Jaysen Headley is an accomplished author who loves Disney and has taken part of his love for theme parks and combined it with his talent for writing! He recently had his book, Mythos, published. Read on to learn more…
CONGRATS ON THE NEW BOOK! CAN YOU TELL ME A BIT ABOUT IT?
Sure! Mythos is a story about Henry Lau, a young man who has just come out to his friends and family. In the midst of all of that, his class wins a trip to the new island amusement park, Mythos. Mythos is special in that scientists there have found a way to create actual, real life mythological creatures. Dragons, unicorns, giants and more. Unfortunately, just as their tour is beginning, something goes wrong and the park goes dark, leaving Henry and his friends to fight for their lives as they attempt to survive the island until they can find help.
It’s a young adult book that mixes themes from Jurassic Park as well as gay YA fiction like Love, Simon and What if It’s Us.
THAT SOUNDS REALLY FUN! WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR THIS BOOK?
The first book I ever remember my mom reading to me when I was little was Jurassic Park. Not to say that was the first book she EVER read to me, because that would be crazy. But I remember it vividly. I think that started a life long love of amusement parks and scary monsters. I’ve wanted to write a them park disaster story for a while now but couldn’t find the right fit or a story that really spoke to me. That is, until Mythos. I was also very inspired by authors like Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera who have written some amazingly wonderful YA gay fiction, which I think the world is sorely lacking.
HOW IS THIS BOOK DIFFERENT FROM SOME OF YOUR PREVIOUS WRITINGS?
For one, Mythos is the first book I’ve written entirely in first person perspective. This was a huge adjustment for me, but felt right for the story and was a ton of fun. Mythos is also the first of my story where the characters didn’t have some sort of magical power, making them much more vulnerable. I often had to ask, could they survive this small fall of a cliff?
WAS JURASSIC PARK WHAT MADE YOU THINK OF THIS STORY’S PARK, OR DID THAT COME ABOUT AFTER WRITING?
I love theme parks. We go to Disney World and Universal Studios nearly every week. That being said, I can’t help but picture a crazy disaster when we’re there. I know that sounds awful, but it is what it is. I wanted to tell a story about a theme park and the lengths that the owner of that park would go to in order to please his guest and achieve world renown. In other words, what is the price of the ‘Wow’ factor? From the standpoint of building natural habitats for creatures that have never existed before, I took a lot of inspiration from Jurassic Park, but I also studied Animal Kingdom and SeaWorld as well to see how they distinguish these different climates while making them livable for their animals.
DID ANY OF THE DISNEY PARKS GUIDE THE CREATION OF THE PARK MYTHOS?
Absolutely! I thought a lot about Disney when it came to how Mythos ‘brands’ parts of their park. For example, much like Disney calls employees ‘cast members’, Mythos refers to its staff as Villagers since the island hub is themed to look like a town square in a medieval town.
FROM YOUR PAST BOOKS, YOU OBVIOUSLY LOVE FANTASY. WHAT FANTASY CREATURES YOU WERE MOST EXCITED TO WRITE ABOUT THIS TIME?
I definitely love dragons as they’ve now shown up in three of my four books. That being said, one of my favorite challenges with Mythos was to balance the big fantasy creatures that we all know with those that are less popular. We also took advantage of the fact that these creatures were being built from scratch which meant they all have some weird, unexpected quirks. Chupacabras don’t drink blood, they eat hair! Dragons can’t actually breathe fire on Mythos and krakens only attack boats because they live on a diet of wood and iron. It was really fun to imagine these creatures in slightly different ways while still staying true to what makes them so exciting!
YOU SAY THAT HENRY HAS COME OUT OF THE CLOSET RECENTLY. WHY WAS THAT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO INCLUDE IN THIS BOOK?
Growing up as a gay man, but also as a creator, I often had people, even good friends, tell me not to write gay lead characters as it would put off readers who weren’t gay. They advised me it would make my book less marketable. And maybe they’re right? Either way, Mythos was a book I wanted to pour myself into. From my anxieties to my fears to my love of cookies, and that meant finally exploring a gay lead character. While my previous books have had queer side characters, this is the first time that I’ve ever made it the heart of the story and it has been liberating.
WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU?
Later this year I’ll be releasing the second book in my Young Adult Longtails series which is about a group of Mouse Adventurers in a post-apocalyptic world after humans have gone extinct. Longtails: The Wildfires of Summer will (hopefully) be out this September. Beyond that, my next project is to finally finish my trilogy which got me into novels in the first place. A Love Story for Witches and A Home for Wizards (The second in the series) will finally have an ending after taking a couple of years away from the series to work on other projects. And who knows, maybe Mythos will get a second book someday as well!
HOW CAN SOMEONE BUY YOUR BOOK?
All of my books are available on Amazon.com in print and Ebook. You can also get them at Barnes & Noble. If you don’t see it on the shelf make sure to ask for it as they can always order it for you!