Friday, June 20, 2014

Guest Post: M.K. Hutchins + Drift

Today I'm pleased to welcome author M.K. Hutchins to the blog to talk a little bit about her upcoming young adult fantasy release, Drift. I'm a huge fan of all types of mythology, especially lesser-known types I'm not as familiar with, so I was super excited when M.K. submitted her guest post on Maya mythology and how it inspired the world of Drift. Take it away M.K!

Often the first thing I hear from anyone about my book is “cool giant turtle!” Thanks, Sammy Yuen, for creating such a striking cover.

The environment of Drift was inspired by Maya mythology – three elements in particular.

The World Turtle: A number of mythologies viewed the world as being on the back of a turtle. This visual is striking to me. The domed back of a swimming turtle looks like an island in miniature, with all the ridges and cracks in the shell becoming mountains and ravines.

Watery Underworld: The ancient Maya viewed both standing water and caves as portals to the underworld. The dichotomy of water as being both life-giving and dangerous fascinates me. When I heard a professor describe the world as a turtle surrounded by a watery hell, I knew I wanted to write a story using that setting. Natural bodies of water are often hard to see through. Something dangerous could always be lurking, just out of sight, below the surface.

World Tree: Many mythologies have some kind of world tree. Thanks to recent popular movies, many people are probably familiar with Yggdrasil, the Norse version. The Maya tree was different, of course, but it, too, connected the lowest part of hell to the highest reaches of the heavens.

From these, I began creating a world of many drifting turtle-island, surrounded by dangerous waters – Nearhell – and connected through the long roots of the tree to an inky, strange place – Deephell. Those who lived in the Tree could travel to Deephell and rob its treasures for strange gifts that would help protect the island. This in place, I could begin to brainstorm my main character – a young man who lived in poverty on the shores of hell, determined to join the warriors who lived in the Tree to pull himself and his sister from poverty.

• • • • • • • • • • • 


Tenjat lives on the shores of Hell, an ocean filled with ravenous naga monsters. His island, a massive Turtle, is slowed by the people living on its back. Only those poor enough to need children to support themselves in old age condescend to the shame of marriage. Tenjat is poor as poor gets, but he has a plan.

In the center of the island rises a giant Tree, where the Handlers—those who defend and rule the island—live. Against his sister’s wishes, Tenjat joins the Handlers. He couldn’t have picked a more dangerous time. The Turtle is nearing a coral reef where it desperately needs to feed, but the naga will swarm just before they reach it. Even novices like Tenjat are needed for the battle.

Can Tenjat discover his sister’s secrets in time? Will the possibility of love derail all his plans for a richer, marriage-free life? Long-held secrets will at last be revealed in this breathtaking debut from M. K. Hutchins.

• • • • • • • • • • 


My debut novel, Drift, is forthcoming from Tu Books and my short fiction appears in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show and Daily Science Fiction.  I studied archaeology at BYU, which gave me the opportunity to compile histories from Maya glyphs, excavate in Belize, and work as a faunal analyst. 


  1. YES There is a giant turtle on the cover!! The cover really is striking :)) And this actually sounds quite intriguing, I am also a big fan of mythology themed stories!

  2. OH my goodness!! DAT COVER. I've always adored that myth. There's a good sort of representation of it in The Legend of Korra Season 2.

  3. What a wonderful cover! And now I'm so curious about the world, I'l sure it's amazing to discover it! thanks for the post.

  4. This sounds very different and original from most YA out there. I don't think I've ever read a story where the characters live on a giant turtle. Thanks for sharing ladies!

  5. This sounds really cool. I love mythology too and Maya mythology sounds really intriguing. I had heard of the World Tree and Watery Underworld, but the World Turtle is new to me. I don't think I've read anything like that before….very unique concept. Thanks for sharing this post with us, Jenny! I'll keep me eye out for this book.

  6. Oh wow, this sounds fantastic! I've always been fascinated by Mayan mythology and society, so a fantasy book based on that?? Goes straight into my wish list!
    Fantastic guest post, thank you for sharing this book with us, Jenny!
    But, despite knowing about Mayan mythology, now everytime I think about a turtle carrying a world on its back, all I can think of is Discworld!

  7. First of all, my goodness that cover is beyond gorgeous! Secondly, what a unique and creative concept. I love love the idea of the World Turtle. How absolutely fascinating!
    Thanks so much for sharing. I have to add this to my TBR! :)

  8. I didn't even realise there was a turtle on the cover until I read your post, but I have to say that I'm a huge fan! I love how original this book sounds. Thanks for sharing your influences behind your story with us!

  9. Such a novel idea for a book! That is rare

  10. I love mythology but Maya is new to me. I think I would really love this one!

  11. I love that turtle. I have a cousin who loves them and I think she would just want that cover to look at! LOL

  12. Oh wow! I've never read anything that's inspired from Maya mythology. Sounds like such a cool idea! We've seen caves and standing water as portals to a lot of different places and it's so fun to hear where they originate from. This post was so interesting. Thanks so much for sharing this, ladies!

  13. That is a gorgeous cover and I do love the turtle! Plus, an interesting concept, a world on the back of a giant turtle -- love when different mythology gets pulled into stories (different than the typical Greek or Celtic...not that I have anything against that!).

  14. I'm liking the cover and the synopsis!