Topic: What inspired you to write the novel we're spotlighting? And what was the one part of it the most challenging?
Many people ask about my inspiration for writing Drowning Mermaids, but the answer is not simple and easy to explain. A writer uses everything in their life for inspiration; there are always stories rattling around in his or her skull. I used to imagine scenes while listening to my iPod on long bus rides to school or work, and nowadays I often imagine dialogue while driving. When situations in my own life don’t go as planned, I often feel the need to rewrite them with an outcome more perfectly to my liking. When friends tell me stories about important events in their lives, I listen carefully and sometimes manage to work them into my writing.
My friend Samantha was a huge inspiration for the character Aazuria in my Sacred Breath series, and not just because she has nearly drowned on three separate occasions. (One of those times involved a giant plastic octopus—such a memorable visual!) Samantha is the bravest woman I know, randomly traveling to exotic foreign countries just to explore and learn about different cultures. I have always wanted to go with her, but I have never been able to afford the time away from work. She is very much a lady of the water, and while I was working on Drowning Mermaids, she was having dangerous adventures scuba diving in Thailand. She got a mermaid tattoo after a near-death experience during which she felt mermaids take her hands and lead her down into the deep. She described it as being peaceful, and even said that she thought death by water was the best way to go. I was so moved by her story that I knew I needed to use the scene in my novel.
Of course, there were many challenges along the way. I had planned well in advance to set aside time to write nonstop in late 2011; all the inspiration in the world will be useless if one does not make time to transform the shapeless thoughts floating around inside one’s brain into concrete words. It is almost amusing if I look back now to when I first began writing Drowning Mermaids, for I felt like I had to fight my readers for the privilege to work on the story. I had been working on another series, Thirty Minutes to Heartbreak, for a while, and no one wanted me to pause to work on a different project. It was challenging to find beta readers or find encouragement, and I felt very alone in the project.
On September 22nd, 2011, I posted a snippet of writing on my fan page as a teaser, and my fan copied and pasted it into a comment, changing Aazuria’s name to “Para” (the main character of my other story) and declaring it fixed. At the time this greatly bothered me, but now it is somewhat ironic; that same reader is now probably the biggest fan of the Sacred Breath series! I recently reminded her of that incident, and she was rather embarrassed.
It’s been almost a year since then, but looking back on those difficult beginning moments makes me smile. It just reminds me of how far I’ve come, and how much it was worth it to fight past the naysayers and battle to the finish line of Drowning Mermaids. I often did take breaks to work on the story that everyone wanted, but it would get me out of the mood and set me back for several weeks. By the time I was finishing up Boundless Sea in May 2012 (the third book in the Sacred Breath series) I had at least five beta readers giving me feedback as I wrote. I have never felt such support and enthusiasm for my work, and I realized that I had needed to prove myself and show readers that I deserved their faith before they could place it in me. Now, things are much better and becoming easier every day. As my readers gain confidence in me, I also gain confidence in myself.
Nadia will giving away an eBook copy of Drowning Mermaids to one randomly drawn commenter at every stop.