Why Join?

  • Add New Books

  • Write a Review

  • Backpack Reading Lists

  • Newsletter Updates

Join Now

Talking Location With Ella Berman: GREECE

21st July 2023

TalkingLocationWith… Ella Berman, author of Before We Were Innocent: Greece

I started writing Before We Were Innocent in the depths of another London winter lockdown. It was January of 2021 and the days were bleak and short – it felt like life was in a permanent palette of stormy greys and muddy browns. After rediscovering my old teenage diaries, I scrapped the book I had been working on for a year and instead started to write about three teenage girls on the vacation of a lifetime in a place I’ve come to love – the Cyclades in Greece. As the story unravelled, I found I was practically salivating as I imagined the unmistakable Aegean sea and endless turquoise sky, until it became almost as much a driving force in the story as the young women themselves.


Buy Now


Ella Berman

Photo: Epicure

As I wrote about Bess, Joni and Evangeline’s post-high school graduation stay in Tinos, a gem of an island between Mykonos and Andros, I could almost taste the crisp local wine and feel the oil drip down my fingertips from the juicy dolmades. I remembered how, when you are there, the days stretch listlessly ahead with nothing on the horizon except for a dip in the ocean and a book to devour – ideally something suitably classic. Tinos itself is a magical and contradictory place – both rustic and dramatic with over 50 villages to explore and the church of Panagia Evangelistria to admire. Local highlights for me include a hike along the impressive marble quarries (followed by a browse of the statues and crafts they inspire), sampling the delicious cheeses (the kopanisti is a favourite of mine) and the local wine – no trip is complete without a visit to the Volacus Wine vineyard (named after the granite boulders it is founded between).

Ella Berman

Photo: Hellenic Company of Marble

I’ve been to five Greek islands (there are over 227 inhabited ones!) and I’m always struck by how distinct they are, whilst still maintaining an unmistakeable throughline of charm and relaxed hospitality. In my book, there is a fateful turn of events when the girls leave their idyllic summer home in Tinos (a place Bess and Joni have grown to find stifling instead of restorative), to travel to Mykonos for a few days. For this section, I drew from the unparalleled energy that hits you the moment you step off the ferry in Tourlos – the crowds of beautiful people and promise of the famed nightlife scene. It is this mix of tranquillity, glamour and the occasional edge that makes Mykonos such a magical and entertaining place to visit, and also the perfect location for the central drama of the story to unfold – a car swinging recklessly up the hills to a party villa, a drunken cohort of playboys, an ill-advised moonlit walk along a crumbling mountain path.

Ella Berman

Photo: Seafarer

Despite the glorious setting, this book is very much a product of the pandemic in which it was written. In the story, the young women come to feel trapped and their summer in Greece takes on a creeping, claustrophobic quality, which makes sense as I was writing it whilst climbing the walls of my own London home. And so, while this feeling of restlessness and the growing desire to escape one’s surroundings may be familiar to some readers, it isn’t an experience that I would ever normally equate to being in the beautiful Greek Islands.



Buy Now


Catch the author on Twitter @ellabee

Join team TripFiction on Social Media:

Twitter (@TripFiction), Facebook (@TripFiction.Literarywanderlust), YouTube (TripFiction #Literarywanderlust), Instagram (@TripFiction) and Pinterest (@TripFiction)

Subscribe to future blog posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *