I’m excited to announce the launch of my latest book this week. The Lady of Tarpon Springs is set in Tarpon Springs, Florida. I wasn’t familiar with the town until I was visiting with my daughter who had lived in Florida for a number of years. She mentioned the fact that Tarpon Springs is a wonderful place to visit—the destination of early Greek divers who came to Florida seeking a new homeland and quality sponge beds like the ones they’d left in the Aegean Sea. Her comments were enough to send me to the internet searching for information. It took only a short time until I was hooked—no pun intended.
Prior to compressed air diving, spongers in Greece were making “naked” dives—men who jumped off the side of the boat unclothed with a diving stone that weighed around thirty pounds and net bag attached to a rope tied around them. They could hold their breath for unbelievable amounts of time and while underwater, they would hook the sponges.
I was surprised to learn that compressed air diving was first begun in 1863 in the Aegean Sea. The Greeks who came to Tarpon Springs brought their knowledge and equipment to the area and soon began a huge sponging enterprise in Tarpon Springs. The city remains the home of many descendants of those early Greek settlers who arrived to harvest the sponges in the Gulf.
The history is fascinating and although my book is fiction, it was a true pleasure to research the history of the area and learn about compressed air diving during the early years. There were many hardships and many men either lost their lives or were permanently injured during their dives into unknown waters with machinery that was difficult to regulate.
My story takes place in 1905 with a young female lawyer, Zanna Krykos, who is challenged by a group of Greek divers who are unwilling to listen or take orders from a woman. She must work through myriad difficulties if the new business is going to succeed. Nick Kalos is the leader of the group of men who have arrived in Florida and he must decide if he will encourage the men to work with Zanna or return to Greece. When the business is threatened the Zanna and Nick must decide if they will set aside their pride and come together to save what matters most.
While researching, I visited Tarpon Springs and I’ve included a few of the pictures taken while I was there. I had the pleasure and wonderful experience of going out on a boat and watching a Greek diver don one of the old canvas suits and put his feet into the heavy metal boots that weight thirty pounds. In addition, I had the pleasure of feasting on wonderful Greek food in the local restaurants and tasting Greek pastries in the Tarpon Springs bakeries.
I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for some good Greek food and an enjoyable read.