REFLECTIONS ON A REVIEW
‘Daughter of Odysseus’ is ten years plus in the making. What started out as one novel of some 900 pages, transformed into a trilogy with the first--Ithaka Calling—finally published in September of 2017.
Ten years plus! That’s a long time. I started the novel as a form of therapy, hurt and disappointed by my failed attempts to start a new life in Greece. This grief and depression became the seed that would lead to the flowering of my novel.
Why did it take so long, you may ask? Firstly, I’m a perfectionist and rewrote and reedited countless times until I got it right. Always at the back of my mind the question lurked – what will people think of this? Will they like it, mock it, be inspired by it or see it as a waste of time? I had some trepidation of actually having the novel read only because my novel is so personal; it is based on my experience and I don’t want to be open to criticism.
Within those ten years plus, there were two failed marriages, a second trip to Greece (where I met my first husband), University studies and a new career as a teacher, all the grief and joy that went with teaching, the pain of separation, battling depression, insecurity and intense loneliness, the desire for a family and much more.
Despite this, I kept on writing and perfecting my work, which had become something precious to me: a jewel as it were, something that I clung on to as an emblem of hope and inspiration. It gave me light during black days of heartache and despair, it whispered to me ‘’There’s a reason you’re alive.”
Only one person read part of my novel during those ten years, my brother-in-law. He gave me great advice, but as for someone else reading it, I couldn’t bear the thought. Silly, no doubt, as it’s a novel and it must have readers, so you’re going to have to put it ‘out there’ sooner or later.
I took a leap of faith. I found an editor who I hired to look at the first hundred pages or so. And I’m glad I did for she was super supportive but super critical – and I thank her for that. It was she who recommend I transform my novel into a trilogy and so the fine tuning began. And it worked, I said to myself! It was meant to have been a trilogy all along.
Now for the second leap of faith. Book One finished, I needed it to be professionally edited – from beginning to end. I found an ‘in-line’ editor from the U.S.A and we signed a contract. All the while I was thinking: gulp—what will she think? Will she tell me this is a waste of time and tell me to never have this published? Alas, my editor was a God-send and transformed a good novel into something professional and brilliant (in my eyes) and offered me wonderful feedback as well.
It was time, time to take my baby and show it to the world. With my book cover finished, with a professionally edited novel, I realised that I couldn’t hold back any longer. I did my research, and finally, my novel became first available via Amazon Kindle. I told friends and family and hoped for their support. I didn’t know what to expect—how people would react—whether anybody would even want to read it. But alas, I received my first review on Amazon and was over the moon.
It was a good review, a 4 out of 5. It wasn’t from someone I knew. Somebody had decided that they wanted to read my novel and graciously gave me a positive review, with the title ‘Deep and Lyrical.’
This is the first half of the review:
Christine is an Australian teenager of Greek descent. Her family's all about being Greek, but in general the culture of the area is pretty anti-Greek (anti- everything non-Western European, actually). Christine has no real idea what to do with her life, so she's just cruising along until her friends turn against her and she sinks into deep depression that her family neither understands nor really tries to help with. This depression begins to turn around, however, with her discovery that she actually is interested in her Greek heritage after all, and most especially in the Orthodox church. But when things really get going is pretty far along in the book. The major turning point is when Christine goes to Greece. Before that, I liked the book (and recognized the symptoms of depression -- very realistic and not too heavy handed), but Greece's completely unfamiliar culture really struck me. Christine no longer really has anything comfortable to fall back on -- she has to sink or swim.
I thought—wow—this is a great overall description of the plot and I thought it was interesting that the first part of the book resonated with them. I hope they really get to engage with Christine’s experience in Greece, which is where Book Two and Three are set.
Now for their overall impression:
This is the first book of a series, so we don't get to see her transform fully, but there's a major feeling that she will transform and spread her wings.
Overall: I very much enjoyed the book. The author's writing is almost like singing at times, with complex and beautiful language transforming the most mundane things into poetry. Reading the depression was hard for me -- there was a lot of misery in the book -- but the glimpses of hope and light mostly made up for it.
I felt a sense of joy and gratitude upon reading this last section. The reader senses that Christine will transform, and they are right. Transform to the point where she becomes a different person—whether for good or bad. That they enjoyed my book, a book that has become an extension of my own self, thrilled me and I couldn’t but help share this review to anybody who cared to listen! But what I appreciated the most was the way they describe my writing. I worked hard to make the writing deeply lyrical and poetic and rich in imagery. Believe me, it doesn’t come naturally. It is hard work but I am so glad it has paid off and somebody took joy and pleasure in this.
I was struck by the comments about Christine’s depression and wondered, has the reader suffered from depression? Yes, there is a lot of misery but I wanted the character’s raw emotion and despair to really resonate with the reader; I wanted to show that, despite this utter grief, you can have hope—you must cling on to the life raft with all your strength and know that there is always new possibilities and new experiences and adventures.
I hope to show this through Books Two and Three.
So, dear reviewer, I really thank you from the bottom of my heart for making me see that—yes—you did the right thing by publishing this novel and even if it is the only review you’ll ever receive, it affected that one person and that is what truly matters.