Joanne Guidoccio is my guest today and she will be talking about mermaids, since a mermaid is the heroine of her debut novel, Between Land and Sea.
In high school, Joanne dabbled in poetry, but decided to wait until she had more life experiences before writing a novel. The original plan was to get a general arts degree and take a few years off to travel and write. Instead, she gave in to her practical Italian side and obtained degrees in mathematics and education.
While she experienced many satisfying moments during her teaching career, she never found the time and energy to write. In 2008, she took advantage of early retirement. Slowly, a writing practice emerged and her articles and book reviews started appearing in newspapers, magazines and online.
Her debut novel, Between Land and Sea, a paranormal romance about a middle-aged mermaid, has just been released by Soul Mate Publishing.
THE EVOLVING MERMAID
When I announced the release of Between Land and Sea, a novel about an overweight, middle-aged mermaid, I was surprised by the subsequent comments.
The typical male response was a Duchenne smile followed by a puzzled expression and several pointed questions…
Why is she so old?
Just how overweight is she?
What happened to her?
The men had preconceived notions of what a mermaid should look like—wavy auburn tresses, mesmerizing green eyes and a curvaceous twenty something body.
The women, on the other hand, were intrigued by a mermaid who did not fit the stereotype and wanted to hear more about her reinvention story.
When it comes to mermaids, there can be no real consensus on their appearance. After all, they are only fictional characters subject to the whims of different cultures and time periods.
According to Greek mythology, Sirens were originally thought to be deities who had fallen from their position among the Greek gods. There is some discrepancy regarding the number of Sirens who lived off the coast of Greece (or possibly Italy). Anywhere from two to five Sirens lived on this island and lured men to their deaths with their bewitching songs. Descriptions of the Sirens varied; in some of the older myths, they had the head of woman and the body of a bird.
In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus had himself tied to the mast and ordered his men to stuff balls of wax into their ears while approaching the Sirens’ island. Only by taking these drastic measures could Odysseus ensure that no one jumped off, swam to shore, or endangered the lives of the crew. The songs of the Sirens were so hypnotic that sailors would become distracted and often steered the ship into dangerous waters or onto jagged rocks.
Among seafaring people, there are several historical claims of actual mermaid sightings. In 1610, Captain Richard Whitbourne claimed he saw a mermaid in Newfoundland’s St. James harbor. A young boy in Scotland (circa 1820) is believed to have killed a mermaid by throwing rocks at it. Unlike the beautiful Sirens in the Greek myths, the dead mermaid resembled a three-year-old child, but had a salmon’s tail instead of legs. The villagers had a funeral for the mermaid and buried it in a small coffin.
Hans Christien Anderson immortalized a kinder, gentler mermaid in The Little Mermaid. While it was my favorite fairy tale, I felt so sorry for the mute ex-mermaid who could only smile when the handsome prince married someone else. Knowing that the prince’s wedding morning would only bring heartbreak and seal her fate as “foam on the crest of waves” always saddened me.
I wanted a happily-ever-after ending for the little mermaid and the prince. But when the Disney version was released, I still wasn’t satisfied. I realize now that I wanted to read about a different kind of mermaid, one who could enjoy a happy and successful life, with or without the prince. And maybe one who wasn’t quite so young or so beautiful.
Keeping this vision of an older and wiser mermaid firmly in mind, I wrote Between Land and Sea, the first book in the Mediterranean trilogy.
After giving up her tail for an international banker, Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom is aged beyond recognition. The horrified banker abandons her on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England, leaving her to face a difficult human journey as a plain and practically destitute fifty-three-year-old woman.
With the help of a magic tablet and online mermaid support, Isabella evolves into the persona of Barbara Davies. Along the way, she encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them former mermaids, supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, and several New Agers.
Isabella stumbled as she got out of bed and tried to balance herself on the stumps that now served as permanent legs. She willed herself not to cry as she recalled the magnificent tail that had been the envy of the Mediterranean kingdom. Her mother and grandmother had also been blessed with the same tail. Now only Annabella held this birthright.
She heard her stomach growl and thought longingly of her favorite kelp dish. She closed her eyes and visualized the steaming goodness that would satisfy her hunger. And then she remembered that she could no longer manifest her desires.
No more powers. No more comfort and ease.
Her lips trembled as she looked about the small, neat room filled with large wooden pieces and smaller metallic ones. She tried to move one of the larger pieces and then gave up in frustration. Andrew had promised her a beautiful home with servants, and now she must live this life of ordinary humans.
The flickering of a green light caught her attention. She approached and noticed the tablet lying on one of the wooden surfaces. It was blinking at her. Tentatively, she touched the green light. The blinking stopped and a smiling face materialized.
“Greetings, Isabella. I am Lisa738. Annabella has asked me to guide you through your orientation.”
Isabella frowned and tried to recall her connection to this lowly mermaid from the Numbers class.
Where to find Joanne…
YouTube (Trailer #1): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xipZ6quZDOs
YouTube (Trailer #2): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfiKOQe_yuU
Great interview, Joanne. Love the excerpt!