I HAVE been caught in the middle of a protest and a riot. I have faced culture clashes, language barriers and have been surrounded by a headlining economic crisis and social unrest. Thanks to Greece, I also discovered a creative side to myself, inspired by the beauty of the country, a beauty that requires living here to be discovered. It all started with a move across the Atlantic. BY MARISSA TEJADA
I had followed my husband from San Francisco to Athens, Greece. A New Yorker, born in Brooklyn, raised on Long Island, I graduated from a college in Upstate New York and then followed my television, journalism and PR career to cities in Washington State, Florida and then California. While I was used to making a new start, I never had to do it in a foreign country.
I quit my job. Left my friends and family and I was set on discovering, understanding and finding the best in the experiences that would come my way. One experience ended up being my marriage, which was falling apart. 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, including going through a divorce – that was tough.
With my old and new support networks, I picked myself up and decided to stay. Divorce or not, I loved my experience living abroad, and could not leave. I continued to find joy in writing. Living in Europe seemed to fit me. I combined my love of travel and reporting skills to pursue travel writing which enabled me to discover the beauty of places and people in a whole new way.
The journalist in me had me mentally keeping note of the experiences and changes that surrounded me. The creative writer within me wanted to express the emotions that came along with that. That was how my move into novel writing came about.
Living in Greece inspired the idea behind my debut novel, Chasing Athens. It’s a romantic comedy that revolves around a character named Ava Martin, a heartbroken American expat who who uncovers the true importance of place and how it changes you. Chasing Athens is about discovering yourself abroad – unexpectedly. It’s a story about realizing what you want out of life and going for it.
Since my novel came out in last year, I’m proud to say I’ve reached the top 10 Best Seller Ranked lists on Amazon.com. Chasing Athens has also been listed as a Wanderlust Booklust 2014 Best of Expat Books selection. Finally, I’ve gotten great reviews from the industry including the Five Star Readers’ Favorite Award.
There are a couple of themes from family to friendships and relationships in Chasing Athens, and I found they all affect readers in different ways. I was stopped by one reader who had tears in her eyes talking to me about one scene I wrote. Seeing her emotional brought me to tears. There we were, practically crying in the street. I’ll never forget that moment.
Great reviews have come from those who’ve lived abroad, who love to travel, who love Greece, who adore romantic comedies or contemporary fiction.
The newfound feeling of actually touching people through my writing is humbling and now something I hold dear to my heart. After all, my novel came from my life’s inspirations and future stories will too. They always will.
My journey has lead me to Greece. Because of Greece I learned tough lessons, lessons that were unique experiences. Experiences that made me grow, change, appreciate and discover. It is because of Greece I cannot say I know what the next move is yet or where I’ll be in the future. I know among other things, if I have the inspiration to do what I love whether its travel writing and blogging or writing book number two, I’m doing well.
Originally from New York, Marissa Tejada is author, freelance journalist and travel writer loving expat life in Greece. She’s also a travel blogger and loves discovering Europe and its diverse history, cultures and languages. Connect with her through Twitter, Facebook and all sorts of social media. Visit her website at: http://www.chasingathens.com or blog at: http://mygreecemytravels.com