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Posted by on Oct 9, 2012 in Author Interviews | 3 comments

John Mole

John Mole


Greek Island Books is pleased to welcome John Mole, author of It’s All Greek To Me! and The Sultan’s Organ – a four hundred years old travel blog.

GIB: When did you first fall in love with Greece?

JM: I first fell in love with the stories when I was quite young. One of my nicknames at school was Jonicles – like Pericles – because I preferred Greeks and Trojans to Cowboys and Indians.  When I first went to Greece I fell in love all over again, this time with lunch – baby squid, suckling pig, fried eggplant, retsina. The two passions, the stories and the food, have stayed with me ever since. 

GIB: How did you start writing?

JM: I can’t remember. It’s one of those things that has always been with me. I first got paid for writing reviews for the Times Literary Supplement after University. I specialised in the French novel and SF. These two have finally come together in a story I wrote in French that’s coming out in Solaris, the French Canadian SF magazine. 

GIB: Have you written any other books?

JM: Many. Some have even been published. Three comic novels set in London, a couple of books about European business and organisational culture, and I Was A Potato Oligarch, the true story of how I tried to set up a jacket potato restaurant in Moscow in the Yeltsin years. A disaster but good material. They’re all on Kindle.

GIB: How do you feel about Greece’s current plight? What do you think the outcome will be?

JM: I feel very very sad and upset on behalf of all the Greeks I know, in villages and in Athens, who are decent, hard-working people. They have been betrayed by a corrupt and ineffective political class, of whom many are nothing short of criminal. A lack of political vision and will to reform and create a modern state out of the wreckage of the Junta dictatorship combined with self-interest and embezzlement have created a situation that will take at least a generation to fix. And it is the young generation who must do it. Where to start? The educational system fails the children. Greeks spend more on private education than almost any other nation in Europe. The Universities are ante-deluvian and strike ridden so that ambitious students are driven abroad to study. Bureaucracy and petty corruption stifles entrepreneurship. The legal system…Sorry I could go on and on. Most Greeks are patriotic, resilient, long-suffering, intelligent and resourceful so eventually something good will come out of the mess. But they have to find their own solutions and not those imposed from foreign bureaucrats and bankers.

GIB: What’s the funniest experience you ever had in Greece?

JM: There have been so many. We tend to think foreigners are odd or funny but when we live among them it is we who are the clowns. For example telling a builder in my bad Greek that I wanted a traditional roof  made of onions and squid, when I meant to say tiles and reeds. Do you want a roof or an appetizer? he said. They still haven’t forgotten this in the village after thirty years. There are  plenty more examples in my books.

GIB: What are the best and worst meals you’ve ever had there?

JM: The best have been the simplest. A lamb roasted on an improvised spit by its shepherd under an olive tree. An octopus bashed on a rock, hung up to dry for a couple of days and thrown on the charcoal. A Greek salad with cheese made by a neighbour and vegetables picked fresh from his garden. The worst have been those cooked by myself. Shepherd’s pie and rhubarb crumble just doesn’t seem to work in Greece.

GIB: What’s your single most cherished memory of Greece?

JM: Lying outside at night with wife and children after a taverna meal watching shooting stars zip through Orion and Cassiopea and Pegasus and all those other wonderful stories.

GIB: John, it’s been great chatting with you.
Here’s how readers can find out more about you

John Mole has been at home in Greece for over thirty years. “Like Odysseus making his legendary way home to his birthplace Ithaca, the island of Evia was the goal of my life’s journey. It was better than Birmingham.”  He has had a varied international career, from banking in the USA and Athens to jacket potatoes in Russia. He is also a well-known author of comic novels and the perennial best seller Mind Your Manners.

 When he is not at the keyboard he sings and play the baglama, a miniature bouzouki, in a Greek band in London. He loves to travel, especially around the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Journeys have inspired The Sultan’s Organ and The Quest for Helen, a novel to be published in 2013.


  1. I have read the book and laughed at the onions and tomato. I also asked my husband to get rid of the saucepan in the bath…sounds like cockroach. Today things have changed of course. I work as an architect in The Peloponese I am English (not an east task for a foreign woman) I made an apointment on Wednesday to meet Mitsos the wrought iron specialist on Saturday..he did not arrive. ..I rang reply..two weeks later I saw Mitsos..What happened? Oh I retired on Saturday!!!So why did you make the appointment. on Wednesday I had not retired !!!So some things have not changed …of course there was no answer to Mitsos ‘what can one say …

    • …or a German and an Albanian communicating in Greek…
      German: Your grandma* is in the office.
      Albanian: My grandma??? But, she died long ago!
      German: (she died long ago = glasses kaput) Anyway, she is in the office

      *(grandma sounds like glasses)

  2. I am halfway through ‘It’s All Greek to Me” having picked it up in a charity shop. I started reading it on the bus coming home and chuckling away to myself. It reminds me of why I love Greece, especially when trying to get anything done! I will look out for your other books in charity shops.

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