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Literature

Greek-American Brooke Fossey Talks to TNH about Her Debut Book

Once an aerospace engineer with a secret clearance, Greek-American author Brooke Fossey “traded it all in for motherhood and writing,” as noted in her biography. She is a past president and an honorary lifetime member of DFW Writers Workshop. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Ruminate Magazine and SmokeLong Quarterly. Fossey lives in Dallas, TX with her husband, four kids, and their dog Rufus. She took time out of her busy schedule to talk to The National Herald about her charming debut novel, The Big Finish, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

TNH: What inspired you to write the book?

Brooke Fossey: This book was inspired by the many visits I paid to my papou at his assisted living home. The facility housed so many wonderful people who deserved to be the heroes of a story, so I channeled all of them as I wrote. Duffy Sinclair, the narrator of the book, was loosely based on my Papou, while Josie, the young woman who climbs through Duffy’s window looking for refuge, was based on my children, who would come to the assisted living facility in a whirlwind of joy and chaos.

TNH: How long did the process take from idea to publication?

BF: Publishing takes a lot of patience and persistence. I’ve been writing for about ten years, and this was my sixth manuscript to finish, but my first to publish. Along the way, I’ve collected more rejections than I can count. The Big Finish took about a year to write, but the next trick was finding a literary agent willing to represent it. Luckily, Jeff Kleinman of Folio Literary saw potential—so I spent the next year editing the book with his guidance. Afterwards, he promptly sold it to Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House, where I spent one more year polishing the manuscript while the publisher set about packaging it. End story: the journey from idea to the bookshelf took about four years.

TNH: As a busy mom, what was your writing regimen like? Did you write at certain times of the day?

BF: With four kids, a strict writing regimen isn’t feasible. There are just too many variables—from strep throat to high school gamedays. Quarantine has taken my work schedule to the next level because suddenly I’m also homeschooling everyone. In the end, I write whenever and wherever I can. If you give me a computer and a quiet place to sit, I’m off to the races.

TNH: Where in Greece is your family originally from?

BF: I actually dedicated The Big Finish to my papou, Chris Markos, whose family was from Nemouta, Greece. They came to America in the 1930s, where my papou met my grandmother, Alice Zaharopoulos. Her family was from Vytina. I feel blessed because though I may be a third generation Greek, I am still very much attached to my heritage thanks to my mother and our church, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas, Texas.

TNH: How does your Greek heritage inform your life and work?

BF: In my writing, I’m very character driven, and that’s definitely a byproduct of being around so many fantastic Greek personalities growing up. Besides that, my Orthodox faith always sneaks into the themes of my stories, as does a general sense of philotimo.

TNH: How did the family react to your book?

BF: They are beyond excited; my father mentions it to anyone who will listen. Besides my immediate family, ground zero for books sales has been our koumbaroi and our church family at large. The senior group at Holy Trinity had me as one of their speakers before the book even released. It’s still nerve wracking to know that my art is out in the world for people to judge, especially my nearest and dearest, but luckily they love me no matter what.

TNH: Are you working on another book?

BF: I am, and though I cannot say much about it because it’s still cooking, I can say that it has daytime soap operas as a common thread – much inspired by my Greek great-grandmother, who watched them to learn the English language.

The Big Finish by Brooke Fossey is available online: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/605894/the-big-finish-by-brooke-fossey/.

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