Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Mythikas Island: A Message of Hope

 

When I began writing the Mythikas Island series in 2006, I could not have imagined life in the United States as it is today.

I began the story as a gift to my daughter and her friends who were tired of romance triangles in YA books. Why can't girls save the day, they asked? And so the idea was born: a book about girl power and how they can not only save themselves but be a force for change in their world. There were so many Band of Brothers stories. I wanted a Band of Sisters story.

I made an unusual choice. The series is about people who might have inspired the Greek gods. They do not have magical powers. I received criticism for that. It was also suggested that the parents should have been present to meddle. But that didn't interest me. I was also told by an agent that girls didn't read adventure.

I sent four girls, Diana, Persephone, Aphrodite, and Athena on a survival exercise on a deserted island to earn a seat on the ruling council of Mt. Olympus. The island isn't what they expect. It is a haunted self-destructive place. The journey requires them to overcome their differences and work together to survive. That was the primary message I wanted to send. Though they start out as adversaries, together they could accomplish anything.They would be responsible for their future and the future of their world.

Along the way, they learn ugly truths about their world and the people they once respected. Corruption is uncovered. Betrayals revealed. Ghosts from the past are confronted.

Though the journey is primarily four characters, the panoply make an appearance by reference and in backstory: Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Ares, Dionysus, Adonis, Pan, Hades, Poseidon, Ceres, and others. I crafted Gaia as Persephone's grandmother, a healer and the wise-woman leader of the natives of Helios before the Titans arrived and conquered.

In the final book in the saga, a shipwrecked crew shows up to further reveal secrets and create challenges to their survival. Some said I should have introduced them sooner. You can't please everyone.

I made another unique choice, creating a "relay" series. Each book is from a different character's point of view. Each character's personal arc is completed by the end of their book, but the four books form a complete journey. They are not stand alone.

As a self-published author, I was surprised to not only sell thousands of copies but to find that it still sells today, though not in huge numbers. I received feedback from adults, male and female, on how much they enjoyed the story. The story never became a movie, though that was a fantasy of mine.

I recently created an omnibus edition with all four stories combined. After twelve years, I still love the characters, the story world, and the theme.

I am content with my publishing journey. Crafting the series spurred my non-fiction series on writing, Story Building Blocks, which is now three books and sixteen workbooks. The series and the companion blog continue to help other writers on their journey.

I have yet to find another idea to tempt me to invest the thousands of man hours of research, drafting, revision, editing, proofreading, etc. but my muses still make an appearance. They are not finished with me. Or maybe I will be a one hit wonder like Harper Lee. Time will tell.

I made the series Mythikas Island available free as a PDF during the pandemic because the message and journey are so relevant to our current reality. I hope it inspires everyone to be part of the change. You can download it here.

You can read more about the story creation and the myths that inspired the series here.

Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

5 comments :

  1. What an undertaking. I can only imagine how much research went into this. I touched on mythology in one book of my series, and one thing led to another until I was steeped in stories. I did have to chuckle about the agent's opinion that girls aren't interested in adventure. I assume this was before Wonder Woman created a whole new genre. Such a lack of originality on their part. Brava, Diana, for giving girls the power.

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  2. Tasha Alexander critiqued a chapter at a workshop and suggested I send it to her agency. They said they didn't know who to try to sell it to. But I am sure there is a market today. Just like my friend had to wait ten years for diversity to be popular. I self-published. She was patient and is now living the traditional publishing dream. :)

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  3. What a fabulously inspiring post! You made such a wise decision to become a do-it-yourselfer because you retained control of your characters, your vision, your theme, your ability to take your stories wherever you wanted them to go. Surely, they are as timely today as they were when you created them —— in many parts of the world, women are still used, abused, and belittled as they have been over the centuries. Well, done, Diana! :-)

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    1. P.S. I like the fact that each of the four books is told from a different girl's point of view. This reveals their individual personalities in ways that would not likely have occurred otherwise. Nice!

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  4. With the books selling so well, and the message so important today, I'm surprised that the series hasn't been picked up by a big publisher. BTW, I agree with Linda about how neat it is that each story is from a different girl's POV.

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