So Kae-Leah Williamson is a sparkly-purple-tailed mermaid from Washington state who sometimes goes by the moniker Royal Purple Mermaid Princess. Like many mermaids, Kae-Leah is passionate about ocean conservation, and enjoys sitting fetchingly on outcroppings of rock in the middle of the sea.
Kae-Leah is also writing a novella series, Nerissa Sanderson, the Part-Time Mermaid of Sunshine Valley, CA, and posts this and other writings on her page at Fictionpress.com. Here is a moment from said novella series, just after her main character transforms into a mermaid for the first time:
Her tail turned out to be far more beautiful than she could’ve ever imagined it. Humans tend to describe merfolk as being literally half-person, half-fish, but Princess Nerissa’s mertail was more elegant than any fish’s fins she’d ever seen. It began right below her belly button, and was blanketed in delicate aqua, lavender, and pastel pink scales that shimmered in the fluorescent bathroom light. Instead of a single, broad tailfin like so many aquatic animals possessed, Nerissa’s Sea Nymph appendage ended in a pair of semi-translucent flukes which seemed almost too silky and billowing to be adequately aquadynamic. Only their vaguely ribbed texture suggested that there were some kind of bone or vein inside.
Isn’t that lovely?
Recently I got hold of Kae-Leah to ask her some penetrating and possibly even deeply insightful questions about her own mermaiding and mermaids in general.
Our gorgeous Q and A follows.
So what drew you to mermaiding?
When I first heard of people buying or making mermaid tail costumes much more realistic-looking than those cheap mass-produced Ariel Halloween costumes for little girls that don’t even reach the ankles, I was quite intrigued and needless to say wanted one for myself. I also was very inspired by the passion some mermaids like Raina the Halifax Mermaid and Hannah Fraser have for environmental activism, and wanted to also use a mermaid identity as a tool to advocate for causes that are important to me, as well as promote my novella series, “Nerissa Sanderson, the Part-Time Mermaid of Sunshine Valley, CA.”
I also think my love of fantasy in general, not just mermaids, has at least partly to do with me having an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Like most folks with ASD, I’ve always felt pretty out of place in mainstream society, so I have always fantasized about a different world. I imagine the mer-world as being a more peaceful, more simple, less stressful and confusing place.
Have you always identified with mermaids?
Kind of, I have loved mermaids for most of my life. I’ve often thought of mermaids as living a very peaceful and very free lifestyle, simply serenely drifting through the water without a care under the sea, and I’ve for a long time admired and frankly kind of envied that peace and freedom. I also love the ocean and all its beautiful creatures, so I liked the idea of being friends with and being able to communicate with sea creatures, as portrayed in Disney’s Little Mermaid film and animated series, instead of killing and eating them as most humans do.
How important has the mermaid community been to you in helping you express yourself?
Being in the mermaid community and having a public mermaid page on Facebook has given me an outlet where I can express my views on ocean conservation, and other issues, pretty freely, and it’s helped me get in touch with the person I truly am deep down and who I want to be.
What do you think the attraction is to mermaids?
I think people are attracted to mermaids for many different reasons. For me, they represent being at one with the ocean and its beautiful creatures, but they can also represent beauty, serenity, freedom, the unknown, many different things. I’ve learned from experience that the mer-community is extremely diverse, and we all have different reasons for being drawn to the fantasy of merfolk.
Can you tell me about your mermaid message?
There are lots of causes that are very near and dear to my heart that I want to do all in my power to promote, but I suppose the message as a mermaid activist that I’ve become most strongly associated with is, in a seashell, to quote Finding Nemo, “fish are friends, not food!” To me, living a mermaid lifestyle is NOT about how well you can swim (heck, I can’t swim at all due to health problems!), how realistic your tail looks, or anything like that, but doing all I can to protect the ocean and its creatures, which means not eating any seafood, recycling and composting whenever possible, trying to make an effort to limit my consumption of single-use plastics, etc. Overfishing is destroying the oceans very rapidly, according to some statistics as much as 90% of fish are gone from the oceans and within a few decades, there won’t be any fish left at all, so while I realize some may view my stance as very extreme and radical, I personally think it should be quite obvious that stopping eating seafood altogether is an option strongly worth considering. I want very much to inspire people to stop viewing the oceans as a food bank and a sewer, and to be friends with nature instead of destroying it.
What about your mermaid writing?
I’m the author of “Nerissa Sanderson, The Part-Time Mermaid of Sunshine Valley, CA”, a young adult novella series that I self-published on Fictionpress.com. It’s about Nerissa, an ordinary, insecure, 15-year-old girl who lives in sunny Southern California with her eccentric single mother. Her normal teenage world is turned upside down over night when she finds out that the father she always was told was dead isn’t only very much alive, he’s not even human! The series follows her as she discovers her destiny, learns more about the world she was born into, and finds herself caught in a love triangle between Lord Zale, a devastatingly handsome, and very kind and romantic merman, and Adam Fonda, son of the CEO of a seafood company.
What kind of reactions do you get from people?
My beloved mama couldn’t be any more supportive of it if she tried, but since mermaiding is still a very new concept, so honestly, offline, being a mermaid isn’t exactly something I shout from the rooftops, if you know what I mean, but I think most of those who have seen my tail and my pictures are impressed, even though they more than likely have never seen anything like it before.
Do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids?
Yes, my advice for newbie mers would be to just be yourself, basically. Believe in yourself, follow your dreams, be the mermaid or merman YOU want to be, and whatever you do try your best to let any criticism you may encounter roll off you like water.