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September 15th, 2010

It’s Greek to Me

Well, summer’s over, fall’s fast approaching, and it’s back to the old grind again.  Being a lover of warm weather, I’m afraid I’m never one to greet fall with open arms.  And this year the thought of it is even harder to swallow because I’m just back from the longest summer vacation I’ve ever taken.

This time last year my wife and I made a pact to basically work our tails off through the winter, often on weekends, in order to be able to take our son to Greece for an entire month in the summer. 

For me, of course, that meant strapping myself into the chair so I could finish my second novel, Thunder Without Rain, on deadline.  It wasn’t such a bad arrangement really, especially given that this past winter in New York was too brutally cold to do anything but cozy up to the space heater and write.  So write I did, and thankfully finished the manuscript on time.  Our flight to Greece was scheduled for nine p.m. on the day of my deadline.  I finished the book six hours prior to takeoff (nothing like bringing it down to the wire, right?).  When my editor received the manuscript, she informed me that she was ‘a little backed up,’ and probably wouldn’t be able to take a look at it for a couple of weeks.  I have to admit it was music to my ears.  So off to Greece I went…and with a clear conscience to boot.

It was nice to see our son in a place where he could exercise a little more personal freedom than he has in New York.  How great it was it to see him barefoot and shirtless from dusk till dawn, climbing trees, chasing lizards, catching bugs, swimming in water without chlorine…basically doing the sort of things that little boys should be doing in the summertime, and without the necessity of a parent (not to mention a television or video game) to entertain them every waking moment.

We stayed in a small house on the island of Andros, which is about a two-hour ferry ride from Athens.  Andros is a quiet island, not a resort community by any stretch.  There’s no airport, and it’s not a cruise destination, so there are a lot more locals around than tourists.  As a result, it’s a great place to truly immerse oneself in the Greek way of life.  And let me tell you, the Greeks certainly know how to live:
Work?  In Greece it’s just something you do; it doesn’t define you.  Lunch? Should take at least two hours, and should always include wine.  Exercise?  Anything more strenuous than snorkeling is a sin.  That thing that really needs doing?  Get it done in Greek Time

Greek Time is an ingenious concept, which, if I understand it correctly, entails a total disregard for time altogether.  The numbers on the clock seem to mean nothing to the Greek Islanders.  They sleep when tired, eat when hungry, work when necessary, and don’t concern themselves with what time of day or night any of it is happening.  They certainly don’t adhere to the same sleep pattern that I am used to…by which I mean normal hours. 

I decided to give Greek Time a try, and I must say I found it to be both enlightening and liberating.  I discovered all the excitement there was to be had between the hours of three and five am on Tuesdays.  I also learned how many hot summer afternoons I’ve wasted in my life simply by being awake.  I encourage you all to give Greek Time a try.  Go on, throw that watch out the window. I promise you won’t be disappointed.  Oh yeah, and don’t forget to have wine with your two-hour lunch.

My extended time in Greece also allowed me ample opportunity to catch up on my reading.  Of course, I went through my customary stack of geeky (as my wife would say) tennis biographies.  Any of you out there just desperate to learn what forehand grip Big Bill Tilden favored, or how Rocket Rod Laver was able to get such depth on his kick serve to the ad court…I’m your man with the answers. 

I also finally got around to reading Kerouac’s On the Road, which had been on my to-read list since, oh, about the ninth grade.  I can only say I’m sorry I hadn’t read it earlier.  I’ve read a lot of open-road travelogues like this over the years, but it was great to read the source from which most of them spawned.  It was also amazing to read stream-of-consciousness writing done so well.  Kerouac was definitely a master of the style.  Seeing as I’m now on my fifth pass of writing this very sentence, it occurs to me that I must work on that stream-of-consciousness thing in my own writing.

I also found the adventurous spirit that On the Road invokes to be rather infectious.  So much so that it inspired me to channel my own inner Kerouac one lazy Greek afternoon.  The moment I finished the book, I peeled myself off the sun lounger and struck off across the mountainous island on a rented motor scooter in search of…well, just in search of whatever I found, which, I like to think, is what Kerouac was all about - the journey, not the destination.

But, as Kerouac knew all too well, every journey must come to an end, and my glorious trip to Greece was no exception.  Fortunately, I had a lot of cool things to come back to:
I’ve just learned that the trade paperback edition of Play Dead will be released on October 19th, just in time for Halloween, and just as football season gets into full swing.

I’m also pleased to announce that my short story, Suspended, is now available wherever books are sold.  The story is part of the First Thrills anthology, which was edited by Lee Child, and also includes works by Child, Jeffrey Deaver, Michael Palmer, Stephen Coonts, and Heather Graham among others. 
Another short story of mine, Jeepers Peepers, has hit shelves as well.  This one is part of Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror, a young adult anthology, edited by Goosebumps creator, R.L. Stine. 
You can find a brief description of both stories on the Stories page of this website.

I’m also honored to report that I have been invited to be a featured guest at ZomBcon in Seattle, October 29-31st.  George Romero, Max Brooks, and Bruce Campbell are also slated to attend, so I’m already counting down the days for that one.  I hope you’ll check out my Appearances page for a list of other upcoming events and appearances.

Lastly, I’m thrilled to say that my second novel, Thunder Without Rain, will be released in hardcover in the spring of 2011.  I’ll have plenty more to say about it in the coming months, but for now I hope I can wet your appetite for the book with a little three-word teaser:
John Wayne lives.

As I write this, I’m still awaiting that revision letter from my editor.  As long as I’m waiting, I think I’ll stick to Greek Time for as long as I can.  Maybe after my midday nap, I’ll go for a two-hour lunch…with wine, of course.

Until next time, I wish you all good health and happy reading.

 
 
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