By Carlyle Cullen
Hannah Lokos, a sophomore student at The Master’s College, became a legally recognized author on October 30. Her novel, Labyrinth of Lies is to be published this month. She wrote the first draft at 18 when she was still being homeschooled in the Antelope Valley, and received her author-of-publication from Champagne Book Group at 19. The book will be released digitally as part of Champagne Book Group’s “Burst” imprint on Dec. 2.
“Rejection is hard; it rips at your heart,” said the premedical student speaking about the 16 rejections letters she received initially, “but The Help was rejected over 50 times. There’s maxim in the publishing world that says you can’t get published without an agent, and you can’t get an agent without being published.”
Lokos had a plan, however, to supersede that system: get a small publishing house interested in one of her shorter stories, and work her way up to publishing larger works in bigger publishing houses. Her plan proved successful when she received an email from Champagne in their interest to publish her novel earlier this year.
“I was in the library after bio lab when I saw the email. I called my mom, but she was in the shower.”
Lokos’ mother was her main source of encouragement in the midst of writing. “You’ll never meet anyone as faithful as my mom. She’s read this thing probably seven or eight times now. She stayed up with me until four in the morning while I was editing the first draft for the publisher’s deadline.” In fact, Mrs. Lokos is currently looking it over one last time before it makes it way to be published.
The novel, now in its final stages before release, started when Hannah was taking a course in Art History. She was reading Greek Mythology and came across the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. The myth centers around two kings, one of Athens and one of Crete. After King Minos of Crete claims victory, he demands that 14 youths be fed to his Minotaur hidden in a maze annually. It is not until a young prince of Athens goes to slay the Minotaur that the ritual ends and the children are freed.
As Lokos looked into the story, she realized that historically, the myth lined up. Even ruins of a mysterious maze remains where the King of Crete once reigned. “The novel is situated in a unique intersection of historical fiction, conspiracy theory and romance,” said Lokos.
The young author was concerned when shaping the novel, about how to represent the situation realistically, even within the conservative views of her Christian beliefs.
“One of the challenges of writing it was how to deal with the sin as a Christian. You can close your eyes and pretend like it doesn’t exist, but then you end up writing something that reads like Winnie the Pooh. You have to deal with sin, because this world is fallen. So the question is, what are you going to do with it when it comes along?”
Lokos has had experience already in this area when she received the Scholastic Art and Writing Award national silver medal for her writing portfolio a few years ago. She was exposed to the other winners’ writing and was surprised by some of the content that her work was presented alongside. She recognized that in the publishing world, liberal mindsets, postmodern philosophies and erotic subculture dominate sales.
“How do you live in that world as a Christian? Because I don’t condone it. I don’t want to change the way I write because of it. But, you have to deal with sin, and my book does. Every book needs an impetus; every plot needs a driving force. And sometimes that driving force is sin. You need something that merits an action – something that needs redeeming. I just want to glorify God at the end of the day and show sin for the terrible heartache that it truly is.”
Lokos will continue to write in the coming years as she finishes out her time at Master’s and moves on to medical school. She already has a concept for her next novel, which she ambiguously describes as something that “grabs your heart while it twists your mind.”
The young author has a long road following the digital release of her novel. Already she’s been involved in blog tours and guest posting, while marketing online and through her website.
“It’s kind of a challenge. But I’ve never objected to any challenge,” she said.
Information about Labyrinth of Lies can be found at www.hannahlokos.com and on her Facebook and Twitter pages.
Carlyle Cullen is a TMC communications major.