Mermaid Wars

Ocean-dwelling mythical beings have been creatures of fascination for us mere mortals for centuries. Greek mythology had Gods and monsters that inhabited the deep. Celtic mythology had Selkies, seals becoming human by shedding their seal skin. Sirens called hapless sailors to their deaths, and Nymphs and Naiads dwelt in rivers and streams all over the world. I’d assumed that this fascination belonged mostly to childhood fairy tales. Was I ever wrong.

rare mermaid pic from peter pan by alice boling-broke woodward 1907

When I began to write my Immersed series, I’d been inspired by the love story at the heart of the Twilight Saga, the YA novels by Stephenie Meyer. What if I could do something like that? Imagine being able to create a world that readers lingered in to share that love, wanting to inhabit it just a little more? A world where magic lives among us, so invisibly that most humans are unaware of it, and only the special one, or the unfortunate doomed ones are ever aware of it. I loved the idea of Forks, a real place, where perhaps even now vampires glittered in an escaped ray of sunlight in the deep and silent evergreen forests. So I began to plot my world.

Sure, I had no idea of all the haters out there for the Twilight stories. And the idea of real vampires had terrified me since reading a few snippets of Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a pre-teen. Besides, Stephenie Meyer and all the vampire books inspired by hers had vampires covered. I wanted to create a magical love story, and I needed something fresh. Something original.

I’m a bit of a fairy tale aficionado, and swoon over beautiful old book illustrations. Many old fairy tales have a dark or gruesome side, and I have found them fascinating. Darkness co-exists with light. But life can be hard enough. I was weathering some pretty hard times myself, and happy was kind of a nice alternative. I’d recently reread The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson, and as I mentioned in my post Beginnings – Mermaid Fascination the need to find a happy resolution to that story gave me my concept.

So, my plan was: 1) Love story. 2) Magical world that exists alongside ours almost beyond discernment. 3) Ordinary girl so my readers could feel a ‘what if…?’ about being in my world. 4) Something different. I came up with the Immersed series, in which my ordinary girl Skye meets Hunter, cursed ocean-dwelling boy. I was conscious of the risk of setting my story in the sea, apprehensive that no-one would be interested in an ocean setting. But like I said, I wanted to be original. Lol.

In my quest to be a fresh voice, I avoided almost all YA fiction. I lived like an internet hermit, oblivious to the exploding world of e-books, even though I knew e-books were a thing, and would possibly be my thing one day. In my local library, the first time I saw a YA fiction title referencing sea sirens it scared me – I was taking so long to write Find Me, what if someone else came up with the idea of a story set in the sea? No, they wouldn’t. Mermaids were from childhood. Disney was the last to pay them any attention. Besides, there are no mermaids in Immersed. Not even any sirens. I would be practically the lone voice exploring this setting, and my magical realism concept was unique. Lol again, right?

wave cross-section

After I released book one Find Me and began navigating the worlds of e-books and social media, I discovered that not only was I late to the ocean-dwellers party, the room was completely packed. It was practically a street party.

Digital and made-to-order bookshelves are crammed to overflowing with fantasy stories set in a world of sea mythology. Mermaids are more popular then ever, and many authors have merged mermaid mythology with vampires, with sirens, with witches and with Gods and monsters. Not just YA but adult and erotica writers have pitched their best efforts into the fray. I feel like an idiot! And my series, even with its dark aspects and sorrow blended in with the growing love story, is gentle when compared to the worlds many of my fellow writers have created.

I did some Amazon browsing ahead of writing this blog, and found a series eerily similar to mine today. It looks fantastic, with great reviews including quality writing, and like mine, includes parental tragedy, a move to a seaside village, and girl meets boy, all wrapped up in sea mythology. Further, this author’s dark hero’s name Sebastian is the same as my heroine’s surname, and his handsome ‘other guy’ shares the name Ethan with my handsome ‘other guy’! This is really horribly like my post about the way ideas float around the world for anyone to pluck. As someone told my sister once, if you think too excitedly about an idea, someone else might catch it. True? Who knows, but the fact remains that my story could look like a pale imitation, instead of a labour of love that took years to create.

One positive way to view what could be seen as Mermaid Wars, or the great novel fight-off in a sea-themed romance genre I never knew existed until a few months ago, is that there wouldn’t be so many books in this genre if readers weren’t enjoying it. So in that sense, my fearful speculation that I might be entirely missing the mark by setting my story in the sea was unfounded. And here’s another point in my favour: one of my reviewers described my mythology as unexpected, and in her opinion, really quite unique. Phew! Will my Immersed world sink or swim out there in the crowded ocean of YA magical sea beings? If you read it and think you know, let me know too, will you?

All of the images here were found on Pinterest. To receive updates about book two or receive offers, subscribe to my mailing list here. To visit my profile on Amazon click here. To take a look inside Find Me on Amazon click here. Thanks for reading.

 

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