Anne Zouroudi’s new book in her Seven Deadly Sins series, THE LADY OF SORROWS, is out today, and Anne stopped by to answer a few of my questions. Also, courtesy of Hachette we’ve got one copy to give away to one lucky winner!
I was very excited to hear that THE LADY OF SORROWS was coming to the US! Will you tell us a little bit about it?
The Lady of Sorrows is the fourth of my Seven Deadly Sins mysteries, and it’s based on the sin of wrath. At the heart of the book is the Lady of Sorrows herself, an ancient icon which my investigator, Hermes Diaktoros, realizes is a forgery. Hermes is ready to leave it to a friend to work out where the original has gone when a local icon-painter is found dead. Did he die of natural causes, or was he the victim of a clever crime? It’s up to Hermes- using his rather unorthodox methods – to get to the truth.
You fell in love with Greece on a summer holiday with your sister, and you actually spent a number of years there, so this obviously inspired this series, but have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I won my first prize for writing when I was ten – I won a pen in a national essay-writing competition – and I think the thrill of that must have gone to my head. I’ve written most of my life, and wrote my first novel at eighteen (it was a long way from being publishable, and happily it will never see the light of day). I had a ‘real’ job for many years which took me all round the world, and I lived for a while in New York and Denver, Co. But that Greek holiday was pivotal for me, in many ways. I quit my job, and went back to Greece to marry the fisherman I’d met on holiday. My family thought I was mad, but my love of Greece inspired my writing to a new level. The fisherman – his name is George – and I divorced, but we’re still good friends, and I still spend as much time as I can in Greece.
What do you enjoy most about writing the character of Hermes Diaktoros, and why do you think readers connect to him?
Hermes is…different to other fictional investigators. There are hints as to his identity and on whose authority he acts throughout the series, but I have fans who’ve read all seven books (already published in the UK) who still ask me who he is, whilst others ‘get’ him from the first page. The mystery around his identity makes writing him fun, but it’s the bag he always carries with him I really love. Somehow, Hermes always has exactly what he needs inside that bag.I think readers connect with him partly because he’s absolutely charming (unless you’re the guilty party), and partly because he makes it his business to make sure everyone gets their just deserts. He deals with the bad guys and rewards the good guys. He’s a figure of natural justice rather than a representative of man-made laws, and readers love that.
Why mystery? What do you love most about writing, and reading in the genre?
I’ve been a mystery fan since I read Agatha Christie at the age of twelve. I love classic mysteries (Dorothy Sayers is another favorite) but I’m a big fan of the crime genre as a whole – Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Don Winslow, John Grisham. I don’t like cutting and slashing, and my books reflect that – they’re certainly dark, and bad things happen in them, but there’s no overt violence. What I love most about reading and writing crime fiction is that there’s always resolution – a beginning, middle and a satisfying end. It’s a great feeling when readers say they never guessed the ending of a book. Then I know I’ve written a good whodunit.
What is your writing process like?
I usually take about a year to write a book. My first draft is very rough, kind of like a pencil sketch. I don’t worry at all about the language at that point, only about getting the plot down on paper (and I do write on paper for that first draft, with a fountain pen). For subsequent drafts – maybe as many as seven or eight – it’s polish, polish, polish.
What are you currently reading?
Life after Life, by Kate Atkinson. I like to keep up with what readers are reading, and that book’s been a huge hit. I’m about half way through and enjoying it – it’s an interesting and original concept.
What were a few of the things you loved the most about living in Greece, and where would you take a first time visitor to the islands?
I loved the weather – even in winter, there’s far more blue sky in Greece than we ever see in the damp north of England – and I love the heat of summer. And I loved the sea – I’m a real water-baby, so I swam a lot and learned to fish. I’d take a first-time visitor to one of the smaller islands – Greece has hundreds of them – to experience that feeling of timelessness Greece has. To sit in a little harbor café with a glass of wine and a dish of olives, watching the boats come and go – heaven, and balm for the soul.
Your books include vivid descriptions of Greek cuisine. What is one of your favorite Greek dishes?
Greek food is wonderful because it makes the most of what’s in season. One of the best meals I’ve had recently was really simple, but fabulous: a field-fresh salad of Kos lettuce and scallions dressed with a sprinkling of sea-salt, local olive oil and juice from a lemon picked from a tree overhanging the table. A tranche of creamy goat’s cheese, a loaf of bread from an olive-wood oven and a jug of white wine drawn from the barrel – what more could you need?
When you’re not writing, how do you enjoy spending your free time?
I read a lot, and I love to walk. I have a big black dog – a lurcher, a greyhound- collie cross – and he takes a lot of exercising. I live near open moors – think Wuthering Heights – and we go up there exploring. After hours in my office, I don’t know any better way of clearing the head.
What’s next for you this year?
I’m working on a new book, which is coming along well. It’s set in Greece, of course, but I won’t say any more than that or it’ll spoil the surprise!
About THE LADY OF SORROWS:
An uncovered forgery sparks wrath on a remote island in Anne Zouroudi’s latest spellbinding crime novel set in modern Greece.
A painter is found dead at sea off the coast of a remote Greek island. For our enigmatic detective Hermes Diaktoros, the plot can only thicken: the painter’s work, an icon of the Virgin long famed for its miraculous powers, has just been uncovered as a fake. But has the painter died of natural causes or by a wrathful hand? What secret is a dishonest gypsy keeping? And what haunts the ancient catacombs beneath the bishop’s house?
In the fourth of the Seven Deadly Sins mysteries, the inimitable Hermes faces forgery, betrayal, and superstition, and the consequences of all-consuming rage.
2.) Giveaway is for 1 copy of THE LADY OF SORROWS by Anne Zouroudi to 1 winner
3.) Giveaway is open to those with a US mailing address only (no PO Boxes)
4.) You must enter on or before 4/1/14
5.) Giveaway book courtesy of Hachette
6.) Please see my Giveaway Policy.