It will be my second visit to Dubai – I came to the first festival in 2009 and it was a great experience – meeting readers and other writers and learning something about a new culture. For me it was a very rewarding time and I am sure it will be again.
When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
I always kept a diary, from the age of ten, so I always had an instinct to record and to write. But it wasn’t until my early 40’s that I decided to write fiction. It was a sudden decision after visiting the leprosy island of Spinalonga in Crete and realising that I wanted to write something out of my own imagination.
What book do you find yourself re-reading most often?
Michael Cunningham’s The Hours – I want to remind myself of what he says about happiness and how it comes in bursts, how it is fleeting and transitory so you should try to recognise it when it happens and enjoy it! It’s not a “self-help” book by any means, but it always reminds me how much novels have to tell us.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I would have a shop which sells “spanakopita” – Greece Spinach pie. I am very good at making it and it would be served in big, warm slices straight from the oven! I think it would be a nice simple life!
And finally, we have a number of aspiring writers attending the Festival. What one piece of advice would you give them?
You will know that you have a good story to tell when you are obsessed with it – when you wake up in the morning and it is already on your mind, already forming in your imagination, and when you think about the characters even when you are not writing. These are the stories you must develop – that will be “alive”.