Interview with Carolyn Turgeon, author of Mermaid + 5 Copy Giveaway

Passages to the Past is very excited to bring you an interview with the charming Carolyn Turgeon, author of the equally charming new book, Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale!  
Carolyn has also graciously offered up 5 copies of Mermaid to PTTP's readers, so be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of the interview.

1. What inspired you to write a retelling of the little mermaid story?

Well, when I was in the final editing stages with my US publisher for my last book, Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story, an editor from the UK swooped in and bought the book, and asked what else I was working on. I sent her a list, and at the bottom was a one-line idea for a book about a mermaid. And she bought it! So I put aside what I actually was working on, and I tried a few ideas before going back to the original Hans Christian Andersen story, which is so strange and dark I wasn’t sure what I could do with it at first. Eventually, though, I decided to tell the story of the princess who barely appears in the story but winds up with the prince at the end, and to tell it alongside the story of the mermaid herself… so that the book becomes as much about the relationship between the two women as it is about their relationships with the prince. And because I was already contrasting the worlds of the human princess and the little mermaid, I decided to set the whole book in the past and not complicate it more by going between the past and present (as I did in Godmother). So now it’s this big medieval love triangle with castles and convents and kings and princesses and wars and mermaids.

2. What type of research did you conduct for the writing of Mermaid?

I did a lot of reading about medieval convents and castles and tried very hard to figure out what daily life would have been like, felt like, tasted like, smelled like, for those who lived in them. Which is hard, really, since most medieval history books don’t focus on those kinds of details at all, especially daily life as lived by women. But I did the best I could and made up the rest. I also did a little looking around at life at the bottom of the sea, and read a bit of mermaid lore, and read the Hans Christian Andersen little mermaid over and over, to pluck out as many details as possible to expand on. But for the most part when it comes to mermaids and the like, you just have to make it up and make it feel as real as possible.

3. I read on your website that your book Godmother has been optioned for a movie! Congratulations, that must be so thrilling for you! Can you tell us a bit about it and will you be playing a big role in the movie making process?

There is not a whole lot to tell! Godmother has also been optioned, twice actually, and is now with a big studio in France, and Mermaid was just optioned last month by Sony. Which apparently surprised my film agent because there are so many other mermaid projects in development right now. But with both books/movies, I am very separate from the process and don’t know a whole lot about what’s going on! Which is fine with me. I like controlling the little worlds of my books; being involved in movie-making seems much more overwhelming and frustrating.

4. Who are your writing influences?

Old Italian literature, like Dante and his circle and those wonderful Boccaccio stories full of tricksters and thieves, and also Verga and all that sensual crazy over-the-top Sicilian tragedy. (I studied Italian literature as an undergrad and medieval Italian poetry in graduate school.) I love the magic realists, too, Marquez especially, and other fanciful fiction, like Virginia Woolf’s Orlando and Italo Calvino’s CosmiComics. And I’ve always liked old crime fiction, especially the brutality of James M. Cain, the stylishness of Raymond Chandler, the elegant dreadfulness of Patricia Highsmith. And then a lot of music, I’d say, has probably shaped my sensibility as much as anything. Like Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave and Jonathan Richman, all singers I fell in love with as a teenager and love just as much 20 years (ok more than 20 years) later, all of whom write lyrics that are beautiful and sad and strange and sometimes very funny. I’ve been influenced by a lot of film as well. At one point I watched every film noir I could get my hands on, and lots of sad beautiful weepy foreign films, movies like The Hairdresser’s Husband, which is very romantic and devastating, or Picnic at Hanging Rock, which is creepy and sad and gorgeous, like an old fairytale come to life. My first book, Rain Village, was inspired directly by the film Wings of Desire, actually, the beautiful woman in white wings swinging back and forth on the trapeze.

5. What can your fans expect next from you?

My first children’s book—a middle-grade novel—comes out this summer, I think in August. It’s called The Next Full Moon and is about a 12-year-old girl who starts growing feathers and eventually discovers her mother was/is a swan maiden. It looks like I’ll be writing a non-fiction mermaid book as well, based in part on my blog iamamermaid.com and this article I wrote on how to become a mermaid yourself [http://thehairpin.com/2011/03/five-ways-to-become-a-mermaid/]. And I’m trying to finish this thriller I’ve had on the back burner forever, and I want to do a novel about Weeki Wachee Springs and a YA book about a drowning pool. So… lots of things!

6. How do you feel your writing has developed since your first novel, Rain Village?

I think I’ve become much more efficient and comfortable in crafting a whole novel. Writing has always been easy for me line by line, but I had a lot of learning to do about how to put a whole book together and tell stories with beginnings, middles and ends. Mermaid took me a year to write where Rain Village took ten years off and on, and Godmother took five. And that was lack of efficiency and outlining more than anything else! I figured out Mermaid before I wrote it, so that saved a ton of time. I couldn’t have done that before getting through two other novels the hard way, though! So I hope I’m getting better and better as I go!

7. If you could read a book again for the first time, which one would it be and why?

Probably One Hundred Years of Solitude, a book that burned itself into me when I was a teenager. It’s just so beautiful and vivid and wonderful and makes the whole world seem new. I would also love to be a kid again, opening one of Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books for the first time, or a Little House on the Prairie novel, or a Nancy Drew or Bobbsey Twins. Those were books that completely transported me as a kid and absolutely made me want to be a writer.

8. And the last question is one I like to end an interview with...what is your advice for aspiring writers?

I just wrote this to a young writer:

Work hard and get as good as possible. Listen very carefully and thoughtfully to criticism but trust your own gut and voice as well; this is an art, I think, so learn it as well as you can. Don't get defensive and don't be shy, be merciless when it comes to your craft and get as good as you can get! Remember and believe that you can learn anything, and that you can always get better. Seek out mentors and peers to share your work with, whom you trust and who can help you, and rely on them, use them, and give them as much as you take. Reading your peers' work and critiquing it, discussing what works and what doesn't and why, is such a good way to learn, and these relationships will be crucial to you throughout your artistic life. And just: be fearless, be confident, trust your gut, be authentic, get to know people and be kind to people and don't ever step on them or use them, "network" but remember that everyone is just a person you can love and learn from and remember, too, that it always always comes down to the work. So that's the main thing: find your voice, use it, develop it, perfect it, always be open and always continue learning and always work on getting better, digging deeper, finding the most beautiful truth you can and expressing it as clearly and authentically as possible. =)

ABOUT THE BOOK

SYNOPSIS

Two sheltered princesses, one wounded warrior; who will live happily ever after?

Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father's greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom.

Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart….  

A surprising take on the classic tale, Mermaid is the story of two women with everything to lose. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, it will make you think twice about the fairytale you heard as a child, keeping you in suspense until the very last page. 

For more information please visit Carolyn Turgeon's WEBSITE and BLOG.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address.
- Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY!
- For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting on Facebook.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on April 6th.


GOOD LUCK TO ALL!


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89 comments:

  1. hm, I don't join giveaways very often anymore, but since I was planning to buy this book anyway I might as well try my luck. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. The book sounds extremely interesting and certainly a "newer" idea for a novel. Little Mermaid has always been my favorite childhood movie - I cry everytime. I was actually surprised to learn there were a lot of mermaid movies in the works.

    Please enter me in the giveaway.

    mikowski@bu.edu

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  3. What a beautiful story. I hope it will be available here

    Jill
    jillblee@ncable.net.au

    ReplyDelete
  4. I loved GODMOTHER and can't wait to read MERMAID! I hope I win! Plus, the author is a fellow Penn Stater!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have this book on my wishlist! :)
    Like the author, I loved One Hundred Years of Solitude.

    Tweeted
    http://twitter.com/#!/Misha_1989/status/52530223832506368

    FB
    http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=135162679889736&id=630067989

    mishamary@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. I would love to win this book. It sounds so facinating.
    I sidebarred it at http://themusingsofabookjunkie.blogspot.com/
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway and great author interview.
    Allisonmharper@hotmail.com

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  7. this sounds like a great read and a different one to what I have been reading lately. count me in.

    grams of 20

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  8. I join giveaways all the time since it is my only way of getting the latest books so please count me in. Thank you for making it possible for overseas readers as well - much appreciated.

    mystica123athotmaildotcom

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm curious now. I want to read this book. Sounds interestiong.

    qladyhawke at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  10. What an interesting post! I have not heard of this book yet, but it will certainly be on my radar now! :-)

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    Amy
    tiger_fan_1997 AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have been curious about this book...the cover drew me in. Great interview!

    I posted in my sidebar.

    msjessicamae(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  12. This book looks great. I'm adding it to my 'To Be Read' list.

    I shared this on my twitter as well.

    twitter.com/kdaze10
    kimbers10[at]yahoo[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks so much for the giveaway! I'm dying to get my hands on this book!

    daisyjdebruin(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sounds like an interesting twist on the classic story and I like the idea of the medieval setting.

    Please enter me in the giveaway and thanks for opening it to worldwide entries.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have always liked the story of the little mermaid. I would love to see how this one is.
    twoofakind12@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. I watched the Disney movie with my granddaughter, and now I'd love to share this book with her. Thanks for the giveaway.
    lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

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  17. Would love to win! vera@luxuryreading.com

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  18. Oh my gosh when I read the book's synopsis I just melted. The Little Mermaid is my favorite Disney movie and when I was a little girl I used to pretend I was Ariel. This book sounds so beautiful combining my favorite fairytale with my favorite genre of all time! Thanks so much for the giveaway!

    I tweeted via share buttons

    taylor_ward11@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. This is on my TBR! Hope I win!

    amberr610[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  20. I really want to read this book. I would love to read about Mermaids. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'd love to read this- thanks for the giveaway!

    Rachelhwallen@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks for the chance!

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I haven't read it yet, but a friend of mine did, and loved it. Really want to read it!

    email: asma.aljeelani (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  24. This book sounds AMAZING! I just tweeted abuot the contest here: http://twitter.com/#!/RandHrShipper1

    Good luck everyone!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Looks like a fantastic read!

    freda.mans[at]gmail.com

    +1 tweet; http://twitter.com/#!/fredalicious/status/52753163765288962

    ReplyDelete
  26. This book has been on my wish list for a while. It would be great to win it! Thanks!

    Margaret (goodreads)
    singitm@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  27. Sounds like a really good book with an unusual story. Would love to win a copy!

    conniecape@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  28. The cover is stunning.
    I shared on:
    facebook
    twitter
    google buzz

    thank you
    kaiminani at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  29. Great interview! I would love to win this book.

    Rosanne E. Lortz
    roseLZ18(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  30. I definitely want to read Mermaid and would love to win a copy! Thanks for hosting this giveaway. :)

    jmartinez0415 [at] gmail [dot] com

    I tweeted this too: http://twitter.com/#!/crazylilcuban/status/52808985597853698

    ReplyDelete
  31. I cannot wait to read this! When I was young one of my favorite movies was a live action/cartoon of the actual story of The Little Mermaid. I remember she had to cut her hair in order to stay on dry land for a little longer and, when she saw the prince loved someone else, she had to either kill him or become sea foam. In this movie she loved him too much to kill him and so became the sea foam we see today. I was struck by the power of her love even as a kid and that movie has always had a special place in my heart (much more than the cleaned up Disney version). Thanks for the opportunity to win this!!!
    candc320@gmail.com

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  32. Thanks so much for the chance to win this, love when it's international. Sounds like a beautiful, intriuging read
    My email:
    dmsires@activ8.net.au

    ReplyDelete
  33. This book sounds amazing and I love the cover
    email: bookflamereviews@gmail.com

    +1 fb-http://www.facebook.com/pages/Book-Flame/190685457638977

    +1 blog sidebar-www.bookflame.blogspot.com

    +1 twitter-http://twitter.com/#!/bookflamereview/status/53126992396169216

    ReplyDelete
  34. So excited to read this novel!!!

    delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  35. Tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/mrsshukra/status/53150975564857344

    delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  36. What an interesting premise. I will add this to my tumbling TBR list.
    Love & Hugs,
    Pam
    pk4290(at)comcast(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  37. http://tinyurl.com/6g4jyom
    Tweeted there

    Also added it to FB at Anne Fescharek
    "The Little Mermaid" was my first exposure to loving a tearjerker. It was the sad story of a tender hearted beautiful girl who gave up her voice, lived in excrutiating pain with each step and eventually gave her life for a love that was not returned. What woman cannot relate to this tragic story? I would love to see Ms. Turgeon interpretation of this tearful tale. annfesATyahooDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  38. This book has been on my brain since I first read about it on your blog a few weeks ago. I want it so bad! I know this is going to be a heartbreaking tale. I can't wait to read Turgeon's other stories. Thanks for the introduction!

    ReplyDelete
  39. this is a lovely one for my wishlist too!
    i like raymond chandler's style of writing as well. such wonderful noir.
    vvb32 at yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  40. I love retellings of classic fairy tales. It's so fun to see a beloved story shown in a new light!

    abookishaffair(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  41. This sounds so good! I've not read a lot of mermaid books, but the few I have I've enjoyed. The fact this one revisits a fairy tale? Oh yes, please count me in! :o)

    quarterback.girl[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  42. +1 for tweeting:
    http://twitter.com/RivkaBelle/status/53511619875057664

    quarterback.girl[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  43. +1 Posted on my blog's fb page!

    http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=215605938456628&id=133066460060923

    quarterback.girl[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  44. I am very excited to read this book!
    minoubazaar AT gmail.com

    Thanks
    Meenoo

    ReplyDelete
  45. Would love to win this one! And what a gorgeous cover.
    laura at laurafabiani dot com

    ReplyDelete
  46. I can tell this giveaway is going to be very popular! I really want to read this book.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Oh I really enjoyed Rain Village and Godmother even though the stories were a little bittersweet. Beautiful. I'd love to re-read One Hundred Years of Solitude as well. I read it when I was 18 and just graduated from high school.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    Amanda
    libraryofmyown at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  48. I shared this on Facebook as well, thanks Amy!

    Amanda

    Libraryofmyown at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  49. I also tweeted @vegasbookgirl

    Thanks!

    Amanda
    libraryofmyown at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  50. This sounds like such a great story. I've been seeing really good write-ups about it. Please enter me in the drawing.

    Jules
    onebookshy at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  51. I like fairy tale retellings. Thanks so much for making this an international giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  52. Would LOVE to win this!

    I tweeted:
    http://twitter.com/#!/starmetaloak/status/54530404421599233

    And linked to it in my sidebar:
    http://starmetaloak.blogspot.com/

    email: starmetaloak(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  53. Wonderfully interview. Congratulations on your books being picked up for movies. I hope they stay true to the books and do not change them much. Interesting that you write in so many genre. They all sound interesting. I wish I were still ordering for the children's section of the library.
    I like the different approach you have taken to the story and look forward to reading it.

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  54. I tweeted the giveaway as pbbearclaw at 12:17 PM on 4/3.

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  55. I posted the giveaway by the share button on Facebook as Patricia Barraclough at 12:18 PM on 4/3.

    librarypat AT comcast DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  56. What a great interview! I especially liked the letter of writing advice. I'm going to remember it, as I'm working on my first novel myself. The book sounds amazing. Thanks for the giveaway!

    tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/truebookaddict/status/54619821744201728

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/michellestockardmiller/posts/140770475993428

    truebookaddictATgmailDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  57. This book looks so good! Thank you for giving us the opportunity to win it! Thanks! :)
    Apereiraorama[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  58. This looks good and I love the interview. You always have such good books on you page. I really don't know what I'd do without you here girl. Please enter me for this book.
    huggs,
    Terra

    terraontop57@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  59. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the interview and now having the opportunity to enter to win is icing on the cake! Thank you so much for this opportunity to enter to win.

    Cheers!
    Jennifer

    thimbles3 (at) hotmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  60. Great interview. I would really enjoy reading Carolyn's book. Please enter me. Thanks!

    ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  61. Thanks for the giveaway! I love retellings!
    susanna dot pyatt at student dot rcsnc dot org

    Tweet:
    http://twitter.com/#!/SusieBookworm/status/55037719071555584

    ReplyDelete
  62. Sounds like a great book! Please enter me. Thanks.
    pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  63. would enjoy reading this novel...thanks for the chance :)

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  64. I have read so many delightful reviews about this enchanting book!
    Love the cover...
    Many thanks, Cindi
    jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  65. "Facebook Post!"
    http://www.facebook.com/cindi512#!/cindi512/posts/136766869728011...
    Again, many thanks!
    Cindi
    jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  66. Sounds so magical! Would love to read it...enjoyed the interview very much.

    forkitt_cj[at]hotmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  67. The Little Mermaid has always been a favourite of mine. This should be an interesting read as it also focuses on the other woman who actually marries the prince!

    malena_u2@hotmail.com

    tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/malenaboleyn/status/55281494834425856

    ReplyDelete
  68. I have been hearing a lot of good things about this book and would love a chance to win it, thanks for the oppurtunity.

    annesbookgarden@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  69. This story has always been a favorite of mine. Would love to read this retelling.

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  70. I adore the Disney version of The Little Mermaid and have been fascinated with mermaids since I was a little girl. I would love to read this book.

    Amy // amyismyfriend at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  71. +1 Tweeted https://twitter.com/#!/ArtsyBookishGal/status/55456899994361858

    Amy // amyismyfriend at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  72. FB'd: http://www.facebook.com/#!/permalink.php?story_fbid=152522918144651&id=543401866

    Amy // amyismyfriend at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  73. mermaids and medieval settings? What a brilliant combination. I can't wait to get my hands on this book! Please count me in!

    hlcraig84@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  74. I have always liked the Little Mermaid story, though I prefer the one I watched as a child where she turns to sea foam at the end more than the disney version. I am always interested in in new twist on classic tales and would love to check this book out. Thanks!

    mlkelly_1226@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  75. Great interview and I would never have thought about reading this storyline and now I'm very interested ;) Thanks for the giveaway. Fondly, Roberta
    rlphilbr13@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  76. Just shared giveaway on facebook.
    rlphilbr13@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  77. Just tweeted the giveaway.
    rlphilbr13@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  78. Have added this giveaway link to my sidebar.
    http://con-tain-it.typepad.com
    rlphilbr13@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  79. I can't wait to read this!
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  80. I can't wait to read this!
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  81. tweet @mamabunny13
    http://twitter.com/#!/mamabunny13/status/55659704420020225
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  82. I shared this giveaway on facebook-mamabunny shelor
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  83. It sounds like a great read, have tweeted your giveaway http://twitter.com/#!/Top_cat81/status/55710704606519296

    mail2kat_s(at)yahoo.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  84. Thanks for the giveaway!
    musicalhobbit at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  85. "The Little Mermaid" was always one of my favorite fairy tales -- and I ♥ the Disney movie! I would ♥♥ the opportunity to read this book!

    BornajhawkATaolDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  86. Tweeted giveaway: http://twitter.com/#!/MamaHendo3/status/55760737804632064

    BornajhawkATaolDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  87. Posted giveaway on FB: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=201356406553873&id=1336711064

    BornajhawkATaolDOTcom

    ReplyDelete
  88. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Clarissa Pereira
    claroxide@yahoo.co.in

    ReplyDelete

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