What is your experience with the setting of the book? Have you visited or lived in the area? If ‘yes’, what about the area inspired you to use it as the setting?
My dad grew up in Gargaliani, a small town in southwestern Greece. Most of this story takes place there, though there are interludes with Athens, Patras, Chicago, New York, and Detroit. Gargaliani sits on a bluff just several kilometers off the Ionian Sea and is infinitely picturesque.
During World War II, the Italian army occupied Gargaliani, which sat strategically between the towns of Filiatra to the north, and Pilos to the south. Anyone travelling between those two towns passed through Gargaliani. Hence, there was plenty of action.
While writing Dandelions for Dinner, my father and I made two trips to Gargaliani and the outlying areas. We marveled at the olive trees, the grape vines, and sea. We also found remnants of some of the things of which we wrote.
What are some of local culture nuances you describe in the book that you want readers to pick up on, and why are they important to the region and/or story?
Most tourists who visit Greece stop in Athens and then hit the islands.
To be sure, the islands are beautiful. But to see authentic Greece (as opposed to tourist Greece), trekking through the Peloponnese is a must. In this part of Greece, one finds a giant land mass surrounded by the azure sea, with breathtaking coastlines. There are also mountains replete with farming and shepherds. The people are welcoming and the food is unparalleled.
Dandelions for Dinner in particular takes place in a small corner of the Peloponnese. The book shows how World War II affected people in the Peloponnese and in particular, in Gargaliani . And it reveals how this massive event effected this one family (and others like it) in this small place of the world.
What are three things from the story that a reader should try or see when visiting the region? (e.g. a specific food, landmark, etc.)
Gargaliani is a small town and it’s worth sitting in the town square for a coffee or a meal. If you are there, check out Kyparisia and Filiatra to the north and for sure, the town of Pilos to the south. We stayed at the Apollo Resort Art Hotel in Kyparissia when we visited Gargaliani and enjoyed it very much.
Try lunch around the harbor of Pilos, a town of much historical significance, and imagine the many naval battles that took place centuries ago.
When is the best time of year to visit? Are there any unique festivals or holidays that are specific to the region when a reader should pack your book and take a trip there?
My favorite time to visit Greece is September, after labor day. By then, most tourists have left, the really hot weather has softened and prices are generally lower across the board. This includes car rental prices as well as ferry prices, should you want to visit some islands as well. And you will want to visit some islands!