Today our party continues and this time Liane Gentry Skye is revealing some secrets…
My Secrets, Volume 27, Untamed Pleasures novella, Heart Storm, began when I saw my very first manatee during a kayaking trip in Sanibel Island’s stunning Tarpon Bay. Trust me when I say it’s a miracle I ever saw such a majestic beast up close and personal at all. If you knew me, you’d be rolling on the floor laughing at the mention of my name and kayak in the same sentence. Let’s just say that me, outdoors, bugs, vermin—not friends. But in spite of a few near drowning episodes as a child, I do, and always have, loved anything to do with the water. Maybe that’s why my daughter didn’t have too much trouble talking me into taking her on a guided kayak trip through the mangrove forests surrounding Tarpon Bay. Pretty water, pretty boat, lush island location, great weather—what could possibly go wrong? I figured a bit of bug repellant, and I was good to go.
We were paddling (translation, slapping madly at the water with our oars trying to get the damn thing to move) when my paddle got caught in a tangle of prop roots. As I leaned over to try and free it, something fleshy rolled over in the water behind a thatch of woody growth. Being the un-outdoorsy and somewhat dramatic sort, my first assumption was that some fool (like me) had gone overboard and was in the process of being devoured by an alligator. So I did what any well meaning philanthropist would have done. I screamed to the top of my lungs for help, because, as it turned out, cell phones and water don’t mix.
About the same time I called out, I realized that what I’d taken for a person thrashing in the muddy water was actually a manatee sunning himself in the mud. Talk about feeling stupid.
When the guide circled back to determine the source of the noise that had triggered a mass evacuation of wildlife, she told me not to feel too bad. Even the most seasoned ancient sailors had often mistaken manatees for mermaids.
Hello! Did she say mermaids?
That’s all it took to captivate my imagination. I don’t remember much else about the details of the kayaking debacle. My mind was too busy playing with the idea that there could be real, live mermaids hiding out in the mangroves.
I’ve always had a thing for mermaids. So much so that when I was a kid, I’d tell anyone who’d listen that wanted to be one when I grew up. It didn’t matter that I was human and the adults in my world insisted that there was no such thing as mer-folk. They were wrong, plain and simple. I was clearly some sort of mer-changeling, and somehow, I aimed to prove it.
Decades later, I’m still working on verifiable proof that I am, indeed a displaced mermaid, but I have discovered that the best way to meet my dream of becoming a mermaid was to create a fictional world where mer-folk did live and breathe. Here, mermaids were not only real, they were also endangered. Which explains why we rarely seen them. J
As my mer-folk’s threatened world came to life in my imagination, I learned that many of Florida’s precious mangrove forests were mowed down by real estate developers in a quest for beach front property. It didn’t take much of a reach to decide that there was an enzyme in the mangroves that my mermaids depended on in order to shift from their finned state to their landlocked one.
As building a mermaid world raised more questions, I also read that an enzyme in certain species of mangroves is responsible for the luminescent bio-bays in Puerto Rico. Phosphorescent water? Too cool! Suddenly, my mermaid glowed in the dark, particularly when she was feeling frisky.
A frisky mermaid? Where did that come from?
When Sirenia, my heroine in Heart Storm, rescued a wounded Navy Seal, she developed an insatiable urge to have his baby. That pretty much destroyed my original concept of a children’s book featuring endangered mermaids. By the time Heart Storm was done, I realized that I was not a children’s book author, and that Secrets was the perfect home for Heart Storm.
Fortunately, my editor agreed!
Readers, be sure to leave a comment to be entered for the great giveaway this week. Details can be found here.
And be sure to check back tomorrow for our final secrets with Calista Fox.