Margot Demopoulos’ fiction appears or is forthcoming in the Sewanee Review, the Massachusetts Review, Fiction International and others. Her nonfiction, “Patrick Leigh Fermor – We May Just Forget to Die,” appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of the Massachusetts Review. Her book reviews have appeared in the Kenyon Review, the Sewanee Review, the Potomac and others. She participated in the Bennington Writing Seminars, the Colgate Writers’ Conference, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, and the Key West Literary Seminars and studied with Claire Carmichael, Peter Ho Davies, Mary Morris, Lynn Freed, Alan Cheuse, Varley O’Connor and others. Her fiction was a semifinalist in 2009, and a finalist in 2010, for UCLA’s James Kirkwood Literary Award. She is represented by Lisa Bankoff of ICM Partners.
Margot, “The Grapevine” is quite a compelling chapter in your novel, following Gottlieb’s exploits traversing Crete’s White Mountains with the help of local guides, any of whom could possibly be a traitor. Earlier, Gottlieb brought aboard his new friend Karvos to join the Greek Resistance as a translator for the British army, and become part of a tradition, seeing that “For centuries, Cretans have defended their island with remarkable ferocity.” The Nazi occupation, of course, presented the ultimate challenge. What inspired you to tackle the subject and this period in history?
I’ve been fascinated by this period since hearing stories about it from my grandmother. Hitler invaded Crete by paratrooper. Thousands of paratroopers and gliders dropped over the northern coast. What Hitler failed to consider was the iron will of the people of Crete. They had a history of resisting invaders. Men and women rushed from their homes to fight back with what they had—axes, pitchforks, rusty flintlocks, knives. There was mass resistance. The civilian population never gave up. They worked hand in glove with the British throughout the occupation. This story is relatively unexplored in American fiction and it certainly resonates today. Civilians throughout the world are striking back, not just at foreign invaders, but at their own corrupt and oppressive leaders.