Native New Yorker, freelance journalist and travel Marissa Tejada has called Athens home for the past five years.
She’s now proud to add author to her credentials. Living and loving life abroad has inspired her so much she wrote a novel that touches deeply on the expat experience. Since Chasing Athens was released in April 2014 it has reached the top 10 bestsellers rank on Amazon, the number one online book marketplace in the world, in several categories. She sat down with Athens Insider to tell us about it.
1. Describe what Chasing Athens is about. It’s a romantic comedy, women’s fiction novel that takes place in Athens in the thick of the crisis. The story revolves around a heartbroken American expat who is inspired to stay after her new husband literally walks out on her. That abrupt decision leads her through a humorous, touching and cultural journey that forces her confront her disappointing past and redefine the true meaning of home.
2. Where did you get the inspiration for this book? From my first year living as an expat, I knew I wanted to write something that related to my experiences. Greece is a place of beauty within its culture, people, places, and traditions. However, not every Greek moment is perfect which I wanted to portray too – it’s a time of crisis, uncertainty, and desperation. As a woman living abroad, all of these extremes pull together creating an experience that I has made me who I am today and influenced me to write Chasing Athens.
3. Sounds like Athens plays a big role in your novel? It really does. Much how New York City plays a major role in Sex and the City, Athens is a character in itself in Chasing Athens. Place can truly influence, change, and inspire people. That’s why people love to travel and that’s why expat life can be so fulfilling. The book is also about finding yourself abroad, finding independence, life-after-divorce, the meaning of family, and the power of friendships.
4. Why would readers love your book? The book takes readers through a modern day journey in Greece as told through the eyes of an expat woman who is forced to define her new found independence. She learns to overcome personal obstacles, move on and love again while living in a foreign country and immersed in a foreign culture.
It’s a story that paints a picture of contemporary life in the bustling capital of Athens and the beauty of the Greek islands. Place can change and influence a person in so many ways and readers will learn that through Ava’s touching yet humorous journey in Chasing Athens.
5. Your novel has been out for a few months, how has it been received? I am thrilled with response so far because I have gotten some really positive reviews from review sites. From reader feedback I am particularly happy that it not only touches expats, those who love travel and Greece, but also – men! I love that my romantic comedy is embraced by other audiences I didn’t expect it would reach traditionally. I’m also thrilled that it has reached the top 10 bestsellers rank in several categories on Amazon.
6. Besides Athens, tell us about the Greek settings in your book and how did you choose them? Scenes also take place on two Greek islands. Hydra is a small, quaint and picturesque. I also chose the more frequented Mykonos which is known for its cosmopolitan flair, jet set, and whitewashed architecture. I’ve been to both a few times and like all the Greek islands I’ve traveled to, they have their unique charm and character worth writing about.
7. Is your novel connected with your real life experiences? In real life, I had to make the decision whether or not I should stay on in Greece. I wanted to make it work although many factors were influencing me otherwise. I think that feeling of belonging to a place can be an unexpected surprise. When we live abroad, out of comfort zones, we learn so many things about ourselves that would have never been uncovered.
8. Do you believe your career as a journalist helped you write Chasing Athens? My experience as a former television reporter and current work as a travel and features writer certainly helped me write my first novel. Besides the discipline you need to be a journalist and travel writer you need to be very observant about the world around you. Observations I’ve made living as an expat played a huge role in creating and describing the world I wrote about.
9. Do you have another project in the works? I am working on the outline of a second novel which will be the continuation to Chasing Athens. I am excited to be at this point – writing book number two!