Shea MacNamara’s life just got complicated.
After a freak tornado devastates his Oklahoma farm, the fifteen-year-old orphan is whisked away to Cape Cod. Struggling to make sense of his new surroundings, he’s trying hard to deal with feelings of abandonment… and the emotions stirred by a girl he meets along the shore.
Kae belongs to an undersea world hidden from drylanders. The daughter of royal servants, she knows the planned marriage of her Princess to the foreign King should put an end to the war between the clans. But two things stand in the way of lasting peace: the ambitions of the foreign King’s regent, and rumors of the Princess’s bastard child.
Sparks fly when she meets Shea, but could the cute drylander really be the Son of a Mermaid?
Today, I have Katie O’Sullivan with me to talk about her brand new baby, Son of a Mermaid. Stick around after the interview for a link to a Rafflecopter with cool prizes AND my review of the book.
WSR: Katie, your book is a young adult paranormal fantasy featuring mermaids. Could you tell us a little more about that?
KO: The story is set in the present on Cape Cod, where the main character is a 15-year-old boy who’s just moved to town to live with his grandmother. He’s trying to make sense of the changes in his life after the death of his father. He doesn’t know how to swim and has never even seen the ocean before, but something about the crashing waves calls to him. He befriends a girl on the beach one morning, who tells him her family visits the Cape every summer. What she doesn’t tell him is that her home is at the bottom of Nantucket Sound. And that she’s a mermaid. When Shea falls off a dock and develops gills behind his ears, the girl reveals her secret… and offers to take him to meet the mother who was forced to leave him when he was only a baby.
WSR: Who did Shea live with before his grandmother?
KO: Shea grew up on a farm in Oklahoma, far from either coast. He lived with his dad, Thomas MacNamara. Shea assumed his mom had split long ago because he was an unwanted baby – he never even realized his parents had been married! After a tornado ripped through leaving only death and destruction in its wake, his grandmother showed up out of the blue and took him back to Cape Cod with her.
WSR: Poor kid. Hopefully life is about to start looking up. Paranormal is such a vast playground. Why mermaids?
KO: I’ve always been fascinated by all things mermaid, in books, movies, artwork… and they are definitely a paranormal element that hasn’t been overdone, lol.
Living along the shore there’s always the idea of what if mermaids were real? I loved it last year when NOAA (the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) felt it necessary to release an official statement that mermaids don’t exist. Doesn’t that make you wonder… why release a definitive statement of the negative… unless you’re hiding something 😉
WSR: Hmm, very good point! So, what is your favorite mermaid book/movie/artwork?
KO: The original Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson was a book I reread many times as a kid. Part of me was glad Disney revised the ending to be a happy one – the original story was so sad. (But I still read it over and over.) My favorite mermaid movie is Splash, with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah (although Aquamarine is a runner up.) In terms of artwork, there are beautiful classical images of mermaids, and wonderful fanciful modern images as well. But. After my trip to Mexico last month, I’m kind of digging these Day of the Dead mermaids, and brought a few home…
WSR: I seriously have a friend who might squee herself to death over those mermaids! How did your family react to your publishing contract news?
KO: They’ve all been great and very supportive. My middle child has promised me a book trailer, since he recently took a music tech class and learned how to do stuff like that… but he’s 15 so I’m still waiting, lol. My daughter made my blog tour badge for me – isn’t it great how kids are so naturally tech savvy these days?
WSR: Oh, gosh. My son’s been Apple literate since he was two! It’s kind of freaky how fast they pick it up! You have kids. Plural. When do you write?
KO: We got the Microsoft Easy-Ball mouse when our oldest was 18 months old. I only just got the first iPad in our house recently and I’m not sharing, lol.
I have three teens, each very active in sports, music and drama. They’re all out of the house by 7:30 in the morning, so I have time to write and edit during the day, until school gets out at 2pm and activities start up. It’s easier (and a little scary) now that my oldest drives because he has the most after school activities, but the other two are catching up. This spring all three of them are in different sports (and the oldest is doing both track and spring soccer. Crazy!)
The house is also currently being renovated (euphemism for half-torn-down-crazy-mess) so the dogs have me up and out to walk the beach by 5 am at the latest (kind of like my character Shea – I’ve been thinking of him as I watch the sunrise each morning.)
WSR: I think Shea and my character, Matty, would get along. Both really smart. Both long to return to the farm. Both kind of socially awkward. Was Shae inspired by someone?
KO: Shea is his own character, but there are elements of both of my boys in him. He’s smart and sweet and strong and loyal… and at the same time insecure about who he is and his role in the world… I think authors who are mothers probably do this a lot, infuse their kids into characters. …And you’re right. Shea and Matty would probably get along great. I loved the shyness and insecurity Matty showed when trying to ask Iris out the first few times. Confident in what he knows. Not confident in what he feels. What your character based on someone specific?
WSR: Actually, Matty is me. Well, he’s smarter and wittier than me, but I am socially awkward. I have very few close friends. Still, I have healthy self-esteem. I imagine that a lot of kids are.
I’ve just met Kae. I love how both Shae and Kae are concerned with authority figures, yet pushing their boundaries. It feels very 15. What were you like at their age?
KO: Up until 15, I was a total rule follower. Straight arrow, athlete, honor student, all that, all through high school. Somewhere in their mid-teens, I think all kids start questioning authority and the world around them. Pushing at the edges of the envelope to see how far it will stretch. It’s part of growing up and becoming an individual. A parent’s job then becomes to let them go. And catch them if they fall.
WSR: Is Son of a Mermaid stand alone? Or is a series in the works?
KO: I’ve already signed the contract (with Crescent Moon Press) for a second book, which starts a few weeks after the end of the first book. I can envision more books about Shea and his friends as they enter the University at Atlantis, and visit some of the other oceans on the planet.
WSR: Ooh, I have to imagine there’s a lot of trouble to get into there. *wink*
In Oklahoma, kids become accustomed to storm drills. Having lived there all his life, Shea MacNamara should be used to them. Still, the strange anxiety he has during the drill remains after its over, despite the blue skies overhead. He and his best friend, John, talk about seeing a baseball game in St. Louis. Two girls fawn over the richest kid in school. From the outside, everything seems normal, even as something potent within him insists that something is very wrong. That intuition is proven correct, unfortunately, when he is pulled out of class. It wasn’t a storm drill that afternoon. A tornado did touch down nearby, and it obliterated his farm. His father was unaccounted for and presumed dead. Abandoned by his mother as a baby, fifteen-year-old Shea is now an orphan, which is how he ends up in Massachusetts with a grandmother he’s never before met.
The title of the book, Son of a Mermaid, is clue enough that Shea is no ordinary kid. He is blessed with a photographic memory, which he hides by intentionally under-scoring on tests, and he has an empathy for animals. While not exactly popular in Oklahoma, he is charming and makes friends easily. He demonstrates talent for leadership, but at the same time, he portrays natural self-consciousness. He cannot swim, but he feels drawn to the ocean. He is concerned with the authority of his elders, with rules and laws, while at the same time pushing at those same boundaries. Shae is a teenage boy…curious, impetuous, with a big heart that he gives of graciously.
Kae (pronounced Kay-ee) is very much a mirror of Shea. She is an only child of a couple who serves a mer royal family, and herself a handmaid of Princess Brynneliana. Her people have been at war for years with the Adluos, the clan from of the Southern Atlantic. The two sides have agreed to settle their differences with a good old-fashioned arranged marriage, between Princess Bryneliana, and her six-year old cousin, King Theo. Of course, where there is a political marriage, there’s bound to be plain old dirty politics, and there are shenanigans aplenty. Kae, for reasons she doesn’t understand, is told to leave Shea alone. Don’t talk to him. Don’t look at him. Forget she ever saw him. But, like Shae, she’s fifteen and prone to push at the boundaries her elders set.
Son of a Mermaid is a solid YA paranormal fantasy, with a little bit of romance, a little bit of political intrigue, and a whole lot of teenagers being teenagers. Older teens may find parts of the book predictable, but I think it will appeal greatly to middle school grades.
Content: Ocean-slang cursing. Mild kissing. Mild violence.