Archive | June, 2012

Book Blogger Bonnie Lynn Wagner talks Mermaids

21 Jun

So Ms. Bonnie Lynn Wagner runs the illustrious book blog A Backwards Story, where she reviews all kinds of books but has a special affection for fairytale stories and mermaid tomes in particular and so obviously has exceptional taste. In a few days, she’ll be launching her second annual Splash into Summer feature, which is ALL MERMAIDS and will last a few weeks—from June 25 to July 15. Obviously, you must mark your calendar and plan to get a little less lazy and a lot more literary in your fish-tailed endeavors. (Speaking of marking your calendars, please note that today is my BIRTHDAY. Thank you.). In preparation for Splash into Summer, I recently spoke with Bonnie to get her run-down on the state of mermaid fiction, and mermaids generally.

Can you tell me about Splash into Summer?
I started Splash into Summer last year because there were two mermaid novels coming out that I wanted to promote, Lost Voices by debut author Sarah Porter [see this blog’s interview with Sarah here], and Fins Are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs [see this blog’s interview with Tera here]. The two books came out almost back-to-back and I thought it would be fun to do an event celebrating them. It wound up turning into a huge event that extended and I had so many authors and mermaid lovers stop by to guest post. The event was so much fun and I can’t wait to do it again this year!

Splash isn’t just for mermaids, though. It started out that way, but then I realized I wanted to feature books such as Selkie Girl by Laurie Brooks and decided that the term Splash was ambiguous enough that I could celebrate all underwater creatures, not just the Mer.

What kinds of mermaid topics have you featured in the past? What can we look forward to this year?
Last year’s Splash featured book reviews, author interviews and guest posts, giveaways, and more. I also had fun posts such as a vlog on Mermaid Fashion and 15 Little-Known Facts About Mermaids, which also featured a mermaid anatomy chart and then-recent article on mer-physics.

This year, I want to feature more fun, light-hearted posts as well as highlight a new crop of mermaid books and authors, while bringing back some repeat visitors.

I’m also co-hosting the event with my Mermaid Soul Sister Literally Jen, and we’re doing three weeks of fun right off the bat!

What’s your take on the recent mermaid trend in fiction? Do you see it accelerating/decreasing; has it peaked yet, do you think? What kinds of mermaids are you seeing in recent fiction?

I love it! The more mermaids in fiction, the more books there are for me to purchase and love! I had a bookshelf just for mermaid books and because of all the new releases, I had to move it a few weeks ago. Now the mermaids are on the same two shelves as my fairy tales and mythological novels.

This year is the first to feature a huge surplus of mermaid novels. A lot of these books have sequels in the works, too, so I think we’ll see at least the same amount of books next year, if not more. I wouldn’t be surprised if publishers jumped on the trend and will be publishing an influx of mermaid books for another year or two yet.

I’ve noticed that most of the mermaids I’m seeing right now are in Teen Fiction, which means that most of these books have a romantic element to them. I have noticed a couple of books launching this year that were narrated by mermen, which was really exciting because authors usually just focus on the mermaids.

I’ve also read a couple of mermaid books from this new group that I don’t like as much because it seems the research just…isn’t there. The author thought, “Maybe I’ll hop on this mermaid train” and didn’t look at all the stops along the way. I tend to get pulled out of a mer-world if things are contradictory and the Mer hate a certain human thing or shouldn’t know about it, then suddenly do anyway, for example. I’ve read so many Mer-related books that the world needs to feel real to me at this point or the Mer need to interact within the boundaries the author has created or I just can’t enjoy myself.

Why do you think people like to read about mermaids?

For my age demographic and younger, at least, I think a lot of it has to do with Disney’s The Little Mermaid. I was young when the movie came out and instantly captured by the notion of mermaids. I’ve heard a lot of other people say the same, so I totally blame Ariel.

I’m also a huge water baby and would like nothing more than to live in the water, so it’s nice to think of the possibilities of becoming a mermaid.

What are some of the more interesting mermaid titles you’ve read/look forward to reading?
My favorite to date is Sarah Porter’s Mer trilogy, of which I’ve read the first two books. I think her new book, Waking Storms, is even better than Lost Voices, which is saying a lot. The trilogy is much darker than any other mermaid tale I’ve read, which has turned a lot of people away from the series, but Sarah’s underwater world feels very raw and real to me.

I also love your own novel, Mermaid. I was enamored by the concept of a retelling of the original Hans Christian Andersen version rather than the Disney version (You might be surprised at just how many people don’t realize that The Little Mermaid is NOT a Happily Ever After story), especially since you used alternating POVs and showed us things from the princess’ perspective. I’d never seen this done before, and combined with the gorgeous descriptions that brought a new image of mermaids to mind, I was hooked.

I’m also a big fan of Tera Lynn Childs’ FINS series and was excited to see that she was coming out with a third book this year. It’s such a cute, fun series, and you really come to care about the characters. I also wish Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore was on more people’s radars because it was gorgeously written and really felt like I was reading an original fairy tale last year.
I’m most excited to read Fathomless by Jackson Pearce, which is coming this fall from Little, Brown. It’s a companion to Sisters Red and Sweetly, but about mermaids, so I’m already hooked. And while it may not be Mer-related, Macmillan/Tor Teen is releasing a book in November by J.A. Souders entitled Renegade with an underwater world that sounds delightfully creepy.

Have you always been a fan of mermaids?
I’ve always loved mermaids (or at least, I have since The Little Mermaid), but I don’t think I had ever been as obsessed with them as I am now. I started buying mermaid novels, children’s picture books, folklore anthologies, seashell encyclopedias, underwater documentaries, etc., because I’ve had a mermaid story inside me since high school that wants to come out. I want my world to be as realistic as possible when I begin writing and evolving the idea.

I have, however, always been fascinated by the sea. Going to the beach or swimming in the pool was always a favorite childhood past-time growing up. Dolphins have been my favorite animals since elementary school, and I would also count sea-dwelling creatures such as seals, otters, and manatees as favorite animals of mine. I don’t know what it is about the sea that fascinates me, but I often wish I really had the ability to become a mermaid, rather than just reading about them!

What’s going on with Mermaids magazine…

15 Jun

I’ve announced here a few times the publication of the special edition magazine Mermaids, in all its spectacular chock-full-of-gorgeousness glory. The 200+ pages of content have been assembled for some time now—a wonderful array, I believe, of original fiction and art, articles and interviews. All of it relating to the alluring half-lady half-fish, whether she be an African water spirit, a 60’s-era roadside attraction, subject of a 17th-century sea ballad, inspiration for glamorous high fashion, star of a 19th-century Danish fairytale, and/or one of any number of her other incarnations. Which might even include your next-door neighbor (if you’re very lucky) who slips on a silicone tail and swims in her backyard pool. As editor of this magazine, I wanted to reflect the crazy range of ways mermaids have inspired people, since I myself have been astonished by the flexibility of their influence ever since starting this blog. And when publisher Kim Cross (who does the lush, very beautiful and art-filled Faerie Magazine) asked me last year if I’d like to do a big fat mermaid magazine, I thought it could be EVEN MORE AWESOME than this very blog, which I know is hard to imagine. But imagine it! 200 dizzying, glossy pages taking on you on this crazy journey from high to low culture and through time and space with this fantastical hybrid creature.

However, Mermaids has still not come out, though it was supposed to be out late last summer, and then last fall, and then this spring… Some people have pre-ordered it and are now steaming mad, as they are still Mermaids-less and out of some hard-earned dough (and for these people there is a special compensation that I describe below, OR they can get a refund if they don’t want to wait! My email is listed on the right-hand column here, so anyone with an issue can contact me to resolve it). And plenty of people are not mad, but simply filled with longing and/or burning questions about the delay.

So here’s the deal: The magazine has not yet been printed because Kim’s company, Gwynn Oak Studios, is, like many small publishers, struggling financially, and a magazine this lush and massive costs a pretty penny to put out. Add to that the fact that Kim’s been dealing with some family crises that I won’t detail here as that would be very unladylike of me, but trust me, it’s been a hard year for her. I wish this whole process had been as easy as it seemed when we started, but them’s the breaks.

What Kim’s decided to do, then, is this: run a Kickstarter campaign to gather the dough she needs to get this thing printed and to your door and/or local bookstore (the goal will be to raise $25,000). If you contribute to the campaign, you’ll get the magazine as well as any number of other wondrous things, depending on how much moolah you send. At one level, for example, you’ll get the magazine (plus a few other things we’re working out now) PLUS a signed print of the original artwork Charles Vess created to accompany Alice Hoffman‘s “Ten Ways to Fall in Love with a Mermaid,” which she wrote for Mermaids.

Here is a sneak peek, which I hope gives you some sense of how beautiful the magazine will be:

At another level you’ll get these things plus a quarter-page ad in the magazine, and so on. At a very high-roller level (if you’ve got a few thousand dollars to spend), you’ll get all the amazing things mentioned plus many more, PLUS an underwater photo shoot with Twig the Fairy in her mermaid guise. If you’ve already ordered the magazine for the cover price of $14.95, you’ll automatically get the magazine plus whatever you’d get at the $50 level of the Kickstarter campaign. So basically, what you ordered plus $35 of extra awesome stuff.

The Kickstarter should be starting by late next week, and will run for 20 days. Obviously, I’ll announce it here and it will be on the Faerie Magazine website, too, with all relevant links and information. The magazine should FINALLY be done and out some time in August, and I very much hope you will agree it’s been worth the wait.


Mermaids in Brazil, Nassau, Florida…

6 Jun

So I have many extremely important things to report and many scintillating interviews to share, but for right now I shall tell you about just a few amazing things so as not to overwhelm you.

So mermaid photographer extraordinaire Chris Crumley posted this gorgeous photo a month or so ago on Facebook, and mentioned it was being used for a new mermaidly book cover, and as I shared this photo on my own wall I was secretly very jealous.

Isn’t it beautiful? This is model Christina Macfarlane offshore in Cozumel, Mexico.

Then a few days later I was google alerted to an announcement of my own novel Mermaid, which is about to come out in Brazil. And here it is:

I KNOW! So I was secretly jealous of… myself, and my very own book translated into Portuguese. And no, sadly no one is flying me down to Brazil, which is very ungracious of them I think.

Speaking of wondrous mermaid book covers shot by Chris Crumley, here is the cover for Sarah Porter‘s new novel, the second in her Lost Voices trilogy, Waking Storms (with cover quote from yours truly!), which comes out next month:

This cover was also shot with model Christina Macfarlane, but in an inland lake in Palau, Micronesia. According to Chris, “the lake, Jellyfish Lake, has thousands of jellyfish that over time with no natural predators, have lost their sting.” Can you imagine? I just got scuba certified in November in Nicaragua (after years of avoiding the ocean… but when you talk to mermaids all the time, you get infected!), and when I entered the water for my first dive I was surrounded by these little translucent ghosts, which at first I thought were a trick of the light, and then realized were actual creatures. By the time I thought to be scared I realized they would have already stung me if they were going to. Turns out they were medusas, strange and magical. I can only imagine what it’s like to swim in a lake surrounded by stingless jellyfish…!

Speaking of SCUBA and Chris Crumley, I will ALSO mention that this AUGUST yours truly will be joining him and Malena Sharkey (co-proprietor of Chesapeake Bay Diving Center) and mermaid Iara Mandyn and several others on a 7-day mermaid diving trip out of Nassau. Lots of diving every day, including shark dives, night dives, and mermaid shoots. See what happens when you become a mermaid expert? Later this month, Chris and Malena will be hosting a special workshop on mermaid photography, also out of Nassau. I’ll post more about both those trips later.

The August trip will happen at the very same time that MER-PALOOZA is happening, which is this year’s MerCon. Mer-Palooza is happening August 10-12 at the International Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida, just down the road from Disney World. I’ll try to post photos from the event so that if you are, like me, unfortunate enough not to be attending, you might be there in voyeurly spirit.

Another awesome event happening this summer (which I also tragically cannot attend, due to teaching duties in Alaska) is WEEKI WACHEE‘s 65th anniversary. To celebrate, Weeki is inviting ALL the mermaids who have performed at the park since 1947 to one jam-packed-with-glamour reunion on July 13, 14 & 15. There will be special performances starring the current mermaids and former performing mermaids, and there will be lots and lots of vendors and, well, a gazillion mermaids.

More to come!

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