Palm Beach Editor’s Debut Novel Thrills with Dark Tombs and Buried Secrets
Like Sarah Weston, the heroine in the new archeological thriller The Tenth Saint, (Medallion Press, March 2012) author Daphne Nikolopoulos is a bit of a nomad at heart with a particular love of deserts and the planet’s other ‘wild’ places. In fact, Nikolopoulos, who writes under the pen name of D.J. Niko, worked as a travel writer for more than 10 years, including two years backpacking around the world and exploring remote, untrod places. From her first visit in 2002, Nikolopoulos felt a particular fascination and affinity for Ethiopia and its people, so it stands to reason that much of her first novel is set in the multicultural and multiethnic African nation.
“I was drawn into Ethiopia’s rich history, particularly the Aksumite empire, which was an important trade route in ancient times,” Nikolopoulous says. “Though much of that glory is gone, there is still a regal, spiritual quality to the place. It bristles with mystery and secrets, and I wanted to bring that across in a powerful way.”
The Tenth Saint, which shares the story-telling model of The Da Vinci Code and other globe-spanning mysteries, begins when Weston, a Cambridge archeologist, makes an unusual discovery in the ancient Ethiopian mountain kingdom of Aksum — a sealed tomb with inscriptions in an obscure dialect. The novel follows Weston and her colleague, American anthropologist Daniel Madigan, as they try to identify the entombed man and translate the inscriptions. Tracking down clues in Addis Ababa and the monasteries of Lalibela, one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities, the duo uncover a codex in an unforgettable subterranean library revealing the secret of the tomb — a set of prophecies about Earth’s final hours, written by a man whose identity is a mystery to all but a few Coptic Christian mystics. The journey eventually leads to Paris, where they’re given a 14th-Century letter describing the catastrophic events that will lead to the planet’s demise, and where they uncover a deadly conspiracy to keep these apocalyptic secrets buried.
The theme of prophetic revelation is central to the book. Nikolopoulos poses the question: “What if apocalyptic prophecies, such as those of John of Patmos or Nostradamus, were more than just visions? If we knew them to be true, would we — and could we — try to change the course of events to derail a future catastrophe and achieve a different outcome?”
Although Weston and Madigan are fictional characters, Nikolopoulos’s travels inspire and inform many of the characters in The Tenth Saint and add texture and authenticity to her descriptions of scenes such as a desert sandstorm and nomadic fire circles. Her background as a journalist was instrumental in the considerable research that went into this book. Not surprisingly, many reviews cite the novel’s “lively characters” and “fast-paced” storytelling, and hail it as “an adventure you will not soon forget.”
What is surprising, perhaps, is the fact that English is not the first language of this award-winning journalist, influential editor, author and, now, novelist. Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Nikolopoulos and her family immigrated to the United States when she was entering middle school. She didn’t speak English at the time and had to learn the language quickly while coping with the shock of total immersion into American culture.
Today, Nikolopoulos is editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated, a highly respected regional lifestyle magazine, and editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group, where she oversees the group’s magazines and websites. She has written for newspapers, magazines and websites in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Greece. She is currently working on the second novel in The Sarah Weston Chronicles, The Riddle of Solomon, which is due out June 2013.
Recent Praise for The Tenth Saint
“The characters are lively, and the story is fast-paced and exciting, especially for inveterate fans of the genre.”
– David Pitt, Booklist
“A new writer worth reading!”
– Stephen Mertz, author of Dragon Games
“Like The Da Vinci Code, The Tenth Saint takes you to a place you have never been, creating an adventure you will not soon forget.”
– Laurence Leamer, New York Times-bestselling author of Kennedy Women
“Fans will enjoy this engaging conspiracy based on the premise that extreme fundamentalists obsess with eliminating those who would interfere by reversing the steps of Revelations …”
– Harriet Klausner, The Mystery Gazette
“Interesting, intricate and intriguing, The Tenth Saint is an archaeological puzzle the reader can’t wait to solve.”
– James O. Born, author of Burn Zone
“An impressive and well-researched thrill-ride … Dark tombs, buried secrets, and apocalyptic prophecies, this book has it all!”
– Ronald Malfi, author of The Ascent and Floating Staircase
We at PBLWP wish Daphne lots of success and sales beyond her wildest dreams. She is a seasoned editor who has taken Palm Beach Illustrated to a new level and we are sure she will take the book/publishing world by storm.