TATAMAGOUCHE – Nineteen-year-old Siena Hammermeister has just published her first novel, Idris: Eye of the Beholder.
Published under the pen name Phoenix De’clan, the novel tells the harrowing tale of 18-year-old Idris, a young woman living in ancient Greece around 800 BCE.
“Idris is raised in Corinth and discovers that her adoptive parents have concealed details about her birth,” said Hammermeister, of Tatamagouche. “She learns that she is really the biological daughter of two Theban army generals.”
Idris’s bombshell discovery kicks off her search for her biological parents. She leaves Corinth, traveling over mountains and across valleys in a complex quest for her family roots in Thebes.
Hammermeister said that, “Idris’s journey is not only physical, it is also a journey into her own mind.”
Along the way, the young heroine must confront guilt, fear, and her need to help her beloved, Kylis, an African-Greek youth whose mission is to free slaves held in bondage by the Greeks.
There is certainly no shortage of battle scenes in the novel. Hammermeister shows herself to be highly adept at describing the violence and mayhem that Idris is subjected to. Carotid arteries are sliced, swords clash and blood flows, but none of this is gratuitous. Everything in the novel contributes to Idris’s exciting adventures.
“My novel walks the line between historical fiction and fantasy. It is a young adult novel, but one that could be enjoyed by all with a taste for adventure, sword fighting, and a curiosity about the ancient world.”
It took the young author two years to complete her 70,000-word novel. She started the project when she was 17, inspired by Sophocles masterwork Oedipus the King.
“Sophocles really flipped a switch in my brain,” she explained. “I began to write pages and pages of notes.”
To help whet her motivation, she purchased a solid bronze leaf blade sword, a two-foot reproduction of an ancient artifact.
“I keep it on the shelf that holds my collection of books on Greek mythology.”
In the last six months of the project, Hammermeister “really buckled down.” She went to bed at 9 p.m. and set the clock for 6 a.m. She then wrote 600 words, seven days a week, in the three hours before breakfast.
“Every morning I was excited to get at the writing.”
She credits homeschooling for giving her the flexibility to pursue her dream. Her parents, Desiree Jans and Andy Hammermeister, encouraged her writing as did her step-mother, Pam Black, who designed the cover of Idris.
“The Fraser Writers’ Group was also a huge help in writing Idris. It was great to be around more established writers and to get their opinions on issues that I was having with my work” she said, recognizing the importance of the Fraser Cultural Centre, an institution whose volunteers have supported the arts for four decades.
Hammermeister writes while listening to folk-rock music. She especially enjoys the Icelandic group, Monsters and Men, and Hozier, a folk singer from Ireland. When not writing, she enjoys nature, spending time in the bush, and doing online courses at Dalhousie University. Next year she plans is to attend Acadia University.
“I just love the Acadia campus. I want to major in social anthropology with a minor in classics.”
Her advice to other young writers: “Just go for it.”
You can purchase Idris: Eye of the Beholder at C.G. Fulton Pharmacy in Tatamagouche, or by visiting https://www.lulu.com/en/ca/shop/phoenix-declan-and-phoenix-declan/idris/paperback/product-6j7v56.html?page=1&pageSize=4. It’s also available to borrow from the Tatamagouche Library.
Readers can also follow the author on Twitter (https://twitter.com/PhoenixDeclan1).