Monday, October 1, 2012

Art, Secrets, and the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus: An interview with Loukia Borrell

1) Tell us about your book.

Raping Aphrodite is a novel with two story lines. The first story line is about a woman in her mid-30s who owns a small art gallery in Norfolk, Va. The character, Tash Colgate, is married to an art professor who is acquainted with a colleague with items from Cyprus. The items were willed to him by an elderly couple he once knew. The idea of Tash exhibiting the pieces in her gallery comes up and she decides to do it. After some research about Cyprus, Tash’s husband, Christian, begins to realize Tash has hidden ties to the island nation and that their world is about to break apart. The second story line takes place in Cyprus, in 1974, when the island was invaded and divided by Turkey. A young Peace Corps volunteer escapes a hostage situation and begins a perilous walk to find help for the others in her group. At the end of the book, both story lines come together.

2) What inspired your book?

 In 2009, my oldest daughter had an English assignment to write a fictional character into a real historical event. She chose the 1974 invasion and division of Cyprus. After helping her get some information for her paper, I said to myself, “I should be doing this.” I decided to give it a try and a year later, I had about 70,000 words

3) Why did you choose the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus as the major background for your story? 

My parents are from Cyprus and all of their people are from there, as far back as we can trace. They sailed to America in 1952 and even though I was born in the United States, the ties to Cyprus were very strong and this cultural influence is still very deep for me. I identify not only with the United States, but with Cyprus, as well. When Cyprus was invaded in 1974, many of my relatives were living in the areas that were hit, and they became refugees. My maternal grandparents disappeared and were never found. This happened when I was 11, so I could not process the information other than to know that something very bad happened and we couldn't go back to the villages my parents were from. As time passed, I became more reflective of my life and of events that shaped my family's history. I also encountered a fair amount of people who either don't know where Cyprus is, have never heard of the invasion, or both. I knew I needed to tell that story, even if it is through a novel and not a straight political, non-fiction account of events. I am the last person in my immediate family who is completely Cypriot. My husband is not Cypriot and our children are half-Cypriot. I am probably the last person in my family who will have the level of understanding I do about Cyprus. As each generation comes, my family's ties with Cyprus will weaken, a weakening that began when my parents left Cyprus 60 years ago. I wrote the book so my children will have something, years from now, that will show them what happened before they got to the planet. They can say, “Our mom wrote this story and this is where we came from.” If you have some type of historical story to tell, you have to document that, so I did. You've got to say your thing.

4) Please tell us about the research that went into developing the setting. What sort of resources did you examine? 

I spoke with my father at length. I also used books I have about the invasion, YouTube and other Internet sites to get a better handle on the days of the invasion and its aftermath. I spent many mornings online gathering story material and also had my personal recollections, things about life in Cyprus, that I heard from my parents while I was growing up. The fictional aspects are inspired by people I’ve met, situations I’ve encountered or just my imagination.

5) Please share with a bit about your main character and their motivations. 

Tash Colgate is my main female character. She is very focused on making her marriage to Christian work because they endured a lengthy separation earlier. She is aware of herself and clear about what she wants. As Cyprus is introduced to her, she instinctively feels there is something there, something she needs to explore but isn't quite able to figure out why. Her husband, Christian, also begins to research Cyprus and learns his wife has secret ties to the island, unknown to her. He has to make a moral decision about whether or not to tell her what he knows about her. It is a struggle for him because he doesn't want his marriage disrupted, yet the secret he has on his wife is just too big to keep to himself.

6) Please tell us about the themes your book explores. 

Raping Aphrodite explores themes of war, loss, survival, love, family secrets and truth.

7) Please tell us about your upcoming works. 

Raping Aphrodite is part of a planned trilogy. I am currently working on the book that will take my readers back to the beginning of Tash and Christian's relationship when they first met. Once I finish that, the third book will pick up where Raping Aphrodite leaves off, taking the reader along with Christian as he figures out how to tell his wife she isn't who she thinks she is. That book, the final of the three, will see the couple face more challenges and expose them to events that will test their commitment to each other.


Thanks, Loukia.

Raping Aphrodite is available at Amazon. 

No comments: