Archive | August, 2012

Tara Altebrando’s Dreamland Social Club

10 Aug

So Tara Altebrando is another gorgeous mermaid authoress who was mentioned in the USA Today article last year on mermaid fiction and who has a piece in the long-suffering-yet-astonishing Mermaids magazine and read last fall with Sarah Porter and me in Barnes & Noble (photographic documentation of which is a couple posts down, in case you don’t believe me)… Her mermaids are of the aspiring kind, like the rest of us, but in that magical Coney Island style which is really just as good as the real thing. Tara does many many other non-mermaid things and her newest book came out just last month (go here to read more about it and see a book trailer) but in the interview below I lovingly force Tara to talk about mermaids and only mermaids, all the time.

So tell me about your books!
Well, lately I mostly write Young Adult novels and my most recent book, The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life, is about four high school seniors on a crazy scavenger hunt. Before that was Dreamland Social Club, a sort of dreamy coming of age novel set on Coney Island.

How did Dreamland Social Club come about, and why mermaids?
I became fascinated with the old amusement parks of Coney Island some time in my twenties. Which was, for the record, quite a while ago. I was working for interstate moving companies, and the novel developed very slowly in my head over a bunch of years, but I
was intrigued by the idea of writing about the current state of Coney (which is not so hot) and it’s sort of incredible, thriving (and entirely crazy) past. I mean, this is a place that used to have a hotel shaped like an elephant and premature baby exhibits on the boardwalk. The mermaids in the book are of the aspiring human kind. Since the Mermaid Parade is such a Coney tradition, it only seemed right to include a few.

Do you yourself have an affinity for mermaids (and/or Coney Island mermaids)?
I must! Because I chose mermaids as the theme of my oldest daughter’s room. (I work very hard to keep the Disney version of Ariel out of the mix.) And wait! I am wearing Sarah Porter’s awesome “Traditional
Mermaid Values” T-shirt right now! So, yes.

Do you go to the Coney Island mermaid parade?
I try to! Though there have been years, like this one, when I felt like bringing my daughters at their ages would be a nightmare. My husband marched in it once before I knew him, as part of a “Mermaid Funeral” that he and his friends dreamed up. He wrote a dirge that he played on trombone. I wrote that whole idea into Dreamland Social Club.

Do you have plans to include mermaids in any future books?
Not at the moment! But I am playing around with a book idea that involves an awful lot of other creatures of the deep. Like manatees, whom I also adore.

What do you think the broad appeal of mermaids is anyway?
Well, I think it has to do with the ocean and how terrifying and amazing it is, and how we are drawn to it on a very deep level and yet have limited ways in which to explore it. Who wouldn’t want to be able to just dive in and go?

Do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids?
Take swimming lessons. 🙂

And finally, what are you working on now?
I am cooking up a creepy new YA novel. But first I am working hard at packing for a long overdue summer vacation. I haven’t even been to Coney yet the summer. For shame!


8 Aug

So last summer was large-scale mermaid gathering Mer-Con in Vegas, and this summer is MER-PALOOZA, which takes place this Saturday and Sunday, August 11th and 12th, at the Wyndham Orlando Resort and Conference Center in Orlando, Florida, and is touted to be the biggest mermaid gathering ever on this earth (barring what happens in the deepest ocean, obviously). There will be all kinds of awesome featured guests/performers, like Traci Hines, Alexanderia the Great, Mrs Weeki Wachee/International Mermaid Queen Kylee Trochee, mermaid artiste Tammy Derwick, and Sasha the Fire Gypsy, who’s the only one I haven’t already interviewed on this blog but who will appear in Mermaids magazine and has an incredibly popular youtube video on how to make your own mermaid tail… Plus, Eric Ducharme will also be there with his gorgeous tails, along with (of course) about 500000 mermaids, not to mention plenty of vendors and experts who can transform you into a mermaid (or merman) if you ain’t one already.

Below I have some lovely quotes from Traci, Alex, and Sasha about what you can expect from them this weekend. And then photographer and my fellow Weeki Wachee mermaid camp attendee Tammy Nabors Middleton has promised photos and a write-up of the actual event, in case you will be tragically deprived as I will be. (Though it is not too late to get tickets! And cheap flights!)(I myself will be on a mermaid diving trip in the Bahamas with characters like Chris Crumley and Iara Mandyn. I know. So many mermaid events, so little time.)

The producer of Mer-Palooza is none other than Stephanie Sims, who also put on the mermaid pageant at Mer-Con and hosts the mermaid pageants at Weeki Wachee and is trademark owner for Tampa Bay’s annual pirate celebration, Gasparilla, among other things (here’s my interview with her from last year). She decided to do it after attending MerCon last year, where she “saw the beauty and saw some different elements [she] could infuse [and then] knew [she] wanted to do it for the east coasters.” It so happened that at the same time, Gary Antol Jr., merman and one of the original creators of Mer-Con, was planning a massive east-coast mermaid party. The two joined forces and then, like Aphrodite appearing on the half-shell, Mer-Palooza was born. (Every mermaid gathering needs an origin story to cement its mythic status.)

Mer-Palooza will ALSO feature a huge awards ceremony, where the best mermaids and pirates from all over the world will be recognized. You can vote online here up until midnight this Friday. You will clearly want to pay SPECIAL ATTENTION to the BEST MERMAID/PIRATE WEB SITE, BLOG OR RECURRING COLUMN category, as well as to the BEST MERMAID/PIRATE AUTHOR category, for OBVIOUS REASONS. Votes are one smacker each.

Below are quotes from some of the featured ladies:

From Traci Hines:

photo by

I’m looking forward to Merpalooza not only because it’s in one of my favorite cities, Orlando FL, but because it’s the very first official ‘mermaid’ gathering I’ll be attending! I’m usually the lone mermaid, being hired for photo shoots, performances and events, but it will be really fun to mingle with other mermaids and mermaid-fans and connect about our mutual interests. I’m really looking forward to performing at Merpalooza as well. I’ll be live with some of my newest music off my brand new album (that is still in production now!) as well as reprising my most well-known role as my favorite siren, The Little Mermaid. I’ll be debuting a new mermaid tail at the show, and will also be bringing a selection of mer-chandise from my shop,, made especially for Merpalooza!

From Sasha the Fire Gypsy:
I am super excited for Mer-Palooza! I can’t wait to see all of my Mermaid friends and fans, make new friends, swim for an entire weekend, and have so much fun! Mer-Palooza is an event for everyone and brought to life by all of those who attend. It is a gathering of Mermaids, Pirates, Faeries, and Humans to share their passion with each other. There will be all kinds of tail makers, mermaid accessories, artwork, and much more! There will be performances as well. During the day, you can probably find me swimming in my tail. At night, I will be performing with fire.

From Alexanderia:
I am excited to be a part of Mer-palooza! I’m really looking forward to doing something special for all my mer and pirate friends. As always we are planning on doing something breath-taking…! Catch me on TV as I do my Underwater Leap of Faith escape (which Ripley’s Believe or Not is recognizing as a first in escapes) as a promo for the Mer-palooza convention (on Thursday August 9 at 10am at the Wyndham Orlando Resort for PBS TV’s Growing Bolder, as well as NBC Orlando and Brighthouse Networks). The escape has me in more restraints than any other women in an underwater escape—more than even Houdini! I’ll be locked up in handcuffs, leg cuffs, 30 feet of heavy chains, and a 15-lb lead weight belt—and have it all secured by the audience with seven padlocks. Before I hit the water and go down 11 feet, I will blow out my air and then attempt to escape all of the above with little to no air in my lungs… That is why I can call this escape breath taking!!!

Sarah Porter’s Waking Storms

6 Aug

Continuing with the summer book theme… You are no doubt aware that Sarah Porter’s second book in her Lost Voices trilogy, Waking Storms, came out early last month, and most likely you’ve already snapped it up and devoured it in Lost-Voices-murderous-mermaids fashion. I posted its cover a little while back, which features a gorgeous photo by Chris Crumley and a devastating quote by yours truly, and it’s so so lovely, isn’t it?:

I know. Waking Storms is also out in AUDIO, and you can check that out and hear an audio interview with Sarah here.

Sarah also, as it happens contributed a beautiful story to Mermaids magazine, which WILL come out in the near future I swear, and she also participated in a cool mini mermaid reading last fall at NYC’s Tribeca Barnes & Noble with me and Tara Altebrando (who also contributed to Mermaids and whose interview will be up here soon!). Here we all were in our human guises (Sarah is on the right):

It is very important for mermaid authoresses to stick together. Heck, we even compare cheap moving rates from to live in the same areas!

She is also, as it happens, super charming, a huge fan of and long-time participant in Burning Man, and possibly a genius.

Anyway, I interviewed Sarah about Lost Voices last year, and now here’s a brand-new interview about Waking Storms, the mermaid world at large, and what’s coming next (aside from book 3, which should be out next year).

So the second novel in your Lost Voices trilogy just came out. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
Well, in the first book, Lost Voices, the mermaids are completely cut off from the human world that they used to belong to, and their only interaction with humans is killing them by sinking their ships. Mermaids believe they’re completely secret, but in the new book, Waking Storms, it starts to become apparent how naive they’ve been not to realize that people must notice something. The mermaids are still hiding from the truth, but that’s getting harder to maintain. And then Luce, the 14-year-old mermaid hero, falls in love with a human, and that’s completely forbidden. What if he talks? She could get everyone killed. So it’s about learning to trust, learning to open yourself to new possibilities, but also about the danger inherent in that.

What’s life been like since Lost Voices debuted last summer? Have you been surprised by the response?
Oh, yes. I was surprised at first by how angry some readers seemed to be at the book. It’s not often, I guess, that a book asks you to identify with a band of mass murderers and feel compassion for them. Some people thought I was advocating killing, which really isn’t what I meant! I felt that Luce had to go all the way down into terrible darkness in order to find a way back out. She couldn’t go through the series as a complete innocent.

And then, I’ve been surprised by just how sweet the teenage readers are, and how ready they are to feel empathy for these wounded girls and their struggles. I’ve received responses so beautiful from certain readers—mostly the younger ones—that I really can’t feel like I deserve them. But I’m grateful!

Do you get a lot of emails from mermaid lovers?
Some. More emails from girls who identify with the darker kind of mermaids who live in the world of Lost Voices.

Did you expect to find such a rich world of real-life mermaids out there?
Oh, I was amazed when I learned about MerCon, the beautiful custom tails, the activist mermaids, the whole merworld! There’s nothing I admire more in people than that kind of commitment to following a vision, so I’m proud to be associated with mermaid society.

Have you considered putting on a tail yourself?
Maybe someday I will. I’m mostly content to be a Mermaid Spokesperson rather than a mermaid myself. I mean, mermaids can’t really write their own memoirs. The water shorts out laptops and makes the ink run. (Okay, I know you’ve managed, but you’re exceptional!) So I feel it’s good if they have human allies who can write on their behalf!

What are you working on now?
It’s a pretty big departure from the Lost Voices Trilogy: a novel for adults called Boudoir. It’s a dreamy, creepy, sort-of-horror novel, but not in the gory sense; more in the sense that nothing is quite how it’s supposed to be and certain characters are living under continuous threat. One of the characters may, or may not, be turning into a typewriter.

Zoraida Cordova’s Coney Island Mermaids

5 Aug

So I have been a bit remiss in keeping you updated on mermaid authoresses and shall begin rectifying the situation immediately by sharing with a gorgeous interview I did with the fabulous Ms. Zoraida Cordova, author of YA mermaid novels The Vicious Deep, which just came out in May, and its upcoming sequel The Savage Blue:

The novels are set in Coney Island, with all its carnival wonders and mermaid parades and general magical-ness, and Zoraida talks about her love for said isle in this charming vlog from her vlog-filled website, which you should check out immediately:

And then here she is posing alluringly in front of the Wonder Wheel, upon which I am quite certain I almost died once (just fyi):

Our Q and A follows.

So please, tell me about The Vicious Deep and its sequel, The Savage Blue.
The Vicious Deep is about the return of the mermaids to Coney Island. I loved spending summers there and one day it just clicked for me. I started envisioning this guy (Tristan) who had everything he wanted, popularity, looks, girls. Then one day he wakes up and it’s all gone and shoved into an exciting new world where he had to earn everything all over again.

The Savage Blue picks up right where The Vicious Deep leaves off. You can expect lots more underwater action, new characters, and whole new worlds.

What drew you to write about mermaids?
As a little girl I had this mermaid doll that sang when you pressed the back. I still have her! In many ways it was a childish love of beautiful things.

During high school, I became more enamored with the supernatural. I knew it would always be the thing I wanted to write about simply because life in Queens, NY was SO not exciting. Other worlds were always an escape and mermaids were so untouched, it just left me wanting to create my very own version.

What are your mermaids like?
My mermaids are as diverse as people. All different shapes and colors.

Because they live under a monarchy system, only the king can grant them the ability to shift between legs and fins. The majority of them are always in one form. While they have a kingdom in the sea, the court is gypsy-like, traveling all over the world. They reach Coney Island, every 50 years of so.

Will there be a next book in the series?
I’m already working on the outline!

How involved are you/have you been in the world of real-life mermaids, like at Weeki Wachee or Coney Island, etc?
I go to the mermaid parade every year! This year was the most insane. I was so inspired by all the costumes and the level of creativity. Also, the number of people who gather to celebrate mermaids!

Have you ever worn a tail (or wanted to)?
I never have. I most definitely want to know what it’s like to swim in one.

Have you been surprised at all by all the mermaid stuff out there?
Yes! I think embracing the supernatural is something our society frowned upon for so long that when I hear business girls my age talking about vampires and mermaids on the train, I have that “whoa” moment.

Do you have any favorite mermaid films/books/artists?
My favorite mermaid book right now is Sirena by Dona Jo Napoli. The Little Mermaid will always be my favorite movie.

I have a STACK of the recent mermaid books waiting to be read.

What do you think the appeal of mermaids is?
The mystery of the unknown. Curiosity is our best and worst qualities as people.

Do you have any advice for aspiring mermaids?
Keep calm, and swim on.

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