Some Secrets About Them

I need to tell you the “secret” of who the beautiful young woman in the photo above is to me, and why and how she came to be the star of the final book trailer in The Secret Spice Cafe trilogy.

First of all, the book trailers. How lucky I am to know (very well, in fact) an indie film producer with an enormous amount of talent and creativity, as well as determination. He’s taken the idea of a book trailer which, for those who don’t know, is much like a movie trailer, and made them into two-minute major productions on their own. He’s even written original music, (“The Queen Mary Suite”) to score these trailers, and I’m so pleased with, proud of and thankful for them.

Even with the number of other talented artists involved in the creation of trailers I and II this final trailer, the third book in the trilogy, Demons, Well-Seasoned, will stand out. We’ve pulled out all the stops in this farewell video to a book series set aboard a historical ship I have come to truly love. We have Gatsby-clad extras dancing in the Grand Salon of the RMS Queen Mary, an Emmy-award-winning screenwriter as evil-incarnate lurking in the ship’s engine room, and this coming week, scenes from New Orleans which will feature Eleni Papadopoulos, pictured above.

I can’t wait to tell you about her. Eleni is the daughter of Angela Parks and Ioannis Papadopoulos. I met Angela when I was living in Greece, and had opened a book shop there. I was so impressed with how she carried herself–like a queen–but as I got to know her over the years, I discovered that her regal exterior protected her soft, compassionate, and sometimes bruised heart.

How do I know about that last bit? Well, I think it’s one of the reasons we became friends. Angela was a loyal customer of that book shop, bringing in her Girl Scout troop and her own children to all our children’s book events. (I say “our” because I had an amazing business partner, Joan.) Sometimes, living in a foreign country, as exciting and rewarding as it can be, is also a lonely experience. It was after one of our book events that Angela confided in me that there were a group of ex-pats who were cold and rude to her.

Unfortunately, I knew just who she meant. There was a small group of women who were just as she described, and more. I saw them as bitter, unfriendly, mean, and all-around miserable–with their marriages, with their lives, with their decision to leave their prospective countries and move to Greece. They had not one positive thing to say about their adopted country, and their unhappiness permeated everywhere they were.

I was a single mother by that time, and had more pressing problems than worrying about a group of disgruntled women, but Angela dealt with some of them on a weekly basis though her work and her volunteering with the Girl Scouts. She confessed, “I think maybe they don’t like me because I’m Black.”

Angela was the only Black women in the circle of ex-pats, so it wasn’t outside of the realm of possibility that this might be the case. But, she was wrong, or only half right.

I told her, “Angela, it’s true they don’t like you, but it’s not because you’re Black. That’s just who they are, in general. They really don’t like anything, or anyone, least of all themselves. Tell me the truth—do you like them? Do you truly want to be friends with women like that?”

I guess she never expected that brutal honesty, because she looked surprised. “No, I guess I don’t,” was her answer.

“Then, why should you care what they think or don’t think?” I told her.

“You’re absolutely right,” she said.

Though I’m not sure, that pretty much started our friendship, which has endured for decades.There is nothing miserable, mean, or negative about Angela. I like her so much that I named one of my characters in Cooking for Ghosts after her.

But, I won’t tell you anymore about her, as she has her own book to write, part of which is about what it was like to be a Black woman from Louisiana who met and married a Greek and lived with him there during a time when this sort of love story was most unusual, indeed. But while my marriage to another Greek national failed, Ioanni and Angela’s marriage has endured through thick and thin, and they produced two wonderful children together, one of whom is pictured below.

Eleni. When I was looking for an actress or model to represent the Creole Vodou priestess as a young woman in the book trailer, Eleni sprang to mind immediately. The little girl who used to visit my book shop in Greece, with her mother, Angela, who, like her mother, loved to read, and devoured book after book.

However, Eleni doesn’t live in New Orleans, nor anywhere near enough for us to film her and then edit her in. (My book trailer budget won’t stretch as far as transporting a film crew across country, I’m afraid.) It’s fortuitous, then that Eleni’s husband, also happens to be in film, and he has graciously agreed to help us with this project.

Now, I ask you this: Is it fortuitous, or is just more of the magic that I have found myself surrounded by since stepping aboard the Queen Mary that first time, and being so enchanted that so many stories I could write about her just leaped into my mind? Is it fortuitous, or is it Her Majesty’s “magic” that so many amazing people have stepped up to help make these books (and book trailers) happen?

When we finally finish this trailer, and when the book finally comes out at the end of this year, I hope those who read it will think about all the parts and people that came together, not only in my imagination, but in reality, to make them happen.

Thank you, Angela, for being my friend. Thank you, Eleni, for being in my trailer, and to Peter and Niko and Mark and Joe and so on and so on and so on. (And of course, thank you, to the RMS Queen Mary. #TheQueenMary #TheSecretSpice

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