Matala Snapshots: Then & Now and Title for Book #3!

Are you ready for some photos?

Whenever I write, whatever it is – short story, poetry, some creative non-fiction or full length novel – imagery is always really important to me. I must have pictures in my head, not just vague images but I come to know exactly what my characters look like, the shade of their hair and the clothes they wear, the landscapes they walk through and their visual cultural contexts.

I always create a pinterest board for a new novel (click here to see the board for my next novel) which I find really helpful for expanding upon this imagery. Photographs are obviously a brilliant source to help my visualisation process and I thought I’d share a few with you now so you too can start imagining the setting of my next book. Speaking of which, I have an idea for a title which I’d love your feedback on!

Here it is:

The Secret Life of Edward Nightingale

Comments please! The good, the bad & the ugly 😉

Right, without further ado, I’d like to share these photos with you of Matala, THEN (circa 1967) and NOW  (circa 2016). With huge thanks to Betsy Braden and sisters Shirley Read-Jahn & Pam Bailey for providing me with these great snaps. I’m sorry I can’t get the images any bigger, but bear in mind that they are from the old cameras that took those small-ish photos.





      00000007 00000006 00000005 00000004


Pam in her cave


At the top of the picture is Susie (my aunt) and beneath her with her hair tied back is my mother Liz


Betsy outside her cave

Shirley, 23 y.o., Odos Misikleos, Plaka, Athens, 1967

Shirley in Athens



Matala today. The caves (unsurprisingly) don’t look so different!  But these days, tourists have to pay to get in (apart from the ‘old hippies’ who are allowed in free!)


Betsy, Pam, Shirley & Liz taking a trip down memory lane


Reminiscences – which cave did we sleep in?


The tourist town of Matala now, taken from the caves



Matala Festival, which takes place every summer with music, memories and lots of ‘neo-hippies’ as Shirley calls them!


Pam fell so in love with Matala in the sixties that she returned three years running


September 2016. From left to right – Susie, Pam, me, Pip (my cousin, Susie’s daughter) & Liz

I grew up falling in love vicariously with Matala through my mother’s photo albums & wonderful tales. I waited many years to visit this place which had become almost mythical to me.

But here’s the thing though – I don’t want to simply write a coming of age story about a load of bearded, scantily clad hippies colonising Cretan caves in the 1960’s. Which is why my book has two time frames: 1967 & 1942. I’m exploring how unresolved trauma can be inherited from the previous generation. Would it be going too far to say that the entire baby-boomer generation inherited their parents’ trauma (on some level) from the Second World War? I don’t think so. And the implications of this are just vast.

Check back in with me in another fortnight when I’ll be discussing inherited family trauma and how I weave into this in my next novel.

Thanks for reading!


If you enjoyed this blog post, complement it with The importance of scribbling ideas down and the musical backdrop to my third novel, Hey you baby boomers out there…I need your help! & Novel Number Three: The Cave men and women from the 1960’s. 

Image small

Not read my latest novel yet, The Girl and the Sunbird? Here’s what some reviews from Amazon are saying about it:

‘This is a poignant, heart-wrenching, impactful story that I won’t soon forget.’

‘I envy anyone who is still to read this.’

‘It’s one of those books that weaves itself into your soul and stays with you long after you reluctantly read the last page.’

‘A brilliant book, an epic story, this book deserves to be read by everyone.’

2 replies
  1. Elizabeth Stonehill
    Elizabeth Stonehill says:

    Great photos Bex, love them and how they take me back to the 60s. Can’t wait for the book. Hope it’s going well. Much love. From your mother who is full of so many happy memories. Xxx


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

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