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.
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: http://hca.gilead.org.il/li_merma.html] 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.
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!!!