94. Victoria Hislop; Best-Selling Novelist on Greek Leprosy Colonies, Garcia Lorca in Granada and Kitsch Souvenirs of Fascist Dictators - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 94
April 16 , 2020

94. Victoria Hislop; Best-Selling Novelist on Greek Leprosy Colonies, Garcia Lorca in Granada and Kitsch Souvenirs of Fascist Dictators

We’re still riding high in Apple Podcasts places and travel charts all around the world, including several days at number 1 in the UK and as high as number 16 in the US so I want to thank you once again for all our loyal listeners and welcome all new listeners. 

My guest today is someone I’ve ALWAYS wanted to get on the podcast. This interview was my last trip into the centre of London before lockdown and I went to the stunning The London Library in the beautiful St James Square in Westminster to meet her. 

With her best-selling and impeccably researched historical novels, Victoria Hislop has the power to transport you through both place and time. Her books have sold millions around the world and been translated into over 35 languages. A former travel writer she divides her time between Athens, Crete and England and the inspiration for her stories come from anything from a leprosy colony in the Greek Islands to Garcia Lorca’s family home in Granada. I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time so I’m delighted to have Victoria Hislop on The Big Travel Podcast.

On this episode we cover:

Her latest book Those Who Are Loved about the Greek Civil War (out now in hardback and paperback by August 2020)

Her first book The Island selling over 2 million copies around the world and

Travelling and writing books (a charmed life!)

Starting as a travel journalist

The Greek leprosy colony Spinalonga that inspired The Island

How the story incredibly ‘emerged’ in the first hour of visiting the island

People leaving something of their story behind in a way

Feeling like she was almost ‘channelling’ the energy left behind

Her second book The Return based in Spain during the Spanish Civil War

Being just outside Granada when the idea come to her

Garcia Lorca’s Granada family home being spine-tingling

The lack of acknowledgment of the Civil War since Franco

The mausoleum to General Franco in the Valley of the Fallen

The definite sense that people were visiting to pay homage to a fascist

Spain’s quietly divided society under Franco

People now being brave enough to track family members

Lisa’s dissertation (yes really!) on Spanish design reflecting culture

The shadow Franco cast over Spain

A population in mourning but shops selling out of champagne

Being very moved by watching Franco’s recent exhumation to unmarked grave

Kitsch souvenirs in homage to Franco

Lisa previously meeting Victoria and her husband Ian Hislop on a flight with Martin Lewis the Money Saving Expert

Victoria loving Malaga city and its regeneration

Malaga previously having a heroin problem

Flamenco and gypsy culture encapsulating Andalucían spirit

Being almost nostalgic about the Brexit argument now Coronavirus has replaced it!

How suppressed cultures can thrive underground in times of adversity

The Greek Civil War being a very vicious period in Greece

Hundreds of thousand of Greek’s dying from starvation after the Nazis

Nazis destroying roads, railways and bridges on their way out

The big resistance movement in Greece

The communist resistance fighters expecting roles in Government

British sending troops to fight the communists in Greece

The differences between post-civil war in Greece and Spain

Lisa meeting the tourism minister in Athens

Loving travel but being slightly conflicted about travel

Her children being cross with her for taking unnecessary flights

Off-setting flights when possible

Feeling if she lived in Greece she would be too tied down in daily life

Sunshine being incredibly good for us

How the sunshine can make you feel happy

The excitement of London

But the lure of a laid back lifestyle in the sunshine

Travelling frequently to Colombia

Long-haul trips at Christmas

Working on the TV set when The Island was turned into a TV drama

Her poem being turned into a hit song by Greek popstar Eleonora Zouganeli

Winning a Sony Gold award for the song