The author explores different caption endings

Keryn Powell has written a young adult novel called Before the Rising. Photo / Provided

When is a myth not a myth? When you find out it’s real.

That’s what happens in Keryn Powell’s young adult fantasy novel, Before the Rising.

Its story focuses on the legend of Pania of the Reef. There is a secret that has been kept by a group of people for centuries.

But now it’s time for the secret to come out – before disaster strikes.

Rebecca is 18 and her life is about to change.

Set in Napier where the author lives, this young adult novel takes readers under the sea and into another world.

It’s fast with a plot that twists and turns, great characters and it’s really enjoyable. I eagerly await the sequel.

Powell describes himself as a part-time general practitioner in Taradale and a part-time writer, who belongs to the local branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA).

I asked him a few questions.

This is your first novel. What made you decide to write it?

It was more about being ready to finish it than writing it! When I started writing Before the Rising I did two things that helped keep me on track – I joined NZSA and I purposely let a few close friends slip that I was writing a novel. It held me accountable and helped me start to think of myself as a writer.

Why did you choose the legend of Pania of the Reef to base on?

I love mythology, I love the ocean and we live in Napier! Legends about merpeople exist in so many cultures. Why? What are the similarities? The differences? I became fascinated with Pania’s marine ancestry and its implications. What if there were still sailors? How would they be? And then, because I’m a sucker for a happy ending, I began to wonder what would have happened if Pania’s harrowing story had had a different ending: and if she had secretly returned to shore and lived happily ever after. forever with Karitoki. instead of being trapped on the reef for eternity? Which then led to: what if there were descendants of Pania – people with seafaring DNA – secretly living among us?

What are your experiences with the ocean?

Like many Kiwis, the ocean for me is synonymous with sun, surf, salt, sand and summer vacation. I like to be on or in the ocean; I love its sounds and sea life. I have always had a healthy respect for the power, the mystery and the “otherness” of the ocean, but I am also increasingly aware that it is extremely vulnerable.

Do you think enough is being done to prevent further damage to the environment and if not, what do you think we could do better?

I believe we can always do more, both as individuals and as a nation. The recent IPCC report makes it very clear that we must. Our oceans are absorbing huge amounts of carbon, which is mitigating some of the environmental damage we are seeing on our planet, but at a high cost to itself and its inhabitants – acidification, warming water, endangered marine species disappearance. The drastic reduction in the use of fossil fuels and the rapid elimination of plastics are both my personal and political choice.

How did you celebrate the end of your book?

Before the Keryn Powell Uprising
Before the Keryn Powell Uprising

I sent the final draft to my fabulous editor, Sue Copsey, with lots of questions, and then started the sequel!

How does it feel to see it in bookstores?

Awesome, but also a bit scary. It’s like your child leaving home. You know they’re ready to go, but you’re always going to worry about them.

Tell us something weird about you?

If I weren’t a general practitioner and author, I would be an archaeologist or herpetologist. Maybe both.

Are you considering another book?

Yes! I juggle three writing projects; all at different stages. There’s a sequel to Before the Rising that I try desperately not to call After the Rising even though that’s the point! I turned Napier Hill into Napier Island while a new Napier is being built in the hills above the Mission, overlooking the old drowned cityscape. The sequel gives a bigger role to Rebecca’s friend Polly and introduces a community of climate outcasts/refugees.

I’m also editing a completed manuscript about a fantasy land in the not too distant future where euthanasia is mandatory at age 65.

Finally, I’m in the early stages of writing about a teenager who is forced to go to great lengths to get his point across after a family court ruling kicks him out of his home. and sent him to live with a separated relative.

Lola R. McClure