It is my pleasure to welcome artist and author Pamela Jane Rogers to my blog today! Her gorgeous memoir, Greekscapes Illustrated, recounts her love affair with Greece and passion for painting. Take a moment to learn about Pamela, her new writing project, and life as an expat in Greece.
Spotlight on author and artist Pamela Jane Rogers
If you were packing for a long trip, which book would you take and why?
Oh my! Only one? At this point in time (if I can’t take my Kindle books) I would choose either Robert Genn’s LETTERS, for constant artistic and soul inspiration, or Beaton’s GREECE Biography of a Modern Nation, which I am currently wading through. Both are excellent writers, and both subjects I am passionate about. And then there is my new Sebnem Sanders’ Ripples on the Pond, collection of brilliant short stories I have read on my kindle…or Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things…so many wonderful books!
Do you prefer to write in silence or with background music? Why?
I like to play calm classical music when I start writing, yet if the music ends, I don’t notice or mind the silence because my head is fully in the busy zone of creating with words.
Where do you do your best writing?
Wherever I am when I’m inspired.On a plane, in a museum, an art exhibit – the first poem I wrote came to me during my first swim in the Aegean Sea! Most of the memoir was handwritten in notebooks or scraps of paper while I was in Greece on painting holidays and after I moved here – at a coffee shop, sitting on a bench, at the beach or in my garden – anytime I’m able to reach a delightful state of awareness. So I suppose the country of Greece is where I do my best writing.
Why do you write the kinds of books you do?
I didn’t set out to write a memoir. My first attempt was a novel about another woman who fell in love with Greece. Friends who read it urged me to make it a memoir and include my paintings, so I sought the help of an editor to make the changes. I’m neither famous nor rich, nor have I invented anything miraculous that will save humankind. My only discovery was how to save myself. Greece has been my major inspiration (and my salvation) since I landed here quite by accident in 1984. Painting and writing sustained me as I sought the way out of my depressed past to a new life of substance. I suppose most of us have gone through trials that seem daunting at first. I thought I was losing my mind after my bizarre epiphany in the olive grove – yet it was the beginning of my path. I hope, by reading my memoir, a reader can gain the courage to live his or her dearest dream. Furthermore, if sharing my love of the simple life on a small island can entice readers to send their love to the good Greek people who have been maligned for too long, then my main reason for publishing GREEKSCAPES will have been validated.
Tell me something about yourself that has nothing to do with writing?
I’m primarily a visual artist, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. I paint and recently started design fashions inspired by my paintings with SHOPVIDA, a global online company. My cat is 14 and very spoiled. I love to dance Greek-style, especially the zembekiko that was created as a dance for a man. I am entranced by the music and songs of Danish songwriter Agnes Obel. For 19 years, I was a travel director for a family-owned US Alumni travel company, primarily in Greece, with some work in Italy and France.
What informs your writing?
I’ve always been an avid reader, starting young with the classics. The first book I fell madly in love with at 12 or 13 was Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’urburvilles. My main motivation is my belief that we each have something personal to give to the world, for lesser or greater good.
My memoir was of course about my own background and interests. The novel that I’m in the process of writing now requires quite a lot of research and a lot of meditation. It takes place after the Greek Independence, a time of more turmoil and strife than I’ve known in my long life. I haunt the museums – hoping to summon the shining lights of that time – not only the heros and heroines we know from history – to gain a sense of those real people forgotten by history.
What inspired you to be a writer?
Although my love of the creative process and my love of Greece inspired me to write, I didn’t imagine that I would someday publish my writings. My anger at injustice played a part in that. When the financial crisis hit Greece in 2008 and tourism took a dive, I was shocked after reading a book (fetching title and excellent author) that cast the Greek people in a purely negative light! Plus, she spent less than a year in Greece ‘researching’. What could I do to help Greece? I decided to counter that by relating my own highly positive experience of 21 years, at that time, of living in Greece. After all, I admire many artists too, but does that mean I shouldn’t paint? Leave it to others to judge the results – I had to try. I began and continued for 7 years until it was ready to self-publish. I don’t yet call myself a writer, as I’ve authored one book only thus far. However, due to that book and global connections, I have had the delightful opportunity to meet and communicate with some of the current authors whose books I admire, and that has been a bonus. They have also inspired me to continue writing.
Your new book takes place in the past, what inspired you to write in this particular era?
I’m intrigued with beginnings! My ancestors like so many, sailed to America for religious freedom starting in the late 1600’s, building new lives for their families in a newly developing country. Some were Protestant Ministers, some farmers, shipbuilders and captains, some fought in the Revolution.
One of my great grandmothers has no history that I’ve yet found, other than one of her sons was named Leonidas. I like to think she was Greek, although my DNA doesn’t show it. In my novel, she (Ella) will be the main protagonist. The people in Greece, after 400 years of Ottoman oppression and being ruled by others before that, felt the time was right to fight for their independence and form their own government. They fought, and then the reality set in. New beginnings aren’t easy. Independence required hard work, financial means, persistence and luck. My passion about my subject, as well as living in Greece for 30 years, studying the history and prehistory for the past 37 years, inspires me to write a novel about the rebuilding of Hellas and how it affected the women of that time.
Is it important to conduct research while writing fiction? Must fiction be historically and factually accurate?
The books I’ve read lately are historical fictions, and I appreciate the authors attention to historical accuracy. Yes I think it is important to research as much as possible about the time and country one is writing about even though the characters are fictional.