March 2018 Issue, By Mavis Manus
View the article here
Writer Alysia Helming’s Protogenesis launches book series, media company, and new TV series with award-winning Greek singer
American young-adult romance and fiction novelist finds inspiration—and endless creative opportunities—in Greece.
That roughly sums up Alysia Helming’s story. The 46-year-old, Northern-California based writer had never been to Greece when she first started writing her story inspired by Greek mythology a few years ago.
“My 17-year–old niece, Hannah, came to me with the idea,” Alysia said in an interview with The Hellenic Journal. “Although my niece and I didn’t end up writing the story together, the seed for the story was planted in my brain and so I sat down and wrote my debut novel called Protogenesis (Greek for ‘Before the Beginning’). It told the story of an American teenage girl who moves from California to Athens to discover her true inner power through a fantastic adventurous journey which combines the real life in modern Athens with Mythology and the Olympian Gods in the most original way and at the same time depicts the amazing beauty of the Greek people and Greek culture.”
The book became the first of a projected seven-volume series, The Protogenesis Book Series, and spent three consecutive weeks on Amazon’s best-selling list as a self-published title. A new edition of Protogenesis: Before the Beginning will be published on March 29, 2018 by Black Rose Writing. The Greek edition of Protogenesis: Before the Beginning will also be published in Greece on April 12, 2018 by Livanis Publishing.
“My interest in Greece and my need to really understand the Greek people and culture for the writing of my story motivated me to visit that country,” Alysia said. “I fell in love with the country and have visited over fifteen times in the last two years. Because my books required a lot of cultural and archeological research. I met and worked (briefly) with many archaeologists, including Professor John Camp, whose nickname among his colleagues at the American Classical School in Athens is Indiana Jones.”Over 500 people in Greece have contributed to Helming’s research for the Protogenesis novel, including renowned Greek archeologists, cultural and mythology experts, and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Due to the overwhelming support Alysia has received from so many in Greece, Protogenesis has been selected to be featured as part of the United Nations’ (UNESCO) 2018 World Book Capital event in Athens.The book features theme song Forever & Tonight by Kostas Martakis. Helming met Martakis, the famous platinum-awarded Greek singer, on one of her research trips to Athens, Greece.
“How it happened has mythical overtones,” she said. “While working on my book, I used various online photos as inspirations for my characters. I earmarked one of the photos as the model for my Greek protagonist, only to later spot his image again on a billboard in Athens promoting his latest live appearances. My breath caught in my chest at the sight and realization of this strange coincidence. Then, later on, my sister and I went to swim at a beach outside Athens… and there, right near us was a handsome guy with bird tattoos on his arm. It was Kostas himself!”
She and Kostas became good friends and the singer became a valuable collaborator on the Protogenesis Media projects. Martakis also became the host of a series of short-films titled Footsteps in Athens. The gorgeously crafted short-film series was inspired by the Protogenesis story. With its sweeping scenery of Greece, it allows viewers to explore must-see locations in modern-day Athens visited by the book’s protagonists while also bringing a few scenes from the book to life onscreen! These places include Monastiraki, Plaka, Lycabettus Hill, the Athens Riviera, and more. This is the first time since the ‘60s that the Greek Ministry of Culture has issued a permit for an exclusive filming inside the Temple of Poseidon and Ancient Agora. The Footsteps in Athens short films are available to view at www.footstepsinathens.com.
Helming and Martakis are now collaborating on another new Protogenesis Media project, Meet Me in Greece. It is a reality-based American TV series, based on the real-life story of Helming and Martakis’ story behind Alysia’s trips to Greece and the writing of the novel series. “The new exciting show, which is now being developed, is something on the order of Sex and the City in Greece,” Alysia explains.
Although Kostas Martakis is known mostly as a singer, he has successfully acted before, in the theatre and on TV. “I felt so happy that this American writer chose me to inspire her character, which was why I decided to create the Protogenesis theme song Forever and Tonight. I wanted to do something special for her, something extraordinary.” The song will soon be released globally with a music video which features a dance performance by San Francisco BalletPrincipal Ballerina Jennifer Stahl and bridges the Greek and American culture through an international collaboration.
Martakis and Helming are also joining forces to organize a Kostas Martakis’ 2019 North American live tour supported by Protogenesis Media.
“In all my projects, I hope to bring good cheer to Greece,” Alysia said. “The country has been going through tough times, which is why I want to bring a message of hope and also encourage tourism.”
When she isn’t writing, Helming is considered a ‘Clean Energy Guru’. She was the former CFO and now, is a majority investor/owner in Pristine Sun, a major solar independent power producer in the United States, which she co-founded with her husband Troy Helming.
Alysia started writing her own short stories and plays for school in the third grade, and throughout her life has never forgotten her passion for writing. In 2000, she coauthored a pilot for a TV series, One Degree of Separation and in 2006, coordinated the local premiere of the feature-length movie The Great Warming starring Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, assisting with the nationwide release of the film. As a former student in Screenwriting at University of California, Los Angeles, Alysia wrote a full-length feature film screenplay, The Green Warrior, in 2009-2010. She was also a professional ballerina and danced until she was nineteen as a soloist dancer with the local Kansas City ballet company – Ballet North. Married with one son, she is putting all her energy and drive into her Greek Mythology-inspired literary books and film projects.
Don’t miss the upcoming Protogenesis book events and book signings in San Francisco, Los Angeles and other U.S. cities which will take place starting from March 2018. Stay updated with all the latest news through Helming’s official website at www.alysiahelming.com and follow Alysia on Instagram @alysiahelming_novelist and on facebook @alysiahelmingnovelist.