As a genuine pusher of pencils, I’ve written pretty much everything without much difficulty.  For myself and for others.


Since the day I started primary school, there’s always been something I want to say in writing and someone to come and ask me to help match a text to their case.  I like writing.  And I like thinking up combinations.  I think I came up with my best ever when I was ten.


On the eve of Independence Day, late on the afternoon of March 24, I realized I’d lost the sheet with the poem I had to recite at the school celebrations the following morning. At the eleventh hour! And only the teacher knew which poem I’d been given to learn by heart and recite. If I asked my mother for help I figured I’d earn myself a ringed back–hander and due punishment. If I asked my dad for help, I figured I’d have to bury my face in my teacher’s apron in shame, but only after the two of them had chortled endlessly down the phone; yet more amusement over old scatterbrains and how they’d have to knock some sense into me one day.

I shut myself up in my room to wring what brains I had. I just had to remember! No matter what! The first verse of the poem came back to me. Then the occasional word here or there. And that the poem was long but not that long. Four verses in all, four lines in each. And the poet’s name which I had to say at the end: Dionysios Solomos. And night was falling! The more I thought about it, the clearer it seemed: the one and only solution to my problem was to BEGIN WITH THE FIRST VERSE AND WRITE THE OTHER THREE MYSELF, USING THE FEW WORDS I REMEMBERED, KEEPING THE RHYTHM OF THE FIRST FOUR LINES, OF COURSE, AND PUTTING THE POET’S NAME AT THE END – IT WAS UNLIKELY MY PARENTS WOULD TAKE TIME OFF TO COME TO THE CELEBRATION – UGH GGGH.

I’ll never forget the teacher’s bulging eyes and beside them – in the front row – the celebratory smiles of the mayor, police chief and priest of our Athenian suburb, so proud of Greece’s great white, blond poetic, hope: me.
I’ll never forget how I’d hardly had time to let go of my hem after curtsying to rousing applause, when a hand snatched my skirt from behind and pulled me off stage like because I had no intention of coming off myself, a body pushed me into a corner, an angry face suddenly stuck a stuck–on smile into mine and, screwing the fingers of its right hand in my ear, exhaled a whispered shriek into my ear, what are we going to do with you Theodoropoulou? What on earth am I going to do with you?

I must have stopped breathing as I waited for the worst to happen – for her to drag me off to the office, call my parents there and then, tell them everything, when the stuck–on smile suddenly squawked, get out of my sight and make sure NO ONE finds out EVER. Do you hear???

I looked back on the way out.
I saw her standing, all at sixes and sevens, in the corridor.
What had happened?
She told my parents everything the same day.
My parents told their friends the following day.
Everyone extracted a great deal of amusement from my achievement.
What had I done?
No one ever told me if I’d done the right thing or not.
And so I grew up with my cheek intact.













I love Arkas. I have done for years.
Not long ago, someone told me he was a psychiatrist. But of course, Soandso Whatshisface, didn’t you know? they said, as though I were the last person on earth who hadn’t though I should have.
The name went in one ear and out the other, and because I’m not into all that Who’s Who stuff, and because I’m going to go on calling him Arkas anyway – like I still call the Dolce café that’s now the Filion–café the Dolce–café, and keep Habitat unaspiratedly French, because I cling limpet–like to my personal symbolisms. My life may not be mine – perhaps – but the dérives of my old haunts are, and they’ll stay that way until the bitter END.

So, by some satanic coincidence, when I was writing my novel Letter to Dublin, the bird in Arkas’ Sunday comic strip was writing one, too. What marvellous company! We finished together, he finished first, I finished first, I don’t remember. 1996. But I do remember, and VERY WELL INDEED, that this particular Low fliers marks the END of my first novel, and along with that, an END to all those unanswered questions: what am I doing? what am I writing? is it a novel I’m writing? what sort of a novel? what the hell? where did all this stuff come from?





I went to visit my beloved K. in Edinburgh, winter 1999. I was writing the Game worth the Candle at the time – and there was a lot more worrisome stuff going down. Apart from all the problems we were to discuss in bars and student flats, one wet Scottish Saturday morning saw me set off in search of BIRDWATCHERS!! Emily’s dad – Emily being the main character in Game worth the Candle – is a fanatical twitcher and lives in that neck of the woods… I really wanted to meet his friends – birds and birdwatchers alike.

I parcelled myself off to my beloved K. in Edinburgh once again in spring 2000, having typed THE END on Game worth the Candle. I wasn’t good at lying, so T. rang him up and begged him to be at the bus stop that night to pick up a friend of a friend who, passing through, would be delivering a…parcel! In everyday language, the deus ex machina is often called a pleasant surprise. And that’s how we got through the troubling stuff, swiftly, leaving me in fine fettle and with ample time for aimless solo wanderings and chats with wonderful Scottish strangers. Giorgos Bellistoris – the other main character in Game worth the Candle – is a psychiatrist. Emily was inititally his patient.
One afternoon, strolling through Edinburgh, I happened across this sketch by John Callahan. That evening, I mailed it to a few friends with the following note attached: I’d like to tell three or four of my friends that I’ve just finished my second novel. kisses.


Tuesday morning in the winter of '96, I left the manuscript of my first novel with two Greek publishers – the most renowned and the closest friend.


A fortnight later, the most renowned left a message on my answering machine: we’re interested in signing a contract with you immediately!


That day, I made a remarkable impression as a lame Apache dancer on my young son as he played the Red Indian chief under the table. I’d just walked in, barely had time to prize the one shoe off with the one hand and press the button on the answering machine with the other, when I started leaping round Big Chief’s tent, whooping and hollering a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a with one shoe in my hand and the other on my foot as the celebrated voice repeated her wish over and over: we’re interested in signing a contract with you immediately we’re interested in signing a contract with you immediately. I pressed play every time I danced past the machine.


Two days before I signed the contract, I phoned the friend who’d left me in silence for so long: he wasn’t interested, the manuscript needed a lot of work, I should call round for a coffee whenever I felt like it.


Ten days later I dropped a note off round his office wishing him a merry Christmas and the renowned publisher’s list of forthcoming publications before going out for him to buy me a drink.


The following Christmas, we left Athens for a Roman family holiday, having cashed the cheque that accompanied the Best New Author Award for 1997.

In the months that followed, I let my surprise and wonder drive me nuts. What was all that NONSENSE going on with THE BOOK?

Another year later, I let the slippery slope get me like Alice Down the Rabbit Hole as I asked myself: To write again or not to write again? And why write again? And why not write again? And write again for who? And for who not to write again? And what if I don’t write again? And what if I do? 

As I plummeted, my friends grew tired of answering and left me to my fate. Indeed, when one day I handed one of them some pages I called a novel, he angrily retorted, veery very good. Keep this up and we’ll be publishing the COLLECTED WORKS in no time at all. And another one, whom I’d just asked without handing him a thing, replied one drunken evening that I was sooooo right in eeeverything, and that I could head for the precipice all by myself.


I found the answer I was looking for on the down and down one morning under TH in my renowned publisher’s catalogue: THalassis Giorgos, THeodorakopoulos Ioannis, THeodoropoulou Viky, THucydides, [TH]Cervantes Miguel, THeotokas Giorgos, THeotokis Konstantinos.


And got back to some serious work on the spot!

How could I give up company like that?