Publications / Books

Since 2007, Melissa has written a number of books, from children’s book and educational colouring books, to creative fiction and free verse. All her books have been translated from English to Greek, with her most recent title having been translated into French too. Her books are sold on all major platforms, including Amazon and are available in both print and digital editions. They are distributed in Cyprus in bookshops, educational centres, the Cyprus Handicraft Centre and museum bookshops.  

Amir’s Blue Elephant
Creative non-fiction, 2020, published by Armida Books

Melissa recounts her footsteps as she joins the journey of thousands of refugees seeking safety in Europe.

Pushing the boundaries of creative non-fiction, Melissa recreates the moments that marked her the most, whilst volunteering in refugee camps in Lesvos, Greece, and during her ongoing involvement with the refugee community in Cyprus.

Amir’s Blue Elephant is a glimpse into the sorrows of one of the biggest challenges faced by humanity today. Told through the eyes of a woman struggling to understand the realities asylum seekers are thrown into, this is the story of people fighting for the fragile right to freedom and liberty, the right to life itself.

Available from Armida Books
Available on Amazon

Book Review from Rights in Exile

My Nicosia Mandala
Interactive Colouring Book, 2016, a Bookworm Publication

The colouring book ‘My Nicosia Mandala’ depicts a series of 11 ‘mandalas’ set within the framework of the walls of the old city of Nicosia, Cyprus, in black and white, for the entertainment of both children and adults.

The colouring book ‘My Nicosia Mandala’ depicts a series of 11 ‘mandalas’ set within the framework of the walls of the old city of Nicosia, Cyprus, in black and white, for the entertainment of both children and adults.

Considered as a practical example of an ‘ideal city’, the remaining venetian fortifications of Nicosia still pay tribute to a concept that was visually based on grids and other geometrical patterns that encouraged moral, spiritual and lawful qualities of citizenship.

A mandala, meaning ‘circle’ in Sanskrit, has a concentric structure which offers balancing visual elements that symbolise unity and harmony; each mandala having its own, unique meaning. Encompassing the circular shape of the mandala within the outline of the ancient walls of Nicosia and its 11 bastions was a visually natural reaction.

Seeking to create ‘Nicosian’ mandalas, the author, Melissa Hekkers almost effortlessly began photographing elements on both sides of the divided city in order to create 11 mandalas, each representing one of the bastions of our capital. The metal work on windows and doors, the stone work of buildings and churches, the floor patterns within traditional houses, the metal street lights and the balconies within the walls of Nicosia are the inspiration behind the mandalas one will find within the pages of this book.

The process of colouring, both for adults and children, has recently been deemed as a healing one; an act where one remains focused and in the process is soothed and nourished, an idea the author felt was suiting for a multiethnic city which, just like mandalas, requires unity and harmony in order to peacefully work as one entity.


The Cyprus Mandala Colouring Book Series includes My Cape Greco Mandala, which is the third in a series, a colouring book inspired by the wildlife of the Cape Greco peninsula in Cyprus and was preceded by My Akamas Mandala which focuses on a variety of endemic plants found on the Akamas Natural Reserve. My Nicosia Mandala, the first in the series that started in 2016; is an innovative, interactive colouring book about the historic fortifications of the old town of Nicosia.

Follow the My Cyprus Mandala Instagram page here.

My Akamas Mandala
Interactive Colouring Book, 2017, a Bookworm Publication

‘My Akamas Mandala’ colouring book is the second book in the series of local Cypriot mandalas. Signed by journalist, author and photographer Melissa Hekkers, ‘My Akamas Mandala’ depicts 11 hand-drawn “mandalas” inspired by the shapes and forms of a variety of Akamas endemic local flowers. Besides the creative entertainment provided through colouring in, for both children and adults, the publication seeks to inform in an interactive and enjoyable manner. The objective is to raise awareness and promote the concept of endemic wildlife as well as the importance of preserving the natural heritage of Akamas. With the collaboration of the Project and Research Center AKTI and the Forestry Department, the book hosts information, fun facts and characteristics of the local flowers presented as well as fun facts regarding the littering of the sea, a great environmental threat that applies to the Akamas too. The book is bilingual: English and Greek.

Follow the My Cyprus Mandala Instagram page here.

My Cape Greco Mandala
Interactive Colouring Book, 2018, a Bookworm Publication

‘My Cape Greco Mandala’ is the third book in the Cyprus Mandala Series and presents 11 mandala drawings, inspired by Cape Greco’s rich wildlife and hand-drawn by Melissa Hekkers. The book introduces its readers to some of the amazing birds, plants and mammals of the area, from the gorgeous Bee-eater with its vibrant plumage to the endangered Monk Seal, with its amazing diving abilities.

Follow the My Cyprus Mandala series here.

Pupa
Book for Children, 2015, published by Pantheon Cultural Association

Pupa, a young and unique caterpillar is about to transform into a vibrant butterfly. She’s about to discover what it means to be able to fly and enjoy the world from above. Her adventurous nature takes her on a journey that makes her transformation even more meaningful. When she enters a circus in an unknown land, Pupa discovers the pleasures and importance of living life at its fullest, and savouring every moment of it.

The book is targeted to youth age 7 and above. It is available in Greek and English.

Pupa was written on the basis of an adventure, in this case a fantasy which looks into the meaning of time, accomplishment and drive, using a character which depicts gender connotations through animal-like characters. Throughout the book, the author has attempted to sustain a visual image of the story which implores the backdrops of the story as well as the situations faced by the leading character.

Come-forth
Free-Verse Poetry, 2012,
published by Pantheon Cultural Association

Come-forth

Melissa prefers to refer to her work as free verses as opposed to poems, as the definition of free verses suggests that they refrain from the “steady, abstract rhythm of traditional poetry. Its rhythms are based on patterned elements such as sounds, words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs, rather than on the traditional prosodic units of metrical feet per line”.

As Melissa explains, this enables her to ‘play’ with images and external factors that provoke the verses she explores and gives her the freedom to experiment with rhythm as well as with connotations and meanings. Looking deeper into the work, her verses are based on a balance of ten poems/verses which explore humanistic themes through feelings Hekkers believes “everyone experiences”. This coincides with the author’s notion that poetry is a must for everybody, especially if you consider that words are used to express the psyche and that poetry is a play on words, poetry writing or reading is a real attempt to express the inner being without the need of framing, cohesion or structure.

The verses are a selection of works which Hekkers has been writing since 2003, and which are seemingly transcendent in time. Reminiscent of a diary/ sketchpad, the book proposes to emit a diary or journal essence. Drawings, also by the author, accompany the poems in an aim to join this format, as a sketchbook would replace a diary in a visual form.
The poems are written in English.

Flying Across Red Skies
Book for children, 2012,
published by Pantheon Cultural Association

red s

“Nereas is a determined little fish who dreams of one thing only: to fly across the open red, silky skies. An enchanting adventure leads him to his dream but also teaches him the importance of friendship and family and most importantly the feeling of returning home.”

The book is targeted to Children age 7 to 10. It is available in both English and Greek. As the author explains, the way in which the book was written is “reversed”. Having taken twelve works of art from the collection of Cypriot artist Marlen Karletidou as a stimulus, Melissa created a story based on the existent imagery of the paintings. The story that perhaps already existed as an idea and meaning was shaped through the personal view perceived by the writer. Instead of the visual imagination of the writer being put to words, the feelings imposed by the images, the colours and the order in which the author placed the images came to form a final output.

Crocodile
Book for Children, 2007, published by Pantheon Cultural Association

Kroco


“Lara, an energetic little girl, full of ideas and ambition for life lives with her mother in a village called Petal.

Lara, being in the process of turning into a beautiful teenager was also a very naughty girl. If she isn’t scribbling on the walls, she was pulling her cat’s ears, hanging off the curtain drapes and seldom does she want to go to bed when the time comes…Her mother, Olivia, in a state of despair, tries to find a solution. A secret word is invented and manages to make a difference, without realising that Lara would, one day, throw it right back into Olivia’s face!”Crocodile is based on a true story.Crocodile was written by Melissa Hekkers, who emphasises on the communication and relationship which is created amongst a parent and a child and uses a title that attempts to change the stereotypes children may have attached to the animal in question.

The illustration was done by Anna Fotiadou using mixed media and touches such as photograph, collage, coloured pencils and paints. Emphasis was given to the creation of images from acrylic paints as well as the relation which is created with the text. The aim was to create an imaginary environment full of colours with a different approach to each scene.Crocodile won the Illustration Award 2007 from Cultural Services of the Ministry of Culture and Education, Cyprus. It is available in both English and Greek.

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