Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

I utter these words with some trepidation when asked. The novel, if you can call it that, is an assortment of ideas, concepts, thoughts and characters. They’ve infiltrated my brain and refuse to leave. They nudge. They keep me up at nights. Come on, already. It’s time to tell our story.

It’s a confusing process this writing business. I, myself, don’t often times understand how it comes together until the final word is typed. And even then I’m not sure what I’ve got. That’s what I really want to say when asked.

Instead, in not quite a nutshell, I say some bits and pieces of the following, hoping it makes me sound a little more professional, and the process focused and rigorous.

As a writer, I am interested in exploring the reactions of individual characters to life’s positive and negative events. The question of why we do what we do informs all my writing and helps me understand individual as well as collective behaviour.

I’ve also become very interested in my own Greek culture after researching and writing my novel, Nicolai’s Daughters. At the core of that novel is the WWII tragedy of Kalavryta. That tragedy, and the sacrifices the family made to survive, impacts multiple generations of the Sarinopoulos family in my novel.

I touched on the impact of Greece’s economic woes on my characters very briefly in Nicolai’s Daughters, but have begun to explore it in more detail in my new novel.

To this end, the new novel explores the result of successive years of recession in Greece on individuals, families, and the nation’s psyche. It investigates the emergence of the far right wing party, Golden Dawn, police practices related to the detention of illegal immigrants, European policy concerning illegal immigrants and, addresses Greece’s declining human rights record.

I plan to explore these issues and how Greek attitudes have changed toward the influx of illegal foreigners (in particular the Roma) through four main characters: Sorin (the Roma man who tries and fails to bargain for a better life for his son, Bo), Shelby (a Canadian aid worker in jail because of her misguided efforts to help Bo), Ted (Shelby's son who has come to his mother's rescue, again) and Christos (the police officer who was once an engineer, but lost his job during the recession and has resorted to this type of work to feed his family. He's stuck in the middle of this mess trying to sort out what happened, while also hoping to fit in with his colleagues who increasingly hold right wing views he doesn’t share). 

I am a third of the way through the novel, I think, but even now my characters have introduced new twists and turns to my original plot. Bo in particular wants to tell his side of the story too. I’m trying to ignore him, but he’s a pushy sort of kid.

In my new novel (I’m getting very brave calling it that) I have a strong need to understand what has happened to the country I love, the one that prides itself on filoxenia (Greek for hospitality). Greeks fought during WWII to put an end to the Nazis. And yet the country now has seen the rise of its own Nazi party, Golden Dawn. How does Greek hospitality align itself with this emerging new order? How did it come to this? I don’t have the answers, but I’m hoping to find some.

Now wasn’t that a mouthful. Perhaps I should stick with a simple: yes, I’m working on a new novel. Thanks for asking.

Filoxenia Versus the Neo-Nazis


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