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,  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]

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]




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