I had the pleasure of being at the presentation of “Protogenesis” book here in Greece. I’ve arrived early at the place and as it was very cold outside I ordered a drink to warm up. Most of the guests were dressed in dull winter colors, including me, when suddenly a girl with a red dress entered the room and light it up. She was smiling and looked stunning and very happy. Of course she was the author, Alysia Helming and immediately I was intrigued to read the book that came from such an interesting person. I’ve heard about the story and not only I’d love to read it but I want to see it in the big screen! I was very happy when Alysia accepted my invitation for an interview.

How where you like as a child? When did you decided to become a Novelist?

From my earliest memories as a child, I had an overactive imagination and often would take over the story telling from my parents at bedtime. Around fourth grade, I organized the kids at school or in my neighborhood to reenact Broadway musicals like “Annie” and “Sound of Music”. By the seventh grade, I adapted Judy Blume and Mark Twain books into screenplays; and then, in high school, I was the student director and starred in many plays. One was a soap opera episode that I wrote in French.

Alysia Helming - Novelist - Interview - VESPER gr Magazine

Upon graduating from high school, I was a professional ballerina for a year before my career ended over a dance injury. At this point, I moved to Los Angeles to try my luck at screenwriting, but ended up taking the ‘safe’ route, opting to major in Economics instead. I went on to hold a successful career as a Finance Officer for several companies while I co-created a TV series that was similar to “Silicon Valley” in 2000 in my spare time.

In 2009, I finally had the opportunity to return to my writing passion when I wrote my first full length screenplay as part of UCLA’s extension program; and then in 2010, I attended screenwriting classes as part of the professional program in screenwriting. This is where I met Protogenesis’ story editor, renowned young adult TV writer and lecturer at UCLA, Kelly Fullerton.

It wasn’t until 2014 that I decided to write a novel, when my love of mythology gave rise to the ideas that over time became Protogenesis, the first book in the seven-book series called the Protogena Chronicles.


Where do you get your inspiration from?

Inspiration for my writing comes from all sorts of places and experiences, including even the most mundane activities.

For my novel, Protogenesis, my original inspiration was ancient Greek mythology, for which started out as a short story which I wrote with my seventeen-year-old niece, Hannah. You can read all about this and other sources of my inspiration through my blogs on www.alysiahelming.com/reallifestory.

Beyond mythology, much of the inspiration for Protogenesis came about in a very random and amazing way, like ‘serendipity’. This was how Greek music star, Kostas Martakis, first inspired me. I discovered him in a very random way when I conducted a basic Google search for the physical characteristics of one of the main male characters in the book, Ever Sarantos. I performed a similar search for all the characters in Protogenesis before I started writing and put their pictures up on the wall of my office. In most cases, I did not know anything else about these people in real life (unless they were well known in the US).

Upon my first research trip to Athens, we were driving from the airport when I was shocked to see Kostas up on a banner. During this trip, I discovered that similar to Ever Sarantos, Kostas is Greek, lives in Athens, his mother was from Australia and he is an incredible singer. I also ran into him by chance twice that trip, which I took as a sign that this book was meant to be. I take ‘signs’ like this very seriously, as they have led to my previous success in business as well.



Tell us about your book (general information, what inspired you, what does it mean to you etc.)?

One American girl, one love triangle, one loss, one quest, bridging modern Greece with ancient mythology, all with a fresh and exciting sci fi twist…

The story is completely unique, never been done before. It offers a completely new understanding of ancient mythology as we know it, as well as an alternative view of how modern civilization may have originated. Hence, the title Protogenesis means “Before the Beginning”.

This is a story of the perseverance & metamorphosis of the human spirit, as told through the eyes of a 17-year-old American girl, Helene, as it explores and interweaves political, cultural and economic issues in modern and ancient Greece, which she discovers through a quest in Athens to find her mother and through a dramatic love triangle where she finds herself in embroiled in the highs and lows of young love with two Greek boys.

Throughout the book, Helene follows a series of clues, which she slowly fits together like a puzzle as she travels from the world we know through a portal to another place where she makes a startling discovery. The gods of the myths are alive and well, but exist in another reality.

By the end of the book, the reader will experience a sense of euphoria as the final clues unlock the mystery of it all and Helene discovers the beautiful, powerful woman that she has become, and is meant to be.


This book has a lot do to with Greece, why? What is your relationship with Greece?

When I researched other young adult books about mythology, I realized that none of them were set in modern Greece. As Greece is the origination of Greek mythology and also, the birthplace of many concepts in mathematics and science, as well as the birthplace of democracy, it seems the perfect place to set the story.

Also, the economic issues and status of Greece is a very hot topic that we see in the news a lot in the United States.

But I had been to Greece once, and only for a few days. I tried to research on the Internet, but it’s not enough. The authors of many books in the young adult genre do not thoroughly research their settings, which can leave readers who know the culture and the place frustrated.   This is why I’ve visited Athens nine times in the past 18 months and hired a local Cultural Editor, Denia Metaxa. Through this experience, I have met all kinds of people from all different types of circumstances, from drivers to super celebrities, such as Greek music star, Kostas Martakis. It really enriches the story and gives the reader a real sense of Athens.

Although my ancestry has a Mediterranean component, I do not know specifically which country in the region this is from.

Alysia Helming - Novelist - Interview - VESPER gr Magazine

Do you have any Personalities that you admire?

As I read the entire Harry Potter series out loud to my young son when he was first learning to read, I greatly admire JK Rowling. It is one thing to read a book and enjoy it; but when you read it out loud, this really determines whether the book is exceptional.

Other young adult writers that I admire are Stephanie Meyer and Suzanne Collins. Both presented young adults with cutting edge stories and served as trail blazers for their genres. I seek to emulate this with Protogenesis for Greek mythology.

As I was a former ballerina, my writing is greatly influenced by music. I regularly listen to Taylor Swift and Christina Perri to get me in the mood for writing young adult fiction. For music in Greek, I listen mostly to Kostas Martakis and Demy, whose music allows my mind to travel back to Greece when I’m writing from the United States.

Actors that I admire are versatile in their craft like Tom Hanks, whom I have heard also has a passion for Greece.


What are your future plans?

For the next year, I have hired a team at my company Protogena Chronicles Inc. to market and promote my novel worldwide. The e-book with a new cover art designed by renowned artist Philip Tsiaras is now available for sale on Amazon Kindle worldwide, while the hard copy and paperback versions are also coming soon. My team and I won’t stop until “Protogenesis” is a #1 Bestseller.

Additionally, I have worked closely with my core editing team to outline the next six books in the Protogena Chronicles series and I have written almost half of the next book in the series, “First Cure”.

Early in 2017, I am excited that we will roll out an interactive website for the book at www.protogenesis.com, which among many amazing features, will allow visitors to follow Helene’s footsteps through various sites in Athens through a series of short movies narrated by Greek actor and musician, Kostas Martakis. We also intend to publish the book in Greek and launch the theme song, “Forever and Tonight”, during the first half of 2017.

As my background is in screenwriting and many of my advisors are successful producers, writers and actors in Hollywood, naturally, I am in the process of exploring adaptation of the book series to the big screen, as well as merchandising and other such collaborations for the franchise.

Alysia Helming - Novelist - Interview - VESPER gr Magazine

Alysia Helming, Kostas Martakis

Which part of your life makes you proud?

I am most proud of balancing my overly ambitious plans for this book series with the needs of my family. It has been an amazing experience for me to write and create sections of these books with the help of my son, Xander, and also with my niece, Hannah.


What is like a typical day of your life?

As I must juggle being a mom with my writing, discipline is really important. When I am at home in San Francisco, I rise at the crack of dawn, take my son to school, work out, write at least four hours per day, touch base with my Protogena team, participate in marketing calls and meetings…and then, shift gears back to pick up my son from school, help him with homework and cook dinner.

When I really need to focus with uninterrupted writing or other projects, I go to my parents’ cabin in the Teton mountains or to Athens, Greece. In this case, I will sometimes work nonstop for 12 or more hours, working crazy hours. For this reason, I sometimes travel without my family.


What are the characteristics that you are looking for from your friends?

Over the past year, my best friends are those that have watched my writing journey and understand that my time is limited. As a result, I only have a small number of really close friends. The time we spend together is cherished and fun. Like me, most of my friends are going through some sort of metamorphosis or have a strong power of purpose in some area of their lives. It is really exciting to enrich and inspire each other on our life journeys.


Are you a person that takes risks or do you prefer to do well thought moves in your life?

Early in my life, I was less likely to take risks; yet, later in life, I have become much more of a risk taker. Starting in 2002, I co-founded four start-up companies from scratch with my husband, two of which have grown into multi-million enterprises in wind and solar energy. Additionally, I am an avid mountaineer and climber, which is a risky endeavor. In 2005, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro where I had to be evacuated from the mountain top when the blood vessels burst in my lungs with altitude induced pulmonary edema. I barely survived it and still suffer from reduced lung function from this incident.

When my life was at stake, it changed me. Now, I live every day as if it may be my last, living life to the fullest. This attitude is a big reason how I have been able to accomplish so much and relentlessly pursue my dreams, no matter how large they may be.

Thank you Alysia Helming

Alysia Helming - Novelist - Interview - VESPER gr Magazine

Terry Paganopoulou, Alysia Helming