Monday, April 9, 2012

Underwater Romance

I am in the process of broadening my horizons with my paranormal creatures. For the time being I've buried my vampires and caged my were-beasts, and turned my attention to the creatures of the sea. My new Work-in-Progress features mermaids, mermen and shape-shifting sea creatures in  both an underwater adventure and the ability to walk on land.

As I was brainstorming out my concept, I thought that I'd do some research and although mermaids are popular, they are not always good.

According to "The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures" by John and Caitlin Matthews:
"Perhaps the most famous of the many magical creatures of the sea, the general character of a mermaid is well defined. According to these traditions, mermaids are like beautiful maidens from the waist up, with the tail of a fish below. They carry a comb and a mirror and are often to be seen combing their long, beautiful hair and singing with irresistible sweetness on a rock beside a sea. 
But mermaids have a darker side. They lure young men to their death and their appearance presages storms and disasters. According to such beliefs, mermaids not only bring misfortunes but also provoke them, and they avidly seek human lives, either drowning men or devouring them. They are said to be born without souls, and the only way they may obtain one is by marrying a human."

According to the earliest Celtic descriptions, they can be 160 feet in length with hair 18 feet long, fingers 3-feet long and a 7-foot nose!

In every "mermaid" search, the tale of the Little Mermaid came up, but when I read the real story by Hans Christian Andersen, I was shocked by the original story. While the concept was the same, that the young mermaid fell in love with a prince, they events were not so happy.

In the original version that I read, the little mermaid was only 15-years-old when she fell in love with the prince after she rescued him and dragged him to land. In order to be gifted legs by the sea witch, her tongue was cut off and when she did have legs, every step that she took caused her agonizing pain. Despite being unable to speak, the prince developed a soft spot for her, but eventually chose to marry a girl that found him on the beach.

When the prince announced the marriage, the little mermaid was heart-broken. Her sisters showed up on the beach to try to save her life. They had given the sea witch their long beautiful hair in exchange for a dagger that the little mermaid was supposed to use to stab the prince through the heart to avoid being killed for failing to win his heart. The little mermaid decided that she loved the prince too much and opted for death instead. She turned into the pearly foam on the waves.

Personally, I like the Disney story of The Little Mermaid better as I'm a sucker for happily-ever-afters.

After deciding to write a mermaid/underwater romance book, I've being doing a lot of research not only on sea animals, world building and mythology. I also like to check out other authors that have opted to write about mermaid/underwater books, but the list that I found is short, are there any mermaid or underwater sea books that you can recommend?

Thanks for reading!

R.J. Garside


Marsha A. Moore said...

I like the older tales, where authors were free from the HEA endings. I spent a lot of years reading classics and was shocked when I first discovered that in genre fiction romances had to have that HEA. I think that's very stilted and other types of endings can be very beautiful and thought-provoking. Great post!

Liv said...

I've read a couple books about selkies, but not mermaids/mermen. Most recently I read a book called The Selkie Spell by Sophie Moss that I liked. It was a romance - with a HEA - but the setting & characters were fun, and it was an interesting use of the mythology.

rj.garside said...

Hi Marsha,

I have to agree with you that happily-ever-afters should not be mandatory. Sometimes there are other endings but as authors our hands are tied to what we really want to write. It can stifle our creativity. Thanks for the comment!


rj.garside said...

Hi Liv,

Thanks for the book recommendation, I will have to check it out.

Thanks for the comment! Happy reading!


Melanie said...

It's not a novel, but a web comic. Check out Sailor Twain. Among all the comments there are references to other mermaid stories and sources.

rj.garside said...

Thanks Melanie! I will have to check that out.


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