I’m passionate about travel and have been all over the world from Antarctica to Zambia but I’ve hardly been to Greece so it is with great pleasure that I’m hosting a guest post from Julie Ryan, author of Jenna’s Journey, where she tells us all about seeking inspiration in Greece. Jenna’s Journey was published on 8th September 2015 and is available in e-book and print from Amazon US and Amazon UK (where at the time of posting it’s a mere 99p). You can also read an extract from the book below.
About Jenna’s Journey
“Dazzling Greek Isles can hide sinister secrets.”
Leaving town, heading to the Greek Isles without telling husband or friends, is heady medicine for a failing marriage. Seduced by Grecian sun and sky, Jenna innocently buys a bewitching urn that tangles her into the web of a criminal world more sinister than she ever imagined. Romance is always afoot in the Greek Isles and Jenna gets a large helping with the seductive Nikos. Family is important in Greece, and Nikos helps Jenna learn all the richness it brings, and pass it on to the next generation.
Twenty-five years later, Allie takes this same journey, and a little time travel, a big “what if” dream, a fated meeting with a taxi driver and a sprinkle of paranormal intrigue intertwine in a story that spans the lives of a mother and daughter. Twisty as the streets in a Greek island village, full of unexpected characters found on a faraway vacation along with frightening threats from nasty villains, Jenna’s Journey will keep you turning pages far into the night.
Working out a lifetime of secrets, imagining what might have been, eluding nasty antiquities thieves, exploring a new love—how would you have managed? Follow Jenna’s adventure and see how she changed her life in one journey!
Seeking Inspiration in Greece
A Guest Post by Julie Ryan
Inspiration can come in many forms. Sometimes I overhear a snatch of conversation on the radio and it can find its way into a story. Other times it can be a line from a song or maybe an image that I’ve stumbled across on Facebook that can be the trigger. Of course, every book I’ve ever read plays some part subconsciously in the writing process. My favourite genres are historical fiction, contemporary romance, thrillers and mysteries. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy writing romantic, mystery thrillers set in Greece?
Why Greece you may ask? Well back in my younger days after graduating from University, I spent a couple of years teaching there. At the time, little did I know what an enormous impact that period was to have on my life It’s true that there is something magical about Greece that draws people back year after year. I was hooked when I first stepped foot on one of the islands. The translucent turquoise sea, cerulean sky and magical light make it a paradise.
I particularly enjoy books which transport the reader to another place; books where you can lose yourself in another life for a few hours or relive precious moments once spent there. One day, in the middle of an English winter, I was looking out of the window and suddenly wondered what my life might have been like if I’d stayed in Greece. This eureka moment was the starting point for my first book in the Greek Island mystery series, Jenna’s Journey. Whilst being careful not to overload the reader, I do enjoy painting a vivid description of the beauty of Greece so that the reader can come with me on the journey.
Of course, as with any paradise, if you scratch under the surface you will expose the darker side that tourists fortunately don’t see very often. I think the juxtaposition of the idyllic beaches, hospitable people and delicious food next to the shady underground world of prostitution and artefact smuggling works well in creating the atmosphere of suspense that I was looking for.
I didn’t set out to write a series. In fact, Jenna’s Journey started life as a short story. Such is the pull of Greece, however, that once I’d finished the book, I missed the world I’d created. Other characters were calling me to have their stories written too. The second book, Sophia’s Secret,’ although set in the same location features mainly different characters to the first book so can be read as a standalone. I enjoyed researching Greek customs for this one and there is a slightly more historical feel to it.
Pandora’s Prophecy is different in tone again as it has a paranormal element to it. This time Jenna and Nikos from the first book are at the centre of the story as it takes place in a hotel that they’re running. The darker side manifests itself in a serial killer running amok on the island.
For now that concludes the series but there may be plans for a fourth book in the future. I just need to get my Greek fix with another research trip!
About Julie Ryan
Julie Ryan’s roots are in a small mining village in South Yorkshire. After a degree in French Language and Literature, wanderlust kicked in and she lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. Her spirit enriched, her imagination fired, Julie started a series of mystery romances, thrillers set in the Greek Isles.
Jenna’s Journey is the first novel in Julie Ryan’s Greek Islands Series, a series she did not set out to create but which took on its own life and grew, rich and fascinating. This is the first of three published so far, and now as a newly released edition in the USA from Booktrope, it promises to delight readers looking for the hidden dark sides of dream vacations in the Greek Isles.
A prolific and well-known book review blogger, Julie does her writing and reviewing from rural Gloucestershire, where she lives with her husband, son and dippy cat with half a tail.
Read an Extract From Jenna’s Journey
Arrival in Greece: Allie
As Allie stepped off the plane, a rush of excitement and anticipation flooded over her. She wondered if her mother had felt the same when she arrived in Greece almost twenty-five years ago. She knew that there must have been many changes during that time. Instead of flying direct to the island, her mother would have had to fly to Athens first, and then taken a boat to the island as direct flights to the island had only started up a couple of years ago. She stood in line waiting to clear customs, feeling guilty even though she had nothing to hide. Just walking through the green channel, she could sense hidden eyes watching her every move. This automatically made her act suspiciously, and then breathing a sigh of relief, she was through and out into the bright Greek sunshine. Squinting to read the address on the scrap of paper, she hailed a taxi and the driver sped off towards the hotel.
“Hi, I am Leo,” the taxi driver said, introducing himself in fluent English.
“Allie,” she replied.
She’d been anxious about being ripped off or taken on a wild goose chase, but there was no need to worry. Leo seemed to be the exception to her stereotyped image of Greek drivers. Although he drove fast, he negotiated the roads with great skill. Driving up narrow tracks, he tooted his horn to let any other drivers know he was coming.
She wanted to ask him about the austerity measures that had recently been imposed on them in order to meet their euro-deficit obligations. She had been quite shocked at the effects that the cutbacks had had on ordinary people. Last year, the government had introduced a kind of surtax cunningly collected through the electricity bill. If you refused to pay or couldn’t pay, you were cut off—simple! People had struggled to keep warm through the winter, as many couldn’t afford oil any more. The news had shown piles of rubbish in the streets thanks to the refuse collectors going on strike because they hadn’t been paid. Allie remembered seeing pictures of Piraeus on the news with garbage heaped as high as cars. She wanted to ask Leo more about how ordinary people had coped, but when she pressed him for more details, he shrugged and smiled.
“Greece is not only Athens, you know. Here, sure, life is tough, but we survive. Maybe we spend a little less, complain a little more, but life is good. You are in the most beautiful place in the world. If you have the sun and the sea and a few vegetables—what more do you need?”