I’m delighted to participate in author D. H. Willison’s first (hopefully annual) Mermay Authors & Artists Appreciation Week! This is a virtual tour to celebrate mermaids and other denizens of the deep who inspire so many of us. As an author who features a mermaid-type creature in my novels, I simply had to join in on the fun.
Ready to dive in with me?
- Which historical myths did you draw from when creating your story/artwork?
Long-time blog readers know how I look to Irish lore and mythology for guidance and inspiration. You may be surprised to know that the idea for the freshwater mermaid / River Spirit did not come from a specific Irish legend, but I did read about merrows and selkies as I considered who would haunt the shore and Lacey’s dreams. Ultimately, I decided against a selkie (which are not mermaids as we know them, but fairy-women who wear seal skins). There aren’t any seals in this region of the Saint Lawrence river. I briefly considered something similar with an otter, but it just didn’t feel right to alter established myth, and I instead drew on my first encounter with a sturgeon. The River Spirit of my novels remains in the water just like the ancient fish, but she can shapeshift. This quality was very much inspired by another dangerous water creature found in Scottish lore – kelpies. The Sturgeon Spirit is not a kelpie, though, but her form changes depending on who sees her and how she wants to influence them. And like many old stories about mermaids, the River Spirit can be dangerous, especially to those who cross her or her allies.
- Do you have any personal connection to any particular body of water? Tell us about it.
Of course! I think all mermaid fans must have a special bond with water somewhere. The Rituals of Rock Bay series takes places in a fictional town along the very real Saint Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands region of Upstate NY. It’s the state’s longest river and connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. It has a very old history with the Haudenosaunee people (which I’m still learning more about), and remains an important part of our state’s history and culture. I adore the waterway, and feel the sacredness whenever I’m there. As part of the Irish Diaspora, I love knowing that the river connects me to the ocean which touches Ireland. I sometimes feel the sea god, Manannán mac Lir, strong in the waters, mingling with many other spirits. It is a holy place, but there’s a lot of other magic too. From ancient fish like the sturgeon, to ship wrecks, pirate legends, ghosts, and even castles.
Curious to read more from me? Come explore the mystical side of the Saint Lawrence River and the fictional town of Rock Bay.
A fresh-water, shape-shifting river guardian dwells in the waters along the town of Rock Bay in my Rituals of Rock Bay series. It all starts in River Magic when Lacey Moran encounters a mermaid both in and out of her dreams. As she strives to better understand what this means for her blossoming intuitive skills, Lacey joins a group of local Pagans and navigates life and love along the Saint Lawrence River. Perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen who crave realistic portrayals of folk magic and modern Pagans.
I hope you’ll join these other fine authors and artists to learn why merfolk inspire them and their work!