Randall, I’m glad your here. I’ve just started reading The Island of Myste, and the story pulled me in right from the first page. But this is a series, right?
This is a middle-grade fantasy trilogy called The Island of Myste.
Would you give us an overview of each book?
She went searching for her birth mother and found another world…from which no one can escape.
In book one, Yumiko Corr never knew her birth mother. She loves her adoptive parents, but she can’t help wondering who she really is and where she belongs. While searching for her mother in Tokyo, Yumiko and her parents are swept into another world, where nothing exists but an enormous island. An island filled with mythological creatures that aren’t supposed to be real.
But the island is ruled by a spoiled boy, King Rodney, who has taken control of the creatures through some strange magic. He refuses to let anyone leave, including Yumiko and her parents!
Can Yumiko find a way off the island and back home, for herself and the other imprisoned creatures?
Discover your destiny.
Trapped in another world on an island filled with mythological creatures, Yumiko and her adoptive parents struggle to survive. Lost in the jungle, Yumiko must find her father and free her mother from the spoiled boy-king, Rodney, who rules the island by powerful illusions.
But first she must teach the Nephilim tribes to forgive the most hated and barbaric of their scattered tribes: the murderous giant Roc known as Kun!
And the only way to do that is to throw herself at his mercy.
Face your fear.
Yumiko Corr and her adoptive parents are ready to escape the island of Myste, along with any Nephilim tribes who choose to join them. To free Yumiko’s mother from the spoiled boy-king Rodney and his powerful illusions, they’ll have to work together. But some of the Nephilim still don’t trust one another.
Their rescue plans depend on the entire Nephilim tribe. If Yumiko can’t convince them to forgive one another, they’ll never escape King Rodney’s castle, let alone the island.
Can the Nephilim learn to forgive and be forgiven, in time to escape before the Vortex closes and imprisons them all forever?
Find your freedom.
A dangerous and exciting destiny for a young girl and her adoptive parents. I love that your story features an adoptive family dynamic. My husband’s adopted, so that’s part of what intrigued me about your series.
Tell us more about your story world and the Nephilim.
Myste is the only island of an alternate world, which exists as a prison for the Nephilim, who are like the living creatures described in the Bible. They are various mythological creatures like centaurs, minotaurs, mermaids, fairies, and gargoyles, who were created to serve and guide humankind. Instead, they rebelled and attacked humans after seeing their depravity, and so the Nephilim were banished to this inescapable world.
Learn more about the real Nephilim in the Bible on ZondervanAcademic.com.
The island is the size of a small continent, with a rocky shoreline shaped like a clawed talon, where Yumiko and her parents first enter it. There’s more to the island than what is explored in this trilogy, which mostly shows jungles and beach shorelines. There’s also a small mountain area called the Roc Cliffs, which house the nesting grounds of the giant Rocs, gigantic predatory birds that are at war with all of the other Nephilim.
Further inland, there is a large clearing within the jungle where a courtyard and castle have been built for King Rodney, the English boy tyrant who rules the Nephilim with an iron fist. He stole magic powers to create illusion, by drinking from the Pool of Dreams that belongs to the Meral (mermaids). He can now make the Nephilim do anything he wants, and he has imprisoned a Meral to serve him and keep his power flowing. His castle contains a throne room, lower dungeon, and outer courtyard with various toys belonging to King Rodney.
Farther away is the vast jungle of the Centauri Forest, where the Centauri continue to hide and rest from their ongoing fight against King Rodney. Within the Centauri Forest is the Valley of Mist, a small pit full of green mist that the Centauri leader strolls into, whenever he needs guidance. It’s like a place of solitary prayer for him, and the sensations from the green mist always bring him peace and wisdom to make decisions. Once while he was in the mist, he received a prophecy that a child would one day lead all of the Nephilim to freedom, to restore them to their former positions of honor. When Rodney landed on the island, Aramad and the other Nephilim assumed he was the Child of Prophecy. Later, when they realized they were wrong, most of the Nephilim became so bitter that they doubted that the prophecy would be fulfilled, if it was ever a prophecy at all.
Near the shore is Nephilim Bay, a valley where many of the Nephilim gather to relax, away from King Rodney’s imposing castle and his oppressive rule.
And beneath the ocean is the distant home of the Meral, but I can’t tell you anything more about that. Not yet, anyway. (wink!)
I understand. Discovering secrets is part of the fun of reading. :)
How is the island of Myste similar to our world?
Myste is something like the Garden of Eden after the Fall. Everything is fairly primitive with open landscapes of mountains and valleys and jungles, with little advancement in technology. And it’s full of these unusual creatures who were thought to be mythological, the way Eden would have been filled with various animals that humans could have communicated with, the way Adam and Eve communicated with the serpent.
It’s like our world in terms of the characters and their personalities, dealing with war, politics, art, and other parts of daily life. The difference is in their physical nature, as a mermaid or Centaur or giant Roc. But even in that, I tried to consider what each creature’s purpose would be, as one of God’s creations, and what they might be like, having those abilities and purpose. The Nephilim are basically just like us, if we were mermaids or Centaurs.
Wow! If the Nephilim are like us, then what makes them unique and how is the island different from our world?
All of the Nephilim speak their own language, but humans understand it as though it’s their own language. This is because the Nephilim were created by the Keeper to serve humans, so humans perceive all of the Nephilim’s words clearly. One character, a Pharai (fairy) named Zip, even talks in slang that the humans interpret for its meaning, so she says things like “dude!” and “bummer!”
Also, there are swirls of green mist that cover the island, always swirling at people’s feet.
Where did the idea for this series begin?
I originally wrote it for my niece, Emily. When she was in grade school, she told her teacher, “My uncle is a very great writer.” I was so touched because I didn’t even have anything published back then. But I felt awful because she was giving me such praise while I was writing action thrillers for adults, and I didn’t have anything she could actually read. So I interviewed her to find out what books she loved and why. She told me about Harry Potter and other fantasy books, so I decided to write a fantasy. That was years ago. Emily is now married and starting a family, but I dedicated the book to her and also to my own adopted kids, as something they can connect with. The idea finally came together for me when I was listening to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne on audiotape, while driving home from work. I needed something unique and intriguing for my fantasy world but I couldn’t come up with anything that wasn’t already being done. Then I thought, “That’s it! I’ll use a sea theme. With palm trees and sea creatures and mermaids. And I’ll set it on a faraway island, like in classic adventure stories!” So I set it on an island, but I didn’t go much farther with my sea creatures idea than the mermaids, once I started rolling. But the isolation of an island works great for the story. Back when Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island were written, being stranded on an island was like being stranded on Mars, with no hope for escape or rescue. So that built into the plot and the theme, the feeling of being completely abandoned.
What influences or research went into building your story world?
I heavily researched Star Trek: the Original Series and the 1980’s Flash Gordon cartoon.
Yeah, I’m not kidding. Those were my main sources.
I had trouble at first with creating this fantasy world of various creatures, because I had several tribes to work with, and each one had to be unique but also have individual characters within them. But I had learned that the original Star Trek series based its alien races on specific cultures, such as basing the Klingons on Soviet Russians during the Cold War. So I applied the same technique. The Centauri (Centaurs) are like a proud and noble Arabic tribe, very fierce and very focused on achieving noble purposes. The giant Rocs are based on Soviet Russians, very proud and full of false bravado but also very passionate and focused on honor and dignity. The Meral (mermaids) are based on the French, passionate about art and things of beauty, and about nurturing relationships. Each group acts a little differently, like separate families with their own values and goals, and their own unique way of speaking and acting. It was really fun to make them all different, once the Star Trek helped me figure out how to do it.
I also drew inspiration from Flash Gordon, because The Island of Myste is a lot like Flash Gordon for kids. All of the various tribes maintain a sort of Cold War with one another, few of them trusting one another. I borrowed a line from the Flash Gordon cartoon where the alien races say, “Each man stands alone on Mongo”, to show how the Myste tribes are divided. And I used it for some ideas on a couple of action scenes.
Myste is also ruled by a tyrannical dictator who’s very similar to Ming the Merciless, except that King Rodney is a boy. I borrowed an idea from the Flash Gordon movie, when Flash says Ming is a psycho. I have Yumiko call King Rodney a psycho, too, but follow it with what I thought Flash should have done, telling King Rodney that “psycho” meant something good. Which turns out really funny in The Island of Myste.
So many influences and sounds like tons of research. You really put a lot into this book. Any other interesting details you can share with us?
I used a lot of symbolism for the main characters within the Nephilim. Aramad’s name and personality are derived from the first man, Adam. As the leader of all the Nephilim tribes, Aramad feels the most responsibility and the most shame for their imprisonment. He feels as if he alone is to blame for their punishment, the same way that Adam brought sin into the world. Aramad wants nothing more than to see all of the Nephilim set free.
Lura is like Eve, serene and motherly, full of nurturing affection. While Eve was deceived by the serpent, Lura was imprisoned for using her beauty to deceive and destroy humans, and now she deeply regrets all the harm she caused.
Kun, the leader of the giant Rocs, is patterned after Cain, the first murderer. As one of the great Nephilim leaders, Aramad and Lura see him as a prodigal son, who turned against the Nephilim and began killing them. Like Cain, Kun was ultimately exiled from the tribes for his crimes.
Randall, thanks so much for sharing all these great insights into theThe Island of Myste series. I’m looking forward to reading more.
About Randall Allen Dunn
Despite 900 years of Jedi training, Randall Allen Dunn was rejected as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. He later used his Lunar gifts to become a volunteer Watcher guiding future writers and Vampire Slayers, until the Sorting Hat placed him in the YA ThrillerWriter faction. He now writes action thrillers that read like blockbuster movies, packed with action, adventure, and infinite possibility.
You can contact him by using the Force or by email: Randall@RandallAllenDunn.com
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