Staring into the turquoise waters off Kauai, our catamaran bouncing over the waves, I imagined a mermaid swimming alongside us. She was beautiful but also frightening. Seducing men, and maybe some women, to follow her beneath the surface. It was then I decided to attempt my first fantasy story, a dark siren tale of two worlds, one on land, one beneath icy, deep waters. Not Little Mermaid, or Splash, or anything of the sort. Something more hypnotic, dangerous.
Nearly a week later, looking out at the Oregon coast, my imagination has already crafted these worlds and its two central characters, notes scribbled throughout pages and pages of my little purple notebook. The mermaid, above, and a young man, soon to be missing to the human world, just another kid swallowed by the Pacific Northwest, little flyers posted in the towns, asking if anyone has seen him, assuming he ran away or got lost camping, like the others.
What I have learned during recent months, while finishing up Expecting Happiness, is that I have to strike while the iron is hot. Stories come and go from my mind and in order for them to come to fruition I have to get to work immediately. I was already researching a mainstream, realistic fiction project with a different twist on the tormented world of human trafficking. I had it roughly outlined, but then time passed while I finished my first book and now mermaids sound more appealing.
So, even as I finish that last read through my recent rewrites and prepare to send out queries, I’m also writing about mermaids. I fear that if I wait, this idea will be swallowed up by another. Besides, staring out at the crashing waves beyond my window, inspiration abounds. I just wish Expecting Happiness would finish itself, because writing is the fun part, editing/revising, not so much. I’ll leave you with a small peak at my dark mermaid.
He had watched her every night for nearly a week, unable to take his eyes off her as she swam, naked in the icy ocean. From the cover of his driftwood structure, he peered out at her, squinting to focus on her smooth skin beneath the moonlight. The first night, he thought she was a figment of his imagination, the result of shifting light beneath the fast moving clouds. However, each evening after he put out his campfire and retreated to the make-shift shelter, she returned.
Some nights, he could see her better than others, depending on the moon. Tonight, the moon was full, its light cascading over the sand, bouncing back toward the sky, a dull glow. The stars shone bright above the beach, unobscured in a rare, cloudless moment. Carefully, he pulled himself through the opening of his crude shelter, cautious not to knock over the paddles to his kayak, worried that any noise might scare her back into the water.
He was still uncertain where she came from. She always appeared from nowhere, as though she climbed out of the sea. He figured she must be camping up the way, his own small bay the calmest spot to swim. Even so, he would not get in that water without his kayak, the roiling waves and icy cold too much for most strong swimmers. He had watched more than one surfer paddle out in a full wet suit just to be pummeled by the waves and head back in.
Still, there she was, naked, riding in on the waves, diving beneath the breaks, emerging with her long, dark hair clinging to her breasts. She was child-like in her play, alternating between the water and the shore, chasing the waves in and out. He thought he heard her laughing as she ran, at first quiet like a whisper, then howling, alive and wild.
In truth, he had not emerged from the structure the previous nights because she scared him. The freedom of her body, the rawness of her loud laughter, almost animal-like. Eventually, she would disappear, leaving him aching to touch her cold skin…