I was born in Manchester in the north of England and grew up in Saddleworth on the edge of the Pennines. When I was in my late teens my family moved to the south of England and I went to Oxford University to study English Language and Literature at St Hilda's College. Then, unable to get a job and unsure what to do, I moved to Athens to teach English. I travelled around the islands - I'd studied Ancient Greek at school, and already loved the country - and spent a summer cleaning rooms in a hotel in Oia, Santorini.
While in the sea, I met someone and we eventually travelled around his native Guyana for three months before moving to Canada. We got married and I started my career in book publishing and although the marriage didn't last, I stayed in Canada for ten years - with travels to Mexico and the Caribbean - until I needed a break from work. I'd met someone else and we travelled to Korea together. Returning to Canada, we both missed Europe and I especially missed the sea, so we moved to France with two backpacks each, and ended up in Montpellier for two years.
Returning to England, I got another job in publishing on the south coast. I finished and published my first book, Meeting Mr Kim. I moved to the Greek island of Tilos in 2011, and have lived there since - apart from a couple of long-ish stays in Australia and on the island of Karpathos. I work from home as a literary editor and agent (my work website is www.jenniferbarclaybooks.com) and have now written and published three further books: Falling in Honey, An Octopus in my Ouzo, and Wild Abandon.
In addition to the books I've written about my own adventures, I've co-edited several travel anthologies, the first of which was AWOL: Tales for Travel-Inspired Minds published by Vintage Canada (Metro called it 'wonderful' and Now Weekly said it was 'a joy to read on several levels'); since then with Hilary Bradt I've co-edited The Irresponsible Traveller, To Oldly Go, Roam Alone and Beastly Journeys. I've also written a several gift-type books at the request of a publisher, my favourite being A Literary Feast.
So glad to have found your blog! And can't wait for the new book to come out in the North American market!ReplyDelete
I just returned from Tilos, it is the land of my grandparents...I am so sad I hadn't gone earlier. I understand the new mayor is a woman. Would you happen to have her contact information?ReplyDelete
Hello! Lovely to hear from you, and I hope you'll be coming back. Yes, our mayor is the amazing Maria Kamma. I don't have her email but you can find her either through the official Tilos website www.tilos.gr, or through the Tilos Facebook page where she regularly posts beautiful photos and videos of island life.Delete
Dear Jennifer, I have just started to read your book Falling in Honey and have spent much of the evening reading it out loud to my partner. Some of your descriptions echo so much of my own wonderful experiences in Greece. The smells, sounds and sights in Greece are truly addictive. I got to know the country through a year long work secondment to Athens last year and took time to travel around. I returned to a remote area this year I had visited a few times and spent three wonderful weeks wild camping on the beach - looking at the stars and listening to the waves at night. A great escape from my busy corporate life. And I wondered if only every day could be like that. I will keep reading your book... NeilReplyDelete
Beautiful message - thank you...Delete
I have just read Falling in Honey. I have visited seven Greek Islands (but have not been to Tilos) and for me, your book was a very happy stroll down memory lane - with just a hint of envy "I want to do that too!"ReplyDelete
Thanks for the memories - and the good read.
Thank you for reading!Delete
Who edited your book? What an anticlimax! Messy.ReplyDelete
ha ha! you think so?! Life is messy. But I couldn't imagine a happier ending. US edition has a slightly different ending.Delete
Reading your book and descriptions of Greece filled me with the kind of happiness I only feel that first moment I walk through the plane door and step foot in Greece. I absolutely adore Greece (although have only been a handful of times...so far), it feels like home to me. I will be booking 2 weeks in Lindos, Rhodes this summer and hope to visit Tilos while I'm there. Your story is so inspiring, I can't tell you how encouraging it is that you did it alone. I hope one day I can do the same but may have to wait for my 11 year old daughter to be a bit older! Perhaps she'll go to Rhodes University and I'll live in a little house on Tilos...I can dream!!
Thank you so much for sharing this blog, I'm up to April 2012 so far - your life makes me happy!
Hope this winter isn't too bad over there...
Thank you so much for this lovely message. I remember that feeling of arriving in Greece! And it still gives me a thrill when I arrive back here after a trip. I hope you make it to Tilos this summer and I'd love to say hello, so feel free to get in touch closer to the time.
Warm wishes from Tilos, where we have warm sunshine and blue sky today, and it is calm and nothing at all like the terrible winters everywhere else that I'm reading about... Enjoy planning your summer holiday!
I would love to say hello if I make it over to Tilos! I will drop you a line either on here or fb closer to the time. I've sent http://www.michalis-studios.gr/ an email as you suggested in one of your previous blogs to see what their rates are for just one night in July. Unless you know of anywhere that's more suited for just one night, i.e. very basic and cheap!?
Glad your winter isn't as bad as ours - floods everywhere! Although it's not likely to be, you're in Greece after all!
There are lots of basic and cheap rooms in various bits of the island. The cheapest ones tend not to have websites, of course, but in July you'd probably expect to pay about 35 euros for one person for one night. There are also Nitsa Apartments and Eristos Beach hotel at Eristos beach. Late July is busy, but early July you shouldn't have a problem...Delete
I've just finished reading "Falling in Honey" and thoroughly enjoyed it, loved all your descriptions of a near deserted Tilos, reminded me of when we first went to Corfu in 1976. We stayed in Acharavi where there was nothing there but one taverna visiting Kavos by boat and that was equally deserted, I wouldn't recognise the place now. The thing I couldn't get my head round after reading your blog is if the book was printed in March 2013 and you described the August festival, that had to be August 2012, how come this was the first New Year you've spent on Tilos, weren't you there for Christmas 2012? Great book, thank you for sharing it.
Thanks, Averil! Have been on the island since 2011 but usually spend Christmas and New Year with my lovely family in England... Circumstances stopped me from going back this year, which gave me an opportunity to spend the season in Tilos instead, and I'm so glad I did.Delete
We visited Tilos just once, in 1998. We've been to many of the islands (Lipsi is one of our favourites) but reading your book brought back memories or ouf stay there, in the Olympos Apartments in Livadia. The beach looks very different now - then the 'beach road' was little more than a rough stretch with just one hotel (the Eleni?) with nice gardens. The square now is almost unrecognisable, much more built up it seems. I remember there being a cafe, a taverna (where we left our camera one day and the owner returned it to us a couple of days later when he could find out where we were - but that's typical of Greece and the lovely people). I seem to remember there was also an English couple who had just opened a bar, or ice cream place in the square too (?). There was a holiday rep called Pete who was very knowledgeable and there had been someone whose name I can't remember (a B in his name?) who lived there and was also very knowledgeable. I remember we found the story of the two young soldiers who died on the hillside during the war very poignant, and seeing the crosses marking the spot where they died. It's always fascinating to read someone else's account of a place one has visited. Thanks for bringing back those memories. It would be lovely to know if you recognise any of what I've remembered from your getting to know the island.ReplyDelete
Hello, and thanks for the message! I didn't visit Tilos until 2008, so I don't remember it that way, though of course many people have told me about it (and was the other knowledgeable person called Barry?). Tilos has changed a lot, and yet it's still a million miles away from the really developed and touristy islands in spirit, thankfully. Lipsi I visited first in 1991 and loved it; it too had changed by the time I went back some ten years later; yet it was still pretty magical compared to most places in the world!Delete
Hi Jennifer, I live on Kefalonia and found your book in a hotel bookswap. I enjoyed it so much I read it twice in 3 weeks! Your descriptions are wonderful and made me fall in love with Greece again. Being a busy Mum its a treat for me to sit down with a cup of coffee and read your blog. Keep it up - I love it! SallyReplyDelete
Thank you so much for your very lovely message! I'm impressed that it captured your attention even though you already live in Greece. Life on Kefalonia must be wonderful, though I can see how being a busy mum would change things a bit! Thanks again for making contact.
Hi Jennifer, I've just finished reading 'Falling in honey' and thoroughly enjoyed it. I grew up in Huddersfield, not far from you, and have lived on Kefalonia for 7 years. I can totally relate to your Greek experience, and it is fantastic when someone like you manages to put my thoughts and feelings for Greek life and Greek people into such elequent words. Thank you. Keep enjoying Tilos. Was the strange ending to the book an opening for 'to be continued' or 'part two' ? Best regards PhillReplyDelete
Thanks for the message - lovely to hear from you. From Huddersfield to Kefelonia - no wonder you can relate! Very much appreciate your kind words. Can you clarify what you mean about 'strange' ending?! I'd be happy to try to answer! Feel free to send as a private message through the contact form if you prefer.
Thanks again, and all best wishes,
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyDelete
Geia sou Jen,ReplyDelete
I picked up your book last summer by chance (?) in a Bristol book shop, and took it with me to one of my favourite villages. In Greece of course. I loved it so much really. Yes, I am a Greekophile.. and although I know about 20 islands, I have not (yet) been to Tilos. Well, I have a small boat in the Sfakia region of Kriti, and love (shhh...) wild Sikinos. So I recognise very much in your book. But I want to say thank you for it, for the human, real, engaging way you write, and for the spirit of freedom that pervades your book, and therefore presumably you. I check in every so often to your blog form here in England, and I feel a warmth. Exaristo poli Jen. Graham
Ki egw euxaristw! It's such a great pleasure to hear those things about my writing - especially because it is about who I am, as you say... Well, I hope to keep writing things that Greekophiles enjoy!Delete
Hi Jennifer and like lots of comments, having 'fallen in honey' with Greece over 30 years ago your book was a fab read. In actual fact it motivated me to spend a month on Halki last year, which was amazing and I'm now planning my next trip back to Halki which will be much longer. I cant think of anywhere I'd rather be!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for the inspiration
That's wonderful to hear, Catherine! Thank you for letting me know. Maybe I'll run into you on Halki someday.Delete
Thank you so much for this lovely comment! There is something special here. I am working away on a new book - fingers crossed I can make it work... Your encouragement is much appreciated.ReplyDelete
Falling In Honey is such a wonderfully written book! I love it. I have always been in love with Greece since i was a kid. Something about the islands, culture, ancient mythologies and language that attracts me. Never have the chance to travel and visit Greece, but its definitely on the top of my bucketlist, especially Greece. Reading your book drives me crazy and i find myself imagining the view and experiences you've written. I might not be physically there, but in my imaginary world you've taken me all over the beautiful Greece.
And you also made me feel like quitting my job, but no, dont worry i have not. But i do plan on taking one month unpaid leave and just wander around Greece. Could you physically take me around when the time come please? :)
Would really love to hear more about Greece if you dont mind sharing. Oh and i would love to learn Greek language. Any heads up?
Well thats all for now. I'm going to continue reading your book for the second time.
Lots of love,
Thank you! How did you come across my book - where are you based? I hope you do make it to Greece one day soon - and come and visit Tilos! I think hearing the language spoken would be the best place to start. Do feel free to contact me, and browse the site for links and stories...Delete
I came across your book in Goodreads under the travel section. I was browsing to look for inspiration book and saw your with the tag 'Life and Love on a Greek Island', HOW CAN I NOT? I love it.
I'm based in Malaysia and its 8857km away from Greece. I'm madly in love with Santorini, its beautiful. Oh and yes, i've been listening and learning basic greeks through the net. Hoping to be able to communicate with them one day.
Oh my! Your reply made my day. Thank you :)
yassou Jennifer xx I read your book last year and we (hubby & I) are travelling/staying to Tilos early September this year. I fell in love with Greece and all her beauty when I first travelled with my parents at the age of 9 and we stayed on the the island of Kos back in the early 1980's. Throughout my married life we have holidayed in the small "true greek" places and just love to devour everything there is to love about Greece - the people, the culture, the food and the beauty/smell of the islands.ReplyDelete
Reading Falling in Honey was an inspiration to me since I felt like I was living your dream - after working in an office during the day, reading a couple of chapters whisked me back to an idyllic place.
Hubby and I can wait to stay in Tilos - we have no idea what to expect but we know that we will enjoy every sunrise and every sunset and make new memories that will last throughout our lifetime.
kindest regards and "efharisto poli".
Suzanne (aka Nufaro) from the West Midlands in the UK @->--- xx
You have no idea how lovely it is for me to receive a message like this! Thank you for taking the time to write. It's wonderful to connect with other people who have felt those same things for Greece since early summer hols. Hope to see you when you are here on the island in early September!
Warm wishes... xx
My mum and I loved reading your "Escape to paradise: Life on a Greek island" article in Psychologies magazine. What an inspiration! Best wishes, health and happiness. Keep living the dream!
Thanks so much!Delete
I will - and very best wishes to you both...
I'm traveling to Karpathos for the first time this July from the US. In my research for the trip I found the World Wanderers podcast - I loved hearing about your life there! I just ordered a copy of your book which I plan to read before I head over.
I've made three trips to Greece. On the first I bounced around quite a bit, but Astypalea was the highlight. On the last two I stayed put on Patmos and then Symi. I was first drawn there to visit my friend who moved to Athens to do field work for his degree in anthropology. After nearly ten years back and forth from New York, he's finally settling in Athens. Since then Greece has become a big part of my life. I’ve met so many people with connections to the country, and my experiences there only get richer. This time I am traveling with my friend Benjamin Liu who spent part of his childhood in Athens when his father was a diplomat. He's an interesting character - used to work for Andy Warhol in the 80s and is an old relic from the New York scene. We’ve shared adventures in Greece and also Sri Lanka.
If you'll be on the island in July we'd love to meet for a coffee and chat about life there! I've rented a house in Aperi but will be making trips up north. Coincidentally Agios Minas is one of the beaches I've had my eye on.
Hope to hear from you!
I just got back from Greece and am reading An Octopus in my Ouzo. Really good.
I almost cried when I got to your loss - beautifully written. I'm a former journalist and like your style.
Keep up the good work,
I am reading your book, An Octopus in my Ouzo currently and I am enjoying it emensly. I can relate to some many parts of it, it's a great read, glad I found it! Greece is I our hearts so it's real escapism when I am reading it, thank you.
Loved, loved, loved your book, falling in honey. Just finished amid the covid house jail........am ordering An Octopus in my Ouzo on Amazon. Cannot get here fast enough. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures and you're an awesome writer!ReplyDelete
I have read Falling in Honey and an Octopus in my Ouzo twice now! They are such fun reads. I often pick your books up when the Maine winter makes me crave a little sunshine. You’ve inspired me on so many levels! I think this year I will spend my winter in Hawaii. Like you, I’m lucky that my career allows me to travel. I am a seasonal naturalist so I often find myself following the wildlife! I love it. I have never been to Greece, only seen it from afar. On my recent trip to Albania I saw Corfu and wished I could swim across the distant sea. I hope to visit Tilos on my next vacation. Thank you for my newfound love of Greek islands!
I have read Falling in Honey and An Octopus in my Ouzo twice now! They are such fun reads. I often pick your books up when the Maine winter makes me crave a little sunshine. You’ve inspired me on so many levels! I think this year I will spend my winter in Hawaii. Like you, I’m lucky that my career allows me to travel. I am a seasonal naturalist so I often find myself following the wildlife! I love it. I have never been to Greece, only seen it from afar. On my recent trip to Albania I saw Corfu and wished I could swim across the distant sea. I hope to visit Tilos on my next vacation. Thank you for my newfound love of Greek islands!
So happy to have found your blog Jennifer and I just ordered your new book "Wild Abandon" on Amazon. My father was born in Nisyros in 1945 and came to the US (NYC) as a 13-year-old boy in July, 1958. He's been here ever since. We've gone back to Nisyros a few times and I most recently traveled there during the summer of 2018. Looking forward to reading your book!ReplyDelete
Hi Jennifer. I am really enjoying Wild Abandon, it's bringing back some great memories. One thing I was disappointed to hear about was Olympos. When I was there in 86, taken by a chap called Minas coincidentally, it was a dirt track to get there. No taverna that I can remember and not another tourist in sight. We visited the boot maker and the locals dressed my wife in traditional costume, complete with boots. I think it's best that I dont go back. Hopefully you have more books for us to come. Dave SpicerReplyDelete
Thank you so much for reading the book, and for your message. Yes, I'm sure Olympos has changed enormously since they built the road, about fifteen years ago now I think. It's still pretty wonderful, especially in winter, but midday in midsummer is a bit of a shocker. My new book coming in September is also about my time in Karpathos - and then we shall see what next... Thank you again. Jen