Donna Van Braswell: Greek history
Donna Braswell, or Donna Van Braswell as her author name, has an amazing fascination with Greek history and an incredible story to go with it. Research isn’t just an important part of her writing; it’s essential. The necessity makes her story real, and she is more than willing to share a piece of it with us.
What are you currently working on? How did you begin working on it?
A novel. I took a trip to Rhodes, Greece and knew I had to write a story centered on its history. I started writing, joined a writer’s group, bought some books, created an outline, and continued to write.
Would you like to tell us more about your book?
Ancient times on the island of Rhodes – treasures are hidden for their protection against marauders. Treasures are found but weren’t unearthed. Katha, their protector, dies trying. Modern times bring modern techniques and Katina. Her best friend, smart and pretty, helps. She also tries to keep Katina from killing herself or getting arrested.
Give us insight to your main character. Who is he or she? What is his or her purpose?
Katina Papamissios is a 40-year-old expert in medieval studies. She works at Emory University as a researcher. She’s Greek, tall, beautiful, from a wealthy family, and totally insecure. She can be very silly with her best friend and very elusive to everyone else. She was always an outsider – being Greek in an old southern city. Her purpose in life is to learn that she is lovable just by being herself. At this point in her life, she is married to a wonderful man but can’t imagine why he loves her. She is about to attempt to discover the meaning of a cryptic message from a 453-year-old document found by her father.
Are you an expert in medieval studies like Katina?
No, I have been fascinated by the Knights Templar for decades.
Do you research your book? If so, what have you learned through your research?
I’ve done massive research on the history of Rhodes, Greece. I’ve researched Manhattan, mafia bad guys, Scottish dialects, castles and their inhabitants. Did you know that Sueliman the Magnificent blockaded Rhodes for six months, capturing the island and setting the inhabitants free because he honored their bravery tremendously?
Do you have any other fun or interesting facts you brought from Greece?
Men ran, wrestled, and carried out all sorts of physical feats in competition naked. Athens can produce evidence of continual inhabitation since 3,000 BC. It has been identified as one of the oldest cities in the world. Socrates, Pericles, and Sophocles were born and raised there. Unfortunately, I come from in the small mountains, miles away from Athens. I am of peasant blood. Even before Greece’s economic crisis, strikes by various “unions” were continuous. One would never know if “this” trip would be without the use of taxis or the streets would be lined with bagged, uncollected garbage. This was/is very frustrating.
Where did you go to learn more about Greece during your trip or after?
I googled a lot. I also traveled with Greeks. Two were from Athens, and the other two were born and raised on Rhodes. I was especially fortunate that the two men were absolute experts in ancient history of the areas in which they lived.
What about Greece’s history was so inspiring to you?
I am Greek. I’ve had the privilege to walk in the same steps as St. Paul, the philosopher, Andronicus, and the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes, Peter D’ Aubusson, on the island of Rhodes. Math and science were raised to high levels, and the beginning of what we know as democracy was established in Athens. Christianity flourished, replacing the fascinating, yet disturbing, worship of various gods. Art was a mainstay. Also, the country has a fascinating history of debauchery and downfall. Just a wonderfully colorful, and LONG, history that has been well documented over the centuries. In short, there are many areas that tickle my fancy to explore and write about.
What or who is your favorite support group.
My writers group in Colorado Springs and my friends.
What is the biggest mistake you think you make while writing? How do you overcome it?
Over-explaining. I write whatever I think I need to write then edit it out later. I never know what’s going to be imperative later in the book.
What do you hope to achieve with your writing?
I want to tell this story. It’s fun and complicated. It touches my heart and I want it to touch the reader’s hearts.
Do you have any favorite books? Favorite motivational quotes?
Book – John Grisham’s The Testament.
Quotes – “His memories were jagged images of life good and bad.” “Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires.” – Francois de La Rochefoucauld
“At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.” – Plato
“It’s going to be sunny and cool – very similar to my sophisticated personality.” – Donna Van Braswell
How can readers and fellow writers discover more about you and your work?