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Melissa Eskue Ousley

Melissa Eskue Ousley

We continue our interview with Melissa Eskue Ousley, author of the forthcoming Young Adult novel, Sign of the Throne.

Melissa Eskue Ousley is the author of The Solas Beir Trilogy. Sign of the Throne, the first book of this young adult fantasy series, will be released this September by Castle Garden Publications, the young adult division of Gazebo Gardens Publishing. She is currently working on the second and third novels in the trilogy, The Rabbit and the Raven and The Sower Comes.

Melissa has also published numerous academic articles in peer-reviewed journals such as The Journal of College and Character and The College Student Affairs Journal. Having received her Ph.D. in Higher Education from The University of Arizona, she has taught psychology courses and worked within higher education on diversity issues, serving underrepresented students and conducting research. She has presented her research at professional conferences throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. She is also a member of the American Psychological Association. Her expertise in psychology and interest in culture and mythology have heavily influenced the themes and character development in Sign of the Throne. Melissa lives in Oregon.

Large Q Queen Eulalia and her sister Lucia seem to be polar opposites. Why do you think that is?
Large A Lucia is the dominant sibling-she’s older and has taken charge throughout Eulalia’s life. Eulalia admires Lucia’s spirit and strength, and as the more introverted and empathic sibling, was content to let Lucia have her way. Lucia and Eulalia come from a noble family. Lucia distinguished herself from other women by taking a leadership role and serving on the Solas Beir’s court council, while Eulalia preferred a quieter life, remaining at her family’s estate. Everyone thought Lucia would be chosen as queen. When Eulalia was chosen instead, it was a surprise, and caused a rift between the sisters.
Large Q Lucia appears as someone else through most of the story. How did this come to be?
Large A Lucia and Eulalia were born to magic, but Lucia’s powers were enhanced when she aligned with the Kruorumbrae. She gained the power to steal a human body and disguise herself as that person, a skill which involves the darkest of magic.
Large Q Abby is befriended by Cassandra and Riordan Buchan. What can you tell us about them and how often do you think Riordan wears his kilt(s)?
Large A I’m fairly certain Riordan wears his kilt as often as he can get away with it. Some people wear cowboy boots; Riordan wears a kilt. It lends him swagger, and he thinks of it as his lucky charm to help him write. Riordan reminds me a bit of my own dad (who is more of a cowboy boot kind of guy). Riordan is a good father, adores Cassandra, is passionate about his interests, and has a great sense of humor. He and Cassandra are unconventional in the way they approach the world, but that works for their relationship. They become mentors and parental figures for Abby, helping her bridge Newcastle Beach culture.
Large Q We don’t hear very much from Abby’s parents and as the story develops, one gets the feeling that they are going to be in a very vulnerable position. Will her parents – and indeed, Jon’s mother – figure elsewhere in the triolgy?
Large A You’re right-they are in a vulnerable position, and will make an appearance in the second book. However, just as Cassandra and Riordan become mentors to Abby, other people in Cai Terenmare will become mentors for her, David, and Jon as they navigate their new world. It’s a lot like what a first generation college student experiences. When you are the first in your family to attend college, your parents may be supportive, but academic culture is new to them as well, and they can only help you so much. You need someone familiar with the culture to mentor you.
Large Q Why Newcastle Beach, CA as a locale?
Large A Newcastle Beach was inspired primarily by Santa Barbara, California, after a memorable trip with my professor friend. The Newcastle Beach Inn is modeled after the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara and the Arizona Inn in Tucson, Arizona. My husband and I used to live near the Arizona Inn in a neighborhood where the houses had a lot of character. Our apartment was located at the end of a cul-de-sac that was almost hidden from the main street. At the start of our winding road, across from the Arizona Inn, was a mysterious, seemingly abandoned house hidden by trees and a large fence. I always wanted to explore the property, but it was off limits. It became the inspiration for the ruined mansion in the book.
Large Q How did you divise the plot for SOTT?
Large A In On Writing, Stephen King compares writing to unearthing a fossil. As you carefully excavate your find, you learn more about what lies underneath the soil, the size and shape of the story. I didn’t know it at the time, but that is what I was doing in writing Sign of the Throne. There wasn’t a plot. Different, unrelated ideas began to gel, and the more I learned about my characters, the more the story took shape.
Large Q What part of the creative and writing process did you enjoy the most?
Large A The best part of writing is when the story takes on a life of its own, and I’m watching it unfold, scrambling to transcribe what I hear and see. The characters find their own voices. I know that sounds strange, but I’m not the first writer to describe it this way. It’s exhilarating to see a story take shape, and to be the first reader, surprised by the twists and turns. Because this book is part of a trilogy, there has been some plotting to keep the series cohesive, but I don’t like to force plot because the writing starts to feel stale and contrived. I’m more of a “pantser” in watching things unfold, and allowing the characters to develop, adjusting things to stay true to what the story wants. I’m still writing the third book in the series, and although I have an idea of the basic shape of the story, I continue to “listen” to the characters, staying open to what they need. I’ve enjoyed being surprised.
Large Q Sign of the Throne is an amazing bit of writing and some folks have a hard time believing that this is your debut novel. What is your secret?
Large A Although I’m new to writing fiction, I’m not new to writing. For many years, I worked with an outstanding research team at the University of Arizona conducting social science research. Although we were writing about research findings, we were still telling a story, and the basic elements of writing were the same. You still need to communicate your thoughts clearly through a framework and good grammar.Still, fiction is much different from an academic article. The playfulness of it was a nice reprieve from the rigors of writing about statistics. My fellow researchers are close friends, and one of the things I loved about working with them is that we had enough of a rapport to be able to offer each other critical suggestions for revisions on our research papers. This proved to be a huge advantage in writing fiction, because my friends felt comfortable offering me critical feedback, asking intelligent questions that helped develop the characters.I also have to give credit to Jessica Morrell, a writing coach who offered very helpful advice. Her feedback led me to work with Laura Meehan, an editor from Indigo Editing and Publishing who specializes in the young adult genre. Like my friends in academics, Laura has a knack for asking brilliant developmental questions. She was a tremendous help in revising this book. I also have to thank the team at Castle Garden Publications for their additional suggestions for revisions. All of these people have made the book much stronger than it was originally.
Large Q How has Sign of the Throne been received thus far by the reviewers?
Large A So far, so good. I’ve been fortunate to receive strong praise from a number of people. I know at some point someone will hate the book, but I’ll try to view the criticism in a positive light, using it to strengthen future writing. I will, however, reserve the right to a chocolate binge to ease the sting.
Large Q Once the last word on the last page of the last installment in your series has been written, what do you plan next? More YA fantasies?
Large A I believe so. I have a few ideas percolating in my head, but for now I’m focusing on writing the final book in The Solas Beir Trilogy
Large Q Is there anything else before you go?
Large A Thank you again for your amazing review and for the opportunity to share more about Sign of the Throne. I hope your readers have enjoyed hanging out behind the scenes with me.

Read Part I of our Interview with Melissa.

Read the review of Sign of the Throne.

 

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Melissa Eskue Ousley

Melissa Eskue Ousley

Today, we have a real treat in store. To mark the upcoming release of the Young Adult novel, Sign of the Throne, we have an exclusive interview with the author, Melissa Eskue Ousley.

Melissa Eskue Ousley is the author of The Solas Beir Trilogy. Sign of the Throne, the first book of this young adult fantasy series, will be released this September by Castle Garden Publications, the young adult division of Gazebo Gardens Publishing. She is currently working on the second and third novels in the trilogy, The Rabbit and the Raven and The Sower Comes.

Melissa has also published numerous academic articles in peer-reviewed journals such as The Journal of College and Character and The College Student Affairs Journal. Having received her Ph.D. in Higher Education from The University of Arizona, she has taught psychology courses and worked within higher education on diversity issues, serving underrepresented students and conducting research. She has presented her research at professional conferences throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. She is also a member of the American Psychological Association. Her expertise in psychology and interest in culture and mythology have heavily influenced the themes and character development in Sign of the Throne. Melissa lives in Oregon.

Now, let’s get on with the interview!

Large Q How did you get started as an author?
Large A I always loved reading and writing, and have a BA in English Education, but it took me a long time to become a writer. My background is in education and psychology (I have an MA in Counseling and a PhD in Higher Education). I enjoyed working in those fields, conducting research and teaching college classes in Arizona. Eventually though, I realized writing was something I had to do. When my husband and I moved to the Pacific Northwest for an opportunity with his career, I decided to focus on my writing. I jumped in with no plan B, but lucky for me, doors opened and I was able to connect with a wonderful press.
Large Q What led you to write Sign of the Throne?
Large A The book was inspired by Jung’s collective unconscious and the idea that many of the bogeymen from various human societies have similar characteristics. I imagined these creatures had a common origin in a world parallel to our own, and had crossed over to Earth, inspiring our myths. I love mythology and psychology, so this book is brimming over with concepts and references from both of those fields. Some of the characters’ names have symbolic meanings. For example, Tynan Tierney means dark lord.
Large Q Was there any particular literary inspiration for your “world-building”?
Large A Great question. When I was 13, I read The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. It was unlike anything I’d read before-a story set in two worlds: ours, and The Territories, a parallel medieval world with magic and monsters. I also love Stephen King’s Dark Tower series because he’s created a rich fantasy world with its own culture, language, and monsters (not unlike Tolkien). Sign of the Throne is also influenced by The Chronicles of Narnia, although Cai Terenmare may be a darker and more dangerous place than Narnia. We’ll get to travel quite a bit in the second book, and meet new monsters.
Large Q Are there any real people or fictional characters that influenced the development of your own characters for Sign of the Throne?
Large A None of the characters are autobiographical, although some of them share similar traits with me or other people I know. There is one character, however, that is based on a real person. Cassandra Buchan is modeled after a very dear friend who is a force of nature. My friend is a brilliant statistics professor, and is every bit as fun, caring, and charismatic as Cassandra. I always love it when her eyes sparkle and she grins and says, “Okay. Are you ready?” I never know what I’m supposed to be ready for, but it never fails to be interesting.
Large Q Let’s talk about the main characters. What can you tell us about Abby – both outside and inside?
Large A Abby is attractive but she can’t see it-she sees herself as average, if not boring. Her eyes are on the future-working hard to save up for college so she can build a more exciting life for herself. She admires her parents, who are also hard-working, but she doesn’t want their life. She finds herself drawn to Newcastle Beach because it is so different from her middle-class neighborhood. To her Newcastle Beach has magic, even without the actual magic hidden within its circular border. Newcastle Beach represents a life she can only dream about, but that motivates her to work hard at her job and in school.
Large Q Abby has these strange dreams, doesn’t she?
Large A That she does. Because she is empathic, she can also connect with others through dreams. Some of the dreams are prophetic, but sometimes the dreams are more symbolic than literal, and it is difficult for her to make sense of them. My own dreams can be pretty crazy, so some of them have inspired Abby’s dreams. In one of her dreams, a shadowed creature emerges from her closet-that was actually one of mine.
Large Q
Large A David is kind of like Sleeping Beauty, except that he’s a dude. He’s not literally asleep, but he’s walking through a scripted life in a blissful daze. He’s let his parents make choices for him, and it hasn’t occurred to him that he might not want the life they’ve planned for him. Why would it? He has everything he could ever want, materially at least. He is wealthy, educated, and is about to move to an exciting city for a promising career. His girlfriend, Amelia, is kind and beautiful, and both sets of parents have high hopes for their relationship. Emotionally though, something is lacking. It is not until he meets Abby that he realizes he is missing a crucial part of himself.
Large Q How do you think his character will develop over the course of the series?
Large A First, David is going to have to figure out who he is, and who he wants to be. Then he’s going to have to figure out how to be a good leader for his people. He is going to have to make some hard choices and some sacrifices.
Large Q The troika of central characters is rounded out by Jon, Abby’s former boyfriend. What should we know about him?
Large A Jon works hard to keep up his reputation as a loveable rogue who doesn’t take things seriously, but in truth, he is serious about several things. He values friendship and loyalty. He adores his mother and Abby and would do anything for either of them. He acts like he doesn’t care about school, but he’s intelligent and takes college classes on the sly. He masks a lot of his feelings with humor.
Large Q In many ways, Jon is a sort of sidekick to Abby. What do you think will happen with this arrangement going forward?
Large A Abby and Jon are opposites. He’s more extroverted and she’s more introverted. Abby helps Jon stay grounded, and Jon keeps Abby from being a stick in the mud. They’ve been friends forever and balance each other out. It will be hard for Jon to let go of Abby as she enters into a more mature relationship with David, and this causes some conflict. However, Jon values his friendship with Abby too much to risk pushing the boundaries she’s drawn for him. He is mature enough to set his feelings aside and find common ground with David, and as he finds his own love interest, he will find more balance. He’ll still keep his sense of humor though.

Read Part II of our Interview with Melissa.

Read the review of Sign of the Throne.

Visit S.K. Munt's Website

S.K. Munt - Mermaid in training

S.K. Munt – Mermaid in training

 

We’re back with the second part of our interview featuring S.K. Munt, author of The Marked Ones and the second book in her Fairytail Series, Three Rings. Today is a momentous occasion in that Three Rings is being released and there are plenty of readers who cannot wait to get their hands on the sequel.

In Part I, we asked Ms Munt about the central characters in The Marked Ones and today we’ll learn a little bit more about the world her characters live in. We’ll also learn a wee bit about Three Rings, so let’s pick up where we left off in our 20 Questions interview.

 

Large Q You have differentiated yourself from many other authors by not envisioning vast undersea kingdoms and cities. Instead, the numbers of Mer-folk are relatively small though they do have a disproportionate influlence on human affairs. Why did you take this approach?
Large A To me, mermaids are guardians of the sea. When mermaid books are set in the past, it makes sense that mermaids are there to save sailors, foil pirates and bring down people within their own species who might try and do them or the world above harm. But the Marked Ones is set in the present, and the biggest threat to the ocean is the impact humans have on the environment. To counteract that, mermaids have to fight for environmental rights – a battle that must begin on land. So they’re in the governments and environmental organisations, trying to make a difference – backed by a rather large benefactor, their queen, who is guarding the ultimate buried treasure – a fortune that’s been amassing for 1000 years and kept within the same bloodline. You could say that they have a disproportianate influence given their small population, but then again, the biggest changes in our world and politics often begin with one person, one statement that is impassioned enough to motivate change. And the one thing mermaids have in spades, is passion.
Large Q There are many telling passages in the story but the following is my favourite:
“And what was the deal with the human? Ardhi hadn’t been close enough to hear them conversing, but he’d seen Ivyanne’s face alight with animation-seen her knock back a full drink in one gulp the moment the tall man had loped away. She’d then turned to the ocean, and rested her hand against her heart with a ridiculously moved smile on her face. A smile Ardhi had never seen before. A smile no human should be capable of gleaning from their princess.”
Tell us about this quote.
Large A I’m sure at some point, everyone has been witness to their heart’s desire desiring someone else. It’s like sinking into acid, and yet you instantly write the emotion you saw off as an infatuation or a loss of sanity – because if you love this person this much, they should love you back – and they will, in time. The moment you glimpse, however fleeting, will scar you for life regardless. This was a very subtle point within the novel where people are changed forever. Lincoln’s faith in himself has been restored and it animates him so that Ivyanne can’t look away. Ivyanne has gone to the party dressed as a teenager, trying to play a part – and yet one flirtation from Lincoln reduces her to a giddy sixteen year old human girl – no acting required. And witnessing this, Ardhi realises that he doesn’t know her as well as he thought he did, that Ivyanne has secrets and layers and desires she’s kept concealed, and it terrifies him and makes him see that he is very much an observer of her interest – not a participant. The fact that Ivyanne is on the sand when she is overwhelmed and in the throes of serious withdrawals, whereas Ardhi is fully immersed in the ocean when this plays out, speaks volumes about their natures. Ivyanne is as weak as any mermaid on land but Ardhi is as susceptible to the ‘human’ emotions he abhors so much in his own environment.
Large Q Every author of Mer-fiction envisions merfolk differently. Your approach seems to be quite original as compared to others. What was your vision?
Large A I’ve always wondered about how mermaids could have come to be, and from the very start, I knew I wanted to do a creation story. I am cursed with both a wild imagination, and a desire for logic and truth, so in order to sink into a fantasy, there has to be some facet or realism to a story that I can grasp onto – otherwise my pesky sub-conscious starts picking holes in things.Mermaids have breasts and bear children, therefore, they are mammals, and need to be as susceptible to the laws of nature as other sea dwelling mammals are. So instead of breathing through gills, like a fish, they can hold their breath for a long period of time, as a dolphin does. They also travel at similar speeds to dolphins, each mer slightly different based on their genetics. Because they need oxygen, they must spend time on the land, at least to sleep, and in order to pull that off, they need to be able to live as humans. One step led to another, and I researched each thoroughly. There is a magical element to it of course – there is no way around it and I wouldn’t want one. So the mermaids are created by one very magical woman in an attempt to save her unborn child’s life, and her magic is inherited amongst her kin, diluting as the blood does. Which is why they strive so hard to keep the court and Marked bloodlines pure. At the end of the day, it is an indulgent and I hope, feasible fantasy that every mermaid wannabe like myself could get on board with.
Large Q Your story is set in a slightly run-down resort where the mer-folk trying to earn a dollar working as staff seem to be somewhat protective of Lincoln. Why is this?
Large A The run down resort is a real place. In my childhood, it was a thrilling, busy and magical place to be, where locals and tourists gathered in droves to celebrate everything wonderful about living in the tropics. But as time passed and newer, fancier resorts began to pop up in the north, people began to trickle away, and several times, the resort has switched owners and undergone facelifts in order to save it. But never has it been returned to its original glory. This is the truth about Lincoln’s own life. He bought the fantasy he couldn’t let go of and he lives within it every day. But without that person, and that dynamic that made it so magical for him, it can never be what it was. The resort, and the man inheriting it, need life breathed back into them in order to go on and prosper. The mermaids have to live on land, have to integrate themselves with humans, but humans are a plague on this world and in order to retain their secrecy, the mermaids need to find places that are more isolated. The run-down resort is perfect for that, but as Ivyanne draws so many followers and drama, the more the resort and Lincoln are renewed, the more dangerous a place it becomes for the mers.
Large Q Your upcoming book is titled “Three Rings”. Without spoiling things for your fans, what can you tell us about this story?
Large A The Marked Ones began with a woman suffering from romantic indifference. She needed to choose a mate from 3 candidates, but didn’t have romantic feelings for any of them and to her, this was a crisis. But in Three Rings, she’s narrowed her prospects down to two – but she cares deeply for both now, so there is much more at stake for all of them, and the one left out in the cold is not happy about it, or willing to accept it. Three Rings is much darker, full of action with less of an emphasis on romance-questioning the role that fate plays in our lives. There are several more characters, and the world of the mermaids opens up to the reader, as it does to the characters. In so many ways, the Fairytail Saga is about coming of age later than one should. Ivyanne has the intellect of someone twice her age, and the hormones of a teenager. But her duty, is to marry as a woman, and over the course of Three Rings – she is presented with exactly that – three rings, from three men, and offered three different paths to follow.
Large Q How has The Marked Ones been received thus far?
Large A It is being received amazingly well. I’m getting some intriguing comparisons. Some to books I haven’t read, some saying there’s nothing like it – which is what I was shooting for – and some comparing it to a mash-up or True Blood and The Princess Bride, which made me giggle, because they are two of my obsessions. I’m finding that it’s a hard idea to sell people on – mermaids for ADULTS – but those who love it, seem to be obsessed, and that’s all I could ever hope for. There have been a dozen occasions in which I’ve sat in front of my computer and sobbed gratefully over someone’s excited review. I hope they continue to spread the word, and draw more like-minded individuals in my direction.
Large Q You seem to a very driven writer as most sequels appear to percolate for a year or more before their publication. What brings such a drive to your writing?
Large A It’s different for me because I’ve had all three ready and waiting for almost a year so aside from some fine tuning and formatting, there’s no reason to delay releasing them. I am very driven though – once I set my mind on something, it’s going to happen, and quickly. And hopefully – well. ‘Have Soapbox-will travel’ is kind of my motto.
Besides is there anything more torturous than waiting for a sequel you KNOW is coming? As I reader, I can’t stand the wait. Releasing them in swift succession is something I have the power to do, so I’ll do it 🙂
Large Q Once the last word on the last page of the last installment in your series has been written, what do you plan next? More mermaid stories?
Large A I have several ideas percolating. In my head, The Fairytail saga has a 4th story begging to be told, but whether I’ll tackle that straight away remains to be seen. I am not a single genre writer at all. I read everything and I will try my hand at writing everything. Predominantly, I am compelled towards romantic suspense, thrillers and YA. The YA books I read shaped me for life and I’d love to do something to inspire hope and excitement for those struggling with their own very real coming of age stories. I have one in mind, but my mermaids are a mischievous bunch who I need to shake before I can think of anything else, so I guess only time will tell.
Large Q Is there anything else before you go?
Large A Yes Howard I’d like to thank you for your interest in The Marked Ones. I’ve read all of your reviews so far and you’re the kind of reviewer that every debut writer needs to look over their work. Fair, open-minded and passionate. You seek the good in everything, but do not gloss over the bad. You have a way with words yourself, and I cannot wait until you put pen to paper (fingertips to keys?) to tell your own story, because I think it’s going to be great.

Samantha, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. Readers are certainly queuing up to buy Three Rings and I’d better go get my copy right now!

Read Part I of our interview with S.K. Munt.

The Marked Ones

S. K. Munt

S. K. Munt

 

Today, we have with us an exciting new author who has brought the concept of mermaids – often considered to be the province of children’s stories and Young Adult Fiction – into the realm of adult fantasy novels. Not only has she given mer-folk a change of venue but her writing has managed to turn quite a few heads and she has quickly developed an enthusiastic following.

The Marked Ones is the first installment in Ms Munt’s Fairytail series that is expected to run to at least thee books if not more. Given the accolades for her debut novel, the second, Three Rings, is likely to cement her position as a nascent writer of outstanding fiction. Her fans would seem to agree that S.K. Munt is an author to watch.

For example, one person on Goodreads.com wrote the following upon completion of  The Marked Ones:

I am gone on The Marked Ones. Gone. I can’t function.
It’s so different from everything I’ve ever read!  — Abby Jocavich

S.K. Munt is an intriguing writer and we are grateful that she took time out from her busy schedule to answer our 20 Questions.

Large Q How did you get started as an author?
Large A I think every writer gets their ‘calling’ through a love of reading. I taught myself to read at 4, using those old Alf books that came with a cassette. When the tape went ‘ding’ you turned the page. By year two it was ghost stories (J.B Stamper, Tales Of the Midnight Hour) and by the third grade I’d made it to Stephen King and The Baby-Sitters Club.
Ghost stories fascinated me. I was that kid that ‘weird’ things happened to (Note, not the weird kid) and I was always dreaming up things to tell my friends at slumber parties that would guarantee emotional scarring well into adulthood. In fact, one story I made up, based on a true one from Borley Rectory, has become a local urban legend. As I grew, it did. I am probably the only person in my town who will stand on that cliff face at night by themselves without knocking-knees. And giggle my ass off.
Then think of something terrifying and hightail it back down to civilisation. I always kept a diary and by the fifth grade, I was writing whole books by hand. This went on and on-always a different genre, and by the eighth grade, I knew what my path was. I didn’t have a choice. Another very important aspect, was that I was alone a lot growing up, and suffered a lot of bullying. But nine times out of ten, I talked my way out of situations I didn’t belong in. I’d even have recurring dreams about charming monsters. So from a very young age, as a very small person – I knew that words were my allies.
Large Q What led you to write The Marked Ones?
Large A I grew up next to a beach, near a resort, so mermaids were just something ingrained in my sub-conscious and fantasies. And after a trip to Hawaii I got hooked on surfing. Once I started, I couldn’t make myself stop – the ocean is the most magical thing on this planet. But the real idea came when I found myself defending an unflattering portrayal of mermaids back in 2011, and I decided to charge myself with the job of making mermaids relate-able, feasible, and as glamorous as in my wildest dreams. It was hard. There are so many differing myths that I scrapped them all and started from scratch. It took months. I didn’t have any specific scenes in mind, just a vague outline-when I encountered a very large tiger shark while surfing. Alone. I took the fact that it didn’t eat me as a sign that the ocean was on my side. (A theory rebuffed by a marine biologist a few weeks ago, because apparently, tiger sharks are just lazy and not hungry during the day) and I had a scene. I started writing that day and haven’t stopped. The same thing happens to Ivyanne in TMO, and I see it as a parallel to my childhood nightmares about talking myself out of bad situations with creatures who have sharp teeth. I did talk to the shark too. Something along the lines of : ‘Hey…you’ve got pretty markings there…I think I’ll appreciate them better from the shore…you must be bored huh? It’s a flat day…oh look…here comes a wave…I’m going to paddle, gently – don’t be alarmed – it’s not a rejection….but I can’t pass up a minnow like that around here…’
Large Q Mermaid stories are quite popular at the moment in the Young Adult market. How do you think this popularity translates to the adult market?
Large A When I was little, my mermaid dreams consisted of sitting on a rock and combing my hair. When I was a teenager, they consisted on sitting on a rock, combing my hair, and flirting with the cute sailor I saved (who would have the face of my crush at the time.) When I was a young adult, I’d be on that same rock, willing a ship-load of ex boyfriends and bullies into another rock while singing sweetly, and now, I want the rock, a fancier boat, a hotter sailor, maybe two, (were I not happily married to the one from my early teens 😉 ) and the chance to just take off underwater when I need to escape, and find my centre when life becomes overwhelming and the kids won’t make their beds. Young adults will grow, and as they evolve, their own mermaid fantasies will shift, and I hope the current drags them in my direction. I’ve already rescued a few, so I know they’re out there and that others will follow.
Large Q Was there any particular literary inspiration for your “world-building”?
Large A Not specifically. The world in TMO is my reality. It’s my home town. But I will credit the ‘darker’ paranormal romance genres for breaking all of the traditional rules in the last few years and making the possibilities for world building with ANY kind of mythical creature more easily recieved.
Large Q Are there any real people or literary characters that influenced the development of your own characters for The Marked Ones?
Large A Yes on the real people part. Very few characters in TMO are complete figments of my imagination. But I live in a small town so to avoid burning at the stake, a lot of them are hybrids of similar souls, so no one is going to read it and go: ‘Oh she is SO dead!’.
Ivyanne, the main character and Aubrielle are probably the only ones who are like no one I know. As for literary influences, I think I’ve put a facet of every fictional man I’ve ever loved into my main characters: Edward Cullen, Rhett Butler, Eric Northman, Noah Calhoun, Slim Mackenzie, Pacey Witter, Wesley from The Princess Bride and Spike from Buffy, lol.
Large Q Let’s talk about the main characters. What can you tell us about Ivyanne – both outside and inside?
Large A Ivyanne is in a position in life that every girl wishes they were in. She’s is astoundingly beautiful, sweet, tolerant, a guardian of the environment, beloved and coveted. She is also wealthy, and clever. The ideal mermaid princess, on the page. But those we view in life as perfect are often the most unhappy and that is Ivyanne’s curse. She doesn’t care about her beauty, because she’s not allowed near men. It’s like owning a ferrari when you live on an a tiny island with no roads. People adore her for being self-sacrificing, virginal and sweet, but in truth she resents the sacrifices, is horny as hell and wants everyone to stop caring so she can break all the rules and finally live her life. The catch 22 of perfection is that one has to be perfect, and there is no fun in that. No one likes being the designated driver when the people in the backseat are having the time of their lives and you are excluded from it. In TMO, Ivyanne is coming of age-ten years later than everyone else-and she has to struggle to hold on to who she has to be for her people, and who she needs to become so she can live with herself for a very, very long time.
Large Q Ivyanne has three suitors. Let’s talk about Tristan. He seems to be something of a rake doesn’t he?
Large A Tristan is absolutely a rake. But he is born that way and is unapologetic about it, and this is what redeems him. In a world full of people striving for the top, while feigning modesty-Tristan is a breath of fresh air that gets what he wants because he knows he deserves it. There are not many people this honest with themselves around, but if you know one-I bet they’re your favourite person-in small doses. He is Ivyanne’s polar opposite in that sense – a vision of who she could be, and how she could dominate her own world, if only she believed in herself to the same degree. People assume Tristan’s role in this tale is as the token dark-knight bad boy, but I see him as a reflection of our heroine’s potential, as well as the poster child for the ultimate mermaid ideal, and he has a journey of his own to undertake before he becomes as fulfilled as he is flawless.
Large Q Ivyanne’s childhood friend, Ardhi, seems to be something of a loose cannon doesn’t he?
Large A Ardhi is a complex character. He has grown up under the shadow of a scandal, because his parents broke a serious rule by marrying withinThe Marked families without royal approval first. This has made his sister eager to please others and tow the line, but has had the opposite effect on Ardhi, leading him to isolate himself from the community. He understands it was wrong, but because the Loveridge family were given a blessing to do the same thing – he is unapologetic about it and sees himself as a victim of an unfair system. His mother is a bit of a social climber, trying to remove the tarnish from her family name by forcing her company onto the queen, who is tolerant but not overly receptive. This embarrasses Ardhi, and he resents his mother using him as a pawn to marry as best as he possibly can-yet when he falls for Ivyanne, he quickly begins to covet not just her heart, but the title that will come with it, demonstrating that he is more like his mother than he thinks. He is a loyal, intense and quiet man with very few desires in life. This made him a wonderful friend for Ivyanne, who preferred to keep to herself as well. But when she breaks out into the big world and is welcomed by others – people Ardhi either judges or resents – Ardhi panics. For the first time in his life, he wants something he might not get, and his true nature rises to the surface in pursuit of it.
Large Q Finally, there’s Bane, Tristan’s nephew. We don’t know much about him until the latter chapters in the book. Tell us about him and his impact on the plot.
Large A Bane is a character you don’t get to know well until books two and three, but he plays a vital role within the Saga. To me, he is the lighthouse guiding ships in distress to safety when things are at their darkest, and not just for Ivyanne-but all of them.
Large Q Then there’s Lincoln Grey, Ivyanne’s crush from her teen years. What can you tell us about him?
Large A Everybody knows a Lincoln. He is that guy who seemed to have it all as a teenager – Gorgeous, clean-cut, well mannered, popular with a sort of boyish charm. People flocked to them in school environments because they’re just genuinely pleasant to be around, never seem to get on anyone’s bad side and have the world laid out at their feet. That’s what we want for our own sons – the looks, the grades, the kindness and the popularity. Even-Steven, you might also say.Men like these are the ‘marrying kind’ every woman is after, and yet because these guys have always had it so easy, they never really know how to fight for anything. As a result, they tend to lose themselves in their relationships or work or family lives unless they discover something they have to challenge themselves over in order to attain. Lincoln was this passionate boy in his youth because of Ivanna – but tragic events broke his spirit, and so he chose to drift where the tide led him. Lincoln has been shaped by the ocean – it made him come alive when he almost drowned as an 11 year old, and he met Ivanna, and then crippled him when it took his mother. Both things happened at pivotal times in his life – the verge of adolescence and the verge of adulthood. Now it’s going to happen again, and how he handles it will define the rest of his life-but he will have to swim against the current to emerge victorious.
Large Q Lincoln’s character is sure to strike a chord with many male readers of The Lost Ones as some of us have found ourselves – at one time or another – caught in the trap of the forbidden/hopeless romance. How did you come up with such a spot-on characterisation?
Large A From the ages of 16 to 24, I worked as a bartender/ waitress in multiple venues. And if there’s one thing a bartender sees a lot of, it’s lonely men. Men that lost their love, or their job or their drive. When a woman is lonely, you might be completely unaware of it. They can pass themselves off as exuberant and fun-loving and ultra confident and you’d never know that they’re keeping so much pain within themselves. Men on the other hand, cannot hide such intense emotions. It shows through their eyes, their posture and the way they talk. Just as it shows when they truly love someone, or are very happy. I’ve seen men like Link at all stages in life – the young man falling in love, and the young man brokenhearted and scanning the room for the culprit. The same man, five years later out to dinner with a woman he may not be interested in but has settled for, and then ten years later when he’s completely resigned himself to a life without passion – but those eyes still scan the room, searching for her. Those same eyes avoid the mirror, though they speak endlessly of the past, and you know that mentally, they never left it. And then I’ve seen them forty years down the track, reacting to a girl who resembles their long-lost love-and it lights them from within. Hope can die, but memories never lose their grip on a broken heart. Want to see a man blossom? Whistle at a fifty year old construction worker on the side of the road. No virgin has a blush that equals the beauty of those smiles.
Large Q Finally, there is Adele, Lincoln’s off-again, on-again girlfriend who seems to be something of a consolation prize. She seems to be opportunistic and a bit
of a gold digger. How does she fit into all of this?
Large A I don’t believe in one-dimensional characters – It may have been easy to write Adele off as the token bitchy, blonde ice queen placed within the novel solely to irritate our darling heroine in the beginning, but there’s more to her than that. Yes she’s a socialite, yes she’s spoiled and she’s definitely opportunistic – but she’s not a model or a spokes girl – she’s an English major who sees more, feels more and wants more than people realise. Really, she and Tristan are mirror images of one another at this point – but her weaker character stems from the fact that she is human. She’s about to swim in the deep end which should guarantee her finding a sort of inner peace, but unfortunately, it’s a shark she’s swimming with. Either way, her journey is far from over.

Now that we’ve discussed the main characters, we’re going to take a bit of a break. Tomorrow, we’ll have the 2nd Part of our interview with S.K. Munt.

Read Part II of our interview with S.K. Munt.

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Brenda Pandos
This is Part II of our interview with the author of Young Adult paranormal romance novels, Brenda Pandos. Part I of this Interview appeared on July 29th, 2013.

Our 20-Question interviews usually run more than 20 questions in length and this makes for one rather long and tiresome post for the reader. In order to keep things interesting, We have started dividing our interviews into at least two parts in the hope that it will be be somewhat easier to read.

If you somehow wound up here in Part II first, you can go read Part I and then come back to this page. Now, let’s return to our scintillating interview with Brenda Pandos!

Large Q What is the overall theme of the books and the series as a whole?
Large A The themes are ones of rescue and of honesty.
Large Q Fin is – well – Fin who, despite his aquatic heritage, seems to be a fairly normal young adult male. Nonetheless, it seems like sometimes he’d rather be somewhere and/or something else. How come?
Large A Fin’s unique in that he has experienced life as human’s do, unlike most mermen, and enjoys his freedom, along with the sun and fresh air. But falling for a human girl would make things difficult, considering he couldn’t act on his feelings without revealing his secret.
Large Q Ash loves her family – younger sister included – but she goes through some significant changes in Evergreen. How will her new knowledge – and body – affect her view of them?
Large A Without giving away too much, I’d say a lot. And this might also explain why she has such a difficult time connecting with her mother.
Large Q Goldschlager? Really??{{1}}
Large A Why not? Actually, alcohol isn’t kind to a mermaid’s delicate constitution.
Large Q Ash and Fin have a significant degree of commitment to each other throughout both books. What does this say to your target audience?
Large A Wouldn’t it be nice if a kiss could keep one in perpetual bliss? I’d hope my readers would be smart enough to know that this isn’t reality. But I do say, when you know, you know, and typically one doesn’t marry the first person they fall in love with.
Large Q Towards the end of Evergreen, Ash suddenly goes from being the older sister to a younger one. Add in her commitment to the revolutionary cause and that major change in outlook. Would you say that her acceptance of all this is because of Fin or because of something else in Ash’s makeup?
Large A All I can say is the truth set her free to be who she needed to be.
Large Q How have the first two books in the Mer Tales series been received by both fans and the critics?
Large A Well, I’d say positively. The series holds a 4 star average on Goodreads and closer to 5 on Amazon. I get letters and facebook posts from fans who love my stories often. Again, there’s a smattering of mean reviews and snarky people who have nothing else better to do than be mean, but I try not to let their silly opinions bother me.
Large Q Can you give us any hints about what to expect in Everlost?
Large A It’s a jungle down there. Treachery and secrets galore rule Natatoria. Tatiana has rough waters ahead of her. She’s going to have to grow up, pull on her big girl panties, and face reality without her parents.
Large Q Is Everlost the conclusion of the Mer Tales series or will we see more of Ash and Fin?
Large A Right now, things end at a nice place, though there’s room for more books. We’ll have to see if the characters talk to me more. Right now, a new story is brewing in my mind and I’d love to finally give it some attention.
Large Q Do you plan do write any more novels – or a series, perhaps – with a Merfolk theme?
Large A This next book will be a dystopian with zombies and other creatures.
Large Q Do you have any other projects in the works?
Large A The tagline for the new book is, “What would you do differently if you knew the date you’d die?”
Large Q Before you go, is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Large A Thank you, Howard. I’ve enjoyed reading your reviews and insight of my stories so much. You see things I didn’t know or hadn’t entirely planned on including in my novels, and that makes me feel super smart. I appreciate you taking the time to interview me.

This concludes our interview with Brenda Pandos. It is worth noting that while Brenda intended for Everlost to conclude her Mer Tales series, she has remarked elsewhere that she is considering a fourth novel which would follow Ash and Tachi as they go off to college. We can but hope.

[[1]]In Evergreen, Ash is taken out on the eve of her 18th birthday by her best – human – friend who insists that Ash have a few shots of Goldschlager to celebrate. Mermaids cannot handle strong drink and this is the first real inkling that there may be more to Ash than meets the eye. Brenda’s choice of Goldschlager is rather appropriate since it is a cinnamon-flavoured liquer and Ash has read hair.[[1]]

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Brenda Pandos
This review has been approximately 9 months in the making. The idea was originally pitched to Brenda Pandos in the Autumn of 2012. Brenda graciously agreed to participate and Dr. Data set about drafting as series of questions for the interview. Time passed as it always does and it was suddenly late November or early December. After a brief exchange of e-mails, it was decided that rather than add another task to the pre-holiday burden, Dr. Data would send the interview questions after New Year’s Day. Brenda finally received the interview questions in late January; about the same time that she was furiously working on the final edits for Everlost, the third and final installment in her Mer Tails series.

Dr. Data was one of the first to review Everlost in March of 2013 and Brenda Pandos returned the completed interview questions shortly thereafter. One delay after another prevented Dr. Data from preparing the interview for publication until late July of 2013.

The questions were prepared long before Everlost hit the shelves and therefore are somewhat speculative as to the plot of  the novel. You, the reader, have waited long enough for this interview to come to pass so let’s see what Brenda has to say for herself.

Large Q How did you get started as an author?
Large A Before becoming a full-time author, I worked as an IT Administrator. After my son’s autism diagnosis, my life turned upside-down. I was forced to quit. Being pregnant with #2 and giving birth right before we embarked on a 35 hour a week in-home therapy schedule was grueling to say the least. Overnight my home turned into a train station with very little privacy. Although I was thankful for the specialized learning the tutors gave my son, I craved a meaningful escape. Vampires were hot, so, I decided to write my own vampire story.
Large Q Why Young Adult Fiction?
Large A There’s something exciting and adventurous when it comes to writing about characters who are coming of age and finding first love. I get to experience that time over again, living vicariously through them.
Large Q While you are also known for your Talisman series, you chose to write one about Merfolk. Any particular reason?
Large A I’ve loved the beauty and mystery of mermaids as long as I knew about their mythology. Watching Splash and The Little Mermaid just encouraged my imagination as a tween. I’d wished may times, growing up every summer practically living in the water, to be a mermaid myself. I even sewed a tail to swim around in the pool for fun. So, to indulge my secret love, I thought creating a world of mer would satisfy that craving.
Large Q To what do you attribute the recent surge in popularity of YA Fiction with a Merfolk theme?
Large A I’m not sure. Maybe since vampires and zombies are hot right now, that’s giving the mer a chance. It does couple nicely with the paranormal themes.
Large Q How did you conceive the story arc for this series?
Large A It unfolded as I wrote it. It’s actually funny how, when rereading the end of Everblue, my characters had spoken the existence of Everlost and the horrid things that would become, and yet I hadn’t written the story yet. I typically have a general idea of the storyline, but as I write it, the story peels open like an onion, word by word, and takes on a life of its own.
Large Q What elements do you consider essential for the success of YA novels like yours?
Large A I’d guess love, risk, danger, stupidity, loss, and success all balled up in an adventure, but I’m not sure, really. I write what I like to read and try to help readers want what the heroine/hero wants, then take them on a rollercoaster until they achieve their happily ever after.
Large Q Let’s talk about your characters. What can you tell us about Ash?
Large A Ash, my red-headed freckled heroine, is seventeen, a competitive swimmer, typically shy, and plagued with a pesky younger sister.
Large Q Then, of course, there’s Fin and his sister, Tatiana. What about them?
Large A Fin and Tatchi are twins. Both blonde, blue eyed and beautiful, they’re fiery, spunky, and are Ash’s neighbors, but Tatchi is Ash’s best friend. But together, the twins share a deep secret.
Large Q Natatoria is less a mystical, magical mermaid land and more a dystopia rivaling 1984. How and why did you come up with this particular idea?
Large A As will all governments, Natatoria is the perfect set up for a utopia as long as you have a leader that allows your freedom. Without it, you’re subject to tyranny. And though the mer live in a beautiful world with instant love with just a kiss, without ones freedom, it is bondage. All of us need to remember, though free, things happen daily that take away our freedoms. One shouldn’t depend on their governing body to grant them happiness or rescue them from their troubles without understanding there will be a cost for it in the end. And also to remind us, that many live in these very real situations (minus the fins) right now, with no opportunity for making their own choices of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Freedom is a gift and we need to protect and treasure it.
Large Q In your mer-world, kissing doesn’t just lead to mononucleosis. What other things does it lead to and why, or how, did you arrive at that concept?
Large A It’s a bond between two people, like instant love. Through their breath, their souls unite and they become one.
Large Q Once Fin gives Ash a proper bussing, things start to change for her. Could you tell us about them?
Large A Well, I just learned “bussing” means kissing. Ash has had a crush on Fin since she was 10 years old, and because of Fin’s secret, he couldn’t indulge himself a relationship with her. Of course, something happens to change all of that, and that leads to more tough decisions for the pair.
Large Q In Evergreen, Ash knows the truth about Fin and his family but seems reluctant to take the plunge. Why do you think that is?
Large A At her age, deciding on a lifetime partner is a big decision in itself. But becoming a different species, that’s quite an undertaking. Then the lies she’d need to tell her parents to keep the secret. She’d eventually have to say goodbye to all she knows and welcome in an entirely different life in order to not be found out. I’d be apprehensive, too, no matter how much I’d love to be a mermaid.

Now that you’ve read Part I, go read Part II of our interview with Brenda Pandos.

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Welcome to the second in our series of 20 Question interviews with authors of Young Adult Fiction here on The Parsons’ Rant. There has been a tremendous surge in recent years of fantasy novels aimed at Young Adults featuring Merfolk and we are planning to take full advantage of this phenomenon  We have a number of authors queued up waiting for their time in The Parsons’ Rant spotlight so if you know of an author of Young Adult Fiction who has written or is planning to write a book or a series in the “Merfolk” sub-genre, please let me know.

Robert Cabell and friend

Robert Cabell and friend

Our guest today is the multi-talented author and playwright, Robert W. Cabell. According to his bio on Amazon.com,  he ” . . . has spent three decades working in the New York entertainment industry with giants like Time Warner, HBO, Spelling International, Columbia Pictures, and the NY Post. He has written a book on humor with the legendary Joey Adams, and is the author of numerous musicals and plays that have been produced in New York and across the country, and have been translated for production in multiple languages. The NY Cast Albums of his musicals are available from the i-Tunes store. 2012 marked the publication debut of his Mermaid Kingdom series with Gazebo Books Publishing, featuring the novel All the Mermaids in the Sea, part one of a trilogy, and also the publication of his play, The Divine Trilogy of Sarah Bernhardt.”{{1}} So, let’s welcome Bob Cabell to The Parsons’ Rant.

Hi Howard and thanks for taking interest in All The Mermaids In The Sea and the up-coming spin-off’s and sequels to the book.  Until my publisher at Gazebo Books discovered your review, we had no idea there was such a developed community out there surrounding mer-fiction.  I just got back from a trip to Hawaii where I flew in helicopters, snorkeled, sailed in submarines and swam with dolphins, so I feel all Mer‘d up and ready for this interview.

Large Q How did you get started as an author?
Large A Hmmmm, well I have been making up my own little stories and been writing songs, plays, poems since I was a little kid.  I was singing my own songs in professional productions by the time I was twelve, (but I was six feet and shaving at twelve) so it has been a life-long occupation and obsession.
Large Q Your stories are directed to a wide range of ages and levels of maturity. Why did you take this approach?
Large A I never have been able to fit specific molds.  My work is always “out-side the box” in one way, and yet not too far from reality in another.  I love mixing lots of facts and history throughout my books which is part of the attraction it has to older audiences.  I also never lost my sense of childish wonder and exuberance for new things and I write with a great deal of humor, which appeals to younger people.  I am also a hopeless romantic, which appeals to teens and young adults, but I do not write erotica nor read it, so it makes all my stuff more general in “rating” and that tends to keep the story all over the place as far as its appeal to age groups.
Large Q There’s been a surge in young people’s fantasy novels in recent years and a wave of these stories deal with Merfolk.   Any thoughts about this?
Large A The recent surge in mermaid or mer-fiction was actually a surprise to me.  I wrote All The Mermaids In The Sea seven years ago.  I have had several other projects, books and plays in production and publication before this book, and I was just waiting for it to come up to the top of my list.  Seven years ago there was little or no mermaid books out there to my knowledge.Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid and the Disney spin-offs basically defined and filled that genre, which is part of why I “spoof” or refer to them so much in my book.  I actually have to buy and read a lot of the other books to see what is out there, but I also don’t want to be influenced by others until I have launched all four series of my own, to keep them fresh and unique.
Large Q What led you to write All The Mermaids In The Sea?
Large A About 10 years ago one of my nieces went to Dolphin Quest in Hawaii, and I saw a picture of her in the water kissing a dolphin.  One day a year or two later I was looking at that picture after I had seen The Princess Diaries with Ann Hathaway and Julie Andrews, and the whole idea just popped into my head.
Large Q You have since released the second book, A Mermaid Christmas. In what way does this compliment the foundation story, “All The Mermaids”?
Large A The character of Miranda, the daughter of the Helmi, or the original “Little Mermaid” is immortal like her mother, and is several hundred years old in All The Mermaids In The Sea when she finally meets her one true love. A Mermaid Christmas is just the first volume in a new series The Magical Adventures Of Princess Miranda – which will be a series of books that chronicle here early life and adventures.
Large Q Let’s talk about All The Mermaids This is quite an epic isn’t it?
Large A The original Little Mermaid was one of my favorite books and stories since I was a little kid.  I remember seeing a production of it on TV when a grown up Shirley Temple, had her TV show (Shirley Temple Theatre (TV Series 1958–1961) – IMDb) she did amazing production (for that time) of The Little Mermaid and it brought the book to life for me in a way that I as a 4 or 5-year-old kid had never expected.  So I have always wanted to write more about that story, and in All The Mermaids In The Sea, I did.
Large Q You seem to draw on Norse/Germanic myths as well as the more familiar Greek myths? Any special reason for this?
Large A My family ethnic mix is English, Scottish, Irish, and German, so after being introduced to Greek Mythology as a kid through Hercules movies, I started to explore the mythology of my own family heritage. In 6th grade after reading The Hobbit, I became fascinated with fantasy too.
Large Q Your books almost seem to be an invitation for young people to learn the myths of not only ancient Greece but other cultures as well. Was that intentional?
Large A Yes, and I will be weaving that mixture all that through each of the series of books spinning off from All The Mermaids In The Sea.
Large Q While Poseidon and  Amphitrite come from classical mythology, did you draw your inspiration for your characters from a literary source?
Large A The character of the prince is taken from an actual king of Denmark, King Valdemar I, known as the builder.  The rest of the main characters were mostly inspired by my family.  I am a twin, but not identical.  I had black hair and my twin brother had auburn hair and at one point was 6 inches shorter than I was.  I was over six feet tall and stopped growing at 13 and he didn’t stop growing until his 20’s, but we wound up the same height.  The personalities of my mermaids are all from my 4 nieces.
Large Q In Mermaid Christmas, you spend a fair amount of time describing coelenterates. Can we expect a new generation of marine naturalists to get their start as a result of reading your book?
Large A Jelly fish, sea anemones and planktons are a part of every story, but they will be a great part of Pearl A Modern Day Mermaid and that series I hope inspires of lot of young readers to become marine naturalists, or biologists.
Large Q If you mention the Faroe Islands to most Americans, the response will be on the order of “Huh?” but yet it is one of the major locales in the story. Why?

Large A It was a total fluke.  I was putting together all the myths and geographic structure of my story and pulled out a map.  I said to myself that if all this stuff was true then I would create a secret island somewhere out here, between Ireland and Iceland, and then I notice there really was a series of islands, right where I wanted them to be.  Not only that, they were part of Denmark and had a rich lore of mermaids and silkies and Norse Gods, all their own.
Large Q All the Mermaids In The Sea has quite the cast of characters. Was it difficult bringing a crowd like this to life?
Large A Each generation needed to feel alive and complete, so the cast of characters just created themselves as the stories took on their own life.
Large Q Your major female characters are Helmi, Miranda and Perl. Is there a commonality – besides the obvious – that ties them all together?
Large A Helmi means “Pearl” in Finnish, and I used the tradition of naming a daughter after her grandmother to connect them.  Also building the mythology of the lavender pearls.  Oddly enough back in 2002 when I started working on All The Mermaids  I googled “Pearl and mermaid” and there was no other story out there that used that name for a mermaid.  Now, after publishing the book, I have discovered that there is more than one book that uses that name for a mermaid.  I used Miranda because it was the name created by Shakespeare for the heroine in his play ‘The Tempest’.  It a means admirable and beautiful plus it had the Mir – part of the name which in Celtic, refers to the sea.
Large Q My favourite character is Pearl. What’s she like?

Large A Pearl was based on my third niece, the one who went to DolphinQuest.  She looks like Ann Hathaway, and loved all the Disney movies of The Little Mermaid, and was the one who introduced me to The Princess Diaries.  She is scary bright, fearless, and loves sushi.
Large Q At the end of the story, Pearl’s adoptive parents have retired to Little Ditma. Will we see them again in any future story?

Large A Yes, they come back in the new series Pearl, A Modern Day Mermaid.

 

[boxify box_spacing = “10” padding = “8” background_color = “#F0F8FF” background_opacity = “80” border_width = “3” border_color = “#000080” border_radius = “10” border_style = “solid” height = “150” position=”right”]Interested in what I have to say about Robert Cabell’s  mermaid books? See the reviews for:

  • [intlink id=”5328″ type=”page”]All The Mermaids In The Sea[/intlink]
  • [intlink id=”5743″ type=”page”]A Mermaid Christmas[/intlink]

[/boxify]
That’s it for today. We’ll be back tomorrow for the second part of this interview where we will learn more about Perl, as well as some of the other characters in Robert Cabell’s Mermaid Kingdom series. We’re also going to more about Mr. Cabell, his many accomplishments and his plans for the future.

[stextbox id=”Information” float=”true” width=”300″]You can read the second part of our interview with Robert W. Cabell here.[/stextbox]

 

 

 

[[1]]Copyright 2012 & 2013 by Amazon.com. All rights reserved[[1]]

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M.W. Rowe

M.W. Rowe

Welcome to the second in our series of 20 Question interviews with authors of Young Adult Fiction here on The Parsons’ Rant. We have at least three other authors lined up to follow today’s guest. If you know of an author of Young Adult Fiction who has written or is planning to write a book or a series in the “Merfolk” sub-genre, please let me know.

Today’s guest is British author, M.W. Rowe who released the first book in his Mermaid Memoirs series in June of 2012. Whilst this  interview was in the works, Mr. Rowe released the 2nd book, Queen of the Ocean at the very end of December, 2012, and is presently in our Review Queue. He is also the author of three other novels, Alphawing, Dreaming Nightmares and Fallen From Grace.

Our interview with M.W. Rowe consists of 23 Questions and Answers so let’s get to it.

Small Q Mermaid Memoirs is not your first book. How did you get started as an author?
Small A I initially started writing when I was thirteen years old and I actually still have a copy of the book that I wrote, although it was not very good and will probably never be released.I got back into it about two years ago when I had the idea for my first novel, Fallen From Grace. After that I could not stop writing and now have five published books.
 Small Q What would you say the target audience is for  Mermaid Memoirs?
 Small A Mermaid Memoirs is definitely aimed at a young adult audience although it is accessible to anybody. A lot of the issues dealt with in Mermaid Memoirs are applicable to young adults for example bullying but it is not unrelateable to those slightly older.
 Small Q  There’s been a surge in Urban fantasy novels in recent years and a wave of these stories deal with Mer-folk. Any thoughts about this?
 Small A  I think that a lot of this has to do with the now popular Kindle publishing platform and because of this, a lot of urban fantasy novels that were previously being rejected by mainstream publishers are now able to get out into the world and have their voice. Just because a book does not fall into a certain popular genre does not mean that it should not be published.
 Small Q  Your books are self-published. What has that experience been like?
 Small A It is exciting but a lot of hard work. I like that I am in total control of what goes on with my books but it does mean relentless work on websites and such things when I
could otherwise be spending my time writing. I do recommend it to anybody that I can though as it gives people a chance to have their work read.
 Small Q  What led you to write Mermaid Memoirs?
 Small A I initially got the idea for Mermaid Memoirs when I was swimming, I know, cheesy or what. It just struck me as I was striving to swim a mile one morning that the recent upsurge in vampire and werewolf books could possibly be leaving a large hole in the readers fantasy market that relates to mermaids. I felt like it was something that was not widely published and I do like to do things that are not entirely the norm.
 Small Q  How did you conceive the basic plot?
 Small A  My basic plotting of any novel is always the same. It involves post it notes all over a large piece of wall space. It starts out with one post it note with my initial idea on, in this case it was “Macy- born on land?” After that, every time that a question or an answer comes into my head it gets put on a post it note and placed on the wall somewhere. This process can take anywhere up to a month to complete as I try to get every single idea out of my head and onto a post it note. Then I spend an afternoon trying to come up with some sort of order for these notes to follow. That is my process.The idea itself came from the thought of dealing with some major issue and I seen bullying in young adults as a way to do this.
 Small Q  Let’s talk about the characters. Were there any particular literary characters or people who influenced your development of the main characters?
 Small A  No, not at all. Every single one of my characters is thought of from scratch. There may be small personality traits or habits in there that I stole from something I see or read but there is no main influence there.
 Small Q  Sara and Jude are Macey’s parents and at the beginning of the story not everything seems to be quite right with them. Is that a fair assertaion?
 Small A  Yes, I believe that is fair to say. I wanted Macy to become the factor that drove the two apart but I did not want her to be the cause of their problems. She had to deal with the fact that her mother did not want her and that was a big enough issue to tackle without making it entirely her fault.
 Small Q  Why do you think that Jude is so keen to keep Macy and Sara is so keen to give her up?
 Small A  Jude is the doting dad in this instance and Macy is definitely a daddy’s girl. Sara, on the other hand, is a proud woman who is slightly embarrassed of the child that she has created. She wants to keep her dignity but cannot do that with Macy as her daughter.
 Small Q  What can you tell us about Macy’s character?
 Small A Macy is kind-hearted and loving, she hates to be alone and she becomes attached to people easily. She forms bonds quickly and these bonds are hard to break, this is how she and Makeo come to be so close even right in the beginning, the same also holds true for her and Anya’s friendship.
 Small Q Another theme appears to be that of unconditional love. Jude has been in Macy’s corner since the beginning and soldiers on after her mother leaves. Any thoughts on this?
 Small A Just that Jude is the father who will do anything to care for his daughter, he knows that it is hard work looking after her with this so-called disability but he will not give up on her. She is his daughter and he will stand by her.
 Small Q Makeo is an unsung hero through all of this isn’t he? He stands by Macy from the time she enters school on land until she goes to live with the merfolk and even beyond that.
 Small A Makeo shares a lot of his traits with Jude. They are both proud and loyal men who will stand up for what is right in a world filled with wrong. They both believe that Macy should not be treated differently and they both stand up for her. He continues to be a little bit of background hero through into the second book.
 Small Q  Macy’s new home seems to be a sub-aquatic version of your average English village. Was that intentional?
 Small A A little, I did not want the mermaids to seem too technologically advanced and the only way to go about showing this was through their location. I used an idyllic English village as the setting to demonstrate the mermaids sense of community and closeness.
 Small Q  Here’s another example of rejection. Although Macy is obviously a mermaid, the merfolk treat her as an outsider; something alien to them. Why do you think things turn out this way?
 Small A Macy was not treated right on the land because she was different from all of the other human children. This continues into the ocean when the merfolk also see her as something different to them, Macy finds it difficult to be accepted anywhere as no matter where she goes she feels like she does not belong.
 Small Q  A third theme in the story is that of bullying. Macy is bullied by her fellow students on land and subsequently by the villagers in her new home. Is it fair to say that the merfolk are just as bad if not worse than humans with regard to this?
 Small A I would say that they are just as bad, Macy was not accepted by them because of the differences that she posed. She was not welcomed anywhere and it just goes to show that for every bad person on the land there is also a bad mermaid or merman.
 Small Q Let’s talk about Anya who becomes Macy’s only friend below the surface. What should the reader know about her?
 Small A  Anya is a lot deeper than she is first made out to be when she is the instigator of the bullying when Macy first arrives. She soon becomes the closest thing to a friend that Macy has in the ocean and she becomes her rock. Macy and Anya will be inseparable for the rest of their lives and will always be there for each other.
 Small Q  Jeal – Anya’s sister – seems to have had an agenda all her own from the beginning. Can you tell us about that and where Jeal lands herself by the end of the story?
 Small A  Jeal is a wicked young mermaid who plays on others’ weaknesses and always has her own agenda. However I am not going to give too much away about her as Mermaid Memoirs 2 goes into the story of Jeal a lot more.
 Small Q  I’ve mentioned three underlying themes in your story. Are there any others?
 Small A  No. You’ve covered them all.
 Small Q  How has Mermaid Memoirs been received?
 Small A Mermaid Memoirs has been received exceptionally well. It is my bestselling novel to date and has also ranked in the Amazon bestselling charts on several occasions. I get a lot of feedback about the ending of the book but the tension at the end of the book just sets up perfectly for book number 2.
 Small Q  Will we ever learn how Macey came to be born on land instead of the sea?
 Small A  Yes, but you have to watch out for book three on this one. Family is a recurring theme throughout the trilogy and it will become more apparent where this may lead in book two.
 Small Q Now that Book 2, Queen of the Ocean, has been released, can you give us a few hints as to where the story goes.
 Small A  The story centres around Jeal mainly and the fact that she wants to unite all of the mer-folk communities under the ocean together. She wants it to be one community rather than thousands of small communities. Macy is dead against the idea in the beginning but it does not take long before it is obvious that Jeal is not as sly as she appears to be.
 Small Q Does Macy’s mother ever return or is she gone for good?
 Small A I have no plans to bring her mother back at any point, however, I am always open to it if the need occurs.
 Small Q  Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
 Small A  Just that Mermaid Memoirs 2: Queen of the Ocean is due for release on the 23rd December 2012 and will be available at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mermaid-Memoirs-Queen-Ocean-ebook/dp/B00APP1V94 in the UK and at http://www.amazon.com/Mermaid-Memoirs-Queen-Ocean-ebook/dp/B00APP1V94 in the US.Also that if anybody has any questions about any of my books feel free to email me at admin@mwrowe.com

Mr. Rowe, it has been a pleasure having you join us here on The Parsons’ Rant and feel free to come back when Book 3 is about to be released. You’ve given every one something to look forward to. I do want to mention, though, that Amazon will not permit readers in the US to buy e-books from their UK website, Amazon.co.uk. Instead, US  readers will have to  purchase both e-books via the Amazon.com site. I’m not sure if it works the same way in reverse, though.

Be sure to have a look at [intlink id=”4619″ type=”page”]our review of Mermaid Memoirs[/intlink]. Queen of the Ocean will be reviewed as soon as time permits.

 

Hello and welcome to the first of what I hope will be many 20 Question interviews with authors of Young Adult Fiction. I’d like to be able to do this on a regular basis and already have three other authors lined up to follow today’s guest. If you know of an author of Young Adult Fiction who has written or is planning to write a book or a series in the “Merfolk” sub-genre, please let me know.

Today’s guest is Emm Cole, the author of Merminia. Emm lives with her husband and two children. When she is not writing, she is highlighting favorite passages in books. She also enjoys thought-provoking art and is an admitted TV drama series junkie.

Emm, welcome to The Parsons’ Rant. I’m so glad that you are able be here today and talk about yourself and your wonderful book, Merminia.

Hi. This is my first online interview, so I am really excited to be here. Thanks for inviting me. I know you have a lot of questions prepared and ready to go, so by all means, fire away.

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So in closing I just want to say that I appreciate the opportunity to talk about Merminia and chat about how cool mermaids are. It’s been fun.

The release date for Windows 8 is lest than a month away and a lot of the brouhaha seems to have settled down since there is nothing to do now but wait. Reports from those privileged enough to have seen the version that was released to manufacturing indicate that things are pretty much as they were in the consumer preview released earlier this year. If those reports are indeed correct, it means that Microsoft failed to come to its senses and did not include the option for a Start Menu to be used by those of us who have PC’s or Laptops.

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