Monday, February 15, 2016

Talking Books with Effie Kammenou, author of 'Evanthia's Gift'

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog,, you can find her cooking for her family and friends.

Her debut novel, EVANTHIA’S GIFT, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her recent interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the book.  

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.

For updates on the release of Book Two of The Gift Saga 
Follow Effie on Twitter @EffieKammenou, 
Contact Effie at
For More Information

Title: Evanthia’s Gift
Author: Effie Kammenou
Pages: 548
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance


In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance. But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets - ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family. 

The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean, who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for.

EVANTHIA’S GIFT is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and crossing two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families. 

Magnificent 5 Stars
Exceptional, outstanding and award worthy were the first words that popped into my mind after I finished reading this book. A surface description of this story could be easily stated by saying; it’s a 50 year generational Greek family saga that’s filled with multiple love stories, devastating betrayals and heart breaking secrets. That depiction alone would be enough for anyone to be drawn to this book. But the essence of “Evanthia’s Gift” is held within each character created in this masterpiece; that is the true heart and soul of this book. I could feel the struggles within each to come to terms with their past mistakes, recognizing their self-worth, all the while staying steadfast to their beliefs and for some, finding inner peace. I started reading this book late one evening with the intent of reading a few chapters and then going to bed. I found myself incapable of putting the book down… several hours later I was wiping away the tears to get through the last chapter.
This superbly written emotional story comes full circle in the end, which reminds us all just how precious love and family really is.

--Stephanie Lasley, from The Kindle Book Review

For More Information

Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

I have a day job. Although my college background is in Theatre Arts, I have been working in the optical field for well over thirty years.

I also write a food blog,, where I share recipes, traditions and stories. I love to cook and bake, and I entertain often, especially in the summer where I can host large crowds.

When did you start writing?

About five years ago when I started to write my blog, I also occasionally contributed to a regional magazine, but it wasn’t until my mom died that I began to write Evanthia’s Gift. I started writing the novel as a way of working through my grief. My mother was an amazing woman of inner strength. She fought pancreatic cancer for two and a half years. Through her surgeries and chemo treatments, she spent time with everyone in the family, soaking up every last minute she had on earth. She was the inspiration for the character of Anastacia.

My mom talked of her childhood in Greece often, and I used what she told me to create a fictional story, but one that was based on true events. Her accounts of WWII, her journey to America, and the history of her family all came into play.

My dad had his own stories, at ninety-three years old, he is still feeding me family history and memories from his childhood.

The story itself just developed as I wrote it, and the basic story I had in my mind, flourished into a story more detailed than I had expected.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

All of this was a new experience for me, so there were so many. Completing the fist draft was huge for me. It’s quite a substantial book—548 pages. I didn’t think I could feel any more accomplished. I’ve heard many people say they would like to write a book one day. But I actually did it.

Little did I know that after all the revisions and steps it took to complete the book, I would feel an even greater sense of accomplishment at the finished product.

Holding my breath for the first round of reviews was also a pivotal moment. When the reviews came in favorably, I was not only relieved but also overjoyed.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

Anyone who knows me can answer this question because I say it all the time. I would go to a little cottage by the sea on a Greek Island. The surroundings and the people would be my inspiration.

Although the second book in the saga revolves around five best friends, only two of whom are Greek, the storyline will require a few visits to Greece.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

I would have to say write, because my writing time is precious. I tend to write late into the evening, and I often wish there were more hours in the day.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

That is not something I have thought about, quite honestly. With two more books to write in the saga, New York and Greece have been the places I’ve given my attention. But maybe Italy. Capri looks enticing.

Back to your present book, Evanthia’s Gift, how did you publish it?

I self-published on Amazon in print and on kindle.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

No, I didn’t. The locations in NYC and Long Island were ones that are familiar to me. The Greek locations were either from childhood recollection or descriptions passed down to me in stories.

Why was writing Evanthia’s Gift so important to you?

As I mentioned, I began writing as a way to work through my grief over losing my mother. But it was more than that. It was a way of expressing my love for my heritage and honoring my mother and the traditions she’d established for our family.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

When my mind is at rest, the ideas flow. Sometimes I will be drifting off to sleep and I jump up to jot down something that I thought of. When I’m cleaning or cooking and my mind drifts off, I daydream storylines. I think when I am in a relaxed state my mind is more creative.

Any final words?

Evanthia’s Gift is a beautiful story that anyone can relate to. The themes are universal, and I developed characters with many sides to their personalities. Young or old. Male or female, I hope the story touches each reader’s soul.

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