Inside the Literary Mind of Effie Kammenou
March 7, 2017
Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her cooking for her family and friends.
As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.
For updates on promotions and the release of Book Three in The Gift Saga
Follow Effie on Twitter @EffieKammenou
Effie: Evanthia’s Gift is actually my debut novel. It’s a Greek American family saga that follows a multigenerational story of love, loyalty, and culture – an emotional novel about family bonds and the difficult pull between home and heritage.
Currently, I am finishing the second book in the saga and I’m anticipating a release near Thanksgiving. I’ve recently announced the title – Waiting for Aegina.
I began to write Evanthia’s Gift about six months after my mother passed away. It was my way of working through my grief and I found great inspiration in my mother’s life and character. My mother was an amazing woman of inner strength. She fought pancreatic cancer for two and a half years. Through her surgeries and chemo treatments, she spent time with everyone in the family, soaking up every last minute she had on earth.
My mom spoke of her childhood in Greece often, and I used what she told me to create a fictional story, but one that was based on true events. Her accounts of WWII, her journey to America, and the history of her family all came into play.
My dad had his own stories, and at ninety-four years old, he is still feeding me family history and memories from his childhood.
The story itself just developed as I wrote it, and the basic plot that I had in my mind for some time, flourished into a story more detailed than I expected.
Question: Why and when did you decide to become a writer?
Effie; I started writing a food blog about six years ago. I didn’t simply share recipes, but also the stories and traditions that were associated with the foods. To me, food was more than a meal and I wanted to share this with my readers. Later, I began writing occasional feature articles, restaurant and book reviews for a regional magazine.
For years I had a story in the back of my head, but it was a mere thought – ‘someday maybe I’ll write it down.’ When I turned fifty I wanted to do something new, something that would define me. But it wasn’t until my mother passed that I actually sat down and wrote the story, and now I never want to stop writing.
Question: What book has been the greatest influence on you and your writing and why?
Effie: I’m always asked this question and it’s a hard question to answer. My favorite classics are East of Eden and Pride and Prejudice. East of Eden in particular gives the reader so much to think about morally and ethically. My tastes in books are quite eclectic, though. I love a good romance as well as a paranormal fiction.
As a theatre student I studied hundred of plays from Ancient Greek theatre to Chekhov. I don’t think any of these necessarily influence my writing. I believe everyone has his own voice, which comes from his own experience.
Question: Where do you find ideas for your books?
Effie: I find ideas from so many places- my life, my parents’ stories, people I observe, and my imagination.
Question: Where do you find ideas for your characters?
Effie: A character might be based on a real person or the melding of a few people to form a more interesting character. Others are made up, but if they have a complex psyche I research the type of behavior they would display.
Question: How would you describe your writing style?
Effie: It’s hard to judge one’s own work. I think it’s conversational. There’s quite a bit of dialogue. My descriptions are brief. I believe I weave an interesting story, but I am not a master of words who could describe a tree for three paragraphs and keep a reader’s interest.
Question: What do you consider the most difficult part of writing a book?
Effie: Two things are the most difficult for me. First, giving up sentences or paragraphs when my editor says to delete. My words become my baby and it’s hard to cut any of what I’ve written. But in the end, I know the editor is correct and I come away with a better manuscript. The second is writing the love scenes. They are my favorite to read, but I find it difficult to write the more, shall we say, amorous details of the chapter.
Question: What are your current projects?
Effie: As I stated earlier, I am finishing Book Two in The Gift Saga, titled Waiting For Aegina. Evanthia’s Gift is the story of two families who come from Greece and make a life in New York. It’s actually two love stories in one book. Anastacia’s story begins in the 1950’s, and then later her daughter, Sophia’s story which begins in the 1970’s and goes through the 1990’s.
In Waiting for Aegina, the story picks up where the other left off, but the focus is different. In the first book we are introduced to Sophia’s four best lifelong friends, and it is the friendship and loyalty of these five women that are central to the story. The ideals of teenagers did not turn to adult reality and each woman must learn to find happiness with circumstances they could not predict.