{Blog Tour} Interview & Giveaway: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Posted May 29, 2015 by Bee in Blog Tour, Giveaways, Interviews & Guest Posts / 8 Comments

SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS

{Blog Tour} Interview & Giveaway: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah OcklerThe Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Pages: 413
Published on June 2nd 2015
by Simon Pulse
Genres: Contemporary, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads

Sometimes, there are no words…

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .

5 Stars

Interview

Hello Sarah! So happy to have you on my blog! As you know, I loved The Summer of Chasing Mermaids! Where did you get the idea to write a contemporary retelling of The Little Mermaid?

Thanks for hosting me, and I’m so happy you loved the story. 🙂

Like all of my book ideas, inspiration for The Summer of Chasing Mermaids came from many different sources, all crossing my path at the same time and ending up in a big daydreamy soup pot that eventually boiled down into a story! It went something like this:

1. The beach. I love books that take place in the summer on the beach, and the last time I’d written a story like that was in 2009 (Twenty Boy Summer). Five books and five years later, it was time for me to go back to the sea!
2. Mermaids. Daydreaming about the ocean got me thinking about mermaids, and soon I found myself wondering how I might incorporate a bit of mermaid lore while still keeping the book grounded in a contemporary realistic setting.
3. Voice. This was a huge one for me. Denial of voice is a major theme explored in the book, and something I see so many young people—particularly girls and women—struggling with. From a young age girls are often taught—explicitly or implicitly—to be nice, accommodating, and selfless. Often we’re also told to “be ourselves,” and that we can do anything we put our minds to, but we’re not given a lot of direction on what that really means, or how to deal with the challenges that inevitably arise when we truly, authentically put ourselves out there. Not everyone will accept that—even (and sometimes especially) the people who claim to love us most. And so often I see—in my own life as well as the lives of girls and women around me—denial of voice in action, where we’re shut down and shut up simply because we don’t fit into whatever box society has built for us. We’re confronted by things like sexism, gender roles, expectations, double standards, lack of opportunity, aggression, poverty, racism, fear, power dynamics, institutionalized misogyny, just to name a few. That’s a super simplified reduction of a complex issue, but one that’s very important to me. So I really wanted to explore that theme in a YA novel, symbolized by a character who literally has no voice—she’s permanently mute after an accident—and has to learn new ways of expressing herself, embracing her new life, and standing up for herself when others either speak for her or shut her out.
4. Trini Accent Tag. Around the same time I started thinking about the beach, mermaids, and denial of voice issues, I was randomly clicking through YouTube and came across a meme about accents. I’ve always been fascinated by regional accents, slang, and language development, so I got totally sucked in to watching them—a kind of fun game to see just how differently people say the same words and phrases in English. I ended up in the Trini accent tag collection, and one of the videos featured two sisters from Trinidad and Tobago who’d also posted other videos of singing performances. When I saw these girls singing, it just hit me all at once, like a big anvil of inspiration falling on my head! I thought, that’s my character, and she has a twin sister. But what is her family like? Where does she live? How did she grow up? What does she do for fun? I immediately dove into research mode, learning as much as I could about Trinidad and Tobago, the culture, the food, the music, the history, the people—it was such a rewarding process; I didn’t know much about the country at all when I started. So thanks in large part to random strangers on YouTube, Elyse was born, one of six sisters (like in The Little Mermaid), a girl who grew up singing with her twin, both of them en route to stardom. But then she loses her voice, and everything changes. She can’t sing. She can’t speak. Who does she become? What happens to her sister? Where does she belong? Who is she, if not the girl with the beautiful voice? I wrote the book to answer those questions.
5. Supernatural. Oh yeah. Christian Kane is basically Dean Winchester on a boat, so there’s that. 😉

On Twitter we talked about the many references to the original fairy tale version and the Disney version of The Little Mermaid. How many research did you do while writing this novel?

I re-read the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale several times, and watched clips of the Disney movie to refresh my memory. Then I just let my imagination run wild, daydreaming about how I might reinvent the aspects of those stories I most loved.

Most of the research for the novel centered on Trinidad and Tobago. In writing about a character from a culture unfamiliar to me, I knew I had a lot to learn! It was crucial for me to bring Elyse’s character to life authentically, honoring her culture and history, and that meant immersing myself in her world through books, videos, music, local newspapers, and blogs, and talking with people from the islands. I loved researching this novel—it turned me into a Soca fan! 🙂

Would you want to write another fairy tale retelling in the future? If so, which one would be your top pick?

That’s a good question! I’m not typically drawn to fairy tale retellings, but if inspiration strikes, I won’t ignore it! I’d probably pick something really obscure, though—something that hasn’t been done before. We’ll see.

Do you have any rituals or habits while working on a new book?

It varies, but lately I’ve been doing two things at the start of new projects: a Tarot card reading for my main character(s) to help me get to know her a bit better, and putting together a soundtrack that fits the mood and storyline—I listen to it while I’m brainstorming early scenes. I also consume a lot of wine and chocolate!  It doesn’t necessarily help the writing, but it sure is fun!

Lastly, what tip would you give an aspiring author like myself?

Don’t give up, no matter what! That’s the best piece of advice I can give aspiring authors. It sounds simple, but it’s not—writing (an any creative endeavor) can be fraught with challenges. It’s so hard to pour your heart and soul into your work, and then to put that work out there in any form—in a query letter to an agent, to critique partners, to publishers, to readers. Whether you publish traditionally or independently, or just post things on sites like Wattpad or your own blog, are a lot of ups and downs. So many people want to write, but then let those challenges scare them off. So if you have a story in your heart, you MUST find a way to get it out onto the page, no matter how difficult, how emotional, how scary it might feel. Just keep writing. You CAN do it, but only if you don’t give up!

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Bee

Bee

Bee (born as Bieke) is 26 years old and from Belgium. (No she won't send waffles.) She's a strange, nerdy and anxious creature floating around somewhere on the ace spectrum. Oh, and she also writes books as Nelly B. Jones. Or tries to anyway. You can also find her on Novel Ink.

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8 responses to “{Blog Tour} Interview & Giveaway: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

  1. Wow, Bieke, this was such a lovely interview- you asked some really great questions! I LOVE how Sarah was inspired for the muteness of her character by the actual silencing that we see in our society of women. The symbol works SO well. <33 I've never read a book about someone from Trinidad & Tobago, and I have to say, I love the sound of a diverse character! It's great to see how deeply Sarah researched to bring authenticity- that's what diversity should be about. =)

    The tarot card thing is so. cool. I kind of want to steal that idea!! I'm an aspiring author as well, so Sarah's advice really hit home for me as well.

    Lovely interview, & thanks for sharing! <3

    Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life recently posted: A Blogging Revamp
  2. Awww, that bit about the voice is so true. That’s how it was like for me growing up… every time I try to challenge something, elders – both men and women alike – shut me down and tell me to simply accept it or don’t say anything at all if it’s mean or against. It’s extremely frustrating! I’d love to see how that tidbit will be incorporated here and how the heroine will fight against it.

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