Certain events in our lives stay with us, and when you are a writer, those are the times you remember when you need material for your books. In 1972, I went to my parents’ homeland, Cyprus, and encountered a world that might have been mine if my parents hadn’t immigrated to the United States. I spent the summer in a small, mountain village surrounded by my grandparents and other relatives who lived off the land. The village was a study in agrarian life: Most of what they ate was grown by them – olives, figs, cheese, grains, fruits¸ and eggs from their own chickens. They had their own lambs or poultry when they wanted to add meat to a meal. There was a village church, built under the direction of the village priest (my great-grandfather), water came from the mountain, and donkeys were ridden to go from one village to the next. I was 9 years old and completely fascinated by this old world, a place that was 50 years behind the one I lived in.
In 1974, everything I saw two years before was blown away when Turkey invaded the Northern third of Cyprus in an effort to stop plans to unify the island with Greece. My maternal grandparents and other relatives were among those who were killed by advancing troops. Their bodies, along with hundreds of others, have not been recovered. Other Greek-Cypriots on the island were now refugees, driven out of their homes to live in exile in other Cypriot villages or to leave Cyprus entirely. When I overheard my parents talking about the atrocities, my mind was filled with scenes I was just beginning to understand: Stories of men and women shot and killed, young girls and their mothers raped repeatedly, families piling into cars with the clothes on their backs to flee to safety, men shipped to prisons and never seen again.
In 2011, years after my trip to Cyprus and long after the crisis that changed our lives, I wrote a historical fiction novel, Raping Aphrodite, and told my family’s story. A few weeks ago, I self-published the prequel to Raping Aphrodite. Delicate Secrets explores the love story of my two primary characters when they first met. Both books are available on Amazon.com and BN.com as e-books. Raping Aphrodite is also available in paperback; Delicate Secrets will be released in paperback in 2015.