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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, Peter Barber talks about being inspired to write about his marriage to his wife Alex in his book, A Parthenon On Our Roof : The Adventures Of An Anglo Greek Marriage.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Peter Barber about his life and career, his marriage to his Greek wife Alex, and why he was inspired to write his book, A Parthenon On Our Roof : The Adventures Of An Anglo Greek Marriage.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
My Name is Peter Barber. I am 65 years old with a passion for Greek life. I also write books about Greece. When I first arrived in this beautiful country, my fiery Greek wife made it a mission to convert me from a strait-laced Englishman into something resembling an Achilles type character with sharpened sword and wits to match. My transformation would sometimes be hilarious, always embarrassing, but would change my outlook on life and open my eyes to the world around me.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I have dabbled in writing for most of my life. Magazine articles, funny stories shared with friends. I wrote a short humorous account of my experiences with the recent covid lockdown. After its publication, the book became popular and inspired me to complete my book about Greece.
When did you take a step to start writing?
I had the idea for A Parthenon on our roof. The adventures of an Anglo Greek Marriage 20 years ago. I had been absorbed into my new Greek family and found so many differences to my old life. I spent so much time laughing and experiencing a wonderful new culture. But they presented this to me with love and humour every day. I needed to share this beautiful feeling before it became a normality. I could feel myself becoming more Greek every day.
So, I took my pen, and with a smile on my face, and wrote. As the book took shape, I began to realise that under the skin; we are all the same. We laugh, we cry, we feel. But Greeks do it better. With an English upbringing, I was used to hiding my feelings, here; they were expressed and shared. It was so refreshing.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
From the first idea. Starting my book took 10 years. Then I wrote intermittently over the next ten years until it was ready and polished. Now I am much more productive. I have almost finished my current book after only six months of writing.
What were your biggest challenges with writing A Parthenon On Our Roof : The Adventures Of An Anglo Greek Marriage?
Writing a book about our lives together in Greece was a project which I enjoyed immensely. So many incredible experiences, visits to idyllic Greek islands, exploring the traditional foods and hospitality. The only real challenge was to sift through so many sections of our lives and choose which would be included in the book and reluctantly discarded some. But these will come back in the next book, so won’t be hidden for long.
What was your research process for A Parthenon On Our Roof : The Adventures Of An Anglo Greek Marriage?
My research was about lived experience. Everything included in my book was real and was part of our lives. From Alex trying to kill me on a mountain road as a joke, to my begging her to marry me. Alex’s daily fights with our rogue architect, who tried to snaffle most of our new apartment block. Everything you will read in the book happened.
How did you plan the structure of A Parthenon On Our Roof : The Adventures Of An Anglo Greek Marriage?
There was no need to plan the structure. As a true account end memoir, it formed its own timeline. The only issue was where to break away from the principal theme to explore the wider country of Greece and incorporate it into the story.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did A Parthenon On Our Roof : The Adventures Of An Anglo Greek Marriage need?
Yes. Once the first draft was complete, I sent it to a developmental editor who assisted in the structure and form of the book. Her suggestions enhanced the readability and form of the story.
With this advice, I could rewrite and produce a much better book.
After the developmental edit came the line-by-line edit. This removed any errors and loose sentences, leaving it ready for the final proofread.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
We all have a story. Every well written and properly edited book will have readers interested in reading it. The first and most important is to write what you know. If you have lived the story, you will use your own words to put depth and feeling into your writing. Most of my work is humour. So, I write with a smile. It’s surprising how the emotion is transferred from your expression to the page.
Write every day. Even if your mind is blank. Just sit at your keyboard and write. It may just feel like meaningless words, but slowly they will take form and become a readable story.
Enjoy your writing and write for you. Few books reach the bestseller list. Some just disappear into obscurity. But if you have authored a book, you will always feel proud. No one can take that away from you. But, who knows, it may become a best seller. Either way, you have achieved something great in life.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
My next book is almost ready for editing. It’s a sequel to A Parthenon on our roof, but rather than being set in an upmarket Athenian suburb, but this time its humorous book set in a small Greek fishing village where we chose to build a new home. We should publish later this year.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Both Alex and I are very proud of the reception our book received. From the day of publication, it became a best seller on Amazon worldwide. It reached number one in the category of Greek Travel, Humorous Essays and has remained in the top 20 in Australia, USA, and UK. Gold medal winner. The Global Book Awards. Biographical – Travel, and 335 Amazon reviews, mostly five stars.
But this means nothing compared to sitting in my living room in my Greek home, looking at my bookshelf and knowing that I wrote that book.
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