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“Vlassopoulos has found a way to carry over the wide-eyed curiosity and innate goodness of childhood into the mysterious, often sad, often tragic world of adulthood.”

– Montreal Review of Books

My novel, Escape Plans, revolves around three characters, Niko, Anna and Zoe. It tells the story of Niko’s last days in Athens before a sudden sailing accident in the Aegean Sea, and then recounts the aftermath years later from Anna, his wife’s, perspective while she’s on vacation in Paris, and, Zoe, his daughter’s, who’s starting university in Montreal. I listened to a lot of music while writing the early drafts (I need silence to edit), but there’s little music mentioned in the novel itself. I imagine the characters listening to music, though: Zoe with earbuds in as she’s riding the bus, Anna in her car commuting to work, and Niko, alone in his apartment in Athens, with the radio on.

Click the song titles to go to the tracks.

“Beauty Mark” – Rufus Wainwright

I wrote the first draft of Escape Plans when my husband and I spent 6 months in Greece a few years ago. Early into the trip we noticed that Rufus Wainwright was performing at Lykavitos Theatre, a gorgeous open-air amphitheater on Lykavitos Hill in Athens. Neither of us were very familiar with his music, but the setting was too beautiful to pass up, and it ended up being one of the most memorable concerts I’ve ever witnessed.

Wainwright played two songs that night that resonated with what I was writing. “Beauty Mark” is a song about his mother, songwriter Kate McGarrigle, where he lists the things he gets and doesn’t get from her. My character Zoe is especially interested in her lineage and I know she would appreciate it.

“The Walking Song” – Kate and Anna McGarrigle

Wainwright also played a cover of one of his mother’s songs, “The Walking Song”. It’s about Wainwright’s father, Louden, and while their relationship ended terribly, the song is powerful. When Wainwright performed it, McGarrigle had recently passed away from cancer, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house by the time he finished. There’s a gentleness to the song, a tinge of sadness and nostalgia, but also an overwhelming feeling of love. I listened to it constantly while working on Anna’s section of the book.

“Some Velvet Morning” – Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra

This song is so strange, and it’s one of my favourites. It feels like a fever dream with its jarring timeshifts and bending melodies, Hazlewood’s twang playing off of Sinatra’s goddess voice. In Greece I often saw a large ferryboat with the name Faedra painted on its side docked in the port of Piraeus, and it always reminded me of Hazlewood singing about a woman of the same name, and how she gave me life.  It’s a bit of a mid-life crisis song, too. I pictured Niko standing in the same spot at the port, looking at the line of ferryboats and thinking about the various ways he’d ripped up his life.

“Bloodbuzz Ohio” – The National

There’s one line in this song, I never thought about love when I thought about home, which pretty much sums up Niko’s way of thinking. Even though his family is in Canada, his home has always been elsewhere, and eventually he can’t resist the siren call of Greece, even if it means leaving his wife and daughter.

“Spill Yer Lungs” – Julie Doiron

There’s something exciting and youthful and desperate about this song, about wanting a relationship to work out, but not getting there exactly. It’s the kind of song I imagine Zoe listened to when she first moved to Montreal and fell in love.

“esme” – joanna newsom

I like the delicate, shimmering quality of this song, which is about the birth of a baby and the realization of how many lives it changes. I think Anna would like it, and I think Niko would too.

“Get Big” – Okkervil River

This song about infidelity, the prospect and knowledge of it, is quietly devastating. It’s set up so that the male and female voices trade off their perspectives. I can’t say why each day doesn’t quite fit the space that we saved for it, the guy sings, confused about how their relationship could’ve gone wrong. But if that space now demands that you throw up both your hands, that you call it quits, the female suggests, wanting to end it without either of them formally doing anything about it. I can imagine both Niko and Anna listening to this song, and getting it.

“Map” – Michael Feuerstack

Michael Feuerstack is criminally underrated. His songs are brilliant poems, the guitar is always interesting, and he often has amazing guest singers performing with him. Buy his albums. This song in particular is about journeys and the futility but also the importance of language. At least, that’s what I think it’s about, which is kind of what my book is about too.


Purchase ESCAPE PLANS from:

Invisible Publishing | Indigo | Amazon | IndieBound

Read an excerpt from ESCAPE PLANS at Whiskey Paper:


Read Teri’s Little Fiction | Big Truths titles:



i never 
about love 
when i 
about home
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