Bestselling author Victoria Hislop talks to Jim Naughtie about her latest novel Cartes Postales from Greece.
Browse content similar to Victoria Hislop. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Victoria Hislop has been having a long love affair with Greece
and her bestselling novels have led her army of readers
from island to island and into the Greek experience.
In Cartes Postales, she takes a new step: you see the pictures,
from the mysterious postcards that begin to arrive one
by one for Ellie from...
She knows not by whom at the start.
And it is the story of a journey of discovery to Greece and its past,
its culture, its whole history that unravels the secrets of the cards.
This is a novel about postcards, or at least it begins
with the arrival of postcards.
And we actually see them on the page!
Now, what made you decide to do that?
I wanted to give my readers real, live images of Greece.
When I'm researching I always take a lot of photographs myself,
so when I'm back in England writing I'm surrounded by them.
You put them on your wall?
Put them on the wall!
I print them out in a very old fashioned way.
So you're in Greece?
I am in Greece!
I thought why can't I share images of Greece
with the people who read my books?
The idea for the story...
Did it come from this notion you wanted to show pictures?
In other words it was that way round, rather than the other?
It was the starting point.
And then the idea of postcards as a linking thing, the journey
of this poor broken hearted man around the country...
Sending these postcards back, that sort of grew organically out of it.
In effect it is a mystery story in part, it's also a story
about loss and inability to manage emotions I suppose.
You talk about this man, wandering in a sense aimlessly?
And very few people ever have the opportunity
to go on this aimless...
In a sense it's aimless, but he needs to recover himself.
In that case, why is he so interesting to us?
Why do we care about him?
I'm glad you do!
If you didn't you wouldn't finish the book!
For me I wanted to write about a man experiencing these emotions,
because I think a lot of books I read written by women tend more
to explore the woman who's been dumped and y'know...
How she survives that.
And I think certainly my hope is that as he moves
through the months of this journey, we see a change in him.
I suppose that's the cliche of writing a novel.
It's a journey revealed to us very slowly.
It's an emotional journey, a real journey, and the girl receiving
the postcards he's sending, she begins to follow behind him.
Piece it together.
From a great distance.
Always an alluring thing.
I'm writing about Greece and I always if I put this man in,
let's say, Harrogate town centre to start this journey
to recover his sense of worth...
Whether he eventually would.
Maybe I should do it!
But Greece, to me...
The landscape that you find in Greece, the people that
meet and befriend you, there's always something to be
felt and be learned.
There have been many novels over the years,
going back to Lawrence Durrell and famous Captain
Corelli and so on.
It's happened before.
But there is something that draws people in to the history
and the culture and customs of Greece?
And actually for me, the 20th century history
of Greece is so fascinating, complex and full of drama.
It provides me with endless ideas.
The book I've just started to write.
And tragedy, of course.
Every ten or 15 years in Greece - there's something fairly
spectacular that happens, whether it's occupation,
civil war or an earthquake.
Last but not least!
And all of these things have a huge effect on the human
history of a place.
How a family manages to survive all these catastrophic things
that take place there.
It is a story about resilience, in a way?
The Greeks do survive.
Right now, you think how do people really manage
on 400, 500 Euros a month?
What's your answer to that?
One of the big factors is the importance of the family.
You're very rarely living 1,000km away from your grandma, aunts.
The old networks are still there?
And the sadness about what's happening now in the 21st century
is that so many young people are moving out of Greece
to find work, find a life.
So I hope that they will go back eventually, and most
of the young people who I meet who are Greek, at university,
or have careers here, actually dream about going back
to Greece - that everything will get better.
It's a great tribute in a way to the power of the place?
I think so.
It still offers so much that doesn't actually get damaged by the economy.
What's it given you over the years?
More or less all my inspiration.
I can't really step off the plane before I'm thinking
of an idea for a story.
Very much inspiration.
And why do you think that is?
Is it the richness of the...
The texture of the place?
I think, yes.
This vein of history I feel that I've never really explored,
even in my own country.
I think I know more about the history of Greece
in the 20th century than Britain.
And the pictures are yours?
They're taken by a photographer who I travelled with.
Taken on your own travels?
Simultaneously with the travels.
Which was a very exciting way to work.
Most were images, sites, totally unexpected.
Most were images, sites, totally unexpected.
For example, there's a ritual that happens every year
on the 6th of January, a race to find a cross that's been
thrown into the sea by a priest.
And the day that happened, I knew nothing about it.
So we travelled to somewhere on the west coast of Greece and that
morning the bells were chiming from 6am till 10.
So I went down into the town to explore, saw the waterfront
and people gathered...
The very first week of January, about 30 young
men in their speedos, quite a cold day!
What is this!?
Then learned all about this tradition, swimming out
for the cross on the day of the epiphany.
So all those photos were unexpected, the story was unexpected,
the mystery I imagined was not something I'd planned.
But when it came along it seemed perfectly natural?
All the stories, more or less, I wrote the beginnings of them
in the car as we travelled from one place to another.
It just came?
Very much so.
A source of inspiration, to travel!
Which is how a story should come about.
Victoria Hislop, author of Cartes Postales,
thank you very much.