Song of the Oceanides is a quirky but poignant coming-of-age tale about children, Martians, freaky Martian hummingbird moths, and alluring sea nymphs. That’s how I would begin to describe the work. Foreword Reviews adds: “Set between 1903 and 1906, the language and tone are delightfully lyrical, reflecting both the societal formalities and profanities of the time.”
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 (Oceanides) incessantly taunting and tormenting him.
Foreword Reviews concludes: “Song of the Oceanides is historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction with a few cogs of steampunk and wisps of romance as well. Suitable for older teens or discerning adults looking for innovative fiction with depth.”
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
What inspires me is the constant memory of my own coming of age and the incessant school bullying that went with it. I was the absolute misfit of every school I attended. Perhaps this followed from my extreme introversion. At any rate, every summer my family summered in Castine, Maine where we rented out Robert Lowell’s house. Year after year, I would spend the summer licking my wounds and trying to shake off all the derision and insults that ate away at me. I was so fragile! Anyway I always knew that someday everything would make for a really great story.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
There is a great deal of me in young Rory, the schoolboy misfit. I suppose there is a great deal of me in Giacomo Venable, the eccentric buffoon comic-book artist. The real question is: Where did Emmylou the Martian girl come from? I think she is a combination of a few different things. First, she is an homage to all the freaky quirky girls I adored in my favorite sci-fi movies, shows, and stories. For example there are several episodes of Lost in Space in which Will Robinson meets some sort of quirky alien girl–and potential romantic interest. Second, Emmylou is an homage/composite sketch of all the interesting introverted “wallflower” types I grew up with. Looking back, I should have trifled with at least one–and then married her.
I grew up in West Germany and Ohio, but I never felt alive until my family began summering in Castine, Maine on Penobscot Bay. The ocean woke me up and gave me a sense of the eternal.
In my twenties, I lived in the Old City of Jerusalem and worked as night clerk for a series of modest Palestinian youth hostels. There I wrote the rough draft of a Middle-Eastern fantasy as yet unpublished. After returning to the states, I did an MFA degree in poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. Later, while working for the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society, I felt compelled to return to my earlier notes and idea books for Song of the Oceanides. I lost all interest in poetry.
Currently the acclaimed zombie-novel novelist, Amelia Beamer, is editing the early draft of my aforementioned Middle-Eastern fantasy. Perhaps someday I’ll self-publish it or find a boutique to do it. I won’t waste my time trying to find an agent because, like Song of the Oceanides, my Middle-Eastern fantasy doesn’t really indulge in cheap sex and violence.
Have you read this book or others by this author? Tell us in the comments how you liked it!