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Once there was a time...

Once there was a time when there was a happy co-mingling of Greeks and Turks. Then there wasn't.

I didn’t begin with a plot, but with a character, the patriarch Yiannis. I tried to imagine him living a subsistence existence on the vast Anatolian Plateau, a king in his own small world. That is, until he learned of a forebear who had once been advisor to an Ottoman Caliphate. And so began my journey with him - and his descendants - to restore what he believed he had lost. I asked myself was this a powerful enough reason to propel a family out

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of poverty in Anatolia to successful merchant prince status in the teeming, Aegean city of Smyrna? To inspire the survivors of Greco-Turkish wars and their forced deportation into a poor part of Greece? Would I find the old myth of restoring lost honour dimming over the generations?

It all unrolled itself as a story about what happens when a man grabs hold of a myth – for the patriarch Yiannis, a belief – and insists his sons to help him chase it. A story of a man abandoning life as he and his forebears have known it over the centuries. With the last drop of sweat in his body he will reclaim the status he believes was his from the times of ancient Byzantium; he will right the historic wrongs done to his family.

My patriarch Yiannis imposed the burden of redemption on to all future generations. My question to Helena was: what do you owe to the obsessions of an old man from the distant past when they conflict with your dreams? With the path of your true love?

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