by Cate Masters
Once again, thanks for having me at DIK. There’s nothing better than an escape from the Dog Days of Summer! If you can’t visit in person, a book is the next best thing. :)
Someday I hope to visit Weeki Wachee, Florida, the setting for my contemporary fantasy, Surfacing, just released this month from Whiskey Creek Press.
It’s another gorgeous Florida town, although I’d never heard of it before researching mermaids. Weeki Wachee Springs is home to the world-famous mermaid show, where women have performed underwater since 1947. Almost as amazing as the wreckers, these performers must train at a mermaid camp for these physically rigorous shows. I’m not a particularly strong swimmer, so the idea of being so deep underwater, with only an air hose nearby for oxygen, makes me nervous just thinking about it!
According to my research, the Weeki Wachee Spring is so deep, no one’s ever found the bottom. The spring’s underwater current is so strong, it can loosen a scuba diver’s mask. And yet these women perform synchronized ballet moves, and shows like The Little Mermaid (of course!)
But Surfacing isn’t about a Weeki Wachee mermaid. Not of the human variety, at least. The tiny town and its unusual residents came up in my research, and I thought it would be a fun place to have a real mermaid surface. Because mermaids love handsome guys who can sing, this particular mermaid is drawn to a down-and-out indie rock musician who comes to Weeki Wachee, where his grandfather lives. Because the hero’s a musician, the story allowed me to include some references to music I find inspiring, or amazing. Interestingly, Weeki Wachee’s history has musical ties, too – Elvis visited back in the day. He has a voice to make any mermaid fall in love.
Weeki Wachee Springs not only has the amazing mermaid show, but a full amusement park, where peacocks roam free. The park is complete with a Disneyesque Wilderness Cruise. On these river cruises, people see all sorts of creatures – pelicans, giant turtles, the occasional manatee, and alligators. Maybe even a real mermaid. :)
Another really fun story to write, Surfacing introduced me to the widespread lore of mermaids. Countries from all over the world have their own legends, from ancient times to supposed sightings as late as the 1950s. So it’s easy to see how some might become obsessed with the mers. Especially a disgruntled Weeki Wachee employee who wants to find an authentic mermaid to make a fortune.
Here’s the story blurb:
AJ Dillon is trouble. The former lead singer of an indie band has no home, no money and no future. His grandfather is the only relative willing to take another chance on him. AJ arrives in Weeki Wachee, Florida, with his guitar, a few clothes and a bad attitude. The only good thing about Weeki Wachee is the ocean -- the one place AJ feels at home.
Grandpa lines up a job for AJ at Weeki Wachee Springs, where beautiful women perform as mermaids. Grandpa says real mermaids exist, but AJ doesn’t believe – until he meets Cassiopeia. She helps his passion for music resurfaces. But greedy Chaz finds out about her, and threatens to kill them if AJ doesn't go along with his plan to make a fortune with a real mermaid show. Can AJ save Cassie, even if it means losing her?
An excerpt is on my web site at http://www.catemasters.com/surfacing.html You can read the first chapter at Whiskey Creek Press: http://www.whiskeycreekpress.com/chapters/Surfacing_CateMasters.shtml
Does Weeki Wachee Springs pique your interest as it did mine? I’ll give away a print copy of Surfacing to a commenter. Don’t forget to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win!