So Karen Kay is the charming, sparkling publisher of the UK’s FAE magazine, which has been around since 2007, and the new Mermaids & Mythology, which debuted this past September and even included an article by yours truly, so is obviously very excellent. The magazine’s second issue came out in December and Karen’s busy at work on the third as we speak. In fact, both FAE and Mermaids & Mythology are quarterly magazines, so Karen impressively yet somewhat suspiciously puts out eight magazines a year, chock full of magic and gorgeousness.
And here is Karen herself, in full mermaid glory:
I know, she is obviously being aided in her endeavors by otherworldly forces. In an attempt to get to the bottom of it all, I ask her many gorgeous and penetrating questions below.
So why Mermaids & Mythology?
What inspired you to start a whole magazine about mermaids?
I did lots of research and noticed that there were no other regular printed publications for adults about mermaids, so I felt I wanted to put something ‘out there’ and see if people liked it. I only do things that I am passionate about, and putting a magazine together is time consuming, but when you love the subject matter as much as I do, it feels more like play than work! Basically I saw a need and I created a magazine to fulfill that need!
Have you always been interested in mermaids? If so, why? What is the appeal to you?
My interest in mermaids, as far as I can recall, started when I first moved to Cornwall UK back in the mid to late 1980’s. I suppose it makes sense, seeing as Cornwall is completely surrounded by the sea. The strangest thing happened to me when I first moved here from London—I found myself sketching mermaids every day. I do not see myself as an artist, in fact quite the opposite, but I literally spent weeks if not months drawing all types of mermaids. I remember I used black ink and a silver pen, and carefully drew each scale on the mermaids’ tails! I drew lots of warrior mermaids, powerful strong female imagery. Unfortunately I no longer have those drawings now, but I might try to recreate some of them one day, although I know they will never be the same as the originals.
I love mermaids because they’re free, there is a romantic appeal for me too, I like the idea of sailors and pirates falling in love with these beautiful sea-beings. I’m not a great swimmer myself, but I always have to be near the sea, and I feel happiest when sat near the sea shore. I also started to grow my hair long when I first moved to Cornwall, and now I can almost sit on it! People often comment on how my hair reminds them of mermaid hair, this makes me very happy.
I understand you do events as well. Do you have any mermaid events in the works?
Yes, I organise events, and have done so for many years, since 2004 officially. I did my first mermaid event last year, it was a Mermaids and Pirates Ball, and it was incorporated into the 3 Wishes Faery Fest, a regular annual festival that I do in Cornwall every year. I do plan to do more mermaid inspired events, but I like things to be balanced, for men and women, so there will always be pirates to accompany the mermaids! It makes things more fun for everyone I feel.
What are your plans for the magazine? What can readers expect in upcoming issues?
The beauty of working with mermaids is that things just seem to flow! I love it, and it fits in with the way I like to work and play. I just allow the ideas to filter through and then manifest on the pages. There is certainly lots of ‘mermaid magic’ involved. So I just plan to literally ‘go with the mer flow’ and let everything unfold. Readers can expect heart-felt content, imagery, stories and exclusive photo shoots, and interviews with active mermaids. We have regular contributors and columnists including Hannah Fraser, Melissa Mermaid, Doreen Virtue and Mermaid Shelly, and we also publish photos of unknown mermaids wearing their tails too.
You call Mermaids & Mythology a “lifestyle” magazine. How would you describe the mermaid lifestyle?
I like to emphasis that Mermaids & Mythology is a lifestyle publication, because it is so much more than just an ‘art’ magazine. For me, ‘lifestyle’ implies a way of life, a way of living, a way of being. Many mermaids, well-known, and not so well-known, are actually living their dreams and their mer-selves are integrated into their everyday lives. Hence, ‘mermaid lifestyle magazine’. It’s not just about wearing a tail and looking pretty in a pool or in the sea, there is so much more too it. There are several ‘working’ mermaids bringing awareness to the world at large, and I feel it is important to let people know about this. I am also an environmentalist, so I like to bring attention and awareness (without being too preachy) to ways that we can help keep the oceans clean and free from pollution. It’s also down to the simplest of things like changing our washing liquids, and toilet cleaners, as ultimately everything ends up in the sea! There’s a great article by Mermaid Shelly about this in issue 2.
Have you been surprised at all by the number of mermaids out there? And/or by the reaction to Mermaids & Mythology?
As a mer fan I always knew there were a lot of mermaids in the world, what did surprise me though was the amount of mermaids in Europe and the UK! I was also surprised by the public’s reaction to the magazine, it has been heart warming. Perhaps the fact that I launched the first issue at the same as as Lady Gaga put on a tail in her video, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was out, could have had something to do with the new surge of interest in all things mer, and then Mermaids and Mythology magically appeared on shelves of stores all over the world—the reaction was good, yes.
Do you think the interest in mermaids right now is as strong (or stronger) in the UK as in the US?
I think there will always be more interest in mermaids in the US, purely because on a practical level the climate is more suitable to swimming in the sea in the US than in the UK. However, the interest in mermaids in the UK is very strong at the moment, and when the magazine launched in the UK high streets, I received many calls and emails from people saying how much they loved mermaids and how they could not believe their eyes when they saw Mermaids & Mythology magazine on the shelves.
Can you tell us a little more about FAE and how that came about?
And finally, do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids?
If I am completely honest I am a mer-fae, half mermaid half faery! So, ‘advice for aspiring mermaids’? I would say, follow your instincts about what and who you are. Express yourself in any way that you feel comfortable, and don’t worry about what others say. They will see your joy and your inner light shining through—this can be infectious! Sometimes I find that just by being near the sea, or holding a sea shell can help me to connect with my inner mer. I also listen to music that conjures up images of being in the sea. I like to wear headphones in the bath, and imagine I am swimming in warm waters in the Caribbean sea. It brings me so much peace, and I feel fulfilled. Finally, follow your dreams, and make them come true!