The daughter of a Greek father and a Minnesotan mother, I grew up in Athens, Greece, and the suburbs of Worcester, Massachusetts—and became obsessed with cultural rituals and traditions along the way.
My fascination with cultural rituals, beliefs, and intermixing inspired me to study Folklore and Mythology when I went off to college at Harvard University. (You can imagine how un-thrilled my parents were with my choice of major!) Four days after graduation, I moved to New York to work in magazine journalism.
In between staff positions at Allure, Elle, InStyle, People and Martha Stewart Weddings magazines, I earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University and wrote a few books. My travel memoir, North of Ithaka, describes my experience living in Lia, the small Greek village where my father was born, overseeing the rebuilding of my grandparents’ home. Another book that explores the theme of being torn between two cultures, but this time from a fictional point of view, my first novel Other Waters, is about an Indian-American psychiatrist who thinks that her family has been cursed.
It was only after having finished both manuscripts that I realized the pomegranate–a folkloric symbol of abundance–plays a significant role in each book, which is why I’ve adopted it as a personal symbol. (Some people have a spirit animal; I have a spirit fruit.) My next novel, The Ladies of Managua, is lacking in pomegranates; if it had a symbol, it would be the fuchsia Nicaraguan dragonfruit known as the pitaya, because it follows three generations of Nicaraguan women, each as bright and spiky as that fruit, and each with her own secret, as they’re forced to confront their complicated, passionate, relationships to each other, and to their homeland.
I couldn’t stay away from pomegranates for long, though. My next book brings me back to nonfiction and to my folkloric roots. Lucky in Love: Traditions, Customs, and Rituals to Personalize Your Wedding is a cross-cultural collection of rituals meant to bring luck to couples getting married. When I was the Executive Editor at Martha Stewart Weddings, I realized that every engaged couple wants two things: A personal, meaningful wedding celebration, and a lifetime of luck, love, and happiness. This book aims to help them achieve both, and is a resource for anyone mixing cultures at their wedding, seeking to make the day feel even more sacred and celebratory, or for folklore nerds like myself. (For your pomegranate fix, turn to page 136!)
All along, I’ve been working as a freelance writer and editor, and I’m currently the Articles Editor at O, the Oprah magazine. My articles have appeared on the covers of Travel+Leisure, T, Budget Travel, Town&Country Travel, and Real Simple, and I’ve contributed to The New York Times, Parade, The Wall Street Journal and The American Scholar. I’ve also been a writing instructor, teaching academic writing to first-year students at Columbia University, and leading travel-writing workshops for media professionals through Mediabistro.
After fulfilling the predictions of Indian astrologer who told me I’d wed a “soft-hearted businessman” on 10.10.10, I bounced around Miami Beach and Nicaragua with my husband, Emilio, a Nicaraguan coffee trader. We’re now back in New York, where, together with our two Greekaraguan children, we bake a magic cake for luck every New Year’s Day. And at our 10.10.10 wedding reception on the Greek island of Corfu, the tables were decorated with pomegranates that Emilio and I picked in Lia, together with friends and family.
For more than you ever wanted to know about me, visit my blog, www.theliminalstage.com or check out the following profiles from The Worcester Telegram and Gazette, and the “Ladies We Love” section on Ravishly.com.