An Island Tale of a Reclusive Poet, A Muse and the Search for Eternal Love
The Poet’s Secret by Kenneth Zak
October 5, 2015
Fiction | Romance | Suspense
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In The Poet’s Secret, Elia Aloundra, a young lit student, sees the reclusive poet Cameron Beck recite a poem at a campus pub before he vanishes—for a second time. Ten years earlier, Beck had dropped from the public eye leaving only an acclaimed collection of odes to an anonymous muse and a decade of speculation over his disappearance.
Elia sets off in search of Beck, longing to know the man whose words have moved her so, hoping perhaps the ghost poet will unveil the secret to eternal love. What she doesn’t know is that as her quest begins, Beck is perched atop a cliff on a remote Caribbean island and about to attempt suicide. As Elia faces off with Beck’s protective circle on the exotic island hideaway, the same island where decades earlier a Spanish shipwreck entombing mystical Aztec relics was found, she finds herself swept up in the mystery of the muse. What Elia cannot fathom is that Beck’s secret will change both their lives forever.
To be published by Penju Publishing in October 2015, an early draft of The Poet’s Secret was selected as a Golden Heart® Award finalist in romantic suspense by Romance Writers of America. Penju Publishing is a member of 1% for the Planet, and for every copy of The Poet’s Secret sold, $1 will also be donated to The Surfrider Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the earth’s oceans, waves and beaches.
About The Author:
Born in Parma, Ohio, Kenneth Zak is an aquatic nomad of Bohemian-Polish ancestry. As a lad, he dove into Lake Erie in search of a silver coin. Decades later, he surfaced off the island of Crete with a tale filled with mystical sea turtles, sunken treasure and a young woman’s search for a reclusive poet, his muse and the myth of eternal love. A summa cum laude graduate of The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business and special interest in Art History, Zak went on to receive his Juris Doctor and follow the waves to California. He eventually shut down a successful law practice in quest of a deeper purpose, freeing his creative self in a mountaintop village in Crete where he began his debut novel, The Poet’s Secret, continuing work on the manuscript and his poetry in Bali, Costa Rica, Thailand, Cambodia and South America. An avid surfer and free diver, Ken’s passions also include reading, music, ocean swimming, the Tibetan Rites and yoga. He currently serves as General Counsel for a large private brokerage company and resides in San Diego, California. Learn more at www.kennethzak.com
Q&A with the Author:
What inspired you to write The Poet’s Secret?
At the time I wrote The Poet’s Secret, I was on a personal pilgrimage. I essentially took a three year sabbatical, sort of an adult “time out,” and embarked on a new path. I dedicated myself to explore the meaning of life and love and particularly the arc of passion. I became consumed by the idea of living in the present, honoring the “now” as the only real moment in time, the only authentic eternity, which allowed me to both disconnect and connect like never before and let go of the constructs of past and future as fictions created by the mind. I gained a new appreciation for relatively brief moments and encounters as having potentially profound effects. I was living abroad, reading, writing, surfing and slowing down my existence.
The tale that became The Poet’s Secret was conceived in a hovel perched atop a one-table tavern in the hillside village of Avdou, just a scooter ride from the blue waters of the Aegean Sea on the island of Crete. I was sequestered alone, halfway around the world from my home, and recovering from a life, and a relationship, that had left me hollow, or at least I thought at the time. But it turned out words kept flowing out of me, first in raw, chunky verse that faintly resembled poetry and then in images and scenes that bore an even fainter resemblance to a novel. For months I wrote, swam in healing waters and disappeared into this remote, antiquated Greek village. I had never done anything like that before, but at the time it was the only existence that made any sense.
So many miracles happened during those months. I experienced a cleansing, a healing and an awakening, and I began to perceive light and water and imagery and words and the souls around me like never before. I eventually returned to California, and then traveled to Bali, Mexico, Costa Rica, Thailand, Cambodia and South America, following the sea and surf with laptop in hand and continuing to write. The backstory to writing The Poet’s Secret is a story in itself.
How did you select the locations for the novel?
It was tempting to set the bulk of the novel in Greece, a country I adore. However, as the story evolved the compass for the island setting spun toward the West Indies, and the story’s life raft washed ashore on the fictional island of Mataki. I was fortunate to spend a good part of my sabbatical on tropical islands and coastal villages that certainly informed the setting. As for the early campus setting, I based it on a fictionalized version of my beloved alma mater, The Ohio State University.
The novel is filled with excerpts of poetry, which came first, the poetry or the narrative arc?
Most of the poetry was written before any narrative took form. The poetry came in often painful and soul-searching flourishes, and then was revised over time. There is a line in The Poet’s Secret where Dean Baltutis refers to the poet’s inspiration being “survival.” That is precisely how it felt at times. I also wanted to combine both poetry and prose into one novel and attempt to slow down the reader a bit at the beginning of each chapter to contemplate and absorb the poetry, to be in that moment so to speak, before continuing on the narrative journey.
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