Joanne Guidoccio taught mathematics, computer science, business and co-operative education courses in secondary schools throughout Ontario until taking early retirement and switching career paths a few years ago. Her debut novel, Between Land and Sea, is a September release. Learn more about Joanne at her website. – AP
A Different Kind of Mermaid
I am probably one of the few people on this planet who couldn’t read past Chapter 1 of the first Harry Potter book. As for vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies and other such creatures, well, let’s just say I prefer to keep my distance. Instead, I like to curl up with historical and contemporary women’s fiction, psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries and memoirs.
So, I surprised myself and everyone in my circle when I signed up for a series of creative writing workshops with science fiction author Sarah Totton. While I hadn’t read any of her short stories or novels, I was inspired by her work ethic and persistence. Sarah entered the Writers of the Future Contest seventeen times before finally winning the grand prize. As I took notes and participated in the exercises, I observed the rapt attention and fascination on the faces of my fellow students. Unlike me, they were not feverishly writing or asking questions about literary techniques; they were mentally plotting paranormal romances and young adult dystopian novels.
And then the wheels started turning.
Could I write fantasy?
While driving home one evening, I thought back to my favorite fairy tale, The Little Mermaid. The sad ending of the original version stayed with me, and to this day I still feel sorry for the mute ex-mermaid who could only smile when the handsome prince married someone else. All the while, knowing that the prince’s wedding morning would only bring heartbreak and seal her fate as “foam on the crest of waves.”
As for being a daughter of the air...
“You, poor little mermaid, have tried with your whole heart to do as we are doing; you have suffered and endured and raised yourself to the spirit-world by your good deeds; and now, by striving for three hundred years in the same way, you may obtain an immortal soul.”(Hans Christian Andersen, 1836)
Good deeds. Striving for three hundred years. And maybe, just maybe, she might obtain an immortal soul!
I wanted the little mermaid to marry the prince and live happily ever after. But when the Disney version was released, I still wasn’t happy with the ending. I realize now that I wanted to read about a different kind of mermaid, one who could lead a happy and successful life, with or without the prince. And maybe one who wasn’t quite so young or so beautiful.
Keeping this vision of an older and wiser mermaid firmly in mind, I wrote Between Land and Sea, the first book in the Mediterranean trilogy.
Between Land and Sea
After giving up her tail for an international banker, Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom is aged beyond recognition. The horrified banker abandons her on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England, leaving her to face a difficult human journey as a plain and practically destitute fifty-three-year-old woman.
With the help of a magic tablet and online mermaid support, Isabella evolves into the persona of Barbara Davies. Along the way, she encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them former mermaids, supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, and several New Agers.