In preparation for writing the fifth Greektown book, I have been rereading the earlier releases.The Greektown Stories started with The Greeks of Beaubien Street, my attempt at capturing childhood memories of visits to Greektown with my father. The murder evolved from my fascination with police work, the lurid description of the attack of the daughter by her mother a morbid combination of the attack on the protagonist in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and a story I read years ago about a mother who murdered her own daughter when the consensual affair between her husband and daughter was uncovered.
In an effort to lighten the heavy story lines of murder and family angst, I introduced the talking parrot, a true fixture in vintage Greektown, Detroit. And out of nowhere, the blind elderly Greek woman I named Dido for no reason, appeared in my consciousness, a permanent fixture the rest of the series.
Dido was becoming a caricature by the end of the The Greeks of Beaubien Street and I wasn’t happy with it, feeling disrespectful of my heritage and my own destiny. Her personality started to develop in the next books, but it was truly in A Greektown Wedding where Dido became real to me, a woman I wished lived now, someone who could be a good friend.
The history of how she met her late husband Costas segued into the history of Greece during World War II. The shattering story of the islanders consumed me. I called my aunt to ask what she knew of our own family, coming to the US before World War I. Briefly, Helen, my grandmother, a young girl, contracted smallpox on the boat over, and when they arrived at Ellis Island, she was turned away. She and her mother, my great-grandmother Jenny, returned for treatment to Paris. Anyway, to make a long story short, fortunately, she got over the disease. Dido, however did not.
In Christmas in Greektown, free on Amazon March 27-29th, I tell readers that Dido was blind since birth. But in A Greektown Wedding, she loses her sight as an adult from smallpox. This sort of mid-story change is highly criticized by those in the know, but I didn’t want to go back in time. My readers are intelligent. They know I’m a storyteller, not an English major, editor, whatever. I LOVE the story of Dido in A Greektown Wedding so much, I cried at the final read- through. She’s a main character, not an afterthought.
Anyway, this is my apology to you as my faithful reader and supporter. I will try in the future not to make such drastic changes to characters, although it was suggested to me and I thought about it briefly, that in the Pam books we should resurrect Jack, let his victims have a go at him! Like a soap opera in which a character returns to life;-)