushy. Athena had a lot to think about and deal with in regards to Luke and it wasn’t until the very end of the book that it was resolved. Shayne took his time and was her friend and that’s what she needed most of all.
I’m like some of her other readers. I would love a sequel to this book. Did Byron’s show work out? How are Shayne and Athena doing right now? And did they go back to Greece just for a visit? Which by the way…you will put Greece on the top of your bucket list to visit. Between the food, settings and overall atmosphere of the book…you will be transported there and never want to leave.
I highly recommend Affair in Athens not just for the history lesson but for the romance element and watching a woman reconnect with her family that she didn’t even know.
Top ten things you don’t know about me:
1. Cotton or Silk?
I’m cotton and silk. I love the ease of life in a cotton mode: practical, easy to care for, resilient, back-to-nature qualities. But, silk…well, silk is for feeling special, like fine dining, exquisite jewelry, opulent living. A balanced existence is where I’m most comfortable.
When I was in college, it was beer…beer and hot pretzels at Ryans’ Bar right near the college were it.
When I graduated college, I also graduated to wine: wine tastings, wine and cheese parties, the right wine with the right dinner…a regular wine connoisseur!
Later, champagne was to celebrate the successes of business. What was more satisfying than the pop of a cork after closing a deal!
I get the spark of an idea and let it gel for a while before I begin writing. Up to that point, I’m a plotter but the pantser in me soon emerges after that and I let my characters take over, and they always do!
4. Describe your workspace
A glass boomerang-shaped desk tucked in corner of my bedroom, a large bookcase and rolling file cabinets give me all the writing space and atmosphere I need. My dogs’ beds flank my desk. Writing is a group effort!
5. Sports fan or just tolerate it?
Hey…I’m a born and bred Brooklynite where Brooklyn Dodgers were royalty. I watch other sports and wonder why football players aren’t maimed for life and how tall basketball players have become, but baseball is my true love.
- Who is your biggest influence on writing?
A beloved college professor drilled into me that writing needs a “…wet cloth and hot iron,” to be effective and correctly written.
Currently, my editor is a major influence and I analyze writing styles by reading fiction best sellers and learn from them.
7. Favorite food – Rabbit food: salads, fresh veggies and the Mediterranean diet…with lots of olive oil and oregano.
8. When did you start writing?
At age nine, I read Little Women and arranged a writing space in my mom’s attic because that was where Jo wrote her stories. It was magical when it rained and I would hear the patter and smell the attic’s mustiness. It contributed to my image of being a starving attic writer.
9. If money were no object, where would you like to live?
The beautiful southern suburb of Athens, Greece, Glyfada, is idyllic. Opulent seafront residences and gardens dot the coastline, and high points feature an unforgettable view of the sea. Known as the Hellenic Hamptons, or the Beverly Hills of Greece, the location offers ancient culture in a modern setting and a lifestyle that soothes the soul.
10. What’s next for you?
A mystery set in a Florida condo building so common to southern Florida, features characters any condo dweller will recognize, is set to go to an agent.