07-14-18 Cassandra O’Leary

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Explore Romantic Suspense on a Greek Island with Sue Ward Drake

It’s summer. Beach time. A time to kick back and soak up the sun for at least a little while.

And what better beach than one on an island, right?

There are all sorts of islands: some lush with tropical growth, some barren and dry, some so far north they’re mostly ice and/or covered with lava, like Iceland.

But when I think of islands, I think of those ancient ones scattered in the Mediterranean between Egypt and Europe where one can find marble ruins rising on a headland or fig trees growing next to a footpath, heavy with fruit the size of plums.
Small islands attract us because they’re so self-contained. Life there is separated physically from the outside world. This aspect makes evoking suspense in a story set there easy.

The second half of HEAR NO EVIL, my romantic suspense previously published by Harlequin and now indie-published, is set on the Greek island of Paros where I lived about eight months over a span of two years. Conjuring up distinctive sensory details wasn’t hard since everything was so different from my everyday life up to then: drawing water from a well with a plastic bucket on a rope, lighting kerosene lamps, closing windows with wooden shutters, and cooking all food immediately since there was no refrigeration.

Recent photos show the same sculpted-by-centuries whitewashed houses in Parikia. The bougainvillea trees look bigger, and I’m sure the fig trees on the path to the Valley of the Butterflies are, too. But the sunlight, quiet, and blue sky (of summer) are still the same.

The only ancient bits visible on Paros are the marble quarry the classical-age Greeks worked and the section of the main town of Parikia called the Castro. Houses and stairs climb up what looks like a beehive but had probably been a fortification at one time.

Hotels and cafes still populate the waterfront that extends along the harbor from the Castro. There aren’t many paved, or even dirt, roads, and farmhouses scattered through the hills can often only be reached by dirt footpaths, some bordered by high stone walls shoring up fields, some open and skirting small, whitewashed family chapels.

Going home to my farm house one night after an open-air movie I saw the altar candle shining through the small back window in the apse. I imagined someone inside ready to burst out the door and block the path. LOL. I rushed past, but I’ve always remembered that spurt of panic and used this in a scene in HEAR NO EVIL to scare the heroine.

You can find Sue in the following places:
Twitter: @SueWardDrake https://twitter.com/SueWardDrake


Diana McCollum said...

Sue your 8 months in Greece sound wonderful! How nice to get back to well water and no electricity! I lived that way for a while on a ranch up in the mountains of California. I really enjoyed your blog post and have your book on my TBR shelf. Next!! It's so much more realistic when a writer can draw from her own experiences, as you say you did with the scary moment walking home. Good luck with sales!

Evelyn Hill said...

Thank you for sharing your memories of Greece! It makes me want to take a trip :)

SusanD said...

Diana, not having modern conveniences is really an experience, but one best had when young. The house would have been cold in the winter, but I left in October.There's a stiff wind (sirocco) that blows in the islands in the winter.

I can believe that about the CA ranch in the Sierra. How long did you live there?

I hope you enjoy Molly and Stefanos's story HEAR NO EVIL.

Evelyn, you definitely need a trip! Greece is cheap. Or at least it was. Pack your bags!

Barbara Rae Robinson said...

I've wanted to go to Greece for years. I've researched island life in Greece, including Paros, for a series I'll be writing later, after my PI series. Loved your book, Sue, and loved your blog post. You do have the details that make the setting come alive. Makes me want to go even more.

SusanD said...

Hey, Barb. Thanks so much for stopping by to share your thoughts. I'll be looking for the Greek series. Keep writing. :)
The best part of island life is the view of the ocean, and you know you love the ocean, too.

Deb Noone said...

Sue - you paint such a beautiful and adventurist picture. I was in Greece as a toddler. I wish I remembered, but alas, I don't - only through photos my parents took. And most recently through travels of several friends of mine over the last 20 years.

Debbie Herbert said...

It looks so romantic and beautiful! THanks for sharing this, Sue.

SusanD said...

Deb and Debbie, :)
Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed remembering. Greece is the summer is really perfect.
I guess it was adventurous but it didn't seem so at the time. I was just doing what I wanted to do.

Funny story: Here I was living all by myself with my little portable typewriter but one morning I woke up (window shutters open and there was a screen, but I see these cows in my yard. What was going on? LOL! I was not knowledgeable about cows and had to wade through them to find my bathroom.
Turned out these cows belonged to the son of the landlady, but I was glad when the farmer took them elsewhere because I had a great view down across dried up fields to the headlands around Delphini beach.