Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jessica Bell on Living in Australia

I know you were born in Australia, and now live in Greece. What was the reason for moving?

Well, my step father is Greek and my parents and I had traveled from Australia to Greece for holiday every two or three years since I was two years old. It really became like a second home to me. Just before I graduated from university, I decided I wanted an adventure and resolved to move to Greece for a year or two to teach English. (I completed the last semester of my degree via correspondence, because I was impatient.) I guess that year or two has now turned into almost ten. Funny that.

How long did you live in Australia?

For the first 20 years of my life.

What was the hardest part about adapting to another culture?

Oh, don’t get me started. Let me just say that the bureaucracy here makes life more complicated than it should be. Let me give you an example. I don’t have any Greek blood, and for me to live here legally and obtain a residency permit, my step father had to adopt me. So that he did. But because I was no longer a dependent when it happened (over 18), I had to prove that I could pay my own way. So I needed to find a job in order to stay. But guess what? I couldn’t get a job without health insurance. And I couldn’t get health insurance without a residency permit. And I couldn’t get a residency permit without a job … erm, so what happened, you ask? I think it involved some sort of bribe … . Only problem now is, I have to renew it every two years for quite an expensive fee. And after ten years, I still can not get used to the fact that the people in the public sector, that deal with immigrants, constantly get their facts wrong and send us running round in never-ending circles. I could go on and on, but I think I’ll stop now before I say something that gets me kicked me out of the country for slander.

What do you like best about living in Greece?


and this:

Do you think you’ll live there for the rest of your life? Why or why not?

I truly don’t know. I’d love to go back home to Melbourne, Australia. I miss my friends and family there a lot. But it’s a long way to go for many reasons I won’t get into here. Greece is suffering a pretty hard recession at the moment. The country announced selective default back in July (bankruptcy). We’re thinking of moving elsewhere in Europe to get back on our feet financially. Who knows what the future entails. I think I just have to go with the flow. Otherwise it stresses me out.

Did you begin writing before or after you moved?

I began writing novels after I moved, but I’ve been writing poetry and lyrics since I was twelve and short stories since university.

How has being an expatriate influenced your writing?

In every single way possible! I don’t think I can answer this without writing a book, but I will say that body language is very interesting to me. It varies so much from culture to culture.

In your writing, where do your settings take place?

String Bridge is set in Athens, Greece and Melbourne, Australia. My second novel, Bitter Like Orange Peel, is set in Melbourne, Australia and Seattle, USA. And my work in progress, Muted, is set in Arles, France. All realistic settings.

Quick writing questions:

Plotter or panster? Both. Depends on my mood.

Quiet or music? Funnily enough, quiet. Being a musician makes it difficult to allow music to linger in the background or set a tone. When I hear music my brain switches into a totally different mode.

Laptop or desktop? Both.

Mac or PC? PC

Coffee or tea? Both. Depends on the time of day.

Wine or other? Wine and Martini Bianco and Campari.

Day or night? Night.

Thank you so much for having me, Theresa! J

Connect with Jessica:

String Bridge:







Available as e-book and paperback:

Buy String Bridge for the UK HERE

Buy String Bridge for the US HERE

Please TWEET and/or FACEBOOK this post using #StringBridge!


  1. Thank you SOOOO much for having me, Theresa! :o)

  2. Great interview Jessica and Theresa. Jessica, you have lived such a fascinating life living in two awesome places. It must be really challenging living in Greece right now even though it looks gorgeous.

    Good luck with your book.

  3. Great interview, Jessica and Theresa! Very interesting to hear about living the expatriate life in another country and the little trials and tribulations thereof!

  4. Sounds like your experiences play a lot in your writing. I think adapting to another culture is a huge undertaking. Very nice interview. Good luck Jessica.

  5. I so understand the other mode when music is playing, hard to write while chair dancing but I have to try. :)

    Theresa, you do some mighty fine interviews! :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  6. Nice interview. I'm sure all those settings give lots of material for stories!

  7. Hi Theresa! Hi Jessica! Great interview. I enjoyed learning more about your expatriate story Jessica.


  8. This was fantastic! I love learning more about Jess. I would also love living in Greece for the views but the staying there sounds STRESSFUL! I couldn't imagine having to renew for an expensive fee every 2 years! Especially when it involves going around in circles!

    I don't even have to renew my license that often!

  9. Good luck to Jessica and her book and her music!! Yay! Take care

  10. Awesome interview! I find it the same when I moved to Mexico. You have so much sill red tape. So, I stay here on a simple visa.

  11. I keep learning more and more about Jessica. Nice interview.

  12. awesome interview, guys! I was giggling about the whole residency issue... I hope you didn't have to cough up too much cash. And I was thinking about being a freelancer and how those types of jobs will begin to influence the global economy.

    Wait. What? I was supposed to be reading about you! :D

    I'm the same way about music, though. I can't NOT listen to music, so it has to be off when I write. Everything else (hubs, children's voices... ignored. ;o) LOL! <3

  13. I live variously through you, Jess. Greece and Australia are one and two on my places most wanted to visit :-)

    Your answer to the music question made me smile, since whether I write with music often depends on my mood and what character I'm working with. That said, these days when I listen to music while writing, I'm listening to you. LOL

    Great interview, Theresa!

  14. This was a great interview! I loved learning so much new stuff about you, Jessica. The bureaucracy in Greece sounds very trying, though! :-)

  15. Great interview! Thanks for sharing. And Greece looks beautiful! :)

  16. Great interview, Jessica. LOL, we have just completed our permanent residency here on the Greek side of Cyprus. I was thrilled when they said we don't have to go back-ever!If they can make you crawl backwards they will! I feel for you.

    Thanks for hosting such an interesting guest, Theresa.

  17. Those pictures make me want to move to Greece, economic recession be damned.

  18. Great interview, ladies. Having navigated the tricky streams of immigration both in the UK and in Poland, I feel your pain. The paperwork, the paperwork!

  19. Greece has been in the news all day on NPR. Their financial meltdown is horrific for the European union. Funny that you would also interview a very talented Greek writer on the same day. I wonder if that's a sign that I should eat a gyro for dinner.

  20. What a wonderful interview. I've visited Greece and it is a gorgeous place, but I'm not sure I could get used to the Greek 'ish' times as a way of life.

  21. Oh what an awesome interview this is! I love every bit of it, every question and the answers! Thank you, Theresa and Jessica! It's so nice to get to know Jessica more! :)

  22. What about the Greek food? Maybe that was #3...


  23. Great interview!

    I have to say that I don't think Jessica ever sleeps...She always replies to my emails no matter what time it is in Greece. :D

    I love the titles of the next two books. :D

  24. Very interesting interview. I have felt bad for the people of Greece for awhile. I hope things get better there.

  25. It's good to learn more about Jessica! Thanks for a great interview! :)

  26. Hi Theresa, back from my travels and trying to catch up with all my favourite bloggers. This is a great interview and as an expat I found myself nodding at some of her answers. I am very much looking forward to reading this authors work sometime.

  27. Great interview, thank you both!

    Interesting to hear Jess' ex-pat story.

  28. Thank you for the compliment Theresa. You are awesome as always :)

  29. It was interesting reading about Jessica's expat life and her writing. Fantastic interview.

  30. Great interview! It's always interesting observing the differences between cultures. I think being in a new place makes you see *everyone* differently all of a sudden - great observations for writers.

  31. Great interview, Theresa. I just read about Jessica and her book on another blog and her book sounded so interesting and now Jessica sounds interesting! What with her experiences living in Greece!

  32. Wow, now I totally want to live in Greece! It looks amazing! Congrats on your release Jessica!

  33. Wonderful interview. How could it not be considering the interviewer and interviewee. Congratulations, Jessica.

  34. Hi Theresa and Jess .. I was wondering what your comments would be re the present situation. Sadly - I think people of today don't care - don't want to help and just want you on your way .. the problem is it just doubles the cost of everything.

    I like how you 'deal' with stress - go with the flow .. good luck with all the decisions you make ..

    Greece is just beautiful .. and where to in our present situation makes life tricky .. Australia might be the better option for a while - yet many opportunities here too ..

    Wherever you are Jess keep writing, blogging, composing etc etc ..

    Thanks Theresa .. great interview .. cheers Hilary