For something just a little different, today’s post features an interview with one of the main characters in Kerry Letheby’s recently released novel, Mine to Avenge.
Mine to Avenge is a generational saga that begins with the birth of Alcandor Galanos in 1914 in Greece. Alcandor’s best friend, Constantine Anastos, was also born in the same year in the same village. Both men have kindly consented to be interviewed by the author. While the interviewer found Mt Galanos to be somewhat fearful but cooperative, Mr Anastos was of a rather taciturn disposition, and less than forthcoming with some of his answers.
This post features the interview with Alcandor Galanos. The interview with Constantine Anastos will be featured during this tour in two days time (Mon 22nd April) at Daystarz’s Books.
Interview with Alcandor Galanos – March 1948
When I arrive to interview Alcandor Galanos, he is busy with his family at the front of their war-damaged house, loading a small cart with all their belongings. They are anxious to leave, but Alcandor has consented to give me some time. He constantly looks over his shoulder to check on his family’s progress.
Interviewer: I am aware that you are very busy at the moment planning to make a significant move with your family. I will ask you more about that later, but firstly, can you please tell me more about yourself? Can you tell me where you were born and your first memories?
Alcandor: I was born in 1914 in a small village, north of the Greek capital, Athens. My first memories are of being with my mother and the other women as they worked in the fields. It was there that I first met Caterina, who is now my wife. My memories begin with her. We were childhood sweethearts – almost inseparable. Our parents intended us for each other, but we had our own understanding well before they did.
Interviewer: What was your favourite toy when growing up?
Alcandor: We were a poor family from a poor village. No one had toys. We played with sticks and rocks and explored the world around us. We invented our own games. Even now, my own children don’t know what toys are. They’ve been born into a poor family, and we have just come through two wars in close succession. They, too, have had to be creative in their games.
Interviewer: What do you look like? Can you please describe yourself for the readers?
Alcandor: I am tall, slim and fair, unlike many Greeks who are darker. I think I could easily pass as a non-Greek if I had to. Three of my children have inherited my colouring. The eldest, Damaris, is dark like her mother. I am now 34 years of age.
Interviewer: Who was your best friend when you were growing up?
Alcandor: As I mentioned a moment ago, Caterina was my first friend, and the closest. But … I … I also have … sorry, I had a close male friend… Con…Constantine Anastos. When I wasn’t with Caterina I was with Con. As children we chased the village girls together. We pretended to go hunting, using sticks as rifles. When we were older we went on real hunts, and spent much time camping out, talking about going away to war.
Interviewer: You said ‘had’, Mr Galanos, and I detect a hesitation as you speak. Has something happened to your friendship?
Alcandor: Yes … I’m afraid we … we’ve lost touch. Con went away to war while I remained here. His sister died in tragic circumstances eight years ago. Our friendship died at the same time, because … Constantine blamed me for her death.
Interviewer: I’m so sorry to hear that, Mr Galanos, but it brings me directly to my next question, if you are willing to continue.
Alcandor: Yes, I’ll try … but it’s … difficult.
Interviewer: I was about to ask if you have ever lost someone close to you. Can you tell me anything about the death of Constantine’s sister and how this affected your friendship with him?
Alcandor: Helena was killed while Con and I were out hunting. She was sick that day and he didn’t want to come with me. It was his duty to stay with her as her guardian, but … I pressured him to come. If … if I hadn’t done that, she’d still be alive. He …Constantine hasn’t spoken to me since … but today …
Interviewer: Today? What happened today?
Alcandor: Forget it … no, it’s not important.
Interviewer: Did you go to Helena’s funeral, and if you did, how did you cope knowing Constantine blamed you?
Alcandor: That day was awful. It was as if I didn’t exist. When we finally came face to face, he just looked right through me. Please … can we talk about something else?
Interviewer: Tell me something of your experience of the war.
Alcandor: Do you mean the Second World War, or our country’s current internal conflict? Or do you mean war in general?
Interviewer: War in general.
Alcandor: As I was growing up the idea of war seemed so romantic. Constantine and I saw it as a masculine rite of passage. We had no idea what war was like – we were children during the first war. But, after Helena died, Constantine went off to the army while I stayed behind and joined the resistance. The army wouldn’t take me because of my poor health. But I think those of us who stayed behind contributed just as much as those who went away. It was very cruel too, to be unable to feed our starving families.
Interviewer: Tell me about your health.
Alcandor: There isn’t much to tell. I contracted tuberculosis – badly. I still have bouts of it now and again.
Interviewer: I’d like to come back to the present – I can see your family is busy packing to leave. What has happened to change the course of your life? Is it the war or something else?
Alcandor: No doubt you would have heard the recent announcement on the radio that all children under 15 years of age are about to be evacuated for their safety? That’s one of the reasons we’re leaving. My wife is frantic, and so am I. We won’t be separated from our children, so we’re planning to leave before they’re taken from us. We’re heading south to Athens. After that, who knows where we will go?
Interviewer: You said that the possible evacuation of the children was one of the reasons you were leaving. What else is making you leave?
Alcandor: I’m sorry. I made a mistake … there is no other reason. Please, I need to go back to my family.
Interviewer: But, Mr Galanos, you just said …
Alcandor: I know what I said but I’m afraid I need to return to my family. My wife needs my help.
Interviewer: Do you have a secret, Mr Galanos?
(Alcandor is already on his feet, and walking back to his family, but he stops suddenly, and turns back to me, fear etched deeply into his brow.)
Alcandor: Believe me, I can’t say anymore – even if I wanted to. We’re not safe. Please let me go now.
Interviewer: One final question, Mr Galanos. It may surprise you to learn that the events of your life are to be written down in a story. Why should the readers sympathize with you?
Alcandor: My family is innocent. They have done nothing. They shouldn’t have to pay for my mistakes. The readers will easily see that. Now, I must go.
Interviewer: Thank you for your time, Mr Galanos. Safe journey.
For the interview with Constantine Anastos, please visit the Blog Tour Stop at Daystarz’s Books on Monday 22nd April.
The author of Mine to Avenge is Kerry Letheby, who supplied the following biography.
I was born at Loxton, in South Australia’s Riverland district, the eldest of six children. I didn’t make friends easily and found most of my friends within the pages of books in the school library, where I spent most of my time. I’ve noticed that this is a common experience among writers. The origins of my writing are deeply rooted in this time, as I found myself writing my own stories as well as reading.
I also loved to draw and paint, so grew up wanting to be either a writer or an artist, but my father knew that both these choices might mean that he would be supporting me forever, so he encouraged me to become a teacher instead. I heeded Dad’s advice and became a teacher, and taught for some years in both the public and private sectors, having three sons along the way.
I then became a home-schooling mother, and later a pastoral care worker. This was followed by a lengthy career phase in the Mental Health sector, and a short stint in aged care in the respite sector. I am currently working as Case Manager in a Parenting After Separation program, a job I love and am very passionate about.
I currently live at Mt Gambier, in South Australia’s Limestone Coast region. In my spare time I am finally pursuing my writing and other creative pursuits such as calligraphy. I have begun the sequel to Mine to Avenge, and hope that it will be completed and ready to publish sometime in 2014.
Connect with Kerry:
PURCHASE Mine to Avenge
You may also like to checkout the Mine to Avenge Book Trailer.