Author Jeffrey Siger has made Mykonos his home for more than half the year. The Pittsburgh, Penn. native went to Mykonos on holiday, and was enraptured by the fabled island. Over the next 20 years, he’d visit each year, spending “ever-increasing” periods of time there.
We recently spoke to him about his adopted home and his work.
I love the light – there’s none like it anywhere in the world – its natural beauty inspires me. I find the in-season nightlife invigorating and a source for much of what I write, but it’s the people who draw me there, like no other place. They retain the same generosity of spirit and hospitality that encouraged me the very first time.
You worked as an attorney.
At a Wall Street firm, I was Special Counsel to the citizens group reporting on New York City’s prison conditions. Later, I established my own firm, but gave it all up to write full-time among the people, life and politics of Mykonos.
These murder mysteries, interweaving the societal and political conditions of Greece, often provide more twists and turns than a mountain road. You’ve captured this incredibly well, including the very essence of the Greek characters.
I write about Greeks and Greek themes, because they’re the flesh and blood embodiment of the ambiguity that is and always has been Greece; it’s inspiring. Greece’s modern problems lay spread out before the world, while the secrets of Byzantium stay hidden in unnoticed places protected by reclusive lives led much the same as they were 1000 years before.
Your books, published in the US, UK, plus translated and published in Germany and Greece, have been well-received.
My first novel in the Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series, Murder in Mykonos became Greece’s #1 Best-Selling English-Language Book and remains the #1 Best-Selling English-Language Book of its genre.
The second in this series is called Assassins in Athens. Some in the Greek press called me a ‘prognosticator’ of societal unrest and attitudes. One columnist awarding me a rating of 100 out of 100 for being a foreigner who has his finger on the pulse of Greece – and the courage to write about it.
Tell me about Prey on Patmos: An Aegean Prophecy.
It’s the third in the series, coming January 2011. I was visiting some Mykonian friends. One asked me if I was familiar with Patmos. I knew it almost as well as Mykonos. When I mentioned its famous monastery, one friend began talking about the monasteries of Mount Athos, leading to a discussion about the Vatopedi scandal. This brought on a ‘bingo’ moment of inspiration for my third novel. I couldn’t believe it when I saw that Vanity Fair article. Talk about life imitating art (or the other way around, perhaps) – and timing being everything. My U.S., U.K., and Greece publishers each had the same reaction: ‘Where the Vanity Fair article ends, Prey on Patmos begins!’ It was the publicity of the Vanity Fair sort involving Vatopedi which brought the mystery in Prey on Patmos haunting Mount Athos to a head. As observed by my fictional monastery abbot, the scandal in that Mount Athos monastery was consuming. He was convinced it would be the ruin of the church. Now they ask me, is this book a real ‘Aegean Prophecy’?
Chief Kaldis is an intriguing character.
Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis, an Athenian-born, second generation police officer, is politically incorrect and an honest observer of his times.
I’m already working on Kaldis’ fourth adventure, “Slaves to Sparta.”