Archive | 2011

Mermaid Artist Tammy Derwick, Part 1

12 Dec

Please admire the mermaid portrait that artist Tammy Derwick just did of yours truly:

Isn’t it lovely? She said she was sending it to me and imagine my surprise when a huge gorgeous box appeared on my doorstep like a glittering asteroid from outer space.

Here are a couple more of Tammy’s mermaids:

Tammy was also the official artist for this year’s Coney Island Mermaid Parade,

and has just contributed some of her beauteous colored-pencil mermaid art to Magick4Terri, the auction fundraiser for Terri Windling, which you should obviously go bid on. (I too have contributed books and other wonders to the auction, and you can bid on a beautiful Tori Amos mermaid poster by Lee Moyer.)

I will be posting an interview with Tammy here soon, but in the meantime you should bid on her art and/or consider getting yourself mer-maid over in colored pencil. It’s like The Picture of Dorian Gray… but with your true mermaid self in the portrait and not some hideous monster!

Swan Maidens! New Book Preview!

7 Dec

So this is not a mermaidly post, but it is a post about very glamorous, otherworldly, excessively glamorous creature not unlike the mermaid, the swan maiden. Because my next book is about to come out next month, my first middle-grade novel, and it’s called The Next Full Moon and is about a 12-year-old girl who begins to grow feathers and eventually discovers that her mother was (and is) a swan maiden… So the girl feels like a freak and an outcast until she discovers that she is, instead, magical. As you do.
The swans were strangely still, the mass of their white feathers gleaming like ice, like freshly fallen snow, over the clearing.

“They have all come,” Helen said finally. “To meet you.”

“What do you mean?” Ava asked.


And just as she said the word, something happened. The birds… transformed. In a movement so quick and surprising Ava could barely register it, the birds had arms and hands and their feathers became feathered robes and suddenly the clearing was filled with beautiful women, each of them holding a feathered robe in her hand.
There are a number of swan maiden legends in which a man steals a maiden’s feathered robe while she’s bathing, and forces her to stay with him. They have a child/children. Eventually, the swan maiden retrieves her robe, returns to her swan form, and flies away. My story’s about what happens to the child she leaves behind, as she nears her thirteenth birthday.

And it has a pretty cover:

And if you click on the link below you can read the first few chapters, which will likely change your life.


If you want to learn more about swan maidens, in all their strangeness and beauty, their living between the earth and the air, check out the page on the SurLaLune Fairy Tales site.

Actress Jennifer Summerfield, aka Trillian Stars, on Posing in Mermaid Tanks

1 Dec

So Jennifer Summerfield, aka Trillian Stars, is a romantical actress who lives in a sweeping fireplace- and victrola- and staircase- and art-filled Philadelphia house with her equally romantical husband, photographer Kyle Cassidy, and some very famous cats. When not emoting on stages or swooning in front of fires or being laced up into shimmering corsets or wandering around Paris in mystical trances, she can sometimes be found gliding about in mermaid tanks, like that of mermaid photographer extraordinaire Annaliese Moyer. You might think that Jennifer comes from the sea itself, with her seafoam skin and radiant tresses, but she’s actually from Wyoming and comes from a long line of gun-toting pioneer women.

Here are some of Annaliese’s photo proofs of this theatrical, western variety mermaid:

Plus an official photo from Annaliese:

I know, it is almost too much to bear.

Recently I spoke with Jennifer about her mermaidly experiences:

What was it like becoming a mermaid and entering Annaliese’s mermaid tank?
It was a dream come true for me, but I also came to realize what a lonely existence it can be for mermaids—when you’re under the water, there’s only the distorted sounds of your own heart beating, and though you’re straining to see the people and objects around you, in the dark, all you have are the shadowy forms looming in the distance. So I have a greater empathy now for mermaids and their need to play mischief as a way to make contact with the outside world. I realized that in order to survive in that environment, you need to have a strong sense of self and you need to trust in your own charm, beauty and power. I also came to realize that mermaids need thicker skin to withstand the cold temperatures; even though I was in a heated luxury tank, I was shivering by the time I emerged.

Have you always liked mermaids?
Yes, when I took swimming lessons as a child, I would grab a piece of styrofoam between my knees and swoosh my legs back and forth, pretending I had a long glittering tail with fins. When I was about 7, there was a series of bath toys called “Sea Wees”—beautiful mermaids with matching merbabies; each pair came with their very own foam lily pad so they could float on the surface of the bath water and pose alluringly. Naturally, they also had combs; mermaids love to brush their hair! And of course, my favorite movie in the third grade was Splash. It just doesn’t get more romantic than that!

As an actress, how would you approach playing a mermaid?
Mermaids have a natural curiosity that people so often lose as they get older and more jaded, perhaps because there are always so many discoveries to make in the sea—it’s hard to grow complacent. So I would start by taking my nephews and niece to the Camden Aquarium to pet the sharks and key into that innocent notion of wonder and discovery. I think I’d also spend a day or two in Coney Island, looking at shiny things and watching the sun glint off the water. I would also take dance classes—perhaps belly dancing—because mermaids have such natural, seductive grace.

Do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids?
Never lose your sense of wonder and always ask yourself the question “what if…?” If you ever find yourself hesitating at the crossroad between Safety and Living out your dream, choose the dream. Mermaids don’t believe in regret.

Annaliese Moyer’s Mermaid Photos

30 Nov

So a couple years ago I was visiting Portland, Oregon, and stopped over at my friend Annaliese Moyer’s house to pose in her mermaid tank. As you do. The result was my author photo for Mermaid:

Annaliese has put together a whole body of mermaid photos taken in the tank. Here are a couple of gorgeous examples (and there will be more in the upcoming Mermaids magazine, now set to debut in February):

Plus a photo of the beautiful actress Jennifer Summerfield, whose thoughts on the experience, and general mermaidly advice, I will post tomorrow:

Annaliese also takes stunning pictures of live shows, horses, and all other manner of thing, so you should check out her website. But when she and I talked recently, it was all mermaid.

When did you start photographing mermaids, and how exactly did you become the proprietress of a real live mermaid tank?
I started photographing mermaids in my youth when sailing with my family. Sadly, all those Instamatic pictures were not of high enough quality for anyone to be able to make out the mermaids in them. I wonder now if that is part of what drove me subconsciously to become a professional photographer. It does seem awfully synchronous that I am photographing them now, doesn’t it?

My recent experience with mermaids came about as a result of the mermaid tank. On a local theatrical group’s page, I saw that Portland’s Theatre Vertigo wanted to get rid of their tank from their production of Freakshow. They needed to be out of the theater, and no one in the company could and/or wanted to give this glorious set piece a home. I mused that it would fit in with my kind of vintage/distressed kind of aesthetic, so I emailed to say I’d be interested. I was saddened to hear that someone else had claimed it first. But, their deadline day rolled around and I got a frantic phone call. The person who had dibs on the tank had not showed up. Could I get there with a truck and collect it… immediately? Luckily for me, my neighborhood is filled with inventors, and creatives and makers of all kinds, many of whom have trucks to aid in those efforts. I borrowed one, drove downtown, and claimed my tank. But, I did not yet know it was a mermaid tank. I did not even know what I might wind up doing with it.

Within a day or two, I heard from my friend Tanya Burka, world renowned aerialist. “Hey Annaliese. I am going to be in town next week. I owe you some modeling. Do you have anything in mind?” Hmmmm… tank… gorgeous performing artist/contortionist… MERMAID! Tanya was more than game to be the first mermaid in the tank. I made my first mermaid tail from a scary old lace tablecloth, and my friend John Wenderoth, one of said genius creative makers in my neighborhood, and a handsome devil, helped set up the tank on a stand in my carport. Yep, almost all the mermaid images to date were made in the carport. As I told him about the shoot that was shaping up, he said, “I’ll get in the tank with the mermaid lady.” And, immediately I saw the whole story for the shoot. That first shoot was grueling. Technically, I was flying by the seat of my pants. Water, reflections, electricity, submerged subjects… but, the result was magnificent. The images from that shoot were the most beautiful things I had ever created. One is the cover of my web site, and another graces my business card (and serves as the final end papers for last year’s Spectrum Art book).

Do you have any makeup and/or general beauty tips for mermaids?
Obviously, waterproof is required for mermaid make up. Most of my fair subjects have used regular make up and applied a theatrical product to keep make up in place, even in these extreme shooting conditions. One example is Ben Nye’s Liquid Set. It can also be mixed with non-waterproof make up to give it some staying power. Commercial waterproof make-up can also be used, but I always feel more secure with some wet set product on top. They are available from local theatrical supply stores or on line.

We have had mermaids with all sorts of looks, but I should tell you that people seem to be the most consistently drawn to the mermaids with long hair, either clouds of curls suspended around them or long streaming ribbons creating gossamer shapes in the tank. However, hair is just another thing that might not cooperate for the camera underwater. It tends to have a mind of its own. Practice, practice, practice my long haired beauties. If wigs are used, fasten them down tight. They come off in the water. Trust me.

I believe I was with you, Annaliese, the first time you yourself entered the mermaid tank. What was that like for you?
It was broiling hot day, and while I photograph the mermaids in the tank under cover of darkness (mysterious, no?), I was over heated and drenched in sweat by the end of that shoot. It seemed that not only would getting in the tank be a great way to cool off, but that being as I was asking some terrestrial maids to work underwater, I really should understand first hand just what the experience was like and what the demands were. If you are not a real mermaid it is HARD to play at being one and make it all pretty for the camera and its endless technical demands. Keep your eyes open! Don’t puff out your cheeks! Stay in the middle of the window! Don’t let the hair cover your face! Make the tail pretty! But, it is quite magical. I think every mermaid I have photographed has been exhausted by the end of their shoot but loathe to get out of the tank. I’d love to do it again.

What is the best way to go about photographing mermaids? Have you learned any special tips you can share?
I have only just begun my own exploration of photographing mermaids. Using the tank is excruciating—something different has gone wrong every single shoot. It is a very unforgiving environment. When I found myself thinking that it would be much easier to photographing underwater myself, I knew I was kidding myself. Of course, that is next on my list. I have all sorts of images in mind that will benefit from movement and space. I also want to look at some more above water looking in, and some over and under stuff. That is the fun of this project, it has so much possibility, and I feel just guided down the path by it all.

Do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids?
Make your dreams happen! But, do be safe. Build up to your final goal step by step. Don’t get in the water with a restricted range of movement off the bat, and never on your own. Look on line and find some of the great videos other mermaids have made, sharing their knowledge and experience. Haunt thrift store for bits of clothing that can easily be altered into suitable mermaid attire on the cheap. And, hey, call me—maybe we can collaborate and make some mermaid art happen!

Auction for Mermaid Expert (and Magic of All Kinds Expert) Terri Windling

29 Nov

So you may remember the interview here with Terri Windling a few months back… Terri being a very beloved artist, editor, writer and expert in folklore and myth and fairytale, lover of mermaids and swan maidens and fairies and all other kind of magical creatures and magical things, and now she’s in need, and a number of artists have come together to do a fundraising auction. So from now until mid-December you can bid on all manner of gorgeous thing… LIKE for example you can get a signed book package from yours truly (plus I will throw in my first middle-grade novel, The Next Full Moon, which comes out in January), or you can become a character in a Holly Black novel, or name a character in a Catherynne M. Valente or Cory Doctorow novel, or get some signed original art from Charles Vess (whose mermaid interview you’ll see here shortly), or get a poem written for you by Jane Yolen, whom I interviewed here back in February, or get a handmade faerie doll from Wendy Froud…. and/or many, many other amazing things besides, from all kinds of gorgeous and fantastical artists.

Go look!

Or offer something wondrous to the auction yourself! As we all know, every auction could use more mermaid art and mermaidliness in general.


THE MERQUEENS by The Mertailor Eric Ducharme

8 Nov

So you’ve already met the Mertailor Eric Ducharme, who at the tender age of 21 has already been in business for six years crafting gorgeous mermaid tails out of his house in Crystal River, Florida, and has plenty of other tricks up his sleeve… including his latest project, THE MERQUEENS, which brings together drag queens and mermaids. It only makes sense, right? Who better to embody the gorgeous over-the-top exaggerated ultra-femininity of the mermaid than a fabulous drag queen, especially those featured in RuPaul’s Drag Race?

I mean look:



Pretty fabulous, right? I recently asked Eric some burning questions about his new venture, and you may read our wondrous conversation below.

So what is Merqueens?
MerQueens is the first ever all drag queen mermaid calendar and photography series, coming in 2012. Drag Queens dressed in mermaid tails! Together the Mertailor and world famous drag queens featured in the television reality series RuPaul’s Drag Race come together to generate funding and awareness for a HIV/Aids foundation. This year’s calendar and photography series features Yara Sofia, Mariah Paris Balenciaga, Alexis Mateo, Carmen Carrera, Pandora Boxx, Jessica Wild, Sonique Love, Mimi Imfirst, Jade, and many more!

How did this project come about?
I’ve always wanted to photograph a drag queen in one of my tails. Their makeup is fabulous, their personalities and outfits are out of this world. I thought by doing something like this that it would raise the bar in the mermaid world. And I was pushed by a “special someone” who initiated contact with one of the girls, who contacted me and was like “when can we start?”

What’s the link between drag queens and mermaids?
This is kind of a difficult question to answer, but from my knowledge of drag queens, every queen tries to look like a beautiful woman. I believe a drag queen becoming a mermaid is like transforming into a beautiful woman, and assume it is kind of like every little girl wants to be a mermaid when they grow up.

How did these particular drag queens react to being put in tails and transformed into legendary creatures?
All of the drag queens that have put on the tails had no idea what they were getting themselves into. However, working with they girls from RuPaul’s Drag Race, they were all professional and ready to deal with every task put in front of them.

What can we expect at in months to come?
The purpose of the website is to display many of the photographs and videos to promote and sell the one-of-a-kind calendar. This site will be updated with photos, promos, and release dates of the debut of the calendar. We’ll also be performing a special “Drag Queen Mermaid Show” throughout Florida. The calendars will be available for purchase at the venues that the show is being performed (as well as on the website), and a part of the proceeds being made will be donated to an HIV/aids organization for children born with the disease.

And finally, do you have any advice for aspiring drag queen mermaids (i.e. merqueens)?
Yes, come to me! I’ve wrangled enough merqueens to be able to give the best advice!


7 Nov

So next Wednesday you must all obviously come to New York City to see a fabulous mermaidly reading with me, Sarah Porter, and Tara Altebrando. All of us have written mermaid novels, and we’re also all contributors to the new MERMAIDS magazine which I’m editing and will now be premiering in FEBRUARY, and we’ll all be reading from and signing our mermaidly wonders.

Also, all of us were mentioned in this USA Today article from last spring about the mermaid trend.

The reading will be at the Barnes & Noble Tribeca, which is at 97 Warren Street, at 6pm on NOVEMBER 16. If you don’t come, you might possibly regret it eternally, and enter your old age full of regrets and thoughts of what might have been… Clearly, you should avoid such a fate at all costs.

Sarah wrote the gorgeous Lost Voices, the first in her mermaid trilogy (book two, Waking Storms, comes out in July 2012) (also, read my interview with Sarah here!):

(Here’s a description of the book from Amazon:

Fourteen-year-old Luce has had a tough life, but she reaches the depths of despair when she is assaulted and left on the cliffs outside a grim Alaskan fishing village. She expects to die when she tumbles into the icy waves below but instead undergoes an astonishing transformation: she becomes a mermaid. A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in. All of them, like her, are lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. Luce is thrilled with her new life—until she discovers the catch: mermaids feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. Luce possesses an extraordinary singing talent, which makes her important to the tribe—she may even have a shot at becoming their queen—however, her struggle to retain her humanity puts her at odds with her new friends. Will Luce be pressured into committing mass murder?)

And Tara wrote Dreamland Social Club:

(Here’s the book description:

Jane has traveled the world with her father and brother, but it’s not until her fractured family-still silently suffering from the loss of Jane’s mother many years before-inherits a house and a history in Coney Island that she finally begins to find a home. With the help of a new community of friends, a mermaid’s secrets, and a tattooed love interest with traffic-stopping good looks, the once plain Jane begins to blossom and gains the courage to explore the secrets of her mother’s past.

Colorful characters, beautiful writing, and a vibrant, embattled beachfront backdrop make this the perfect summer read for anyone who has ever tried to find true love or a place to call home.)

And I wrote Mermaid, and will probably read a little from that as well as the piece I wrote for the magazine, which is about a mermaid who’s left the water behind.

Here is a snippet from that piece, which Hannah Mermaid read at MerCon in Las Vegas:

Sometimes, when I am walking on land, in the moonlight, the house looms in front of me like a whale and the stars overhead seem like phytoplankton, trailing light through a black sea. At those moments I catch my breath, and remember. I stare up at a tree just as a breeze is coming through, all the leaves set to trembling, and I see whole schools of fish flitting by, and I want to swim alongside them, slapping them away with my hands. I see beautiful young girls with long, bare fingers, and I remember my sisters, how free we were as we pushed through the water. Their tails glittering in front of me. Pearls that we pulled out of oyster shells with our own fists, draped across their necks and arms. We were princesses then. Sometimes, when such nostalgia and longing come over me, it takes me a long time to come back again, open the front door and go inside.

So please come, and please tell all your friends so they don’t die of envy and/or secretly resent you.

Thank you!

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