In the words of one of my beloved betas, “This is definitely older YA,” and “Wow, this is pretty dark.”
I nod and agree. If my story ever gets published it is NOT a bedtime tale mothers will read to their children. It’s the kind of book mothers will hide or put on a very high shelf with hopes their children never find it. Then they’ll secretly wish their significant other was a blue-haired merman who…well, never-mind. You’ll have to wait and read the story.
I don’t know how or why my story is turning out so taboo, sultry, and menacing. The singing characters and happy endings of Disney stories are my usual ideal world, but I’m swimming outside of my comfort zone with this one. I’m way out past the breakers. The lifeguards tried blowing their whistles and waving me in but I didn’t listen. Sharks are swarming around me but I just smile—rather seductively—and keep paddling. (I have to use ocean analogies for obvious reasons.)
Many days I read through my pages and wonder, “What will people think? What will MY MOTHER say when she reads this!” Then I remind myself that The Kindrily was my happy, magical, light-filled, feel-good novel. My sea creature story is, well, different. And I’m okay with that.
As I said in my Libba Bray post, I’m breaking a lot of rules with this story. Taking a risk with multiple POVs, straddling the line between YA and adult, and rewriting mythology with new--and sometimes complicated--rules may put the nail in my hope-to-get-published coffin. But in the words of one of my favorite singers, Ani Difranco (with one line altered to fit the writing world—and be less raunchy)
I'm going to do my best swan dive
into shark-infested waters
I'm gonna slice open my writer vein
and just start splashing around.
'Cuz I don't care if they eat me alive
I've got better things to do than survive.
See, kinda dark. I wasn’t kidding about that disclaimer.
So, what do you think? Would you be open to reading a new-twist-on-mermaids story? If you knew there were no talking fish and singing lobsters? If you were forewarned that you might cringe between the smiling and blushing moments, would it still interest you?
More importantly, if this was your story, would you care what others thought, or would you write the story anyway--darkness, craziness, rule-breaking and all?