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Culture

Protogenesis: Greek Mythology and Pop Star Martakis

Protogenesis by Alysia Helming is an entertaining story with a nice blend of Greek mythology, science fiction, fantasy, and YA (young adult) romance. The book which spent three consecutive weeks on Amazon’s best-selling list is the first of a planned series of seven.

With a compelling plot and solid characters to keep the interest of fans for years to come, Protogenesis follows young Helene as she suddenly loses her mother and must move to Greece to live with her godfather. Family secrets are soon revealed as Helene tries to adjust to her new school and new friends while attempting to uncover the mystery surrounding her mother’s death.

Navigating the cultural differences, strange occurrences, and complicated relationships, Helene discovers strength and powers she never knew she had.

The story behind the book is as compelling as the book itself. Helming began writing short stories and plays for school in third grade. She decided to write about Greek mythology along with her 17 year-old niece, Hannah. The short story idea eventually became her debut novel and the first of The Protogena Chronicles™. Though not Greek herself, Helming is a philhellene, and from 2015, she has visited Athens ten times and worked hands-on at the Ancient Agora archaeological site twice with famous archaeologist, John Mck. Camp, whose nickname among his colleagues at the American Classical School at Athens is Indiana Jones.

On each of her trips to Greece, Helming met many friends and collaborators who helped her to thoroughly understand the rich culture, mythology, and unique challenges that the Greek people face through the current crisis there. As a result, her mission is to help Greece by offering a message of hope and to drive tourism there through her book series, as noted on her website.

While working on her book, Helming used photos as inspiration for her characters. Unknowingly, she had chose an image of Kostas Martakis, the famous Greek pop star. When she visited Greece, she discovered the identity of her “Mystery Man.”

She writes, “I spotted a series of banners that lined the street which advertised what looked like a famous Greek performer of some sort. Every ten feet or so, the banner would appear again, so I saw the image of this incredibly gorgeous young star over and over again. My breath caught in my chest at the sight…there was something familiar about this guy. Wait a second…Oh my God! His photo is taped up on my wall at home. I stare at him almost every day when I write. Of course I know him! He was one of the random people whose photographs I had selected so many months ago to be the inspiration for my main character Ever Sarantos. But the guy up on the banners looks older, like maybe he’s in his late twenties…a man, not a teenage boy like my character. The photo I had up on my office wall was of a much younger person. I wondered if this was really the same guy? So, I looked again…and yes, it most definitely was him. Ever is now all grown up? Ummm…this was totally surreal. So, of course I had to ask our driver-who-was-also-a-teacher, Nikos, ‘Who the heck is this guy? Is he famous?’

Nikos grinned widely, ‘Oh yeah, he’s a pop singer…and yeah, he’s famous. The girls go crazy about him. They even camp out in front of his house. It’s nuts.’ I had to pause for a moment. Just breathe.”

Helming met Martakis who eventually surprised her with a song, Forever & Tonight, inspired by the book. He said, as quoted on Helming’s website, “I felt so nice that this American writer chose me to inspire her character that I wanted to do something special for her and the book. Something extraordinary.”

After recording the song, Martakis collaborated with Helming on a series of short films called Footsteps in Athens which highlights the sites mentioned in the book and promotes tourism to the Greek capital. The films can be viewed online through Helming’s official website. A reality-based docu-drama TV series, inspired by the making of the Protogenesis novel series is also planned. The book has also inspired ANATOL Greek fine jewelry designer, Evan to create the Protogenesis jewelry line which is available online now as is the book Protogenesis by Alysia Helming.

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