Thursday, July 21, 2016

Author Interview with J.G. Zymbalist

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

What is something you’ve lied about?

I tell little white lies to protect people’s feelings, and I have a strong feeling that people do the same for my own benefit.

Who is the last person you hugged?

I don’t know. It was probably my mother back in my childhood days. Ever since entering high school, I’ve been very reclusive and spiritual and melancholy. I have a great deal of Brian Wilson in me.

What are you reading now?

For Your Eyes Only by Ian Fleming. It’s a good escape, and it’s his only short-story collection. The best one is “The Hildebrand Rarity.” I believe I’ll be reading that one over one more time. Even though it’s a quest to find a wee little tropical fish, in some respects it’s sort of like Moby Dick—with James Bond as a kind of Ishmael. Unlike Moby Dick though, the fish is greatly abused and killed. It’s haunting.

How do you come up with the titles to your books?

I usually get them from my favorite poetry. (I am the mostly-ashamed holder of a totally useless M.F.A. degree in poetry.) I named my first work after a German poem by Heinrich Heine—“Der Gesang der Okeaniden” which translates to “Song of the Oceanides.” It comes from a cycle of exotic poems Heine wrote whilst on holiday in Bremen (a port city looking out on the tumultuous North Sea.)

Share your dream cast for your book.

My most complicated point-of-view character is a rather eccentric failed artist named Giacomo, so I think either Peter Sellers or Robin Williams would be right for him. Another one of my point-of-view characters is a very sensitive and bright Martian girl named Emmylou. She would be best played by Quinn Cummings from the motion picture The Goodbye Girl. The third point-of-view character is a very sensitive, bespectacled kid named Rory Slocum. I have no idea who would be best to play him, but whoever it would be, it would have to be a young person from England. Rory is an immigrant living in turn-of-the-century America, and I would want his accent to be right.

(I should probably also add here that I would never want any of my work adapted for the screen. In truth, I think Hollywood’s best days are in the past. Today everything looks too digital, and I would not want to be a part of any sort of movie like that. If I did give in though, it would only be because the filmmaker vowed to use only obsolete equipment from the seventies.)

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.

Enjoy 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:
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

The book is FREE at Amazon.

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  1. Very good interview! Thank you for sharing it with us! :)

    1. Thank you. I look at that interview and wonder if I seem too bitter and Grinch-like.

  2. Thank you to everyone at Books in the Hall. I know this was short notice, so please know that I am very grateful for your agreeing to host.

  3. Great interview, I'm with you on the little white lies - sometimes they're required :)

    1. Thank you, Victoria. Cher said it best: "Words are like weapons; they wound sometimes." I would rather tell a little white lie than willfully wound another.

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

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