Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Interview with Black Waters Author, Maija Barnett

How did you get the idea for Black Waters?

I've always been fascinated by mermaids. It probably started back when I saw Splash. I remember really liking the underwater footage in that movie. (If you haven't seen it, they make Daryl Hannah look like an actual mermaid. As a kid, I was stunned.) Anyway, I've wanted to write a mermaid novel for a long time. I actually started one before I wrote Black Waters, but it wasn't really going anywhere, so I scrapped it and started fresh.

What do you think is the allure in mermaids?

think what's appealing about mermaids is their dark history. I remembering reading James Joyce's Ulysses in college and being assigned to present the chapter about the sirens. Let me tell you, they are evil. But what I like about mermaids is that the present day culture has, for the most part, made them good. Just think of Disney's Little Mermaid-- she doesn't seduce the prince into smashing his ship into a pile of rocks. Instead, she saves his life. (It's just like the Hans Christian Andersen tale except, of course, everything works out in the end.) So, I wanted to create an ethically torn character--one who's unclear as to whether she's good or not. Also, I love the whole transformation idea of mermaids. It's amazing to think that someone can seem human in one moment and then turn into a sea creature in the next.

The mythology in the book is really cool in the fact that the sirens are part fish as well as bird. How did you figure out how to combine the two together?

Well, technically, sirens and mermaids are different because sirens are women who are part bird and mermaids are women who are part fish. However, I think that the difference between the two has become a bit blurred, probably because both of these mythological creatures use their voices to capture their prey. Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to turn mermaids and sirens into one being. I took a lot of license with the mythology surrounding the two and sort of came up with my own hybrid version complete with a new mythology to go with it.

Did you listen to any music while writing? If so, what?

You know, I've tried, but I find that I can't listen to music when I write. It's too distracting for me. I am, however, a spectacularly awful typist, so I do listen when I'm running through spell check. I don't know if that really counts, but Sarah McLachlan usually fits my mood when I'm spell checking.

What have been some of your favorite mer-books?

It's funny, but I haven't read a ton of mer-books. I was, however, really inspired by Margaret Atwood's poem, Siren Song. I've always loved that poem, and I actually read it at least twice a week while I was writing my rough draft. It really helped me get the novel's mood.

Mermaids/sirens are getting a lot of attention in the mainstream media lately? Are you surprised by this?

I am kind of surprised. It took me about three years to write Black Waters, and, believe it or not, I thought I was being unique. But then, when I decided to try and publish it, there were already a bunch of mermaid books out there, all published around the same time. That' s actually why I decided to go indie. The market seemed so saturated with mermaids that I decided it might be hard to get an agent. So I just put mine up on my own.

What did you eat while you were writing (it always has an effect on me while I write)?
I don't think food really affects my writing much, so I pretty much stuck to what I usually eat (mostly vegetarian). I did however, step up the caffeine consumption. I have two little kids, so I either have to write really early in the morning or late at night. Sometimes I need a jolt to get going.

What can we expect in the next book in the series?
Well, I don't want to give too much away, but Abby will definitely be revisiting the Shadowlands. Of course, Eleanor will be involved. Also, Brian will struggle with the possibility of transforming into a serpent, losing his identity to Hendrick, or possibly both. I'm in the rough draft stage right now, but this book is moving a lot faster than the first one did. (This probably has to do with the fact that my kids are a little older now and can entertain themselves.) So, hopefully, the second installment will be out there soon.

Thanks so much for interviewing me. Your readers can find out more about me and see my book trailer at http://maijabarnett.blogspot.com/.

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