I'm on an exciting blog tour these next few weeks for The Drowning World. Here's the author interview from the lovely blog, "A Little Something To Chew On" and it also appears on the website: "So Many Books, So Little Time, So Here's Mine." To celebrate this blog tour, I'm putting the ebook on a Kindle sale for 99 cents. So read it while the sale lasts!
Interview with Brenda Peterson
I would like you to meet my writing teacher, friend, and mentor Brenda Peterson , author of 18 books, Huffington Post blogger, and co-founder of Seal Sitters. She has graciously accepted to talk with us about her newest novel The Drowning World. This futuristic world story is about a young mermaid from the undersea city of Aquantis who finds herself falling for the son of marine scientist, Lukas, from the dangerous and polluted Skyeworld above the ocean. What fates await the two young courageous teenagers lies on the pages of Brenda’s fascinating story.
KA: As I read through your long list of published books, Between Species-celebrating the Dolphin Human Bond, Intimate Nature –Bond between Women and Animals, and Animal Heart, a few stood out to help me understood why you had a vast understanding and passion for marine life and the bond between humans and animals. It unfolded so beautifully in your book and why you could include such rich details about the animal characters like Dao, the dolphin companion or (Constant), for Marina, the mermaid, your main character, and Honu-wahi, the great elder sea turtle and eventual companion for Lukas.
Please share with us what first inspired you to write about a mermaid, and to make her your main character in your story? I just love the strong, intelligent, thoughtful Marina who questions her ability and destiny like so many young people although she is so capable.
BP: My fourth novel, the environmental thriller Animal Heart, was reviewed by a book critic from Library Journal who wrote, “one can hardly imagine a more heartfelt work or a more unusual love story than this one.” Hmmmm, I thought, “unusual love story.”
What would be more unusual than two people from an underwater cosmos and our world trying to find love together? Mermaid and human. Every taboo or prejudice that we experience in inter-racial or cross-cultural love would be magnified. My own decades studying dolphins has left me feeling half-human, so why not explore this hybrid or mixed relationships in a love story? The Drowning World is set both in Aquantis, an underwater advanced civilization of merpeople, and in a future Florida, called SkyeWorld, circa 2020 and 2030. Marina, a highly trained mermaid, is on her first spy mission to SkyeWorld. On the beach she meets Lukas, a proud Cuban refugee who is helping his father rescue sea turtle eggs from an oil spill. Marina saves Lukas’s life with her magical skills, but can she save herself from a life-long nemesis from her own world?
KA: This is your first Young Adult or YA novel. I appreciated how you included very age-appropriate and current young adult themes including; exclusion, bullying, addiction, romance, adolescent angst, sibling rivalry, popularity and peer pressure. Was it difficult to transition from adult non-fiction and memoir to YA? What was the impetus for this project?
BP: It was not so difficult transitioning to YA because this is also a crossover book to an adult audience and I’ve spent a lot of time in both of my memoirs, writing from an adolescent’s point of view. What was most difficult was thoroughly imagining an underwater and magical universe—as well as our future world. But no matter how much nature changes, our human nature still faces so many of the same dramas: finding love and family, sibling rivalry, adapting to new people and cultures, and figuring out just who we really are.
KA: Your title “The Drowning World” does not immediately convey “mermaids.” I believe you want to teach something deeper. Without giving the story away, I was engaged the entire time and learned many new facts about marine life and our ecosystem, yet remained fully entertained and engrossed in the plot. What message or lesson do you want to the reader to take away from your book?
BP: Our world really is drowning because of climate change and what the young call, “global weirding.” This future of rising seas is what the young now will inherit; and it will take all of their imagination and skill to navigate such dramatic shifts. My novel shows courageous young people adapting and surviving their amphibious futures. And, as dolphins teach us, it’s also a lot of fun having tail flukes and learning acoustic communication skills that seem like super powers!
KA: I did have a few questions from reading the book, why don’t Aquantans need sleep and why does shifting have to be so painful?
Aquantans are half-dolphin and half-human, descended from the legendary city of Atlantis that sunk under the sea, but in my novel still survives. The dolphin part of Aquantans doesn’t need sleep—just like real dolphins who do not sleep, just rest one hemisphere of their brains at a time. Pretty cool! As for shape-shifting, well, I don’t think big changes are ever easy. Transitions are hard at any age. So imagine shifting one’s body between land legs and tail flukes—that is one of the most dramatic changes of all.
KA: How long have you been teaching writing classes and what about being a writing instructor do you enjoy the most?
After my five years working at The New Yorker magazine I was the Writer-in-Residence at Arizona State University. I’ve been teaching since I was 28, when I published my first book. For three decades, I’ve taught private classes in Seattle because I love to mentor writers from manuscript through publication. The New Yorker taught me the wisdom of the apprenticeship or patron-protégé bond. Many of my students have been with me for years and I’ve mentored them through publishing several books. I most enjoy the depth of dialogue and long, literary history I am privileged to share with my students. In the shifting, musical chairs of publishers—finding a nourishing writing community offers the mutual growth, rigorous critiques, and vital encouragement that authors need to thrive.
KA: What is your greatest joy or sense of accomplishment as a writing instructor?
BP: Good writing really can be taught. I always tell my students, “revision is the soul of genius.” I’m always delighted to see my writing students, after a lot of self-censorship and what I call “wandering in the wilderness,” finally show up on the page. It’s like a quickening as the writer comes alive in his or her own story. Readers can also feel this inner alchemy of storytelling that is part skill, part magic, and part sheer devotion to the craft. I feel a shared joy when a writer awakens to the transformative power of creating a well-written story. It wakes up the writer and the reader. Storytelling makes us human. In the end, all we really possess is our story.
KA: Thank you so very much, Brenda, for taking the time to visit with us today. This is an incredible story rich with imagery; undersea fantasy and otherworld creation, yet packs a very powerful message. This is a must read! You can order your copy of The Drowning World as a paperback or an ebook on all platforms or visit Brenda on her website: athttp://www.BrendaPetersonBooks.com
Brenda is giving away two free signed books as part of our author promotional through June to all who participate in our co-blog contest. To win you can either leave a comment, question on our blog or like our FB for http://www.alittlesomethingtochewon or So Many Books, Here’s Mine in FB
The New Wave for
Women and Girls: IN
Mermaids, OUT Vampires
Posted: 01/23/2013 8:03 pm
Why are mermaids edging out vampires in our pop culture, especially for
young women? When I first began my mermaid series, The Drowning
World, in 2003, there were few tail flukes in current film or fiction.