YA Fantasy, Myth Retelling
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.
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At that moment, Mac felt a prickling sensation as the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly stood on end. Instinctively, he shouted, “Get down!” as he threw himself and Homer into the sand. He looked up to see a single arrow buzz over their heads.
“Homer!” A voice—gruff, but unmistakably female—boomed through the courtyard. “How many times do I have to tell you? Stop following me!”
Mac looked in disbelief down at Homer, pinned underneath him. “I said I knew her,” Homer shrugged. “I didn’t say we were best friends or anything.” As they both stood up, Homer called out to their secret attacker, in a lame attempt to sound chummy, “Hey, Andie! What’s up?”
“How did you find me? Did you follow me? Did my roommate tell you? She told you, didn’t she? I’m gonna kill her!”
Homer glanced nervously at Mac before calling out, “So, what are you doing way out here?”
“Why should I tell you?” the mystery girl shouted back. Meanwhile, Mac’s eyes flew around, trying to determine the source of this shouting. As he squinted, he could make out someone, silhouetted against the sun, half-hiding at the top of one of the stone towers.
“Now, get out of here,” the voice called out. “This is my beach!”
“Well, OK, but first, how ‘bout you come on down?” Homer continued. “My friend and I want to ask you something.”
“You don’t have any friends, you freak!”
“As a matter of fact, I just made one. Come on down, I’ll introduce you.”
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The characters in Labors of an Epic Punk are based on Homer’s Odyssey, but we introduce a twist by having the poet himself as one of the main characters. Our Homer is a sixteen-year old-student at Pieridian Academy and Mac’s classmate. He’s obsessed with gods and heroes, and we first meet him delivering a blistering speech to the jocks and rich kids in Mac’s public speaking class. Here’s our first glimpse of a teenage Homer:
“Mac never remembered his name. He only knew him as the short kid with the bad foot and the big mouth who had the distinction of being, almost without peer, the least ‘cool’ kid in school.”
Homer doesn’t fit in with the rest of the students at school: he’s really small for his age; he’s gay; and he has a physical disability that prevents him from participating in a lot of activities. Tired of feeling invisible, Homer longs for recognition. He dreams of greatness...going on heroic adventures and performing acts of bravery and valor like the gods and heroes he idolizes.
Homer’s passion for all things hero-related finally results in someone noticing him. Mac realizes Homer is the perfect candidate to help him out of his current predicament: imminent expulsion from school, unless he proves he’s worthy enough to stay. Homer jumps at the chance and devises the plan that sets Mac off on his heroic journey.
In many ways, Mac—the sullen, moody loner—and Homer—the nerdy, quirky know-it-all—couldn’t be more different. But they do share one significant trait: they’re both outsiders. Only Mac willingly isolates himself from everyone, while Homer desperately wants to connect with someone. Will this unlikely partnership, with the help of some classmates who join in the quest, bring Homer closer to fulfilling his dreams of fame and friendship? Read Labors of and Epic Punk to find out!
For many years Mark, a high school English teacher, and Sheri, a freelance writer and blogger, wrote independently. No matter the writing project—newspaper articles, retreat talks, college recommendation letters, fan-fiction, blog posts on spirituality or 80s pop songs—they tended to work alone. Separate rooms, separate computers. But raising their twin sons helped them discover an important truth: All Good Things Come in Twos.