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Literature

Stella Nahatis to TNH on Taxi to America: A Greek Orphan’s Adoption Journey

A memoir is one of the most difficult types of books to write as the author must delve into the past to make sense of their own life’s journey, to share their insights, and leave behind a record for their family members and friends that, in the best case scenario, is not simply a list of milestones and achievements, but is also compelling enough as a literary work for the general public to read.

Taxi to America: A Greek Orphan’s Adoption Journey by Stella Nahatis recounts her remarkable story, beginning in Thessaloniki with a fateful taxi ride along with her sister Nitsa. At age 11, she arrives in the United States as an orphan, adopted by a Greek couple who had immigrated to Boston.

Nahatis spoke with The National Herald about the book, her writing process, her family’s reaction, and if another book is on the way.

TNH: What made you decide to share your story now?

Stella Nahatis. Photo by Jenny Shaw Photography

Stella Nahatis: For years, every time people heard my answers to their questions – “How did you end up in the States and your sister stayed in Greece? Wasn’t there a relative to raise you? Why were you not adopted together? Were your adoptive parents good to you? Are your parents alive? How long were you and your sister separated?” – and all the questions in between… they would say, “You should write a book.” I understood other people had faced harsher challenges and more adversity than me, and I thought, why should I write a book?

In January 2021, during the COVID-19 imposed quarantine, I received an email from Hay House Publishers offering a seven-day writing challenge focused on how to write a memoir. Without hesitation, I signed up. The COVID-19 quarantine enabled me to devote the time necessary to learn the craft of writing and to write.

At the end of seven days, I was psyched, and I committed to write my memoir. The seed that had been planted all those years ago germinated and sprouted, coming into full bloom.

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

Taxi to America: A Greek Orphan’s Adoption Journey by Stella Nahatis. Photo: Amazon

SN: In three months, I completed my rough draft, over 110,000 words. I listened to the instruction for writing a rough draft- “just write, do not edit, do not check for grammar, just write.” I used Scrivener and loved the idea that I could jump around from topic to topic and write according to my mood. And then the hard work began. To make those words make sense.

The initial process was to organize what I had dumped into my rough draft. My husband, Charles, was the first reader. His guidance was a work of love. He helped me to get the manuscript into shape for a professional editor. In one year, I reduced the manuscript to 100,000 words and organized it into a chronological book form. In a few months of working with my editor, I cut it back to 82,000 words. While we worked on developmental editing, followed by copy editing, I lined up a book designer to be ready for when the manuscript was completely edited. At that point the manuscript went to the book designer for layout. After three rounds of proofreading, and under two years from inception, we sent it for printing. The book’s release day in February 2023, was 25 months after the seven-day writing challenge.

TNH: How has your family reacted to the book?

SN: With pride, enthusiasm, and support from the start. My husband stuck by me whether I lost my patience with hardware, software, or my words. I could feel my sister’s excitement thousands of miles away (in Greece). She shared her memories and gave me carte blanche to write whatever stories I chose and to use any photos I wanted. My son read the book within a day and although he knew the story, the details touched him. My story evokes powerful emotions. It is one of resilience, perseverance, strength, and hope, a message for anyone who faces adversity.

Stella Nahatis’ parents, Nikos and Sofia. Photo: Courtesy of Stella Nahatis

TNH: Are you working on another book?

SN: Currently, I am not working on another book. I plan to complete the “outtakes” of the thousands of words that did not make it into Taxi to America and submit them as a contributor for publication in magazines and other media. Thus far, I have a story published in an anthology which was also released in February, Turning Points: Life’s Twists and Turns.

Taxi to America: A Greek Orphan’s Adoption Journey by Stella Nahatis is available in bookstores and online.

More information is also available online: https://stellanahatis.com.

Follow Stella Nahatis on social media:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/stella.nahatis

Twitter https://twitter.com/StellaNahatis

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/snahatis

Stella Nahatis and he sister Nitsa. Photo: Courtesy of Stella Nahatis

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