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Interview with Expat author - Lana Penrose

06 November, 2013 11:29  Erin Erin

To Hellas and Back Lana PenroseA former Australian expat in Greece, Lana Penrose is a bestselling author twice published by Penguin/Viking. She has worked as a record company promotions manager, music journalist and television producer, and worked briefly with Simon Cowell amongst others of the pop elite.

1. Why did you move abroad?
I moved to Greece because my partner was offered a position to run an Athenian radio station. Being a former MTV producer, I looked upon it as a potential sun-filled sabbatical where I’d spend a year unraveling the mysteries of the universe whilst popping olives into my mouth. Things didn’t quite work out that way!

2. How do you make a living? Are you a fulltime writer?
I’m a fulltime author which is another way of saying I’m destitute.

3. How did you start the process of writing a book and get it published? Did you go to a publisher? Self-publish?
When I was in Athens, I discovered quite quickly that I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. I was suddenly in a strange land, devoid of language, culture, friends, family and quite frankly, I began to lose the plot (in more ways than one)!

As a means of staying sane, I began writing down my experiences, really because I had so few people to talk to. I then got it into my head that I would write a guidebook for others wishing to wrap their heads around the Greek capital. It ultimately morphed into my memoir ‘To Hellas and Back’, without me really realizing that I was writing it!

It eventually got picked up by Penguin Publishing (after a lot of hard work, rejection and persistence) and went on to become a bestseller.

4. What was the hardest part of taking your writing to a book format? Did you blog before writing your book?
I’d never attempted nor contemplated writing a book before. I had freelanced for a lot of music-related publications and written a bunch of scripts for MTV News and other shows, but writing a book is something else entirely. The hardest part for me was the sincere dedication that book development requires. As you write, day after day, you look at your musings and think, ‘What the heck am I doing? This is nothing like a book and it will take me a thousand lifetimes to finish it.’ So I found the nonstop refining process to be pretty tough.

5. What is your perception of the expat book market? Or is there a niche you consider your book to be part of?
Before I wrote my book, I read a lot of expat accounts that seemed a little too whimsical to me, complete with Hollywood endings. You know, the ones in which people renovate Tuscan homes and skip through poppy-laden fields as they fall madly in love with a local? My experiences were, um, slightly different, so I decided to write about things as I truly experienced them, warts and all.  

6. What is your favorite part of the book?
I don’t really have a favorite part per se, but there are a lot of exceptionally personal experiences laid bare, so I much prefer the comical parts. If not for them, I’d still be crying!
 
7. What was the most difficult part to write?
About how the move affected my relationship with my husband. He is of Greek extraction and I am not, so there were plenty of hurdles to negotiate.

8. Besides your book, what book should everyone read?
There are so many! I’m reading something by Charlie Booker at the moment who writes for the Guardian in the UK. He’s a very cynical, clever and funny man, if you like that sort of thing.

9. What advice would you give to other expats that want to write a book?
Just do it, write a little every day, persevere, beware of so-called ‘experts’ and write from the heart. If you’re releasing your book to a wider audience, you might also want to brace yourself for criticism.Addicted to love Lana Penrose

10. What are you working on now? Do you have plans to publish another book?
I signed a deal for my fourth book just last week, which is about the pursuit of happiness. I also have a fifth book in the making.


Lana Penrose is a former music journalist and television producer. She worked briefly with Simon Cowell and penned the bestselling memoirs 'To Hellas & Back', ‘Kickstart My Heart’ and ‘Addicted to Love’.

Visit www.lanapenrose.com.au, Amazon and Smashwords for more details.

 

   



         
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