by Brenda Pandos
The following is a detailed review of the Young Adult novel, Everlost, by Brenda Pandos. It is the longest review thathas penned to date.
For those readers who wish to bypass the folderol and cut to the chase, here is whatthinks about Everlost:
It is really, really good and you should really, really read it.
In 2011, Brenda Pandos – an established author of Young Adult fiction – released Everblue, the first book in her Mer Tales series. This exciting story was followed in 2012 by Evergreen and now her eager followers have been rewarded with Everlost, the capstone of the series.
In order to appreciate the present, one must first understand the past. Everblue centered around three main characters:
- Ashlyn a.k.a. Ash, a very human and personable high school senior living with her parents, grandmother and somewhat bratty younger sister on the shores of Lake Tahoe
- Tatianna a.k.a. Tatchi, her next door neighbour and BFF
- Finley a.k.a. Fin, Tatianna’s twin brother upon whom Ash has an ongoing crush.
Fin and Tatchi have a secret; they’re not really human – at least in the conventional sense. They arefrom the subterranean aquatic kingdom of Natatoria. The powers that be in Natatoria are very picky about whom is allowed to live outwith the bounds of the kingdom and both Fin and his twin sister are quite lucky indeed to experience the world of humankind. Their sojourn on land is interrupted when the family is summoned home because of a crisis in the realm. There, Prince Azor – who has fancied Tatchi for quite some time – decides to claim her as his mate through the simple act of a kiss; something that binds all Natatorian couples in perpetual bliss. Tatiana loathes Azor and all hell breaks loose when her father – at the head of a small rebel army – attempts a rescue at her promising ceremony. Sadly, Azor kisses her first. Fin and his parents flee Natatoria while Tatchi – now bonded to Azor – stays behind. There’s also another kiss involved here. On one of his surreptitious visits to Tahoe, Fin rescued a drowning Ash and the kiss of life now has more than one meaning.
In its sequel, Evergreen, Fin and his parents are wanted by the Natatorian authorities and take it on the lam for a safe house in Florida leaving Ash behind, lonely and longing for her wandering merman. At the Florida safe house, Fin encounters the princess Galadriel – the underlying cause of the whole crisis in Everblue - who bears an uncanny resemblance to Ash and becomes the third central character of this installment. Ash discovers that she is actually a Natatorian herself; Galadriel’s long lost sister who was switched at birth with Azor in order to give their father a male heir. Along the way, Ash is reunited with her tail and accompanies Fin and Galadriel home to Natatoria in order to spring Tatchi and straighten out the mess that the kingdom has become.
There are several differences between Everlost and its predecessors. The first two stories centered on three main characters: one male and two females. Everlost focuses on Tatchi and the two men in her not-so-happy life: Jacob – who made a (very) brief appearance in Everblue – and Prince Azor. The first two stories were told in alternating first person narratives by Ash and Fin. In Everlost, Brenda, volte-face, spins her story with a third-person narrative. Although the first two stories had an ample share of action in addition to romance, Everlost is most definitely a romantic thriller.
Back in Natatoria, all is not well between the newly bonded Tatchi and Azor and in the ensuing two weeks after their disastrous promising ceremony, things will go from bad to worse.
Azor shoved Tatiana into the entry of the compound and slid the heavy stone door shut. She whirled around, stunned he’d left her side, and tugged at the iron handle in a panic, unable to lug the monstrous thing open.
Tatiana is in thrall of the bond and when she is with Azor, her mind turns to mush while free will and self-determination are swept away on an almost obsessive current of infatuation with him. Prince Azor has other ideas and doles out his affection sparingly; just enough to keep this fish on the line but not enough to fulfill Tachie’s needs and expectations. Her only real companionship comes from her handmaiden – royalty hath its privileges — and her body-guard, Jacob.
Prince Azor can only be described as “a real piece of work” and the main villain of this drama. While other bad guys may be known for their duplicity, Azor is an overachiever when it comes to quadruplicity. He is a grasping, conniving individual who always manages to get what he wants no matter who has to suffer – including the kingdom of Natatoria. His multi-faceted schemes are aided and abetted by his small but quickly growing squad of goons known as the Dradux. His goal is to have control of the kingdom, a trophy mate and a male heir — all by his 18th birthday – and he very nearly succeeds.
Jacob is the direct antithesis of Azor. He is a warrior assigned to protect as well as keep an eye on Titania. He is also a member of the rebels seeking to show Azor and his father, King Phaleon, the door and rescue Princess Tatiana from the living hell of her Promising. Physically, he looks as if he could grace the cover of almost any “bodice-ripper”. Through all of this, Jacob develops feeling for Tatchi. For her part, Tatiana finds him somewhat attractive and starts to develop feelings of her own until Azor throws her a bone of attention and, to her besotted eyes, becomes “da man” . . . at least for the next fifteen minutes until Azor can find the excuse and opportunity to stall her and get back to the business at hand.
At this point, it is worth considering a similarity between Ash and Azor. His true parents are the mom and dad that Ash has always known growing up in Tahoe and her real parents, the king and queen of Natatoria, are the only ones that Azor has ever known. Though she has grown up as a human, there is a thing or two about Ash that harkens back to her Natatorian birthright. She loves to swim and always has loved to swim. As captain of her high school swim team, she is one of the fastest and most able girls in the water and her academic career at FAU will be underwritten by an athletic scholarship in swimming. Though she now knows about the underwater world of Fin and his sister, joining them below the surface is still just an option until she is forcibly converted to a mermaid by Fin’s uncle and cousin. Ash seems to almost instinctively know how she should move and act in her new environment. One could say that she had been yearning for the world taken from her at birth.
Azor seems in some way to instinctively long for what he was at his beginning. Because he is unable to have that, he compensates by grabbing more and more of what he can have and is ultimately never satisfied. This ongoing want of power and privilege feeds upon itself and will not end with his becoming king. His dislike of humans is common knowledge and though he ascribes many a negative trait to them, he exhibits almost every one of these traits himself. It could well be that, in some subconscious way, Azor knows that he doesn’t really belong in Natatoria and he consciously reacts by hating what he really is. Unfortunately, the kingdom suffers for it and a prevailing suspicion and distrust of beta mers – former humans who have chosen to join their promised mates in Natatoria – is exacerbated as part of his reign of terror. In fine, both Ash and Azor are affected by what they once were as much as what they are now.
Everlost is Breda Pandos’ opportunity to examine the aquatic world she has created for her characters. Its citizens are almost unilaterally forbidden from exploring and understanding life on land. Although many Natatorians consider their realm a utopian one, they exhibit the same faults and prejudices that beset their cousins supra mare. The palace is dependent upon luxury goods from the world above and this desire for better things extends to as well to John Q. Mer and his fellow hoi palloi.
A telling moment comes when Ash – now a newly minted mermaid – enters a Natatorian home and is gob smacked by the similarities to human homes on land.
Being fish, the whole concept of air-filled homes stumped her. Why did they act so human?
Though the Mer of Natatoria consider themselves to be first and foremost fish, they are decidedly human fish and suffer from the same types of failings that humans do. The rights of women have yet to make their way to Natatoria and mermaids are relegated attracting a mate and producing. This kind of life does not appeal to an independent minded Tatchi and has thus been one of the factors behind her desire to join the human world . . . completely.
Everlost is a bumper serving of thrills, chills, action and excitement. There are narrow escapes and daring rescues such as the scene where Tatchi arrives to save the life of Jacob whom she is now decidedly interested in after successfully breaking the bond that tied her to Azor.
“You know, the girl can be the hero sometimes.”
Even though Jacob is the rescuee rather than the rescurer, he finds all of this to be quite the turn on. If anything, Tatchi is a stellar example of an empowered mermaid. She loves Jacob as much as he has come to love her and this time, she – not Azor – is in control of her life.
Both Tatchi and Fin have found their life mates is this saga thus easing the ache and loneliness that has fueled their desire to permanently leave the mer world behind. This does not necessarily mean that they will turn their backs on the surface world and live happily ever after with their promised mates in Natatoria. At the end of the day, it seems that Ash, Fin and Tatchi want to be a part of both worlds and it is left to the reader to imagine how that will ultimately unfold.
Brenda Pandos seems to have a knack for writing a about true love – this is a YA romance after all. She is more than adept at telling her target audience about those tender, loving and passionate moments about which almost every Young Adult female wants to hear .
Her soul exploded into a song filled with all the goodness that was him. And everything about him felt right. To hold him close, to be with him, to treasure him for all eternity, she could think of nothing else, completely engulfed in his love.
She speaks of the love and attraction between her characters in such a warm and compelling way that even this reviewer is prompted to remember just how much he loves his wife of thirty-eight years and thus recommends her books as required reading for any Young Adult male enrolled in Girls 101.
Ms Pandos also deserves a gold star for one small thing. Back at the beginning of the series, Tatchi is conspiring with Ash to follow her to Florida Atlantic University – Go Owls!! – on scholarship. This reviewer has read more than one YA novel where the heroine decides that, since she’s a mermaid now, she doesn’t need to finish high school and/or go to college. At the end of it all, Ash and Tatchi are still looking forward to attending FAU together. That one wee bit of positive reinforcement for the target audience draws top marks from this reviewer every time.
Throughout this story and the ones preceding it, Brenda Pandos has carefully crafted her characters and imbued them with a warmth and humanity –or is it mermanity? – that renders them as real and tangible individuals. The reader naturally both feels and fears for Tatiana and spends the better part of the story wondering when the cavalry will finally arrive. For those who have read Everblue and Evergreen, Brenda has scattered a number of clues throughout the story as to what is happening with her family and Ash on the surface.
At the same time, Ms Pandos does not skimp on the villains in her stories. The baddies are appropriately bad and have an air of rotting marine life about them. All are definitely “hiss-worthy” and the only things that Brenda does not do is have them speaking in rhymed couplets and exiting stage-left.
For the observant, Brenda Pandos has woven several lessons into her tale of tails and one is well worth mentioning here. Since time immemorial, young adults – of both genders – have often practiced the art of stringing a person along and preying on their emotions for whatever end they may have in mind. In Everlost, Tatchi is strung along by Prince Azor and the mental anguish and emotional suffering she must endure is plainly obvious to the reader. This reviewer hopes that at least some of Brenda’s Young Adult fans will get the hint and pass it along to their peers.
Brenda Pandos has spun a thrilling and timeless tale that is arguably her best work to date and one of which she may be justly proud. Read it for the drama. Read it for the action. Read it for the romance but by all means, read it.
When an author comes to the end of a series, he or she packs away their characters and moves on to other projects. Things are somewhat different for those who have followed that series from its inception. Over the past years, Ash, Fin and Tatchi have become familiar friends as readers have followed each twist and turn and pondered where Brenda Pandos would take the story in the next installment. Here, the reader is wont to say: “Please don’t go . . . not just yet”.
Ms Pandos should seriously consider penning a “Where Are They Now?” kind of short story as readers will be dying to know things like:
- How does Ash finally square things with her parents?
- Will Fin be able to sing himself out of this sticky situation?
- How will Ash explain to her mother that she’d rather sleep in the lake than her own room?
- Will Fin’s design for Velcro enhanced board shorts take the Natatorian runways by storm?
- How about Ash and Tatchi a few years hence when they’ve got several under foot and/or fin?
- Will Fin ever get his beloved red Jeep back?
- Will Uncle Alaster finally be brought to justice?
- What happened to Ferdinand?
So many questions that fans of the Mer Tales series will want answers for. Brenda’s final installment in her Mer Tales series is undoubtedly a success in that it leaves the reader wishing for more.
Read a sample of Everlost
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ merrows gang aft agley
- with apologies to Bro. Robert Burns
Sometimes, things just go wrong and you can’t follow through on a promise. Back in January, my post entitled “Sequel City” listed sevensequels that were due to be published this year. Already, two of the sequels have missed their target release date. Actually, that would be three but Adrianna Steptiano was able to conquer her technical issues and release her next installment in the Memoirs of a Mermaid series – When, At Last, She Could See - only two days behind schedule.
Paige Blue’s LivEternal was targeted for release on Feb., 14th but has fallen behind due to a very hectic schedule. A new release date has yet to be announced.
The third book in the Mer Tales series, Everlost, by Brenda Pandos will not release on Feb. 28th as originally planned. There were a good number of last-minute edits to be done and no hope of doing a proper job in the time remaining so Brenda has re-scheduled the release for March 14th. She had briefly considered releasing on The Ides of March – Anyone remember the early 70′s band of the same name? – but feared a mob of angry fans bearing pitch-forks and torches if she delayed it a day longer.
Whilst waiting for Brenda to wrap up work on Everlost, yours truly will have the time to slip in one or two books that would have otherwise had to wait until after he was done with his review of that book. Meanwhile, a review of Fish Eyes: A Stranded Mermaid Adventure by Linda Pohring and Anne Dewberry will be posted here on this very blog site on or before March 1st.
That’s it for this edition of Book News. If you’ll excuse me, I have to get going on that review.
- “↵ ” is the Celtic name for . was attempting to make a (very) wee joke here.
by Adrianna Stepiano
Wikipaedia defines “Sophmore Slump” as
A good example of this last category is Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The first movie was great. The second . . . not so much. The same thing happens with authors and their novels – they will hope that the second is at least as good as the first.
In the subgenre of, there are examples – Tracy Deebs’ Tempest series is a good one – of the 2nd book being even better than the first. Move over Ms Deebs, Adrianna Stepiano has avoided the sophomore slump in her Memoirs of a Mermaid series and has delivered a book that tops her first outing.
A feeling of loss is the only way to describe it. When my heart aches with what I could have had, that for a moment, I know. I know. I KNOW—that I cannot live without him. I’m sure most people have similar moments of clarity. It’s the random seconds when you realize that something you wanted was yours all along—but, you failed to recognize it.
As the story opens, a year has passed since Seraphin – this Hebrew name means ardent or fiery - graduated from high school; one year has passed since Seraphin first met Joesph. A lot has happened in that time. Seraphin has discovered that she’s a mermaid, that she’s destined to be one of the two guardians of the sea and that her former biology teacher is not quite the sweet, quirky person that she thought she knew. ‘Phin also learned – at the end of the first book in this series – that her father is alive and that the man – now deceased – she thought was her father was actually her uncle. Revelations like this are nothing new – either in fiction or real life. This reviewer discovered – after all the parties had gone to whatever reward awaited them – that the older woman he thought was some sort of distant cousin was actually his grandmother. As well-intentioned as the deception may have been, this reviewer would have much rather had the truth from the beginning and so would Seraphin.
‘Phin does not like lies and upon hearing that what she was told is not how things really are, she vented her spleen upon the messenger – Joseph – who is her closest ally and co-guardian. Joeseph is the one who went to great lengths to find out what became of Seraphin’s mother and – quite understandably – he does not take kindly to being the focus of her anger.
It’s an unfair truth that we hurt those closest to us, and I hurt Joseph Merrick.
Seraphin retreated into a shell of familiarity and remained at home when it came time to begin the fall semester at the University of Maine; Go Black Bears! This was the last straw for Joseph. After all, he had gone to great lengths – again – to see to it that ‘Phin had a place at university and this additional rejection caused him to leave for school and stay away for the rest of the year. Nine months without so much as a word from Joesph has only increased her sorrow and regret.
. . . he was in my thoughts, my very secret thoughts. When I tried to imagine his voice, I struggled. It had been too long since I last heard him speak. The sound of his voice was beginning to fade from my memory
Now that the summer session at CORE – Coastal Oceanic Research Expeditions – has begun, Seraphin will have to face the music if she hopes to have any chance of salvaging her relationship and snatching love from the jaws of rejection and defeat. Things, however, have changed for Joseph. Dr. Caro, the man behind CORE, has pushed Joseph towards overseeing the lab technicians and becoming more like middle management and less like a hands-on researcher. There’s also someone else, Lena Ligeiato, who has taken over his old position and seems to be exerting a Svengali-like influence over him. If Joseph seems like he’s entranced by a Siren, it is because Lena is an actual Siren.
Adrianna Stepiano depicts Sirens in their original form; Bird-like women or women-like birds – both dangerous and beautiful – who used their enchanting voices and music to lure sailors on to the rocks of whatever island they happened to inhabit. Somewhere along the way, humans expanded the definition of Siren to include Mermaids and they have suffered from the bad press ever since.
Ms Steptiano has once again done a brilliant job of envisioning the relationship between ‘Phin and Joesph. As the story opens, Sepaphin is the same age as a rising college Sophmore while Joseph has completed a year of graduate school. This reviewer – with a little effort – can remember being that age. Even taking into account the fact that ‘Phin is in her first real relationship, things would be quite a bit more involved if the couple were indeed real people. Adrianna has successfully envisioned this relationship for the mid-teen market. Seraphin and Joseph share hugs, kisses and tender moments; everything that a mid-teen female would want to read about. Quite tame by today’s standard of fiction and yet, very sweet and romantic.
When, At Last, She Could See is a tale well told. Adrianna Stepiano has a firm hold on her vision for this series and continues to expand the world she has created for her characters. While Mermaids and Sirens may be fantastical creatures from mythology, she skillfully humanizes them and renders them as believable. There is no better example of this than the Goonches, the half-breedwho were unlucky enough to have a human forebear. They suffer a similar fate to that of the Wizards and Witches of Harry Potter fame who had a Muggle or two somewhere up their family tree. And like the Mudbloods, the Goonches suffer from the resentment and disdain of the pure-blooded .
Adrianna depicts her Goonches as ordinary – or mostly so – people living ordinary lives. They are shopkeepers, administrators, house-wives and just has human as the rest of us. Perhaps even more so. The Goonches of Bar Harbour, Maine have been unobtrusively protecting ‘Phin from the very beginning without her even knowing who or what they were. A necessary lie, perhaps, but nonetheless a lie. Perhaps this is one deception that she can forgive.
Parents read children fairytales with happy endings. It’s a way of sheltering their children. They do it because parents understand that innocence is so rare, and they know it’s temporary. They see it, and they cling to it. They want to protect it, keep it, and hide it away from the evil world. Eventually, children grow older though. With age comes awareness, and awareness ends innocence.
Seraphin’s world – and her perception of it – continues to change and evolve. Over the course of this novel she grows up some more. There will still be things – like emotions – that she needs to master but Adrianna’s way of story-telling ensures that the reader will want to see what happens next. The third installment in the Memoirs of a Mermaid series is – at the time of this writing – due to appear in the late summer/early autumn of this year. Those who have followed ‘Phin on this journey – and perhaps have gained their own understanding via her travails – will undoubtedly look forward to that time.
Adrianna Stepiano’s skill at both writing and story telling has grown since When, At Last, He Found Me and there is no reason to doubt that the forthcoming installment will be even better than the two before it.
Adrianna’s website may be found at Memoirofamermaid.com.
Read a sample of When, At Last, She Could See
The countdown has begun for the third installment in the Mer Tales series by Brenda Pandos. The release date is set for the last day in February – the 28th - and fans of the series are thankful that this is not a leap year. At this point in time, the book is not quite ready for pre-order on Amazon but we plan to add links to purchase both the Kindle and print editions as soon as Amazon begins taking orders.
To celebrate the pending release, Brenda is holding a give-away on Rafflecopter. You can learn all the necessary details on Brenda’s website.
We have lined up Brenda for a Twenty Questions Interview. She’s tied up in the last minute details of a book release but she has our questions in hand and we hope to publish the interview sometime immediately before or after Feb. 28, 2013.
If you’re as interested in Ash and Fin as we are, you won’t want to miss Everlost. It’s number 3 in our Review Queue and will be number one by the time the release date rolls around.
We’re back with Part II of our interview. We’ve been speaking with Robert W. Cabell, playwright and author, about his Mermaid Kingdom series. When we were setting up this interview with his publisher, Gazebo Books, Bob chimed in: “Now I can’t wait for my 20 questions,
or do I get 40 or maybe just 30?” Well, we gave him 32! Bob was a good sport about it and yesterday, we published the first 16 questions and today, we wrap up with the remaining 16.
When we took a break from the first part of our interview, we were discussing one of the main characters, Perl, who will be the focus of her own spin-off series in the coming months. Today, we’ll learn a bit more about her as well as some of the other characters in Robert Cabell’s stories. Let’s pick up where we left off in the interview.
On a personal note, I must commend you for all the time and love that you have dedicated to Care-Giving. My wife and I have spent the past 4 years looking after our elderly mothers and, therefore, we can understand the calling and the sacrifices one must make to do this sort of thing. Our best wishes go to you and your family.
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 featuringand 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 “ ” sub-genre, please let me know.
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.” 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. 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.
|How did you get started as an author?|
|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.|
|Your stories are directed to a wide range of ages and levels of maturity. Why did you take this approach?|
|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.|
|There’s been a surge in young people’s fantasy novels in recent years and a wave of these stories deal with. Any thoughts about this?|
|The recent surge in mermaid or 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. 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.|
|What led you to write All The Mermaids In The Sea?|
|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.|
|You have since released the second book, A Mermaid Christmas. In what way does this compliment the foundation story, “All The Mermaids”?|
|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.|
|Let’s talk about All The Mermaids This is quite an epic isn’t it?|
|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.|
|You seem to draw on Norse/Germanic myths as well as the more familiar Greek myths? Any special reason for this?|
|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.|
|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?|
|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.|
|While Poseidon and Amphitrite come from classical mythology, did you draw your inspiration for your characters from a literary source?|
|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.|
|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?|
|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.|
|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?
|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.|
|All the Mermaids In The Sea has quite the cast of characters. Was it difficult bringing a crowd like this to life?|
|Each generation needed to feel alive and complete, so the cast of characters just created themselves as the stories took on their own life.|
|Your major female characters are Helmi, Miranda and Perl. Is there a commonality – besides the obvious – that ties them all together?|
|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.|
|My favourite character is Pearl. What’s she like?
|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.|
|At the end of the story, Pearl’s adoptive parents have retired to Little Ditma. Will we see them again in any future story?
|Yes, they come back in the new series Pearl, A Modern Day Mermaid.|
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.
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I wanted to give a bit of advance notice to those of you who likeand Young Adult fantasy. Tomorrow, February 4th, 2012, I will release Part I of an interview with Robert W. Cabell, author of All The Mermaids In The Sea and A Mermaid Christmas. This is my most ambitious interview to date and I’ll play 20 Questions – 33, actually – with an extremely talented and fascinating writer. Part II will be released on February 5th. This is definitely an interview to read!
by Emily Goodwin
No doubt, it has become a maxim amongst those who follow my reviews ofthat if I write a review, I am going to naturally say that it’s a great book. In reality, I only write reviews for books that I believe are really good/great/fantastic. Therefore, in the lines below, is my review of a Young Adult bit of that I found to be really good and enjoyed immensely. As an added bonus, there is the cover art at the left. It is one of the very few depictions of a mermaid – or merman – perched on a rock that is reasonably close enough to the water’s surface that the mer-person can climb on to it without much of a struggle. Think of it; the usual illustration of a mermaid – or merman – depicts them ensconced upon a rock that is at least five or six feet above the water. While this may be done to simply show off the artist’s lovely depiction of a mer-tail, the whole scene beggars belief. Since the mer-person is “en-tailed”, just how do they get up there? Levitate?
But enough talk about art; let’s talk about the story itself. It is natural for the new girl in school to feel like a fish out of water but in Melia’s case it is literally true. Melia is a M – the Celtic equivalent of a mermaid. Actually, Melia is only aon her father’s side; her mother is a or water nymph. In the world that Ms Goodwin has created for us, Merrows are tied to the sea. In other words, they can’t simply swap their fins for a pair of legs and go for a stroll on the beach. Oceanids, however, can live on land as well as in the sea and since she is the product of a mixed marriage, Melia can come and go as she pleases.
Right now, Melia is spending most of her time on dry land since the murder of her sister by parties unknown. Her step-father is human and is also extremely well off. Her mother spends most of her time at his side in New York City. Melia has tried living there but the water quality is wretched and who can blame her for wanting to stay on the left coast. There she sits; the sole occupant of a grand house overlooking the sea with only the cook cum body-guard for company. Her only friends are a nerdy girl named Jamie Foster – who is able to see into the spirit world – and Peter Anderson – football player and overall handsome dude – who, having recently ditched his girl due to a question of infidelity, is a free agent; or at least until he becomes involved with Melia.
Peter took Melia’s hands in his. The Friday morning sun sparkled in her eyes. She looked fantastic again today in another short dress. If she didn’t look so good in dresses (and if they weren’t as short as they were) Peter would think it odd that she always wore them. He liked that she rarely wore make up and her hair was almost always down.
Jamie was enlisted by Melia to divine the culprit in her sister’s murder. While Melia reveals her true self to Jamie early in the story, it won’t be until much, much later that Peter will find out and only after the two of them have become seriously involved. Jamie is quite accepting of what Melia is. Peter is a different story.
Melia is a child of the Pacific Ocean and not everything appears to be quite well there. Sightings of strange creatures become the norm. Melia tries to pay a visit to theback home and discovers that not only has their undersea settlement has been abandoned but it appears that everyone has left in a hurry. Melia tries to keep a lid on all of this so as not to alarm Jamie and keep Peter thinking that she is a slightly odd but quite attractive person. This is her first real relationship and she so does not want it to end. That becomes harder and harder as strange creatures appear on the shore and on land. Melia does her best to protect those she cares about but her best may not be enough.
Emily Goodwin has done an outstanding job of weaving various aquatic mythologies together in order to build the world that Melia – and, increasingly, Jamie and Peter – inhabits. Melia lives at the interface between the world of humans and the world of her birth and the conflict she feels between wanting to go “home” and wanting to be with her human friends is quite palpable. Of the three main characters, Peter is the most normal. No paranormal powers or fins for him. Yet he becomes quite real because of the burden he bears; the unwanted child of religious parents who somehow see him as a reminder of and punishment for their pre-marital dalliance. Peter is marginalised as his parents focus their attention on his younger brother and sister and while Peter’s parents may feel that they are doing what is best for their oldest son, they are, in reality, pushing him further and further away.
In that way, Peter and Melia share a common condition. Both are outcasts from the worlds of their birth. Peter wants to escape his world by going off to college but he increasingly feels the tug of his life with Melia slowing his steps. Melia would love to be able to re-enter the sea and leave the alien world of life on land behind but the pull of those she loves above the waves keeps her where she is. It is this unconscious sense of commonality, as well as their love for each other, that binds them together.
If there is one theme that stands out in this story, it is that of loving someone for whom they are and not what they are. Humans are not exactly the favourites of the denizens of the deep but Melia most certainly loves the ones she has come to know closely. Peter’s acceptance of Melia for what she is turns out to be a bit rough at first but Peter comes to realise that she is the person he loves and – above all else – wants to protect and be with. This mutual love and acceptance can be contrasted with the relationship between Peter and his parents. They fail to love him for who he is – their first-born child – and only see him as what he is; the reason that they had to marry.
Jamie is accepted and cared for by two of the most attractive people at school, not simply because of her paranormal abilities but because she is a brave and loyal person rather than just some nerdy kid. It is because of the acceptance and encouragement coming from both Melia and Peter that Jamie starts to come out of her shell and claim her place in the world as a person of value and worthiness. It is through Ms Goodwin’s careful crafting that Beyond the Sea goes well beyond the province of simply being a Young Adult paranormal tale and becomes a story with a deeper meaning.
“It’s a shame,” Peter whispered, sitting on the bed.
“What is?” Melia asked as she sat on his lap.
“That no one on land will know how truly brave and amazing you are.”
“You know. That’s enough for me.”
While this is not the first Young Adult novel that Emily Goodwin has authored, she can be justly proud of her accomplishments in conceiving the story, bringing the characters to life and gifting the reader an exciting plot with a deeper meaning below its surface. In its own way, Beyond the Sea is as memorable as its namesake song by Bobby Darin. This story stays with the reader long after the last sentence is read.
The second book in the Beyond the Sea series, Red Skies at Night, is due for release later in 2013. If the quality of the first book is any indication, the second book will be a “must read” for fans of this particular genre.
My Rating: Emily Goodwin’s blog may be found at www.emily-goodwin.blogspot.com
Read a sample of Beyond the Sea
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 “” 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.
|Mermaid Memoirs is not your first book. How did you get started as an author?|
|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.|
|What would you say the target audience is for Mermaid Memoirs?|
|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.|
|There’s been a surge in Urban fantasy novels in recent years and a wave of these stories deal with. Any thoughts about this?|
|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.|
|Your books are self-published. What has that experience been like?|
|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.
|What led you to write Mermaid Memoirs?|
|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.|
|How did you conceive the basic plot?|
|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.|
|Let’s talk about the characters. Were there any particular literary characters or people who influenced your development of the main characters?|
|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.|
|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?|
|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.|
|Why do you think that Jude is so keen to keep Macy and Sara is so keen to give her up?|
|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.|
|What can you tell us about Macy’s character?|
|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.|
|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?|
|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.|
|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 theand even beyond that.|
|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.|
|Macy’s new home seems to be a sub-aquatic version of your average English village. Was that intentional?|
|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.|
|Here’s another example of rejection. Although Macy is obviously a mermaid, thetreat her as an outsider; something alien to them. Why do you think things turn out this way?|
|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 thealso 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.|
|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 theare just as bad if not worse than humans with regard to this?|
|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.|
|Let’s talk about Anya who becomes Macy’s only friend below the surface. What should the reader know about her?|
|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.|
|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?|
|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.|
|I’ve mentioned three underlying themes in your story. Are there any others?|
|No. You’ve covered them all.|
|How has Mermaid Memoirs been received?|
|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.|
|Will we ever learn how Macey came to be born on land instead of the sea?|
|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.|
|Now that Book 2, Queen of the Ocean, has been released, can you give us a few hints as to where the story goes.|
|The story centres around Jeal mainly and the fact that she wants to unite all of thecommunities 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.|
|Does Macy’s mother ever return or is she gone for good?|
|I have no plans to bring her mother back at any point, however, I am always open to it if the need occurs.|
|Is there anything else you’d like to mention?|
|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 email@example.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 our review of Mermaid Memoirs. Queen of the Ocean will be reviewed as soon as time permits.
Now that the Christmas decorations have been stowed away and all that remains of the season is an extra inch around the waist and credit card bills, it’s time to consider what to read in the coming months. If you’re a fan of, rest assured that there will be plenty of books to choose from. For starters, many of the authors reviewed and interviewed here on The Parsons’ Rant are hard at work on a sequel or two. Lets begin with a story that has already been released:
M.W. Rowe has released the second book in his Mermaid Memoirs series, Queen of the Ocean. The story extends beyond Macy who has become more comfortable with her true self. Jeal, the little sister of Macy’s best friend under the waves, Anya, seems to be suffering from some sort of mer-megalomania as she wants to take over the oceans and put the humans in their proper place. We have an interview with M.W. Rowe that was done before the end of last year and will – I promise – be released later this week. Meanwhile, have a look at our review of the first book in this series.
Adrianna Stepiano is quite busy these days putting the finishing touches on the second book in her Memoir of a Mermaid series, When, At Last, She Could See. Adrianna is aiming for a release date of January 29, 2013 for the e-book version and she has promised this reviewer an advance copy. I’m clearing the decks so that I may focus my attention on reading this new book and cobbling a review in time for the release date. Have a look at our review of her first book in the series, When, At Last, He Found Me as well as When, At Last, She Could See.
Paige Blue is hot on Adrianna’s heels with the second installment in her Amerin Chronicles series, LivEternal. The first book was a real page-turner that left this reviewer hungry for more. Finding Summerland is one of a – very – small group ofbooks that are told from a guy’s point of view. Here’s a sample of what to expect from LivEternal:
. . . I was too far gone to consider looking back. Olivia crept in as I recalled all we’d been through, wondering if she would understand what was happening to me, or if I had become the anomaly. Regret crossed my mind as I thought about how close I’d come to sealing myself to her forever. I’d chosen to miss the opportunity. Now, I wondered if when I found her, she’d even want me. I thought I heard her voice calling out my name, but I didn’t trust it. I knew there was something lingering, probably some sick trick, or game my mind was playing on me. I fell deeper to sleep, relinquishing my control to rationalize, and discount the random thoughts swirling around inside. I was gone now. Left to the powers that be to play with as they chose. Fair game for the moment…
LivEternal is expected to release on Feb. 14th. Take a look at our review of Finding Summerland. Before we move on, you should know that Paige Bleu has a fan page on Facebook that is quite entertaining.
Fans of the Mer Tales series by Brenda Pandos will have a red-letter day on Feb. 28th as that is when Brenda Pandos will publish Everlost. This book, the third in the series, will continue the story of Ash and Fin and considering the surprises in the second installment, Evergreen, this reviewer can’t wait to learn what happens. If you’re late to the table for this series, use our review of Everblue and our review of Evergreen to catch yourself up.
Emm Cole, author of Merminia and the subject of the first interview here on The Parsons\’ Rant, is shooting for a release date in April or May for – the working title - Merminia: The Tide’s Reach. Emm says that
as Ulric takes over Dencur, Selinne and Aramis set out to stop him from using the ring. A ten-year old boy named Walter gets swept up in their dangerous mission. Elves, witches, dragons, and unicorns are some of the mythical creatures that appear throughout the story. Selinne has a few scenes in mermaid form, but the majority of the book is set on land.
The Tide’s Reach promises to be an interesting sequel. So until April or May gets here, you catch yourself up by reading our review of Merminia
Also scheduled for that time-frame – May 1st to be exact – is Zoradia Cordova‘s The Savage Blue, the second book in her series and another example of a story in which the main character, Tristan, is male. According to Zoradia,
In the quest for the Sea Throne, Tristan has already watched one good friend die. Now he must lead the rest on a dangerous voyage to the infamous port of the Vanishing Cove in search of the trident that will make him king. . . .Tristan needs his friends’ support. But they each have their secrets, and a betrayal will force Tristan to choose between loyalty and ambition, friendship and love. In the race for a throne, all’s fair in the savage blue.
Zoradia is definitely one author we want to interview. Read our review of The Vicious Deep.
Finally, to round out this roundup ofsequels, Mayda Schaefer has targeted October of this year as the publication date for Chasing Destiny. Mayda’s forthcoming story
. . . begins 3 years later, with Kincade trying to fulfill his promise to meet Destiny on her 16th Birthday. Unfortunately, there are “other” menacing forces at play and Kincade ends up Shanghai’d, working on a ship, (using legs no less) with no recollection of whom he is or where he is going. Meanwhile, in Enchanted Cove, Shellen is making up for lost time, by trying to do “motherly” things, like packing peanut butter and jellyfish sandwiches in Destiny’s lunch and paying for groceries with gold doubloons.
Awaiting Destiny is a sweet and touching story with an ample helping of humour. Needless to say, Chasing Destiny promises to make the end of Summer something to look forward to. See our review of Chasing Destiny.
So, there you have it; seven sequels guaranteed to make 2013 even more interesting. Drop by The Parsons’ Rant to read the reviews and interviews.