I am frequently asked by authors my thoughts on book promotion. The book business is a hard one, too many books published, and too little shelf space in the stores. One way to promote though, is through book signings and lectures. Most people do this within a 30 mile radius of their home, appearing at local book stores and libraries. Not so James Heaphey who is promoting his new book Legerdemain. Legerdemain concerns the US governments involved in the politics of Cyprus and the surrounding area during the early 1950’s. Much of this information is newly de-classified and runs contrary to the current history books. James Heaphey is the ideal candidate for author of this book, he was there at the time, playing the role of US spook!

Playing to the local library audiences are not James Heaphey’s style, he reasoned that as the book was about Cyprus he should promote it in Cyprus. Combining work with pleasure he and his wife Pam are engaged in a 3 month sojourn in the area.

Cyprus to many of us in North America is just a dot on a map, and we know little of its history or political significance. James sent me the following update about his journey, part history lesson, part travelogue, and part advice to authors. I hope you enjoy. 

I met Elena Protopapas, a Greek-Cypriot woman, at the monthly meeting of the Paphos Writers’ Club. Paphos is a city on the far western coastline in Cyprus. It touches – or should I say: it is embraced by — the Mediterranean Sea, with bays and beaches to die for. The hotel where the Club meets is on Coral Bay, which, I’m sure you remember, is where the Myceneans landed four thousand or so years ago, thereby colonizing the island of Cyprus.

The Club has forty-five members, from Cyprus, England, Wales, Scotland, Iceland, Thailand and South Africa, including a few authors of best-selling books in England: Beverley Peberdy, who wrote Do Robins Cough? and Bryan Drake, who wrote Richard’s Way.

Thirty members came to hear me talk about my book, Legerdemain. As one would expect at a writers’ group meeting, there was a great deal of interest in my use of narrative nonfiction techniques.
Hugh Atkinson, whose pen name is Mark Charlton Kings, introduced me. It was after he had read Legerdemain that he invited me to the Club’s March meeting. He told the group that Legerdemain “is a fascinating history that reads like a spy novel. It is amazing how Heaphey can reveal significant information about important happenings within the conversations of his characters; who are, by the way, utterly fascinating people. Oh, I should add, many of these important happenings were unknown to the general public until Heaphey presented them in this book. They were what we British call ‘Secrets of State.’”

I guess I rather liked that introduction. Atkinson’s newest book, Smoke Without Fire, will be released in April.
Everything went nicely, with one slight (?) exception. I was asked if I thought the Greek-Cypriots and the Turkish-Cypriots might be able to end the conflict between the two groups now that the new Greek-Cypriot President, a Communist, has proposed that the two sides resume talks. Currently the two groups are divided by The Green Line manned by a UN Peacekeeping Force.

I said that I thought a missing, and vital, ingredient in the “peace” talks during the past forty or so years has been the absence on the part of the Greek-Cypriots, the UN representatives, and American representatives who have been involved in the peace talks to understand the Turkish point of view.
Oops. The fervent Greek-Cypriots, like Elena, picked up their swords. “I want you all to know,” she said, “that Turkey has no legitimate claim to own Cyprus.”

I tried to straighten it out. “I understand that,” I said, “I’m talking about mind-sets, not international law.”

Now, what was really discomforting about that was this: It had been arranged that I was to have lunch with Elena and her husband, Nicos, after the meeting, to talk with her about how I presented Cyprus in Legerdemain. The time period in my book is the early 1950s. My favorite blogster, Simon Barrett, had suggested to me before I left the U.S. that it would be interesting to interview some of the Cypriot old-timers to find out how they saw the events of that time.

My wife, Pam, and I followed Elena’s car in ours to her home after the meeting. Though she is severely bent over and walks with a cane, she drives confidently, which is not easy in Cyprus where so many drivers will do whatever is necessary to get to where they’re going, no matter what the rules of the road might be.

Being welcomed by Greek-Cypriots into their homes is one of the ten experiences everyone should have before they die. Elena and Nicos are Greek-Cypriots. They disagree with me – I am not anti-Turk — but oh, they are hostess and host extraordinaire.

We are in Orthodox Church Lent, so meat cannot be served. It didn’t matter. The salad and yogurt and peppers stuffed with a variety of rice and barley, and Cypriot wine were delicious.

Nicos peppered me with questions about American foreign policy and why the United Nations doesn’t punish the Turks for their invasion of Cyprus in 1974 – one of the curses of having a doctorate in political science is that people expect you to not only know everything about everything political but to also have wisdom about all of the world’s political conflicts. The quality of the wisdom is measured by the extent to which you say what they want to hear.

Elena scolded me for not eating more and Nicos for drawing my attention away from eating. “But, my Elena,” Nicos said in an apologetic voice, “I seldom have the opportunity to talk with an American professor of political science. Let me have my enjoyment.”

Greek-Cypriots who lived in the north, as did Elena and Nicos before the invasion of 1974, are passionate in their eagerness to tell you about how they were forced to flee their homes, never to return. Greek-Cypriots are economically, psychologically, and deeply emotionally tied to their homes, which usually have been in the family for generations. People like Elena and Nicos were driven out of their cocoons and came south with literally nothing. While I asked Elena questions about these things, Nicos took Pam on a tour of his considerable garden, which includes eight or nine different kinds of trees – from almonds to oranges – and all the ingredients one needs for elaborate Greek salads and vegetables. Pam said the garden is clearly an expression of his love and trust in land. Though he taught chemistry in high schools, Nicos is at heart a farmer.

Elena and I were just getting going when Pam and Nicos returned. We are taking them to tea in a week or so, after which I’ll have more to report.

Simon Barrett and James Heaphey


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