Wednesday Writer: Anna Papadopoulos

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THE VITALS

NAME: Anna Papadopoulos

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Made in America with Greek parts

CURRENT BASE: Midwestern U.S.

FIELD: Fiction

LATEST MILESTONES: Samaritans, a novel published in 2015 by Three Trees Press

Samaritans is the story of three generations of Greek American women and the quest of the youngest, a reformed juvenile offender, for love and true re-forming. It’s available on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

My blog is samaritansbyannap.wordpress.com. It, too, could use a little love and re-forming. It’s a work in progress, like all of us.

THE TELLING DETAILS

What prompts you to write?
From the time I could hold a pencil, I’ve loved to write. In school, I wasn’t pretty, popular, athletic, or an honor student (damn algebra). Nerds weren’t trendy yet. Writing was something I could do, and do well.

What identifies you best?
City girl through and through. Drop me in Chicago, Detroit, or Indianapolis, and I will know where I am and what to do. Drop me on a rural road and I’ll be looking for street signs and asking what that green and yellow thingy is rolling through the cornfield. (It’s a tractor, Anna, geez.)

Does the space where do you usually write have a window?
I have to have a window. However, a writer whose window faces the neighbors can become Gladys Kravitz if she’s not careful.

For a getaway or travel opportunity, which would be your first choice?
I feel naturally, perhaps genetically, drawn to the seashore. My dad took me to the beach all the time when I was a kid, and the waves would pick us up and set us down ever so gently. Water is gentle yet powerful. His dad, my Papou (grandpa) was born on a Greek island.

What most annoys you in others’ writing?
Do creative writing teachers still say, “Show, don’t tell”? I see an awful lot of telling in today’s fiction.

Favorite charity?
My favorite charity, social cause or activity is anything involving animal care and welfare.

What comfort food would match your mood now? Or what’s at the top of your favorite foods list?
Avgolemono (egg lemon soup) is my comfort food. It’s good for just about anything that ails physically, mentally, or spiritually.

Any tattoos?
The older I get, the more I’ve come to see tattoo artistry as just that, although I’ve never had a desire to get a tattoo myself. My main character in Samaritans, Cass, has one — a heart with barbed wire around it.

Who’s the favorite character you’ve created?
I’d have to say Cass. All of the characters in Samaritans have really rallied and kept me from shelving the entire project, at least for very long, but she is the ringleader.

What’s your latest discovery?
Mayan chocolate coffee from Schuil Coffee in Grand Rapids, Mich.

ADVICE

Look both ways before crossing the street. I’m amazed at how many people don’t do this.

A FAVORITE SAMPLE

From Samaritans:

Right before she left her mother to die in the living room, Cass Fischer left her last class at Wallingford High School and thought about not going home at all.

She could go to someone else’s house, but eventually they’d make her leave. She could walk past the school’s cinder track, the Cow Palace, and the coin laundry with the television set that only got one channel; past the brick homes peeking from behind tall trees and wrought-iron fences until the yards grew bigger and the houses, flatter. Then she’d take the wooded back roads that eventually led to the highway, and see how far she could get. Wallingford was close enough to two large cities to boast their amenities, and far enough to claim distance from urban evils. Come to Wallingford and have the best of both worlds, people liked to say. But once you were here – and, even more, if you’d always been here – you knew that was a lie. You couldn’t be in two worlds at once, any more than you could live on Percy Street Monday through Thursday, and on Sycamore Hills Drive Friday through Sunday. As Cass made her way down the school sidewalk, with students and bus exhaust coursing around her, she knew there was nowhere else to go. You could have one world, or none.

~*~

I admire the way Anna presents a slice of America that’s too often overlooked. As I nose about, I find surprisingly little fiction from a Greek-American perspective, even though it’s a significant population where I live. (Yes, yes, we know about the wedding movie, which I fear feeds into stereotypes.) In her story, though, Anna digs into a blue-collar workaday world starting in the Midwest — again, not the usual grist for literary writing. And then she makes it flow so directly, seemingly effortlessly, and ultimately real.  

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The urban barns project

Just so you don’t think mine is the only barn in my small New England city, let me introduce you to a few others. Actually, it’s something I’ve simply come to call urban barns – ones built within the town, rather than as part of a working farm that was later swallowed up by residential sprawl. They seem to come in all shapes and sizes, all kinds of conditions, and adapted for a range of uses. And once you start looking, they really do add an architectural identity to the place.

I hope you enjoy the slideshows sampling.