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Yesteryear by Stephen G. Eoannou. (Photo: Courtesy of the author)
Yesteryear by Stephen G. Eoannou is based on the true story of Fran Striker, a struggling radio play scriptwriter who would eventually create The Lone Ranger— and sell the rights for $10. Set in Buffalo, NY, during the early 1930s, Yesteryear explores the events and magical influences that led to the show’s debut. Populated by characters who lived during that time— former lightweight boxing champion Jimmy Slattery, radio actor John L. Barrett, mafioso Stefano Magaddino, and president-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the book is written in the same spirit as W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe, Bernard Malamud’s The Natural, and Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish. Yesteryear’s publication coincides with the 90th anniversary of The Lone Ranger’s radio debut on WEBR in Buffalo.
Yesteryear won the 2021 Eyelands Book Award for Historical Fiction, an international award based in Athens. The judge in the Historical Fiction category was Greek author Gregory Papadoyiannis.
As the Great Depression rages, playwright Fran Striker needs to write the pilot for a new radio show but, first must overcome writer’s block, defeat a Gypsy curse, foil a plot to assassinate FDR, and recover stolen diamond rings belonging to an alcoholic boxing champion.
When asked how long the process took from idea to publication, Eoannou told The National Herald that “it will be six years from the start of research to my publication date.”
In a previous interview with TNH, when asked about the influence of his Hellenic heritage on his life and work, he noted that “my father’s and grandfather’s immigration experience in the 1920s has greatly influenced my work.”
He continued: “I grew up listening to my Dad’s stories about Buffalo during that time and how all the Greeks lived in the same neighborhood and all the kids went to school and Greek School and church together. But the stories I loved the most were the ones about my Pappou’s restaurant on Genesee Street and all the characters who ate and worked there. My Pappou died and my father and uncle sold the restaurant before I was born, but the New Genesee Restaurant and my Pappou appear in Rook, Yesteryear, and After Pearl. I always say my best stories are the ones I stole from my Dad. I think both he and my Pappou would’ve gotten a kick out of reading their stories in my books.”
Eoannou’s roots on his mother’s side are from Sparta and his father was born in Lofiskos, a small village in Evia.
The author of the award-winning short story collection, Muscle Cars, and the novel Rook, Eoannou holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte and an MA from Miami University. His work has been awarded an Honor Certificate from The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and won the Best Short Screenplay Award at the 36th Starz Denver Film Festival. Eoannou lives and writes in his hometown of Buffalo, NY, the setting and inspiration for Yesteryear.
More information is available online: sgeoannou.com and on Twitter: @StephenGEoannou.
Yesteryear by Stephen G. Eoannou is available for pre-order online and is set to be released October 3.
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