Friday, August 27, 2010

Another Florida getaway

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 You can read the first chapter at Whiskey Creek Press:

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!


Anonymous said...

Florida sounds pretty good right now. I wish I could be their instead of here going to college.

Anyways, enough wishing. Your book sounds amazing! I especially love the your book trailer. Props to whoever made it. :D

Anonymous said...

I forgot to post my e-mail. Sorry! It's:

claire frechette said...

i have heard many 'stories' about the 'real' mermaids at weeki wachee - i live in florida but never been there but have seen pix from friends - just beautiful! im setting a goal to go!
ur blurb makes me wanna read the whole book! (love a good mermaid love story....)
good luck with this book - bet its a best seller! :)

Jessica said...

It sounds like a great place to visit...I remember as a kid The Wide World of Disney has a show about those mermaids...about one who couldn't swim! That was a 'few' years ago. Funny what we remember as we get older.

Julie Lynn Hayes said...

I have been fascinated by mermaids since I was a child. I remember being on vacation in Florida, and seeing the brochures for the mermaids, and wishing I could see them. But it wasn't meant to be. Some day I would like to write about it. Your book sounds very interesting, and it makes me curious about how you handled the subject.

Cate Masters said...

Thanks Becca! I'm a DIYer, so the trailer's homemade. Lucky for me, my nephew's a great guitarist and lends me his work.

Hope you get to visit Weeki Wachee soon Claire! Wish I could go with you. :)

Jessica, National Geographic actually did a special on the Weeki Wachee mermaids a few years ago, because business had fallen and they'd become somewhat endangered! Hope they don't fall victim to the economy too.

Hope you get to write about it sometime too, Jules. They fascinate me too.

Rachel said...

I *love* the real mermaid notion of your story. I saw a TV bit once about the Florida mermaid show, and thought it sounded wonderful then. How great that you took the already cool reality and flew with it. Love it, love it, love it.

Abbie said...

I've never heard of the mermaid shows. Since I grew up watching "The Little Mermaid" it's definitely going on my list of places to visit.

abbieandpaul at hotmail dot com

Cate Masters said...

Thanks Rachel! YouTube has quite a few videos of the mermaids, and they're fascinating to watch.

Hi Abbie! Hope you get to check it out sometime too.

Unknown said...

What an interesting destination! I am definitely going to have make plans to get there. Mermaids have always fascinated me. I love the idea of people living beneath the waves, guardians of the deep.

Love the trailer, wicked cool. :) This book sounds beautifully intriguing and I am adding it to my Buy List ASAP because I have to have it no matter what. I wish you stellar success with it.

Unknown said...

Another winner to look forward to reading. I'd also love to visit this location.
Especially in the winter, Cate. Who wants to go through two feet of snow again.
Good luck with the sales.

Anonymous said...

OMG, Cate, that brings back childhood memories! Im homesick now! I went to the mermaid show when I was a child and was so fascinated that I re-dreamed about it for weeks after! I was born and raised in Florida, but now live in Arizona. I miss my home!

You chose a PERFECT setting for your book, believe me, and readers will love it! Wishing you great sales!

And raising my hand to be in the Contest drawing!

hugs, Kari Thomas

T. said...

Wow, I love the pics on your post. Truly would love to visit a place like that. I do love Florida! I've been a fan of the ocean all of my life and convinced my niece when she was little that I was a mermaid, lol!

Your books sounds wonderful. May you have many sales and please, write more.


Cate Masters said...

Thanks so much Melissa! Glad it intrigued you. :)

I hear you, Lorrie, although this past winter I actually enjoyed the snow. It's the ice that makes me nervous!

So cool Kari! I would love to visit Weeki Wachee someday.

How funny, T. I'll bet your niece has lots of great memories.

Heather D said...

Thanks for the info! We travel to Florida every year and I am amazed that I have never heard of Weeki Wachee or the mermaids. This is definitely a place that I am going to put on my to do list!

jstpeachy1976 at yahoo dot com


I have heard of the mermaids before but I couldn't do it. Good luck with your book.


Cate Masters said...

Thanks Heather and Loretta!

Cate Masters said...

Once again, I tossed everyone's name into a hat and drew out (ta da!) Kari! Kari, I will email you for your snail mail address. Thanks again, everyone!

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