I don’t remember exactly when my obsession with mermaids began. Maybe when I wasalittlegirl playing with Sea Wees (bath tub mermaid dolls with floating sponge lily pads) or when Ifirst saw the movie Splash. But I’ve been in love with mermaids for as long as I can remember and, yes, dreamed of becomingone. When I got the idea for Forgive My Fins I was excited to finally create my own mermaid world.
In bringing half-mermaid princess Lily to life on the page I had to develop two parts of her life. First, I thought about the underwater world. What would a mermaid kingdom look like? Where would it be located? What would everyday mermaid life entail? Second, I imagined being a mermaid living on land. What would be different? What would be the same? How would she be affected, physically and mentally, by being out of the water? These were the questions I had to answer as I wrote the book.
My first priority in building the underwater kingdom was to make it as believable as possible. A mermaid kingdom is a completely fantastical world, but I wanted mine to conceivably exist in our world. The buildings in Thalassinia are covered in anemones, seaweed, and starfish, disguising their underlying structures. They are built from coral and natural-looking rock formations. The kingdom looks like something you might actually see if you were snorkeling in the Bahamas.
Once I had the overall world designed, I layered in small details of everyday mer life. I thought about things we take for granted as normal in our world—mattresses, cars, refrigerators—and tried to imagine how those things would be different in the sea. Their beds are shaped like shells, they get around on seahorses and water-powered wavemakers, and their food stays cold enough in the chilly ocean water. Everything is slightly different because of the wet and cold and floating in the sea.
For a mermaid living on land, our ordinary human things would be very out of the ordinary. I had to imagine myself as someone from an underwater world, and was suddenly living on land. In Thalassinia sea slang is common, but on land it’s weird to call someone a son of a swordfish. There are no beverages in the ocean because they’re surrounded by water already. On land, a mermaid dries out and has to take saltwater baths to stay hydrated. Lily has to make lots of little adjustments to life above the water.
It was an amazing challenge to try to create a realistic mer world, one the reader could easily imagine actually existing beneath the Atlantic, and then to write a character who grew up in that world and is living in ours. As a writer, it’s my job to make the world of my story as real as possible, and hopefully these details of mer and mer-on-land life help make Forgive My Fins more believable.
Needless to say, I was swept away by Thalassinia and its lovely, mer
people, including Quince, of course!
Want more? Forgive My Fins was published 1st July 2011 in the UK by Templar Publishing. In the unlikely event of you not having your copy in your hands just yet, here's a little extract to tempt you!
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