Reading one of Anne Zouroudi’s detective novels is a magical experience. She can transport you to Greece quicker than a no-frills airline, and without the annoying fanfare. Before you know it your drab magnolia walls have become a luscious blue sea and even the damp rot starts to smell of honey. It’s for this reason that The Whispers of Nemesis scooped the 2011 East Midlands Book Award at Haddon Hall. Χάρηκα για την γνωρημία.
Congratulations on winning the award on home turf....
Thanks! It's good to be flying the flag for Derbyshire, and for the East Midlands in general. We have some great writers here, who deserve more recognition for their work. The EMBA is doing an excellent job in getting them out there.
Can you give readers a brief outline of The Whispers of Nemesis as a tweet?
Years after the death of a gifted but arrogant poet new poems by him are found. But did he really write them? And has witchcraft turned his bones into a pig's?
The book has many themes, one of which is long-kept secrets. Tell us a small secret about yourself...
I'm terrified of roller-coasters. Never been on one, never going on one. Ever.
We know you’ve been asked this a thousand times, but what it is about Greece that you love so much?
I first went to Greece over twenty years ago, and straight away I felt I had come home. What I love most is the sea, the blueness and clarity of it, and when I'm there I spend as much time as I can in it and on it - fishing, swimming, sailing. But I love the scenery, the architecture, the pace of life, the food, the people... Greeks have a dry sense of humour that's a match for our own, and a wonderful sense of the ridiculous which I hope will help carry them through their present difficulties.
What's going on with the Euro? Are you tempted to address any of these issues in a future novel?
Greece will come through its present difficulties, though there'll be some pain in the process. My personal hope is that the Greeks will leave the Euro, reinvent the drachma and let Greece become the wonderful but cheap tourist destination it used to be. Then northern Europeans will flock back there in their millions, and kick-start the economy. I think I've already addressed the key issues, in my own small way, in The Taint of Midas, a book about the perils of greed. We're all in this mess because a few bad apples fell too far in love with money. Anyone who goes to the Greek islands and finds a quiet table by the sea with a glass of cold wine or beer soon understands there's a lot more to life than making squillions of euros, dollars or whatever.
Hermes Diaktoros is a mysterious, mythical being who readers can never quite exactly pin down. Do you think there will ever be a point where you wrap things up for readers or is this the pleasure of his character?
You know, readers' reactions to Hermes always interest me. Some work out straight away who he is, and where he comes from. Others suspect there's something a little off-beat about him, but can't quite work out what it is. Others still take him as a 'straight' detective, and then can't work out how he knows all the things he knows, or does all the things he does. He is unworldly, he is mythical and mysterious. The big clue is in his winged sandals.
Hermes is known as the ‘fat man’. Why did you choose to give him this particular body shape?
I made him - shall we say corpulent? - for a very good reason. But if I told you what it was, I'd have to give a much less ambiguous answer to the previous question!
The detective series is based on the seven deadly sins. Which of these would you be most likely to commit and why?
Good question, with much potential for embarrassment! The sin I'd most readily own up to would be gluttony - not that I drastically over-eat, but I am a bit of a foodie (I think that shines through in the books), and I do like good food and wine. Happily I lack the funds to over-indulge. I have read in the press stories of people paying thousands of pounds for one meal, even one bottle of wine. With so many people struggling to put food of any kind on the table, I find that wholly immoral.
What will happen to Hermes when you finish the seventh deadly sin?
This is a much debated question! The only certainty is, he won't be going away - he has fans now, myself included - who wouldn't let that happen. Maybe I'll go back to the beginning, and start again. Maybe I'll do the ten commandments. Or I've had suggestions from readers for 'golden rules' from other cultures which have possibilities. I've still got lots of plot ideas, so maybe I'll make a list, and see where they fit best.
The Whispers of Nemesis is available for £7.99 from Bloomsbury. This is reviewed in LeftLion Issue 47. Out this Friday!