That’s my way of letting you know I’m back on Mykonos, safe and sound as of late Thursday. It’s early Friday morning and I’m sitting on my front porch taking in the view. And what a view it is. I’m on a rise behind the seven windmills symbolic of my island, looking across the old port toward the much larger neighboring island of Tinos, a half dozen miles away.
It’s been a hectic week, starting off with chores on a farm in western New Jersey (that’s my forest fire fighter buddy’s new truck in front of the barn) and a few days in New York City to tidy things up a bit before flying off from JFK—no doubt passing Stan headed in the opposite direction somewhere midway across the Atlantic. But I made it, and the photo at the top of this article is the start of my first Aegean sunset of 2012. Glad I could share it with you.
|JFK Delta Lounge|
|My trans-Atlantic view|
I know it’s time to start writing the new book. But for this morning, at least, I prefer reminiscing about the last one, and what got me to write it. After all, it all started here, on this porch.
Have you ever wondered how many times a day your eyes see something that your mind never gives a second thought? Birds, for instance, or the color of the floor in your apartment building’s halls. That’s sort of the way I’d always looked at Tinos. It was just a high-ridged, mountainous island backdrop for whatever what was happening on Mykonos.
|Tinos' Church of Panagia Evangelistria|
Many times I’d stood on the deck of a ferry stopped in Tinos’ port and watched pilgrims head off to begin a half-mile crawl up the steep hill from the harbor to the Church. But I never had much interest in visiting there. It seemed too close to bother, much like the Statue of Liberty is to New Yorkers.
|Path crawled by pilgrims|
About two years ago I was having morning coffee on my front porch with an American friend. Her late husband had been a jeweler on Mykonos. We were talking about a new book I was working on and she said, “You should write one about Tinos.”
When I asked why, she said, “It has all that hidden treasure.”
She sure knew how to get my attention. That’s when I learned that her husband had been one of the few jewelers entrusted to restore and maintain hidden caches of gold, silver, and precious gems given as gifts to the Church of the Annunciation by grateful pilgrims. Not long after that I learned that all this wealth was not controlled by the Greek Church, but by a two-hundred-year-old private foundation so rich and powerful that some referred to it as “The Vatican of Greece.”
A miraculous icon, vast hidden treasures, a mysterious foundation, and gypsies. How could I not be inspired? Still, it took until last spring before I got around to seriously exploring Tinos. Now it’s one of my favorite places in Greece.
Most who come to Tinos are only aware of the Church and its surrounding harbor town. But for those who venture out onto the island, there are serious surprises in store. Fifty villages as quiet and undisturbed as a dreamer’s quaint fantasy of Greece; brilliant vistas at every turn; a meandering two-hundred-mile network of cobblestone trails and old farm paths running from hillside to hillside and dipping into valleys in between; and a history of fabled marble quarries and artisans linked to some of Greece’s greatest artistic achievements.
And unlike other Aegean islands, Tinos successfully resisted Ottoman rule for most of Greece’s occupation, making it a Christian oasis amid Turkish domination and the Cycladic island chain’s economic center and most populated island, earning it the nickname “Little Paris.”
What a setting for a story.
And it will be out this June.
For those interested in a peak at the tale, here’s Publishers Weekly’s starred review of Target: Tinos. Dare I need say it began my week on as glorious a note as that resolving first sunset!
Set on the Aegean pilgrimage island of Tinos, Siger’s superb fourth procedural featuring Chief Insp. Andreas Kaldis (after 2011’s Prey on Patmos) cleverly integrates the ancient with the modern. When Andreas looks into the mysterious immolation of two gypsies on Tinos, apparently a hate crime against immigrants, he faces formidable pressures from his fiery fiancée, Lila, whom he’s to marry in six days on nearby Mykonos—and from his wily boss, Spiros Renatis, who abruptly orders him to close the investigation. While the Greek government can’t afford bad publicity during the country’s current financial crisis, Andreas, aided by his feisty chief assistant, Yianni Kouros, and his friend Tassos Stamatos, chief homicide investigator for the Cyclades, pursues this eerie case, which soon involves ruthless Albanian mobsters, the history of Greek independence from Turkey, and a Tinos-based esoteric cult. A likable, compassionate lead; appealing Greek atmosphere; and a well-crafted plot help make this a winner. (June)—Publishers Weekly (starred review) 3/30/2012