Last year, in between wrapping up edits on PPP and starting work on ELEGY, I got this idea for a mermaid story. I wanted to explore the myth in a modern-day setting and write about a teenager who moves to a town on the coast. He learns that not only are the mermaids real, but that they seem to be exacting revenge on his family for reasons hidden in his grandfather's shady past. I sketched out a story plan in my notebook, but that was as far as I got because 1) I wanted to work on ELEGY, and 2) mermaid stories seemed to be hot at the moment and I didn't think mine would really stand out.
Then, in October, I flew to Hawaii for a family event. My aunt and uncle live on Oahu, just a short drive from the southern coast of the island, so we spent a lot of time on the beach. I remembered thinking it was funny that people brought stuff to do - books, magazines, laptops - because lying on a towel with your feet in the sand and staring for hours at the ocean seemed so completely enough.
One night, my cousins and I returned to our hotel and decided to go out in search of a drink or two, then hang out at the hot tub. But the bar we had visited earlier - which made the most amazing piña coladas - was closed, and so was every other bar/restaurant on the property. Undaunted (and not ready to sleep just yet), we decided to just go sit on the beach for a while.
The resort itself was well-lit, but there was no moon that night and the adjoining beach was dark and empty. All of the colors blended together: the shaded beige of the sand, the endless deep navy of the sky, and the water turned black by night that we could only hear but not quite see.
What an experience that was - to feel as though we were not that far from the other side of the world (Google Earth told us we were facing Australia). I felt very small, listening to the ocean. How vast and terrible and mysterious it seemed. How much we still didn't know about what lay beneath it. I thought about all that it had seen over the centuries, and how many secrets it kept, and how many legends and fairy tales had been born from that mystery.
Well, I flew home and continued to query and write, but I couldn't get that mermaid story out of my mind. I had promised myself that FOTL would be my next big project, but something urged me to give this new idea a chance.
And then, one day, I heard this music on Pandora (on my Howard Shore playlist, which you should add if you like movie scores because there are some fantastic soundtracks to be found).
I was working when it came on, typing away without really listening, and then that gorgeous, haunting soprano caught my attention (Hila Plittman... look her up, she won a Grammy and her voice is AMAZING. I think she also sang on the "Da Vinci Code" soundtrack).
"Mermaids" is so creepy and atmospheric, and every time I listen to it, I think about sitting by the ocean that night. It has convinced me to give my mermaid story another chance, as soon as I get ELEGY off to my CPs (sometime this week!) and do some heavy lifting on FOTL first, of course!
Give it a try and let me know what you think. Is it dark, evil mermaid story-writing material?