Archive for July, 2014

Across the Summer Sea . . . to find mermaids!

Ever since I was seven years old, my favorite fairy tale has been Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.”  For those who are only familiar with the Disney cartoon of this story, I should warn you ahead of time that Andersen’s story is far different.  Disney’s version drastically changed the ending, for one thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I find the Disney version has its own charms.  But I far prefer Andersen’s original.  It’s a bittersweet tale of longing, love, transformation, loss, death, and rebirth, the same themes I explore in the Landers Saga, the same themes that touched me deeply as a child struggling with demons far beyond my years.

Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” enchants with poetic descriptions of life below the waves, a fantastical world that captured my imagination at a young age.  I remember gazing at Lake Superior after reading “The Little Mermaid” and seeing the movie Splash, longing to become a mermaid myself so I could experience the world Andersen described.  My very first offering to my elementary school project fair centered around merfolk–a huge poster I drew of life under the sea, the captions detailing in practical terms (food and clothing, for instance) how merfolk lived.  It was only a matter of time before I started writing about my own fantasy world, inspired as I was by Andersen, Tolkien, Robin McKinley, Alice Hoffman, and others.

Surprisingly enough, considering my early obsession with fins, my first serious foray into the fantasy realm as a writer ended in a bird nest, not a fish tail.  Although various characters mention mermaids throughout the Landers Saga, it’s only in The Curious Fear of High and Lonely Places that we actually meet a mermaid for the first time.  Of course, the winged theme of the Landers Saga has roots in my early childhood experience as well–my favorite pets growing up were homing pigeons.  I hand-raised a number of squabs when I was young, teaching them to ride on my bike handlebars  and watching them fly with that vast, dizzying freedom only a bird in flight experiences. 

So I love birds and merfolk, and now, with the introduction of Ghitana in The Curious Fear of High and Lonely Places, I finagled it so I could write about them both in one story.  While working on The Bird Children, I digressed from mermaids a bit to focus on Avreal’s struggles as a young bird-girl.  However, in Across the Summer Sea, which picks up about three years after the end of The Bird Children, I return to writing about mermaids again with a new point of view character.  I’ll leave it to those who have read the Landers Saga to guess who this new character might be!

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