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Monday, June 20, 2016

Song of the Oceanides

Today's guest is author J.G. Zymbalist. He's doing a virtual book tour for Song of the Oceanides - a highly experimental triple narative transgenre fantasy that combines elements of historical fiction, YA, myth and fairy-tale, scienc fiction, paranormal romance, and more. Suited for ages 10-110!

You, as a reader, also have a chance to win a $50 Amazon/BN gift card, if you leave a comment via rafflecopter. Here's the link;

An excerpt:

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.

About the author:

The author is happy to answer some question about his book:

Have you ever had an imaginary friend?
No.  I was always very introverted and always had my head in the clouds and was always staring out the schoolroom window daydreaming, but I’ve always been the boring self-conscious version of that sort of person.   For me, an imaginary friend would’ve been something of an embarrassment.  Ideas must be constructive and used in a meaningful real-world way—i.e. storytelling.

Do you have any phobias?
Spiders.  They’re prominent too in Song of the Oceanides.   Part of the tale takes place in New Mexico where there are plenty of big freaky crab spiders fiddling about.  Anyway that’s where my Martian characters end up, and the spiders regularly unnerve them.  It’s all quite harrowing because I poured my own fear of spiders into my fragile Martian girl character, Emmylou.

Do you listen to music when you're writing?
No.  I prefer white noise—usually a fan in the summer or a sleep mate in the winter.  The only time I listen to music while working is when I’m tearing apart a notebook or idea book and rearranging notes and ideas so as to construct a story or upcoming chapter.  That seems like a good time to have music playing.  I prefer Ravi Shankar in those moments or sometimes Japanese koto music or Satie’s soothing early piano music.  I also like Chinese-dulcimer music. Thanks to You Tube, it’s easy to find whatever sort of music you want.

Do you ever read your stories out loud?
No, I’m too quiet and introverted.  Also I write in a way that is lucid and easy to understand; as such there is no need to read out loud.  There are books like Ulysses which must be read out loud (at least in certain passages) in order for the meaning to be made clear.  But I don’t write in that high-falutin’ way.  I prefer absolute simplicity, and simplicity does not require reading aloud.

Tell us about your main character and who inspired him/her.

Song of the Oceanides is a triple narrative, and there is a great deal of me in the two male point-of-view characters, Rory and Giacomo.   I poured my own fragile childhood (and my own experiences with school bullying) into young Rory, and I poured my own adult misadventures and failed romances into Giacomo, the comic-book artist.  The real question for me is where did my Martian girl point-of-view character, Emmylou, come from.  In some sense, she’s a tribute to the sort of quirky characters that often populate science fiction and fantasy.  She’s my Alice, and my Wonderland is turn-of-the-century steampunk America.

Bio and links:

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.

For more information, please see

NOTE:  The book is now permafree on all sellers.  Here are the buy links :


  1. I really enjoyed reading your interview, thank you!

    1. Cheers, Nikolina. I always worry that I'll come off sounding like a big jerk in those interviews. Really I'm very humble and nice and spiritual.

    2. Never think about it that way - we are all just human... :) :)

  2. Nickie, thank you so much for hosting! It's good to be a part of this blog.

  3. I enjoyed the excerpt, and thank you for the chance to win :)

  4. Great interview, I enjoyed reading it! I HATE spiders as well.. .how was it writing about them? Because honestly I can't even THINK about them without squirming :/

    1. Victoria, believe me when I tell you that it was not especially pleasant to write about them. This is the way I resolved the issue: I created a character who masters the art of hand shadows and does a hand shadow of a gruesome tarantula. This way I was able to write about my deepest phobia without really truly writing about it at all. Also I never show the hand shadow, on the premise that the character has been banned from performing it lest she drive everyone who sees it to madness. Oh, one other thing, I'm sure you know that JK Rowling has a deep spider phobia too. So at least we have something in common with her!

    2. That's absolutely genius!!! This is why I'm the reader and not the writer lol

  5. Exciting excerpt. I loved it.

  6. Great interview!! And I continue to wish you the best of luck with this book tour! :)

    1. Thank you! Each of us needs all the luck he or she can get; it's such a stressful world (in case you hadn't noticed.)

  7. I enjoyed reading the excerpt. This book sounds like such an interesting and intriguing read. Looking forward to checking out this book.

  8. Sounds like a great read, thank you for the interesting interview!

  9. Excellent interview! Excited to read this book!

  10. Happy Friday! Hope it's a good one for you I appreciate your offering us such a great giveaway and thanking you for all you put into this for us.

  11. Have a great weekend and thanks for all you do amd hard work you put into offering us the great giveaways

  12. Happy Monday and thanks again for the chance to win

  13. Shared on G+, have a great day!