We love when the 80s and creativity combine for something extra special. That’s just what LT80s writer Mark Dursin and his wife, Sheri has brought us with the co-authored book titled, “Labors of an Epic Punk.”
Mark and Sheri have been working on the novel for about 8 years and he says it was truly a labor of love. So, what exactly is “Labors of an Epic Punk” all about? Well, check out the synopsis:
Mac is an epic punk. No wonder: after his dad went off to fight in the Trojan War and never came back, Mac spent his childhood evading his mom’s scumbag suitors—all one-hundred-and-eight of them. Of course, he turned out this way—a moody, friendless sixteen-year-old who blows off work, alienates everyone at school, and pulls pranks. But when he trains a flock of birds to defecate on the headmaster, Mac (short for Telemachus) goes too far. The administrators give him an ultimatum: prove that he’s truly the son of Odysseus by doing something heroic—or get out. A school story that just so happens to take place 3,000 years ago, Labors of an Epic Punk is a tale of friendship and transformation, regret and redemption, and a reminder to us all that even heroes need to survive adolescence.
If you can’t tell where the 80s influence came from, check out my conversation with Mark and Sheri. Together, they tell us where he idea from the story came from and even talk a little 80s culture.
LT80s Writer Mark Dursin and His Wife Talk Labors of an Epic Punk
Where did the idea for this story come from?
Sheri: It was actually a trip to the bathroom that inspired this whole project!
Mark: Sheri was in a Rainforest Cafe one day, and as she was heading to the restroom, she saw a funky sculpture of Atlas holding up the world. And that got her thinking about all the great tales from mythology.
Sheri: Later that night Mark and I took turns sharing our favorite stories and the light bulb moment happened. We realized we could write our own story based on characters from Greek mythology.
Mark: The original premise was a lot more gimmicky. We envisioned a bunch of mythological heroes as teenagers at the same high school. Sort of a Muppet Babies kind of thing. We didn’t go too far with that, but I remember Jason was going to be one of the teens and the math teacher was going to be Pythagoras. And while we were throwing out possible names of kids who could go to this school, I mentioned Telemachus, the son of Odysseus. I was familiar with his story because I had taught The Odyssey for years.
Sheri: And I thought Telemachus was such a great character to re-imagine because Homer didn’t introduce him until he was a young man. What was he like as a teenager? What motivated him, haunted him, and brought him to the point where he first appears in The Odyssey?
Why Greek mythology?
Mark: I’m a high school English teacher, so I’ve taught The Odyssey to ninth graders for years. But here’s the thing: students love mythology…but they hate the mythology we ask them to read. I am constantly mystified at how profoundly my students dislike The Odyssey. They love mythology, but they can’t get behind texts like The Odyssey. They think it’s too boring, too irrelevant, too… old. And we want our book to fill that void—between teens’ inherent interest in mythology and the inaccessibility of the original sources.
What was it like to embark on a project like this with your spouse?
Sheri: Really rewarding. We had both held these long dormant dreams of writing a book but could never seem to get anywhere on our own. Coming together to write shook off the paralysis and helped us keep moving forward with writing, revising, and eventually publishing. There were times I wanted to give up and times that Mark wanted to quit. But we kept each other going through those times. I’d be lying if I said we never argued about the book, but we tried to look at that as a healthy display of passion for the finished product.
Mark: When I first started telling people about our project, a friend who is a writer herself remarked, “I don’t know how you can write a book with another person.” Well, after this experience, I don’t know how you could write a book any other way. Sheri and I motivated each other. In my lifetime, I’ve probably come up with seven or eight novels—in my head. Some I’ve actually started, but I never got beyond page ten. This manuscript is the only sustained piece of writing I ever actually finished—and it’s absolutely because Sheri and I did it together.
How has the 80s influenced the story that is told in the book?
Sheri: 80s high school movies are the gold standard of high school movies!! We tried to represent all the very best tropes of those films: teenage pranks, jocks vs. nerds, the high school dance, evil school principals, and young love.
Mark: We’re pitching our book as Clash of the Titans meets The Breakfast Club. At its core, it’s the story of five high school kids from different backgrounds who come together. Sure, it takes place 3,000 years ago, and we have monsters and mythical flutes and underground labyrinths…but we have teenage characters, with regular teenage problems. And we hope that familiarity will resonate with our teen readers.
Mark, why is the 80s such an important decade to you? Why is it so easy for you to write so passionately about it on LT80s?
Mark: I write about music for LT80s, because the 1980s is when I “discovered” music, basically. So 80s music will always be MY music. But I also objectively believe that music from the 80s is truly the best music ever created—and I defy anyone to tell me otherwise! But seriously…the 1980s is when I “came of age,” if you will. I was a teenager in the 80s, and no one feels more passionately about things—not just music, but books, friendships, relationships—than teenagers. And that kind of passion is what we hope to tap into with our book.
Walk us through the indie publishing process and the difficulties you had along the way.
Sheri: This is a really exciting time to be in the world of independent publishing. So many talented authors, who would have had no way of getting their work out there, now have a chance. Traditional publishing is a tough, competitive, often discouraging business. With the explosion of independent publishing, great writers with great stories to tell are going their own way and making their books available.
Mark: The pitfalls? There’s so much information out there! It’s hard to know what resources are the most helpful. We used a combination of Arielle Eckstut’s wonderful book on self-publishing, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, and the help of New Book Authors (at newbookauthors.com), a great author services company that helped us navigate some of the more technical aspects of the process.
Will this book be a part of a series?
Mark: I feel this book comes to a satisfying conclusion, but not every conflict is neatly wrapped up. There’s more to say about these characters. And hopefully, the next installment won’t take eight years for us to write!
Sheri: Yes, definitely! We’ve already begun work on a sequel featuring our five main characters in more adventures. There are some unanswered questions in the first book and some hints about where we might go with Book Two. Visit our website at epicpunk.com for the latest news!
What sort of reactions are you hoping for from readers?
Sheri: This seems sort of obvious, but we want them to love the story! To really care about the characters and what happens to them. We want them to be inspired and to come away feeling like there are many kinds of heroes out there and many ways to define heroism.
Mark: We believe our book has something for everyone—adventure, romance, humor, and as much heart as we can stand. And we think that even readers who aren’t necessarily fans of fantasy or mythology can enjoy it. The way we always saw it, the fantastical elements in the book work metaphorically; we wanted to show that, for a teenage boy, asking a girl to dance could be just as scary as facing monster like the Minotaur.
Any last words for our readers?
Mark: Just that we want to thank in advance anyone who takes a chance on us or simply passes on information about our book to someone they know. You really are helping us achieve our dream.
Sheri: Let us know how you like the book! Leave a review on Amazon. Contact us through our website at https://epicpunk.com or our Facebook page @LaborsofanEpicPunk. We’d love to hear from you!