Friday, March 10, 2017

"A Little Mermaid" Trailer Arrives Online

Welp, I done diddly messed up.
After writing a longass post about the lack of mermaid movies out there, one appears, seemingly out of nowhere and overnight.
Here is the link to "A Little Mermaid", not THE little mermaid. It looks pretty interesting! Circus aesthetics, what is real/ what is not, and some pretty interesting names starring in the film.
I have no idea about much with this film, and I was so excited to finally post something that I didn't hammer out any details. But this is great news!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Mermaids at the Movies: Thoughts on Empires of the Deep, and the Future of Merpeeps on Screen

Way way back in the day when Garrett and I first started the blog, we were all anxiously awaiting news on the Chinese fantasy epic Empires of the Deep.It was billed as a big ole' mermaid movie, something we really haven't seen to this day. In the years since, it has become a fabled mess of development hell, boasting four director changes, a massive budget, and perhaps most disappointingly, a non-existant release date.

Produced by Jon Jiang, a billionaire Chinese real estate mogul, the film is currently shelved. It's the sort of thing that has become somewhat legendary in Hollywood circles. I won't go into the whole history, but if you want the facts, check out this amazing article ( It's a long read, but well worth it.

I'm a huge fan of bad movies, and obviously mermaids, so Empires is forever fascinating to me. When we started this blog, merbooks were exploding all over the market. They were just about everywhere you turned. I believe it's slowed down a bit recently, as the paranormal romance craze in particular has calmed in favor of sci-fi dystopia and fairy tale retellings, but merpeeps are not uncommon at all.

And usually, when something gets big in the book world (particularly YA), studios scramble to capitalize on the teenage dollar. These are people who generally have enough disposable income to see a movie most weekends and have the time to do so. That's why you saw Hunger Games be adapted so fast. Mockingjay had been out for less then a year when the first film was released theatrically. That's also why you saw a million similar properties adapted in near record time as well, to varying degrees of success (Divergent, The Giver, Mortal Instruments to some extent).

What does this have to do with Empires? It may explain why the American market won't touch them with a ten foot pole. We've had plenty of fairly popular mer-series happening over the past five years, but none snapped up to the screen. Is it budget costs? There are a lot of effects involved with creating underwater life and realistic looking merpeople. Is it waning interests? Maybe. But even playing off the nostalgia for Splash and the Little Mermaid would drum up some nice business. In fact, Disney at one point was releasing a live action adaptation of Little Mermaid, with Sofia Coppola set to direct. Coppola departed the project and we haven't heard anything since (the blog also reported on that one when it was announced, as Sofia is one of my very favorite directors. I'm heartbroken that she's not attached anymore).

It's a puzzling situation. Mermaids still seem to be a popular item in the mainstream, but they just can't seem to get them to the silver screen. I've already written about the Splash remake that has been casted and announced, but that's no guarantee of anything actually seeing the light of day. And arguable the last big mermaid movie release was.....Aquamarine, a Nickelodeon produced kids film based on the middle grade novel (it's actually pretty cute and fluffy, and required viewing as one of the only mermaid movies that made it to public release). You could maybe count Ondine, the Colin Farrell led film of a vaguely Selkie persuasion. Pirates of the Caribbean's fourth installment involved merpeeps but they definitely weren't a big part of the main plotline and for the most part pretty quickly disappeared (jury is out on whether or not we'll see them again in the fifth film).

I think the audience is there. I really do. But the cautionary tail (oh man, I did that) of Empires of the Deep lives on in the minds of any Hollywood exec/producer, and indie films usually can't swing the budget. With so many projects having fallen through, and many more announced and then buried, it may be a while before filmmakers can bust out of the mold and maybe give the merpeeps a shot at silver screen stardom. Until then, we'll make do with what we have.


Monday, August 1, 2016


What the hecky you guys, guess what just hit me out of left field?  I know half of our readership is here due in no small part to the classic romantical film Splash, a Tom Hanks/Darryl Hanna spectacular that is weirdly inspired by An American Werewolf in London.
We're going to see that story brought to the screen once again, but with a gender reversed cast!
Jillian Bill will be playing the female version of Allen, and Channing Tatum will be playing a merman.
While I'm not the biggest Tatum fan (although he did surprise me in the under-rated Hail Caesar!), this movie has the potential to be a lot of fun, and of course, any chance to bring merpeeps to the big screen is going to be a good time
What do you guys think of this, frankly insane, news?

Monday, April 4, 2016

How To Write A Mermaid Book: Every Cliche in the Sea

Here at Merbooks, God knows we've seen our share of the tropes. So for all you lovely aspiring writers out there, here's some things to look out for, twist to your advantage, or avoid entirely.

1. My name is totally some low key aquatic reference, or the mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere with no explanation has a weird water name too. Huh. Wonder what the means?

2. I either have a completely irrational fear of water or I can't get enough of it. Irrational fear often involves nightmares. Bonus points for mysterious white haired mermaid (always white haired).

3. If not afraid of water, I'm probably an Olympic level swimmer. Also always has long hair and too long legs, or is somewhat ethereally beautiful.

4. Mysterious boy who randomly shows up at school or work one day is totally gorgeous in an ethereal way and doesn't get my references to modern culture. Claims to be from some far off European country to get away with it.

5. Ethereal boyfriend might be a surfer. If not, he is also irrationally sensitive about water.

6. Ethereal boyfriend must always have blue or green eyes.

7. I'm definitely adopted, or live with aunt/uncle, some familial relation that is not the parents. If adopted, nobody has a clue who my biological parents are.

8. Ethereal boyfriend will randomly show up at workplace, house, places where I am. No explanation, although it is kind of creepy.

9. Concerned best friend can never ever realize that I'm a mermaid. It would ruin everything.

10. Joke about The Little Mermaid. Hardy har har, never heard that one before.

11. Hair might magically get longer when mermaid transformation happens.

12. Shocker, ethereal boyfriend is totally also a merman and has been assigned by magical undersea kingdom to be a bodyguard because I'm actually a princess. Or he's there to reveal to me all the mermaid secrets.

13. Naturally, our love will be completely forbidden by "Da Rules".

14. But even that ain't gonna stop me dragging his ass to prom.

15. Naturally, the big bad will attack at prom.

16. I will discover my totally off the wall crazy strong mermaid powers at that exact moment no matter how much previous practice I have had with them.

17. Have to make heartbreaking decision about whether to live in ocean, or stay and finish high school/whatever, invariably finds a way to make both work.

18. There is going to be one of a few classical quotes somewhere in this book form Shakespeare's Tempest, Some Tennyson, some Yeats, a Radiohead song, or Hans Christian Anderson.

Bonus Rounds!

Based on the Little Mermaid
Protag has red hair
English teacher foreshadows this entire process
Secluded beachside town in Maine or Washington
Prophetic dreams that involve lost mermaid parents
People give things to the protag for free because she's so pretty
Being a mermaid/merman comes with transformation into a totally gorgeous seductive being, even if they're a teenager.
Impossible anatomy


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Triumphant Return of Randi!

Hey everyone! I know it has been a ridculously long time since I have posted anything to here, but the good news is that updates are going to be coming more regularly to the blog now that I've finally got the time to update it. Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Interview with Aaron Galvin, author of Salted

Sorry this took so long to put up, I had to sort through finals and such this wee, but here is our interview with Aaron Galvin! And if you haven't read Salted yet, definitely go for it. But I've already talked about that. So without further adieu, go forth and read!

1. How did you get the idea to create a darker interpretation of undersea life, especially in contrast to the sunnier YA books that have recently become popular?

I’ve always been drawn to darker storylines. That’s probably due in part to being raised in the 80’s. There were so many cool, dark tales back then. I grew up watching The Dark Crystal, Legend, The Neverending Story, and Labyrinth almost daily.

Also, I don’t believe endings are always sunny and everyone lives happily ever after. That’s great for those who do, but what makes good fiction is struggle. Characters who we can identify with and watch some of them fail miserably while others do go on to achieve.

Harry Potter is one of my favorite series of all-time, but what’s the view from Ron’s angle? Why can’t we read The Hunger Games from Rue’s POV, or better, Cato’s? Those are the stories that intrigue me. The kind of story where you know the main character might not live at the end. It makes you fear for them even more and bonds you to them.

2. There's a pretty big ensemble cast of characters, are any of them inspired by real people?

Yes, and his name is me. All of them have some of me in them. Garrett is basically the guy I was in high school. I’ve become more like Lenny in recent years in that I don’t hold my tongue as much I should and I like to act tougher than I really am.

Chidi is more a collective spirit of the bravest and toughest individuals I’ve ever met. My wife’s passion is bringing awareness to sex trafficking in the hopes of slowing/stopping it. I had no idea that slavery still existed until I met her, yet it’s happening here and now throughout the world.

We went on a mission trip to Cambodia after I had already begun drafting Salted. Naturally, I was nervous these girls (and I do mean girls, some of them being only 3 years old), would be afraid of me. You have to remember these girls have seen the worst in men: beaten, raped, and sold into prostitution-sometimes by their own families. As a man, my natural instinct was to protect them, to find the perpetrators and beat them to death with my bare hands.

My error was thinking of the girls as victims instead of survivors.

Upon meeting them, I quickly learned my earlier fears couldn’t have been further from the truth. They were just kids who wanted to play games. Run around. Laugh. They’ve been through a hell that would break most grown men’s spirits, myself included. That kind of resiliency is awe-inspiring.

I couldn’t get Chidi out of my head after returning from that trip. I try my best to emulate their collective spirit through her.

3. If Salted were to be made into a movie (and one can only hope), who would you cast?

The great thing about Salted is I feel like it would be a great opportunity to find hidden talent for two of the main roles. I can’t think of a teenaged little person actor to play Lenny, no more than I can a teen actor with vitiligo to play Garrett. I love the idea of using virtually unknown actors because then the audience can’t picture them as anything but that character.

However, I understand the importance of bolstering a cast with recognizable faces as well. So for those cases, I would love to see Lupita Nyong’o play either Chidi or Marisa Bourgeois. She’s amazing. For Henry, I think Gustaf SkarsgĂ„rd, (Floki from the History Channel’s show Vikings) would be brilliant. Kellen I picture similar to Alexander Ludwig (also on Vikings, or more commonly known as Cato in The Hunger Games).

4. Was there any particular inspiration for setting so many of your scenes in aquariums (besides the proximity of water)?

It seemed fitting to use both the Indianapolis Zoo and Shedd Aquarium as backdrops because I grew up near Indianapolis and lived in Chicago for a few years. There’s also a key reason for the Midwest setting, but I can’t divulge that yet. It’s a spoiler. ;)

5. So in your little author's bio, it says you've done movies as well! What is the biggest difference between writing a script and writing a book, and did one help the other?

Huge differences. With screenplays, you have to account for budgeting. The Salt series as a whole would require a massive film budget moving forward due to all the required special effects. As an author, there’s no limitation in that regard.

Brevity is another example. With screenplays, you plan for about a minute of screen time per page, which means you’re often shooting for a final page count of less than 120 pages, (under 2 hours). Again, budgetary constraints are a big reason for that, as well as time one feasibly expects an audience to sit through the film.

I think writing screenplays first was highly beneficial. One of the things I’ve read in comments about Salted is the fast pacing of the story. That all goes back to screenwriting where you don’t have the time or money to waste. Every shot, every page, every word has to count.

6. While we're on the subject of movies, what do you think of Sofia Coppola's upcoming retelling of the Little Mermaid?

First, I think Disney’s recent interest in mermaids, (Pirates of the Caribbean, Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly, and now this adaptation), proves the view mermaids as trending.

That said, I find the choice of Coppola for the director chair a bit odd. To me, her films don’t reflect Disney’s most recent adaptations of classic animated films to live-action, (Maleficent, and Snow White & The Huntsman). Both films contain a lot of action sequences and special effects to cross-promote/intrigue male audiences. They did this with Rapunzel as well—changing the title to Tangled and adding more action sequences via Flynn Rider.

It’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out. I’m a bit skeptical, but keeping my fingers crossed because it’s such a fantastic story.

7. Last question: What's next for these characters?

Things are about to become even darker. I don’t want to give away spoilers for those who haven’t read the book yet, but I will say fans should be nervous for these characters. Some are venturing into uncharted waters (forgive the pun) while others know what awaits them and will need to scramble if they hope to survive.

I can also promise you answers teased in the first book are coming and that the sequel occurs almost exclusively in the Salt. I’m about a third of the way through and hope to release the sequel before the end of this year. I can’t wait to continue this story with all of you! J

Monday, May 12, 2014

Salted by Aaron Galvin

Oh man, you guys, I've got a treat for you.

We've been in a bit of a rut in the merbook business lately. Waiting for sequels, reading some filler in the time between, trying to earn money/find job to acquire said sequels (My Yogurt Mountain application does not need to make me question my purpose in life).

And then Salted waltzes in, and it blew my mind.

A largely romance free thriller and drama, Salted creates a fresh new mythology with a great ensemble cast of characters. 

I don't want to give too much away of the story, but it starts off as a deceptively simple cat and mouse game. Lenny and co., selkies caught in a slave infrastructure are on a mission to find an elusive target. Garrett is a highschool student under fire from bullies, and after a near-drowning experience, his story and that of the selkies is irrevocably intertwined. 

Salted leaves off on somewhat of a cliffhanger, leaving a lot of questions un-answered, but it also feels pretty complete by itself, something that a lot of novels these days don't accomplish. Some storylines are resolved but there is PLENTY of material for a sequel, and it's well warranted. It feels like there's a lot of life in this story and these characters, and a lot of places left to explore in the world Galvin has created.Salted gives the perfect taste of what I certainly hope is to come. The writing itself is fast paced, descriptive, and compliments the story perfectly.

My favorite two storylines were Garrett and Chidi, but I enjoyed everyone's contributions. Having so many perspectives can usually get a little tricky, but everyone's personalities are so distinct that it's pretty easy to keep up.

If I can nitpick, the book can be a little overwhelming what with all the info-dumping. While the approach works with the breakneck intensity of the book, learning a whole new mythology just by osmosis can be pretty tough. 

As far as target audience, I'm gonna say older teens/adults, because Salted is a bit of a downer. It deals with a lot of pretty dark stuff like slavery, bullying, morality.and deals pretty deeply with choices we make and how they affect ourselves and others. 

Anyway, it's a totally fresh take on selkies and merpeople, and definitely one of the best of the newer crop of mer-novels released. Go read it!