How long have you been writing?
Wow. Let’s see. As a matter of fact, I’ve been writing in one way or another ever since childhood. The thing is I was not always writing a story. From the age of ten or so, I’ve been keeping idea books and/or journals. As such, I always tell people quite sincerely that I’ve been working on Song of the Oceanides ever since I was a little kid.
What was the most challenging part about writing SONG OF THE OCEANIDES?
The most challenging part was to plan out and to then weave together three different narrative threads. Song of the Oceanides was always intended to be a multiple (in this case triple) narrative. What fascinated me most was the commonalities which the three characters share with one another—even though they’ve never met. It is also the three characters’ obsession with a comic book that ultimately serves as the one thing that really truly binds the three together. But that again is an idea that goes straight back to my childhood. It always fascinated and inspired me the way so many disparate and alienated people would write letters to their favorite comic book authors—and of course the comic books would often publish those letters. Sometimes the letters were more interesting or thought-provoking than the storylines themselves.
What do you enjoy the most about being an author?
The most enjoyable aspect is the sense that in writing something, I have fulfilled a deep need to communicate an idea. That is a great intellectual and/or spiritual kind of gratification—even if many end up not liking it or savaging it at goodreads or wherever.
Is this book part of a series?
No, however Song of the Oceanides is actually divided into two totally disparate works. As such, it is both book and sequel all in one.
Do you have any works in progress?
Yes, but I’m too humble and shy to speak about it.
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
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.”