Saturday, August 24, 2013

Me In the Land of Mani-acs.


Some might say I’ve been there all my life.  But they would be wrong.  I’d never been to that middle-finger peninsula at the southernmost tip of Greece’s Peloponnese known as
“The Mani” until three years ago. (My November 13, 2010 MIE post described the region and its history in detail.)

What I found there I knew I had to work into a Kaldis novel, but I was missing the spark of inspiration I needed to tie it all together. At the beginning of this year I received a note from a friend detailing a story of her family in the Mani.  Eureka!  I’d found my inspiration. 

I finished the first draft of that new book (Kaldis #6) a week ago, and “took off” this past week to do a bit of promotional preparation for the release of Andreas’ fifth mystery, MYKONOS AFTER MIDNIGHT, coming September 3rd.  But this isn’t meant to be a BSP piece for MYKONOS AFTER MIDNIGHT (decreasing all caps size for repeat mention) because that happens next week, three days before the official release of MYKONOS AFTER MIDNIGHT.

Tomorrow I take off for a week of exploring the Mani to verify the accuracy of my geographical and background facts. I always want my readers to trust me so that when I make the leap from the real to the imagined, we all jump together.

What I’d like to do with you now is share a slightly fictionalized version of the tale that inspired my 2014 book.  Some might think it could serve as the basis for an entire novel, but I look at it only as a scene in the first chapter.

Others might see it as an opportunity to steal my idea—such as the you know who you are out there who I’ve been informed published a book ripping off my Murder in Mykonos plot elements, transported to a different culture and continent.  All I can say to those sorts is, “Go ahead, Pilgrim...take your best shot...make my day.”

Here’s the story and as unimaginable as it seems, it’s real:

In the early 1900’s a young medical student studying in Athens received a message from his father to return home to the Mani at once.  When he arrived home he learned that his younger sister had humiliated their father by getting pregnant by a young man in the village.  Her lover had proposed to marry the sister, but the father refused.  Instead, in front of the sister and her lover he told his son to shoot and kill them both. 

The lovers ran from the house, but the brother caught up with his sister in the courtyard and murdered her there.  The lover he caught and killed at the port, trying to escape in a boat.

At the trial of the brother for killing his sister and her lover, the Judge was about to render his decision when the JUDGE’S mother stood up in court and yelled at her son,

“Just remember that you murdered your own sister for the same reason.”

The brother was acquitted and returned to medical school.  

Romeo and Juliet, Mani style.
Romeo and Juliet, Ford Madox Brown (1870)

Tune in next week for MYKONOS AFTER MIDNIGHT.



  1. Oh, Apoplectic Apollo! It's August and Jeff is running naked through the streets of Greece yelling, "Eureka!" Is there no end to our suffering?

    As for your pitiful attempts to publicize some minor crime novel called MYKONOS AFTER MIDNIGHT, the very *LEAST* you could do is to tell us where to buy MYKONOS AFTER MIDNIGHT, so that we're not confused by all of the OTHER books called "Mykonos After Midnight." What's that? There AREN'T any other books called Mykonos After Midnight???? Wow. Original. Never mind.

    As for your story of Mani, I'm confused (I know, I know, but don't even go there, it's WAY too easy for someone of your caliber... or hat-size... or belt-length...whatever). How, exactly, is this an instance of "the battle of the forces of ignorance and self-righteousness against the ramparts of knowledge and tolerance."

    However, it IS a great story, and almost one-ups Caro's story of heinousness in Glasgow. If only you could have tied it into something that happened on Mykonos after midnight. THEN youduh had somet'in.

  2. It got you to read the piece didn't it Everett? Hence: Ignorance and self-righteousness battled knowledge and tolerance into the bathtub...uhhh, maybe I should come up with a different analogy. I'll work on one right after I get back from following up on your idea and trawling (not trolling) the harbor front for tourist-readers using nothing but my sandwich-board and fists full of MAM flyers. Book promotion these days can be tough...especially on the sunburn.

  3. Males defending their honor! The most common excuse for violence against women on this planet. It disgusts me. It truly DISGUSTS me. That a girl's mother would approve of such an execution boggles my mind.

    1. I wasn't going to reply (there's enough of my 'face' on this post already :-), but I did want to say two things:
      1) I agree with you completely.
      2) It is, of course, NOT about 'honor', but rather about ownership and control. Not any better reasons (there are NO good reasons), but more honest.

  4. And that a Judge's mother YEARS after the slaying of her own daughter/his sister at his hand would have him validate his own unconscionable act by freeing a similar killer had me dropping my jaw.

  5. It must have something to do with the weather. I don't recall many (any) stories about honor killings in countries that only have three months a year of warm weather.

    Is there a less honorable act than the taking of a life?

    I doubt there is a group more uptight about sex than the Irish but shaming a woman and her family into the seventh generation is the punishment of choice rather than death. Not so long ago, a man could not be ordained as a priest if he was born out of wedlock. He was marked by his mother's sin even if she had been forced into the act, because it is always the woman's fault. In the story, the father is humiliated by the pregnancy but neither the brother nor the judge feel guilty about the participation in murder. It wasn't their fault; "she" made them do it. Their humiliation rather than her violation and possible pregnancy (cause the woman's body shuts down if it is legitimate rape)is the unforgivable sin. At least, the story has a happy ending. The woman who caused the problem is dead and her killer goes on to a successful and respected life. he might have become an OB/GYN.


    1. There is a final twist to this story that I did not reveal because it might give away the direction of my inspiration--and there are prying eyes out there. But, to me at least, it turned what transpired on its ear.

    2. Okay, now you're BOUND, by all that is right and just, to return to this matter in a year or so's time, after your 'inspiration' is published, and reveal the REST of the story.

      What a tease. I'm amazed Zilly puts up with you.

    3. What makes you think that she does, Everett?

  6. I'm wondering how fair it is to tease us about 2014, when Sep. 3 isn't here yet. You know the waiting gets worse as it gets closer. I'm with Annamaria and Beth-but that is not surprising.

    1. Sorry about that, Lil, but as immersed as I've been in the Mani project for the last six months, I thought I'd share what got it started. Through the end of the year, though, it will all be about my September 3, baby...and a bouncing one it is over here. The local glitzy "Mykonos Confidential" magazine did a twelve-page spread on it and I can't wait to see how the locals react. Hopefully not with pitchforks and torches.

  7. I agree with Annamaria that this is all disgusting, in her words. There is still so much abuse of women and girls in the name of what? Honor? What is that? It is about power, ownership and control.

    In so many countries, women do not have rights, even to drive, go out unaccompanied by a relative, work outside the home, go to school, have an unauthorized relationship, etc. The inequities are too numerous to list.

    Look at India where a 22-year-old photojournalist was just gang raped.

    The book sounds interesting; hope you haven't given away too much of the plot.

  8. Kathy D, that scene takes place in the first chapter so no plot given away. As a human being I of course agree wiith you and Annamaria, but as a writer (suspected subspecies of foregoing category), I'm thrilled at how that scene has been received, for just as I'd hoped it apparently elicits the response to set up for all to come.

  9. Of course you as a writer have "editorial" license to use whatever plot lines you wish to explore!

    Hopefully, when writers utilize these horrific scenarios -- those based on real abuse, mistreatment, crimes -- that the writer somewhere condemns them.

    I worry about books (not yours) that are chock full of body counts, torture of women, kidnapping of children, etc., where no moral or human values are inserted so that the focus is the abuse and the crime-in-itself.

    I wonder who reads that stuff and why -- and am I sitting next to someone who does on a train or bus? Yikes!

    Anyway, your police team and the spouse of your protagonist (married in the last book I read) do have a moral compass. And violence is not gratuitous.

    I must get back to Greece here, a virtual vacation. Love the descriptions.

    A young woman who works in a nearby pharmacy, just went to an island in Greece to stay with her parents for 3 weeks in an idyllic setting. Her conclusion: slow, boring life, but beautiful location. What I wouldn't give to be in her place in August!