Marissa Tejada is the author of the chick-lit/women’s fiction novel, Chasing Athens which was recently released as part of the Terpsichore contemporary romance imprint from award-winning digital romance publisher, Musa Publishing. Marissa, an American expat, found herself inspired to write the romantic comedy as she lived abroad.
Born and raised in New York, Marissa now calls Athens, Greece home where she is a full-time freelance writer specializing in food and wine, technology and travel writing. She contributes to numerous publications including Fodor’s Travel, Forbes Travel, Wine Enthusiast, Urban Travel Blog, IBM Midsize Insider- Reuters and more. She also enjoys blogging for her travel photography blog, my Greece, my travels.
As an award-winning journalist, Marissa has worked across the United States as a television reporter and anchor in Florida, Washington State and Upstate New York. She has also worked in newsrooms in Los Angeles and London and managed high tech PR in San Francisco. Marissa graduated cum laude from the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College in Upstate New York.
Her novel is set in Athens, Greece, the Greek Islands and Ithaca, New York, and follows Ava Martin, a heartbroken American expat, whose new husband unexpectedly ditches her after their move abroad. Instead of returning to the States, she makes an abrupt decision to stay. Despite pressure from her mother, uncertainty over her divorce, and issues with her long-estranged father, she’s determined to make it on her own. With her Greek friends, she laughs and learns while facing culture shock, language barriers and the charm of Mediterranean men, until a life-threatening emergency back home in sleepy Ithaca, N.Y., forces her to confront her disappointing past, and forces her to redefine the meaning of home.
The Passion for Writing – From Marissa’s Pen
Where does your passion for writing come from?
My passion for writing comes from this love I have to tell stories. I’ve done it one way or another throughout my decade plus career as a journalist and reporter. I’ve learned to tell those stories through various media including newspapers, television and magazines. Each way has its own craft but it starts with my love of meeting people and learning about them.
The process of writing my first novel was one of the best experiences I’ve had to tell a story. You create a whole new world along the way. However, passion for writing, for me, stems from the need to convey a message, a theme, and a feeling about something that others can learn from or relate to. I think that’s what makes women’s fiction so amazing and why I have a passion for it!
If your passion for writing was a color, what color would it be and why?
Red and yellow. These are my two favorite colors and I think they represent my passion for writing because sometimes I feel incredibly excited and fueled about getting my thoughts out. Other times, I am calm and mellow and can’t bear to think about what’s wrong or what’s next in my story.
How do you keep the passion burning in your relationship with storytelling?
I think the passion will always be there because as a writer you can’t help but be observant around you. As an expat and a journalist and travel writer there’s so much to discover all the time, so many notes to write down, and thoughts to convey. For me, my outlet of expression is writing. So as long as I am out there writing, working, traveling and basically living and breathing I believe that passion for storytelling will remain strong.
Excerpt from Chasing Athens
Within a minute, I found myself face-to-face with the Greek police. I raised an eyebrow noticing that they also happened to be three handsome twenty-something rookies, each sporting the typical young Greek masculine look: short, dark brown hair, and scruffy, day-old facial hair. Dressed alike in crisp, navy blue uniforms and black combat boots, they stood up at the sight of us. Two had stopped swinging their koumbolois, a string of rosary- like beads that Greek men carry around, oftentimes clicking and petting out of habit. The third police officer put down his iced coffee, which Greeks called a frappe.
The officers eyed me up and down as the ticket officer caught them up on the story of my transgressions. I yearned to catch some meaning, but the Greek sounded like Greek to me and too fast.
“Mr. Panos say you left your wallet at home,” one officer said in perfectly clear English. Finally, there was someone who spoke my language well. Perhaps, there was hope. “You walk in Greece with no diavatirio.” He cleared his throat before he corrected himself. “Passport?”
“All of my ID cards were in my wallet and I was in a rush,” I said, wide- eyed. “Besides, I’ve been living here for seven months now.”
He looked unimpressed. “Name?”
“Um, thirty.” I bit my lip wondering why that mattered.
“Really?” He narrowed his eyes at me. In my rush out the door, I threw on a pair of baggy jeans, a green T-shirt, and my blue Converse. I looked like a college student; adults my age usually dressed to impress. But I hadn’t been feeling very adult lately, to be honest. It was clear that this officer thought I was a complete liar. My hopes sank.
“Thirty, yes,” I confirmed.
The officer glanced at his two co-workers who gave him a look I didn’t understand. He composed himself to return his attention to me.
“Married?” he asked quite professionally.
Silly question but it was a common inquiry even among Greek strangers, so why not from a police officer?
“Yes, my husband isn’t in Athens this week.” I resisted the urge to add something about the fact that Greg was never home lately. But I had enough sense to realize that airing my marriage’s dirty laundry probably wasn’t going to make the situation any better.
The officer lifted his dark brows with interest. “He is a Greek?” “No, we’re both American. I’m from New York and I’m here with Greg Brown, my husband.” The officer shot me a glance, his lips pressed flat. Did he not believe me?
Then it came to me. “Oh, I never changed my last name. He’s Brown and I’m Martin, but we’re together…together forever,” I heard myself say in a singsongy voice.
He looked at the bus officer then back at me, his face emotionless. I cupped my hands together in front of me. “He’s in Rome, I think.” My voice began to crack. Why did I have to say his name? Why did I have to talk about us? Maybe, I just gave up too much information. I talked too much sometimes. In any case, Greg and I had hardly talked, Skyped, Facebooked, Vibered, Whatsapped, or even e-mailed for the past two weeks. I wished he could’ve helped me but he wouldn’t have even answered his phone if I had called.
“How we know you say the truth?” The officer’s blunt question jolted me back to reality. “I promise,” I said, realizing that it sounded entirely lame. “I swear. I’m American, and lately, I’m behaving like a total moron.” As if promising and swearing to be an American moron could be a legitimate argument. I flinched. Gosh, I’d put me in jail.