Exclusive Interview with Bestselling Author Jeffrey Siger

I first met Jeffrey Siger when I was working at Manhattan’s popular Avra Estiatorio, during graduate school.  Jeffrey was one of our favorite regulars who spoke of a Greek book that he was writing.  Little did I know at the time, that his debut novel Murder in Mykonos, would become the #1 best selling English-language book in Greece!

After attaining a law degree from Boston College, Siger began practicing at a leading Wall Street law firm.  During this period he helped found New York City’s top organization for private-practice attorneys wanting to volunteer for the public.  Additionally he was appointed as Special Counsel to the citizen’s group responsible for covering the city’s prison conditions. Siger’s investigation involving a politically fueled suicide inside a New York City jail led to a report that The New York Times covered as its front page story.

Siger left Wall Street to join his own Manhattan firm where he litigated high profile society scandals and international and domestic disputes, before finally giving it all up to follow his dream.  Siger now writes full time on his cherished island of Mykonos, gaining inspiration from its people, politics and aura.  (www.jeffreysiger.com)

Murder in Mykonos is a spicy action thriller involving a mysterious murder that has received international acclaim as a “can’t put down” mystery, “brilliant”, offering “an insider’s view of the island paradise of Mykonos” (www.jeffreysiger.com/novels.php). Aikaterini Lalouni Editions of Athens simultaneously released English and Greek versions of the novel in 2009.  This marks the first time a foreign fiction work debuted in Greece in both languages!

The highly anticipated sequel to Murder in Mykonos, Assassins of Athens was published in 2010.  Booklist called it: “international police procedural writing at its best” (www.jeffreysiger.com/novels.php?book=3).  Its Greek version Mystirio Stin Athina, immediately became a top ten best seller.

Siger’s latest intriguing mystery novel in the Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series is Prey on Patmos or Mystirio Stin Patmo. It was released in the U.S. this January and will be available in Greece this summer.

In an exclusive interview with the Greek Reporter, Jeffrey Siger had the following comments:

How hard was it to leave your successful Manhattan career and follow your dream?

Although I am not Greek by birth, I chose to live on Mykonos because I felt “my heart was Greek” from the first moment I set foot there.  That was almost thirty years ago.  When I decided to write full-time I was at the peak of my legal career as a name partner in a very successful and respected New York City law firm.  Having accepted—reluctantly—that I would not live forever and knowing writing was my true passion, making the decision to change my life was remarkably easy.  Many who sincerely want to take such a step fear that change risks losing whatever status they’ve achieved in their society’s hierarchy.  I’m not one who worries about that sort of thing; I believe your best years always are ahead of you.

How did you finally bite the bullet and move to Greece?

On the day I realized that I would not live forever I thought yiati oxi and simply did it.  It was that simple.

Where did you get your initial inspiration from?

My books are an effort to convey, through fast-paced mysteries, my feelings on a country that I love and deeply appreciate.  From time to time, a conversation or event triggers an idea for a story.  In the case of my debut Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series novel, Murder in Mykonos, I always wanted to place a novel on Mykonos that showed the real beauty of its people and their way of life.  While I was trying to come up with the right story line to tie my ideas together, my best friend on Mykonos passed away unexpectedly.  He and I had talked a lot about my ideas for the book, and as I stood in a Mykonian church for his funeral the whole plot line spread out before me…as if his spirit were saying, “Okay, Jeffrey here it is, now write your book.”  And, so, I did—in tribute to his memory.

How did the Greeks react to you when you first arrived on Mykonos?

What attracted me when I first set foot on Mykonos so many decades ago, and has me living there now, was the Mykonian people.  I live among Mykonians who treat me as family—in both the good and not so good connotations of the word :)—showing the same generosity of spirit and hospitality that captured me on my very first visit.

Do you live permanently on the island?

For the last half-dozen years I’ve been a full-time writer living more than half the year in Greece.

You must be ecstatic that your debut novel overcame the Greek system and was the first book ever to be published simultaneously in both English and Greek, by a Greek publisher. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes, but even more excited when my debut novel, Murder in Mykonos, became the #1 best selling English-language book in Greece!  My experience as an American publishing in Greece was unique.  I’d been a friend of the Lalaounis family for years and, indeed, a mutual friend of ours initially encouraged me to write the book. When Aikaterini Lalaouni read the manuscript she insisted on publishing it in Greece through her publishing company, Aikaterini Lalaouni Editions.  Under normal circumstances, my U.S. publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, would have made the arrangements.  But Ms. Lalaouni selected the translator from among several experienced in working with American mystery writers and took personal charge of the editing process.  I could not be happier with how things turned out.  Murder in Mykonos has since been translated into German (Goldmann Publishing/Random House) and published in the U.K. and Commonwealth countries (Piatkus Books/Little Brown) as well as in the U.S.

Did you reside in Athens when writing Assassins of Athens and on Patmos while writing Prey on Patmos?

I’ve spent a lot of time in Athens and have a lot of friends there with whom I stay when necessary. I began going to Patmos in the mid-1980’s and know it almost as well as I do Mykonos.

If so, where did you live in Athens?  How did you find the city?

I never actually lived in Athens, although the friends with whom I stay so often in Paleo Psychico at times might think that I do.  Athens has changed, we all know that, but it retains a unique attraction for those of us who treasure living amid the western world’s link between antiquity and modern times.

Do you have any more book tours scheduled in Greece or the U.S. for your latest book Prey on Patmos?

Prey on Patmos is about to be released in Greece by Aikaterini Lalaouni Editions in Greek- (as Mystirio Stin Patmo) and English-language versions. The presentation and additional public appearances will take place this summer in several venues across Greece.  I’ve just completed a three-month book tour in the U.S. and do not anticipate any additional appearances in the U.S. until I return in November and participate in Miami Book Fair International.

Any more books in the works?

Absolutely.  My fourth Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis novel will be out next year and I am toying with the idea of writing a book based upon the Mykonos stories I contribute each Saturday to Murder is Everywhere (http://murderiseverywhere.blogspot.com/), an award winning website on which I share writing duties with seven renown mystery writers from around the world blogging about the places where they live.

Do you plan to live in Greece indefinitely?

As long as the country will have me.