I’m excited to have a really intriguing YA title today for everyone to take a look at!
I think you’ll agree that there’s a lot to love about this title, and the author is here today with an interview! Before that, though, let’s take a look at the book!
Title: The Song of the Mermaid
Author: Melissa Davies
Published: January 15th, 2012
Genre: YA Mystery Adventure
Recommended Age: 11+
“Yesterday morning, local boat-builder Mr Roger Trevithick was found dead at the foot of the cliffs on the Zennor Coast…”
When Stef Brightbay goes to visit her Aunt May in the village of Zennor in Cornwall, she expects to have an uneventful trip. But when her mother persuades her to research their family history and she begins to uncover a tragic event that took place there in 1812, she is determined to find out more. She also learns of the local folklore; the legend of Matthew Trewhella who was enticed to his death by a beautiful mermaid.
Why is her aunt so uncommunicative? What secret is being hidden by a strange local family who seem to want to put a stop to her investigation? And even more mysteriously, why are unusual things happening at her aunt’s cottage?
With the help of sea-salt fisherman Arthur and his faithful chocolate Labrador, Stef pieces together the past and realises that a frightening parallel is unraveling in the present day. Will they be able to take action before it’s too late?
SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?
MD: I don’t have much of a process – I generally wait until some inspiration comes to me like a place, event, character or theme that I decide I want to write about, and then I think about what the plot could be! It’s probably the wrong way of going about it but I find I lose motivation if I sit and plan too much before starting to write. I also need to have an abundance of cups of tea to keep me going.
SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?
MD: Nothing that dramatic I’m afraid! I usually get ideas while reading other books and then they loosely develop in my mind until I actively decide to formulate them properly and get them down on paper. For example, my inspiration for The Song of the Mermaid came from a book I was reading called The Lore of the Land about myths and legends of Britain, and the thought struck me that some of those superstitions could be good theme for a novel.
SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?
MD: I have too many favorites to choose and I enjoy so many different genres. However Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier is particularly memorable because it was the one that encouraged me to write my own book (I was dipping in and out of The Lore of the Land around the same time so they’re both responsible really). Something about the style of writing, the descriptions and the characters was just very compelling and made me want to write my own story.
SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?
MD: Children’s/Young Adults fantasy adventure. Although I love mysteries and dual time stories, I think fantasy adventures would be more fun if I could only write those forever, and your imagination is the limit.
SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?
MD: The frustrating thing is writing convincing dialogue. I admire all authors who have managed to get it right, because for me it’s the hardest thing. The only real downside is finding that people don’t necessarily like the same stories as you do, and accepting that not everyone will like your book. If that’s going to bother you, you either have to deliberately write in a way that will appeal to a larger number of people, or understand that your book may not be incredibly popular but you’re writing it for your own enjoyment in a way – I veer towards the latter of the two!
SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?
MD: I would go into one of my other books, The Guardians of Rainbow Tower, because it’s a magical adventure for younger children and the characters get to talk to a badger and a dragon and it’s very happy and colorful and nothing too terrible happens. That said, nothing too terrible happens in any of my stories so they’re pretty safe for anyone…
SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?
MD: I doubt it’s possible because it’s hard to know what might become popular at any given time; sometimes a book will just be in the right place at the right time and really take off. I wouldn’t want to be assured of success because that way there’s no room for improvement or the satisfaction of developing your writing over time.
SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?
MD: It’s not that easy! It’s certainly possible, but don’t expect it to happen overnight. These days, it’s lucky that people can self publish on Amazon for example, like I have, and that you can attract readers even though the book isn’t available in a physical print edition. However the book still has to be worth reading, and you have to work hard to publicize it because of the sheer number of competing books out there.
SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.
MD: Even though my interpretation of the mystery/adventure genre is a simple, light story, it doesn’t mean that it’s not worth reading. I believe everyone should be encouraged to enjoy reading, even if it’s not the books forced onto you at school that people think you ‘should’ be reading. It doesn’t have to be obscure or overly sophisticated and literary in order to be enjoyable; there’s nothing wrong with reading a fast-paced mystery like mine with a cup of tea for a bit of escapism from a busy lifestyle.
SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?
MD: Having people recognize my name at all would be an achievement in itself! Ideally I would want them to think of fun, innocent mystery stories that put a bit of adventure and enjoyment into their day and that they don’t have to take too seriously.
SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!
MD: I’m not working on anything right now, but my latest book available for Amazon Kindle is The Guardians of Rainbow Tower which I hope to work on publicizing more soon. It’s a fantasy adventure for children and young adults, although people of any age can enjoy it. Reminiscent of Enid Blyton tales, it begins in a holiday camp in the North East of England in the 1950s. On the outskirts of the camp lies a mysterious tower, thought to be long abandoned – until one summer.
Wilfred, Emma and Pete Winterthorpe are enjoying their holiday with their parents when one night, they are awoken by a mysterious rumbling accompanied by unusual lights shining from the top of the ancient, ramshackle tower. What, or rather WHO they discover there, soon leads them into an adventure they could never have expected. Their quest takes them into magical places they never knew existed, to meet people and animals they would never have imagined in their wildest dreams…
Thanks for the input, Melissa! She’s also been kind enough to include an excerpt from her book for all of us to take a look at!
Once outside, Stef inhaled deeply, feeling her lungs expand and her mind sharpen. It was strange how rarely she actually remembered to breathe – just to stand in the open air and take deep, cold, sparkling breaths of clean, clear air. It felt so invigorating. She could taste sea salt on her lips even through the mist, and it wasn’t so thick that she couldn’t quite easily see where she was walking. Even so, she stayed far from the edge of the cliffs and strolled in the same direction as yesterday, towards the church and the rest of the village. She wondered if she might bump into Hayley again but it didn’t look like anyone else was around as far as she could see, and the mist gave sounds a muffled quality, making her feel like she was wrapped in a cocoon that she couldn’t get out of, and which nobody else could enter. It was a pleasant experience for a while, but after about ten minutes it grew a little eerie, and Stef shivered, beginning to feel the cold, and pulled her scarf more tightly around her neck and folded her arms to keep in the warmth. She turned to head back to the cottage. Her eyes darted around in panic. The mist had thickened and all she could see of the way she had come was a swirling cloud of white. She tentatively walked a few paces and waved her arms in front of her but it made no impact. She turned back again – she had been able to see ahead of her without many problems so maybe she could continue towards the church and wait there until it cleared. But the fog had fallen thickly all around her suddenly and silently, and she was no longer sure in which direction she was facing. Breathing heavily, she stopped and tried to remain calm. She knew that the most important thing was not to walk blindly, in case she roamed too close to the cliff-edge in her disorientation. She suddenly heard a sound to her right and she spun uncertainly.
The mist was silent.
She sank down to her knees and crawled carefully in the direction she thought that Mermaid Cottage should be. Although she wasn’t totally sure where she was going, she knew it was a lot safer to feel with her hands in front of her on the ground than to go blundering off on foot as she might easily trip. Her knee scraped across a sharp stone and she swore, feeling a trickle of blood. Her jeans felt damp and heavy as she crawled on, her hair was plastered across her face and she breathed quickly, heart thumping. She was vaguely aware in the author’s part of her mind that she would laugh about this later, crawling through the mud not half a mile from the cottage, totally lost. But right now it was far from a joke. She knew distances could be deceptive but surely she was nearly at the cottage now? She stopped and peered around again in case the mist had lifted. It was still as thick as ever.
She thought she could hear something. Like someone speaking? No…she strained her ears, keeping her body completely still…it was like someone singing.
“What the hell?” she growled. “I’m stuck in the mist and someone is singing?”
It struck her as odd that she could actually hear anything anyway – even when she spoke aloud the sound was oddly dampened, but the voice she could hear was clear even though it was distant. She carefully turned on her knees, feeling around on the ground to steady herself, and painstakingly made her way in the direction she perceived the voice to be coming from. If someone was there, albeit someone weird enough to be singing outside in the morning, she wanted to head in the direction of civilization rather than go blundering further away. From time to time she paused and listened. The singing was definitely growing louder. It was melodic and female. She couldn’t detect any words but she was suddenly struck with the feeling that she had heard it somewhere before. In a dream! That was it – the half-remembered dream she had the night before had been about mermaids singing.
“Christ, I am really cracking up” Stef muttered, heart pounding furiously. Even underneath her coat, the hairs on her arms prickled and a chill tingled at her spine.
“I am thinking way too much about my book. I swear I’m going crazy”.
But still the voice continued, and Stef very carefully followed it, half out of curiosity and half out of desperation because right then, she had no better idea of how to find her way back. Her knees throbbed and her head ached, and the singing was now so loud it filled her ears with a haunting melody. She stopped and closed her eyes and shoved her hands over her ears to block it, crying out in frustration. The music stopped. She opened her eyes tentatively and removed her hands.
The mist was gone.
Melissa Davies is a young author who has to date released 3 books available for the Amazon Kindle. She has always enjoyed reading and writing, and loves to craft short, fast-paced adventures which are particularly aimed at young adults aged around 11 or 12 and upwards, but they have also been enjoyed by adults of all ages.
Her premise is to write stories which she would want to read herself. She feels strongly that people shouldn’t be put off reading by books which try to be too literary and obscure, so instead she focuses on the story itself, making it engaging and exciting, rather than worrying too much about using as many long words as possible. However she also refrains from including drugs, sex, swearing or excessive violence because she feels they take away so much from the plot.
Her other hobbies and interests include animal rights, veganism, healthy living and yoga, and she hopes to spend more time on creative writing and improve her work in the future.