Friday, May 31, 2013

{Guest Post & Giveaway} Carolyn Turgeon

I am so excited to have Carolyn on the blog today!!  I loved Mermaid SO MUCH!!
Her guest post is below and I loved finding out myself what inspired such a
beautiful and tragic tale.

Guest Post

So Tiffany asked me what inspired me to write Mermaid…

  I actually didn't start out intending to write a mermaid novel at all. I was working on two 
different books when a British editor swooped in and bought the UK rights to my previous novel 
Godmother (about Cinderella’s fairy godmother living in present-day NYC) and asked what else 
I was working on. I wrote something up: I described the two books I was working on and then 
made a list of possible future book idea, including a kid’s book about a mermaid. She bought that 
idea—as an adult novel!—thinking it’d be the perfect follow-up.

  So then I really had to come up with a story. I was trying out contemporary ideas but nothing 
was quite working, and my agent kept suggesting I go back to the Hans Christian Andersen fairy 
tale. [link to it:] I love the story, but unlike Cinderella 
it’s incredibly strange and dark (and gorgeous and wonderful) and I didn’t know what I could 
possibly do with it…! At first I was very resistant. But then I started thinking about that princess.  
In the original story, she’s there, she’s the one who pops up to marry the prince and thereby 
break the mermaid’s heart, but she’s not an actual character at all; she’s not unlikable or likable, 
she’s not anything at all.

  I started imagining who this princess really was. In a crazy coincidence (in the original story), 
she’s the one in the “temple” overlooking the sea who finds the prince after the mermaid saves 
him and also the one his father arranges a marriage with. I thought about this temple. What if it’s 
a convent? What if she’s there because her kingdom is at war and she’s in hiding? And what if 
she doesn't just find the saved prince on the shore… what if she actually witnesses the mermaid 
bringing him to shore, her tail and skin glittering in the pale sunlight, her face suffused with 
love. Imagine: you're a princess stuck in this rigid convent at the edge of the world, missing your 
castle. You're standing in the convent garden looking out over the icy sea when a mermaid—
a mermaid!—emerges from the water, holding this almost-drowned man in her arms. Wouldn't 
that be a moment to change your life? Wouldn't everything be different afterwards?

The moment that that scene was in my head, the opening scene to the book, I knew I had my 

  I imagined that in my book, there would be a relationship between the princess and the mermaid, 
starting at this first moment when the mermaid looks up and sees the princess standing there.
The mermaid, already in love—with the prince but, even more, with all the fragile humanity 
he represents—wills the princess to save him. The mermaid has done her job, she’s saved him 
from the sea and brought him to shore, but a human has to do the rest. What if the princess 
misinterprets that willing a bit, and believes the mermaid has brought the man to her to love? 
And, further, what if she brings him to the convent, where he'll be taken care of, and he comes to 
believe that she’s the one who saved him? 

  At one point the mermaid visits the shore again and the princess, watching for her, comes down, 
and they speak. I loved writing this scene, making these two characters sympathetic to each 
other, each representing everything the other longs for, a different world, when in the original 
story they have no relationship to speak of. In the Disney movie, on the other hand, the princess 
becomes downright evil. She is after all a female rival for a man’s attention, so she must be! I 
don't like stories where female rivalry is a given, and I don't like it in real life, either. 

  I wanted my two characters to be a bit in awe of each other. They each love the other’s world, 
long to be part of what is, to them, a magical, unknowable place (the sea, the kingdom). I knew 
they would both have to end up in the prince’s castle, and I wanted them to be surprised when 
they inevitably recognize each other and realize they've both made sacrifices to be with the same 
man—and that only one of them can end up married to him. Everything is at stake, for each of 
them. I wanted the book to be more about this relationship, between the mermaid and the human 
princess, and how they navigate this terrible situation where they both have so much at stake.


Carolyn Turgeon is the author of five novels: Rain Village (2006), Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story (2009), Mermaid (2011), which is being developed for film by Sony Pictures, and The Next Full Moon (2012), her first and only book for middle-grade readers. Her latest novel, The Fairest of Them All, comes out in August 2013 from Touchstone/Simon & Schuster and is about Rapunzel growing up to be Snow White's stepmother. She lives in Pennsylvania and New York and teaches fiction writing at the University of Alaska at Anchorage's Low-Residency MFA program. She's currently at work on a new novel about Dante's Beatrice, set in thirteenth-century Florence.

Find Her


Okay guys Carolyn has ever so kindly offered up a SIGNED copy of Mermaid!!  Ya I'm
having some serious envy right now!!  So go ahead enter & GOOD LUCK!!! 


  1. Thanks for the giveaway! I like the relationship between the princess and the mermaid. <3

  2. Thanks for sharing how you came up with your idea. It is funny how sometimes we start one project just to turn it into something else.

  3. Yay! I really hope I win because I met Carolyn a month ago and wanted to buy a copy of the book for her to sign but she didn't have any~! Interesting to hear how the book came about. I try to figure out the ins and outs of the publishing industry but an editor just buying an idea like that is cool!

    No on women having to always be rivals. We need more complex and interesting relationships between females in literature.

    I tend to think that strange and dark generally translates into gorgeous and wonderful. :)

    Cannot wait to read~!

  4. That's awesome that you hadn't even planned to do a mermaid book and just came up with something like that story. I love the idea of a convent and her kingdom being at war. And what a complicated relationship between the princess, the mermaid, and the prince. For once, a love triangle that kinda makes sense! I am excited to read this now!!

  5. thx u carolyn for ur donation here :)

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. The book sounds fantastic I can't wait to read it.

  8. I love this book! I read it in a plane ride, nonstop. Thanks so much for the giveaway!

  9. The grass is always greener on the other side, eh? But I'm glad that the mermaid and the princess both find something to be awe-struck about in each other's world, so it's not a one-way thing. I think when we see what we don't have and can't have, it's an opportunity to appreciate what we do have.

  10. This was a great post to read. It is always interesting to see where the inspiration for a story comes from and it is funny that the author didn't really expect this to be the one that got chosen for her next idea. I love mermaids and this story has beautiful writing. Thanks for the great giveaway and post!

    Vyki @ On The Shelf


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