Mermaids have always been a big part of my life. “The Little Mermaid” was my favourite movie as a child. I must have watched it hundreds of times. I wanted so much to swim like a mermaid and explore the ocean.
My parents fed my Dream by enrolling me in swim lessons, and then eventually swim team. The sport dominated my free time until I was 19 years old and ready for college, but that didn’t stop my fascination with mermaids and the sea.
Fantasy fiction has always been the main focus of my writing, with historical fiction coming in at a close second. It was only natural that I took Tina Jens’ fantasy fiction class at Columbia and let my imagination run wild.
Tina challenged me, and I owe my current success to her and the tools she taught me. “Love of the Sea” started as a class assignment – the famous “What if? And then. Oh shit!” method developed by Tina. The idea was to think outside the box, turn common tropes on their heads.
My desire to write about mermaids led to research on historical lore and ultimately creating Asrai as a predator rather than the sweet finned maidens in popular modern lore. She has physical features that showcase her life in the sea as a hunter and how this is simply for survival, rather than the vain hunting done by human royalty for sport and leisure.
To complete the “Oh shit!” aspect of the story arc I wanted to explore the opposite of most romantic stories – have the male character give up everything to be with the female love interest. Cormack, the crown prince of Paradine, is faced with the choice of following his heart and living in the sea with Asrai, or staying on land and fulfilling his responsibilities as future ruler of the kingdom. I wanted there to be real stakes for the male character to lose, since the majority of romance stories have the female give up everything for possible love.
Having strong female characters was important to me, and I believe Asrai, Illyana, and Nephara fulfill that. Pamela is a strong female character in a more traditional way, giving maternal support to both Cormack and Asrai. Traditional roles are great and I use them in my stories, but I want to give attention to less convention roles and show readers that there is more to fantasy and romance than a princess living “happily ever after”.