Monday, March 4, 2013

Interview with Rosean Mile, Author of The Scales of Six

Hi everyone! So I just recently finished Ms. Mile's excellent debut, The Scales of Six, and liked it a lot. So I got in touch with Rosean and thus here is an interview with her about her book! The review for the book itself will be up in the coming days.

1. Your book, “The Scales of Six,” is definitely not the typical mermaid book because A) it's not young adult, B) it's got a lot of horror and more hardcore sci-fi elements and C) it's a courtroom drama on top of all that! How did you get the idea to write such a genre mash-up?

Actually, I never intended for “The Scales of Six” to be a genre-specific novel. I just let the ideas flow and went for it!

2. Your mermaid mythology is more horrifying than fluffy, as seen in a lot of the books we review here. What motivated you to take it in that direction?

The idea of writing a horror story about a mermaid was ignited by a series of unexpected things that happened in my life that were beyond my control. I literally felt underwater. I wanted to explore in my characters different approaches to dealing with a challenging situation. On some level, perhaps the mermaid approach I took is symbolic of adaptation, determination and self-will.

3. Were there any movies or books that helped you find ideas and write?

Definitely. First off, Simon Winchester’s “Krakatoa” informed my writing about that incredible volcanic explosion, and Redmond O’Hanlon’s “Into the Heart of Borneo” inspired my writing about the Sumatran jungle. O’Hanlon’s is a firsthand account of his experience in the untouched Borneo jungle (a wild and at times hilarious read!). I also perused Alfred Russel Wallace’s books on evolution (“Infinite Tropics” and “The Malay Archipelago”). Another great treasure was finding the 1914 book “Java and Her Neighbors” by Arthur S. Walcott and a letter from “Hooker’s Journal of Botany,” written in 1855. Both provide rich accounts of unspoiled Sumatra, and they really got me loving the whole historical angle. The Peabody Museum provides great stuff about the late 18th-century pepper trade between Salem, Mass., and Sumatra, Indonesia. For a glimpse at the inner workings of the cosmetics industry, I attempted “Beauty Imagined” by Geoffrey Jones and “A Year Inside the Perfume Industry” by Chandler Burr. The seeds-in-the-trunk idea came from a couple of different news stories. One was about an old chest found at an Arlington, Va., antiques store that had some of Wallace’s original specimens in it (!). The other was about the finding of 200-year-old seeds in England that were successfully germinated. There was also a fantastic discovery, reported in The Washington Post, of 2,000-year-old (!) herbal medicines in a shipwreck off the coast of Tuscany. I surfed around for news and research articles on other topics, including some criminal cases in Maine, and found a couple academic papers about development in Sumatra, and one about Dukons in Sumatra.

I can’t think of any particular movies that influenced my ideas, but I’m sure films provided lots of visual and emotional cues that informed me indirectly.

4. What music did you listen to while writing?

I write to the sounds of my fingers clicking on the keyboard!

5. “The Scales of Six” takes place in a LOT of locations, some exotic, some urban. Have you been to all the places in the book?

Yes, I’ve been to all except Rakata and the fictitious Sumatran jungle (sadly, Sumatra’s jungles are being deforested at a prodigious rate). The University of Jakarta isn’t real either, but it’s based on an actual university in Jakarta.

6. Mermaids have been growing steadily in popularity over the past few years. What is your opinion on this trend?

I think it’s a long time coming, and I’d love to see more books explore the genre outside its norm.

7. What do you hope readers will take away from “The Scales of Six?”

I hope the book proves to be one that folks can escape into and will approach as though they’re riding a roller coaster, knowing that at times it will be unsettling but also entertaining. And, hey, my characters go through some scary stuff, but they tough it out.

And now for some fun stuff.
1. What was the last movie you watched?

“Safe Haven” (good date movie)

2. What did you eat while writing your book?

Warmed leftovers. Occasionally chocolate chip cookies with milk or Nutella on crackers. 

3. Who are some of your favorite authors and books, mermaid or not?

Hmm, there are so many great ones, and you’re reminding me I need to populate my GR shelves. In the horror genre, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire” are my all-time favorites for their originality. On the subject of people toughing things out (and that’s putting it mildly), current faves are “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand and “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls. For humorous and entertaining reads, I enjoy Carl Hiaasen, Tom Wolfe and John Irving. Ken Follett is terrific for historical fiction. In current popular fiction, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn is fabulous. With the ebook market bringing independent and self-published books to us, there are lots of opportunities for finding new and exciting reads. The trick is knowing how to discover them. It seems Goodreads is a great start.

4. Anything you just wanna say?

Make no mistake, “The Scales of Six” by Rosean Mile is not a traditional mermaid story, nor is it specifically a mermaid novel, and it isn’t a YA read (but I believe some older YAs will like it). It combines horror, suspense (including courtroom drama), sci-fi and romance. If you’re looking for a new twist to the mermaid theme or are in the mood to get lost in something different, try this one for scale. Thanks for reading!

Thanks so much to Rosean for the interview and her lovely book, and thanks to you for reading :) Like I said, review will be up in the coming days.


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