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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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