woensdag 23 november 2016

Guest Post Song of the Oceanides

The Background of My Humble Book, Song of the Oceanides

J.G.  Źymbalist

I began to conceive Song of the Oceanides when I was just a little kid.  Every summer for about four or five summers straight, my family would spend the holiday in Castine, Maine right on Penobscot Bay.  Every June or July we rented out Robert Lowell’s house, and there I would look back on the previous school year and take stock of the latest round of insults I had weathered.  As I walked the halls of that house, I knew that someday I would have to do something about my growing sorrows—channel my childhood depression into something redemptive. 

     The house itself fascinated me and pretty much demanded to be the setting of a book.  As such, when I wrote Song of the Oceanides, I used the actual downstairs and upstairs floor plan as the model for the house where my young point-of-view character, Rory, lives.  Looking back, I think what enthralled me most about that big old New England house was the way the soft hazy summer light moved through the windows and all about the rooms and hallways.  Nothing triggers the imagination quite like the movement of light.

     Almost as important, living in a New England house like that for the summer gave me the opportunity to experience the ocean:  the majestic sight of the bay, the roar of the Atlantic, the aroma of the waters and breeze, the alluring call of the seagulls.  Everything combined to give me the sense that I stood in the presence of either God or some eternal force of destiny I could not understand.  The ocean also terrified me, and for the first time, I actually remember thinking about things like mortality.  I can recall discussing my fears with my totally-baffled mother.  At the time, I did not know what ocean myth would be best to bring all these concerns to life, but I knew I would find it someday.  (It ended up being the Oceanides of course; hence my title.)

About the Book

Title: Song of the Oceanides

Author: JG Zymbalist

Genre: YA/NA fantasy/steampunk

Song of the Oceanides is a quirky but poignant coming-of-age tale about children, Martians, freaky Martian hummingbird moths, and alluring sea nymphs.

The first thread relates the suspenseful tale of a Martian girl, Emmylou, stranded in Maine where she is relentlessly pursued by the Pinkerton Detective Agency’s Extraterrestrial-Enigma Service.  The second thread concerns her favorite Earthling comic-book artist, Giacomo Venable, and all his misadventures and failed romances.  The final thread deals with a tragic young lad, Rory Slocum, who, like Emmylou, loves Giacomo’s comic books and sees them as a refuge from the sea nymphs or Oceanides incessantly taunting and tormenting him.

As much as anything, the triple narrative serves to show how art may bring together disparate pariahs and misfits—and give them a fulcrum for friendship and sense of communal belonging in a cruel world

Author Bio

J.G. Źymbalist is the pseudonym of a very reclusive author who grew up in Ohio and West Germany.  He began writing Song of the Oceanides as a child when his family summered in Castine, Maine where they rented out Robert Lowell’s house.  There, inspired by his own experiences with school bullying and childhood depression, the budding author began to conceive the tale.

For several years, J.G. Źymbalist lived in the Old City of Jerusalem where he night clerked at a series of Palestinian youth hostels.  There he wrote the early draft of an as yet unpublished Middle-Eastern NA fantasy.  Returning from the Middle East, he completed an M.F.A. in poetry at Sarah Lawrence College.

The author returned to Song of the Oceanides while working for the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society, May-September, 2005.  He completed the full draft in Ellsworth, Maine later that year.

He has only recently decided to self-publish a few of his previous works.  Foreword Reviews has called his writing “innovative fiction with depth,” and Kirkus Indie has called his style “a lovely, highly descriptive prose that luxuriates in the details and curios of his setting.”


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