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Culture

Paula Priamos Discusses Her Latest Novel and Upcoming Work

Greek-American author Paula Priamos spoke with The National Herald about her latest book, Appraise Her. The literary suspense novel features a strong Greek-American woman as the protagonist, as did her debut novel, Inside V.

TNH: What was the inspiration for this latest novel? 

Paula Priamos: I wanted to write a female Greek character that was unlike the fearless protagonist in my last novel Inside V. Catia Drakos abruptly loses her father at a young age, and her paternal foundation is pulled out from under her. The love for another can sometimes break us. Perhaps for Greeks, it’s in our DNA how much a father means to his daughter. As a consequence, her unprocessed grief makes her vulnerable. She is unsure of herself. Her strength comes to her through the course of the novel as she seeks to find her missing friend and face down her own dangerous encounters, her late father not far from her thoughts yet this time emboldening her.

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

PP: I write at a fairly clipped pace, so I was finished with a draft ready to publish within a year. Appraise Her is about a former handwriting analyst who used to work with the police. But getting inside the dark demented minds of criminals became too much for her to bear, and she becomes a real estate appraiser of lucrative properties in L.A. Shortly after she appraises a friend’s family mansion in Bel Air, her friend disappears.

Someone knows about her past and begins to send her cryptic handwritten notes that may or may not have to do with her missing childhood friend. I included the actual notes inside the narrative. Instead of putting them in italicized font like publishers oftentimes do, I had the handwritten notes photocopied in with the rest of the story. I think this helps increase the tension. It allows the reader to participate in the ongoing suspense of who is behind them, analyzing the notes along with Catia. I write in first person point of view which allows me to feel closer to my main character as if I’m seeing and experiencing the story through her eyes. The story plays out before me and makes it much easier to complete.

Appraise Her by Paula Priamos. Photo: Amazon

TNH: What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

PP: As a writer and professor of English and creative writing, I love words, but I also find our own distinct penmanship fascinating. It reveals so much about ourselves, what we try and conceal from others. I did a lot of digging and research on the subject, mostly through books. I had a handful of students offer to help and write the cryptic notes left for Catia. This was the most challenging aspect of the book as it’s not in my field, but I had a great time learning.

TNH: How has the pandemic affected your work?

PP: I was busy teaching online classes during the pandemic, so I was still working. It was a scary time, for all of us globally, especially during the first year, and I, too, felt isolated. I live in a beautiful mountain community, so I walked my dogs and came up with ideas to write about. Out under the pine trees, breathing in the crisp cool air is where I do my best thinking. It was how I endured the pandemic and kept from straying too far away from my spiral notebook and pen.

TNH: What are you working on next?

PP: I’m working on two novels at the same time! But this is how my creative mind works, so I’ve learned to just go wherever it takes me. One story is about a large complicated Greek family and is told in three points of view. The other is about a newly retired professional boxer (yes, he’s Greek) and the trajectory of his tumultuous marriage in relation to his successful athletic career. They’re both mysteries. I’m a big fan of men’s boxing so that inspired the second story idea. A shout out to my two favorite boxers – Gennadiy Golovkin and history making first Greek-Australian champ George Kambosos Jr.!

Appraise Her by Paula Priamos is available online.

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PISCATAWAY, NJ – In commemoration of the grim 100th anniversary of the Smyrna Catastrophe, the Modern Greek Studies Program, the Department of Classics at Rutgers University, and the Elytis Chair Fund present a free screening of Smyrna: The Destruction of a Cosmopolitan City 1900-1922, written and directed by Maria Iliou and with historical consultant Professor Alexander Kitroeff on Friday, December 9, 8 PM, at Center Hall at the Busch Student Center, Rutgers University, 604 Bartholomew Road in Piscataway.

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