Song of the Oceanides is a highly-experimental triple narrative transgenre fantasy that combines elements of historical fiction, YA, myth and fairy tale, science fiction, paranormal romance, and more. For ages 10-110.
The book is Free on Amazon
Blue Hill, Maine.
3 August, 1903.
From the moment Emmylou heard the song of the Oceanides, she recognized something godly in the tune. As it resounded all across the desolate shoreline of Blue Hill Bay, she recalled the terrible chorus mysticus ringing all throughout that extinct Martian volcano the day her father went missing down in the magma chamber.
Aunt Belphœbe followed along, guiding Maygene through the sands. “Why don’t you go play in that shipwreck over there?” Aunt Belphœbe pointed toward a fishing schooner run aground some fifty yards to the south.
When Maygene raced off, Emmylou refused to follow. By now the chorus of song tormented her so much that an ache had awoken all throughout her clubfoot. Before long she dropped her walking stick and fell to the earth. Closing her eyes, she dug both her hands into the sands and lost herself in memories of the volcano. How could Father be gone? Though he had often alluded to the perils of Martian vulcanology, she never imagined that someone so good and so wise could go missing.
The song of the Oceanides grew a little bit louder and increasingly dissonant.
Opening her eyes, Emmylou listened very closely. The song sounded like the stuff of incantation, witchcraft. And even though she could not comprehend every word, nevertheless she felt certain that the Oceanides meant to cast a spell upon some unfortunate soul.
What are four things you can’t live without?
Books, old movies, You-Tube retro junk, and soothing Asian music—preferably Ravi Shankar.
What is your favorite television show?
Lost in Space. I always liked the robot because it had a great personality. I might also add that those who love the show will see at least a little bit of Will Robinson in my Rory Slocum. There might even be a little bit of Dr. Smith in my Giacomo Venable.
If you could be any character, from any literary work, who would you choose to be? Why?
I would be Herman Melville’s Captain Ahab because he had the perfect philosophy on life: “What I’ve dared, I’ve willed; and what I’ve willed, I’ll do!” Also he never did kill or harm the whale. That’s crucial because I do love whales—and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
What have you got coming soon for us to look out for?
If my first one gets good reviews and enough downloads, I would very much like to self-publish an NA fantasy I wrote back in the 1990’s. I was in my twenties then and living and night clerking at a number of different Palestinian youth hostels in the Old City of Jerusalem. My shift was always 11:30 at night to 3:30 in the morning. Most of the time there was nothing to do but write to the tune of the cats caterwauling and the bells chiming and al-muezzin calling. It was very pleasant. Anyway the fantasy work is set during the First World War and incorporates Judeo-Christian demonology and possession, Messianism, good v. evil, unrequited love, illusory love, and about a thousand other thematic subjects relevant to young and new adults. The whole thing may be seen as a grand metaphor for the aches and pains associated with the final stages of coming of age. It’s very difficult to explain.
What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
Japanese haiku poets. I actually got an M.F.A. in poetry from a very famous writing school, but I despised all the obscurantist free-association poetry and confessional poetry I had to read there. I like Asian poetry, particularly haikus in English translation. I like the lucidity and simplicity of the language. It’s also very philosophical, the first line telling of something eternal and the second line telling of something ephemeral and the third line telling of how the eternal interacts with the ephemeral. As such, the third line is always a kind of subtle Shinto metaphor for the soul. And even if I don’t quite believe in traditional concepts regarding the immortality of the soul, I always try to incorporate a wisp of metaphysics in my writings. Everything I write is clearly indicative of some or other Socratic constant.
J.G. Źymbalist began writing Song of the Oceanides as a child when his family summered in Castine, Maine where they rented out Robert Lowell’s house.
The author returned to the piece while working for the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society, May-September, 2005. He completed the full draft in Ellsworth, Maine later that year.
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