Interview with author, John Manuel

Today, I am pleased to welcome British author, John Manuel who lives on the Greek island of Rhodes. I met John on Facebook, where he runs A Good Greek Read, a flourishing Facebook group for people who love Greek books. Make sure to check it out if you like your reads soaked in Greek sunshine! I recently read John’s book, Eve of Deconstruction, loved it, and highly recommend it for your reading pleasure. And now, let me introduce John – wuhoo! – and he’s brought a few photos, I see. Stick around to take a look!

Chippenham UK, present day. Eve Watkins is a fairly average modern woman in her early forties with two teenage kids, a loving husband with a steady job and career of her own. It looks like her average life is fairly uneventful, yet secure. Following the death of her mother she discovers things about her own past that come as a complete surprise to Eve. These lead her eventually out to a small village in mainland Greece, where developments soon lead to her life beginning to deconstruct before her.

Ought she to have let sleeping dogs lie? Yet she knows she has to find out. She has to know who she really is. Whatever the cost.

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Sometimes the past comes back to haunt you, but occasionally it comes back to bite.

Dean and Alyson are two young people who come together in a bar one evening in their home city of Bath, UK. Alyson’s mother once worked with Brian, a musician who never quite “made it”, but ends up playing guitar and singing in a Lindian Bar. Quite how Brian and Christine (Alyson’s mother) come to have a devastating effect on their daughter’s relationship with the man of her dreams will have you gripped, both with emotion and with intrigue.

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When Lewis and his Greek wife Katerini return to the island of her birth for a visit, neither could have predicted the series of events that would unfold, resulting in both of them coming to wonder if they’ll ever see each other again. Katerini, though, wonders if she’ll even live to see anyone at all…

The story revolves around a sensitive social issue that is perhaps surprisingly a problem even in small family-oriented communities in Greece. Most people have a conscience that will make them pay for wrongdoing, even if the law doesn’t…

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Hello John and welcome to my blog!

Thank you, Fros, it’s great to be here!

What was the first thing you ever wrote and how old were you then?

I won a school competition when I was probably only about 8. I’d written something about, wait for it, what I did during the school holidays! Although I was primarily best at all things artistic, I did even then derive a lot of pleasure from writing. When it was time to make my career choice though, I opted for graphic design. Never quite gave up the desire to write though.

Tell us a little about your published work so far.

I’ve published four Grecian memoirs, which I like to call “lighthearted”, and four novels.

Do you see yourself in any of your characters, or do any of them have traits you wish you had?

I’m definitely partially in the character Dean, the “hero” of my first novel, “The View From Kleoboulos”. Not wholly though!

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).

I’m working on a memoir covering ten years of living on Rhodes, warts and all.

Sounds interesting! What genres do you read mostly, and what are you reading now?

I like virtually anything that’s intelligent. I’m currently reading a Philippa Gregory and I’ve just finished “Six Years” by Harlan Coben, who is new to me, but I’ll definitely be checking out his other work. I do enjoy C. J. Sansom’s historical novels too, set as they are around real events in history. Of course I intersperse such reads with some good Greek ones. Books I’ve read in this “genre” recently include “100 Days of Solitude” by Daphne Kapsali, “Homer’s Where the Heart Is” by Marjory McGinn and something by someone called Effrosyni something-or-other called “The Necklace of Goddess Athena”. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Yeah, rings a bell (*chuckles*) Thank you for the kind mention, John. And I love the works of Daphne and Marjory! Do you have any author advice to share?

Loads, but one of the most important things is to make sure your books have well-designed covers. In this business it may be sad, but people will judge a book by its cover. If your cover looks amateur then you’ve already lost a huge chunk of your potential audience.

So true! Tell us about your website/blog. What will readers find there?

The website’s a fairly exhaustive look at all my work as a writer, with extensive background info and photos, especially from the factual memoir books. The blog attempts to be a thorough reference point for anyone visiting Rhodes who wants to get the absolute best out of a visit here. I’ve posted info about things to see, places to stay, where to eat and drink, how to visit the other islands that are within easy reach, stuff like that. It’s become a gargantuan task keeping it current – there are so many links in it now.

Oh, I love your blog, John. It provides a wealth of information, indeed, and with such beautiful photographs! Lovers of all things Greek will find it a delight, I am sure. Tell us John, being an author involves a lot of sitting around. What do you do for exercise?

My wife and I walk. We do very long walks during the winter months. We also care for a very large garden.

Oh, look at the blue of the sea! Where are you in these photos?

My wife is photographed above the Acropolis of Lindos in the first photo. In the second one we are in Kiotari beach near our home. And in this one below I am in Vlicha, which is near Lindos…

 

I love Rhodes! Thank you for sharing these. On to the next question: what do you enjoy the most as an indie author that you imagine you wouldn’t if you were traditionally published? If you had a choice would you still go indie?

I enjoy the total control of being an indie, but if I’m honest I’d rather like just one of my works to be picked up by an agent or publisher. It may even put me back in the tax bracket income-wise!

I agree… Hybrid authors have the best of both worlds – i.e. you can be indie/independent with most of your books but can benefit at the same time from the marketing boost a publisher can offer with a book or two. I wish it for you, John! What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?

John in Naxos, his favorite Greek island for a holiday escape.

My health, my wife, having had wonderful parents. Music: my iPod is always by my bedside. I’m an old prog-rocker, plus I love electric and acoustic blues music. Partial to a little Laika too, especially Vasilis Karras, Stratos Dionyssiou, Pascalis Tersis. My absolute favourite Greek musician though is Nikos Portokaloglou, who I’d describe as a Greek Paul Weller.

(*Chuckles*) I’d never thought of Portokaloglou as Paul Weller! I don’t follow his music though, so I’ll take your word for it! Any other photos you wish to share with us today?

Just a couple more…

Oh, wow. This looks so serene. And I love the view… Is this your big garden at home that you mentioned earlier?

Yes, that’s right. We particularly enjoy the serenity early in the evening when we sit outside with a drink in the summer months.

Delightful! And this beautiful boat? Where is that?

This was taken in Halki, the inspiration for the fictitious isle of Spilos, where the action takes place in “Sometimes You Just Can’t Tell.”

Wonderful. Thank you for your time, John. It’s been a pleasure.

Thank you for the opportunity to present my work, Fros!

 

 

Born in Bath, UK, John Manuel has been living and writing on the Greek island of Rhodes since 2005, when he and his wife arrived there from the UK. During his working life he was a graphic designer, but was also a perpetually frustrated musician and writer. Having always loved words and reading, one of his goals on arriving to start a new life on Rhodes was to begin writing his memoirs about his Greek experience.

John’s wife Yvonne (known to her Greek friends as Maria) is half Greek, her mother having been born in Athens. Thus John’s writings reflect the insight gained from the contact he’s had with his Greek relatives, especially during his early visits to the country when he and his wife would often stay with them in Athens.

John contributed several articles to the glossy “Greece” magazine in the UK and has also had a brief article published in the EasyJet in-flight magazine in 2013.

Since February 2015, John also is the administrator of a Facebook group called “A Good Greek Read”, which is growing very quickly into a global community of avid readers of literature with a Greek connection.

Website: http://johnphilipmanuel.wixsite.com/works

Blog: https://ramblingsfromrhodes.blogspot.gr

Amazon page:  US   UK

Facebook group, A Good Greek Read: https://www.facebook.com/groups/866776986702535/  (Unmissable if you love Greek books!)

NEWSFLASH: John recently hosted an interview with yours truly on his beautiful blog! There, I talk about my seaside town near Athens, my granny’s cooking, and how plotting my books helped increase my productivity! Check it out here

 

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  • Come and join us at https://TheBalkanNewsMagazine.com and contribute some of your experiences.

    • Effrosyni Moschoudi

      Thank you for your comment, Patrick. John, and any other authors reading this – if you write about Greece, do check out Patrick’s magazine. Plenty of themes to choose from and write about if it’s of interest 🙂

  • I haven’t been to Rhodes yet, but now I sure am tempted! Thanks for sharing, Fros 🙂

  • Hi,
    Great interview guys. Like your garden, John. That has to be the neatest Greek garden ever. Scorpions?!!
    Thanks for the mention of my book Homer’s Where the Heart Is. Very kind.
    Regards,
    Marjory

    • Effrosyni Moschoudi

      Thank you for your visit here, Marjory! Hopefully, John doesn’t have a scorpion problem! Yikes. I still recall from your first book what you had to go through in your stone-made house in the Peloponese 🙂

  • mmjaye

    Great interview! Seeing those pictures, I so long for the Greek summer to finally arrive!

    • Effrosyni Moschoudi

      Thank you for commenting, Maria 🙂

  • I haven’t been to Rhodes yet, but now I sure am tempted! Thanks for sharing, Fros 🙂

    • Effrosyni Moschoudi

      Thank you, Nicholas!