Blog Tour Interview & Giveaway: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler


Welcome to my stop for The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler! I really enjoyed reading The Book of Broken Hearts that Sarah released in 2013 and so have been really looking forward to her newest. You can check out all the usual info, her interview, as well as the giveaway below...

The Summer of Chasing MermaidsThe Summer of Chasing Mermaids
YA Contemporary Romance, Chick-lit, Fairy Tale Retelling
Hardcover, 368 Pages
June 2nd 2015 by Simon Pulse

Summary

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life. 

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .
    

Author Interview

I'd like to welcome author Sarah Ockler to my blog today. She's nice enough to answer a few questions for me...

1. I love that this is a kind of future-day-retelling of The Little Mermaid. What elements from the fairy tale do you think carried through to this story?

Readers familiar with the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and the Disney adaptation (which are quite different—fans of the Disney movie who haven’t read the original should definitely check it out!) will find lots of little “Easter eggs” throughout The Summer of Chasing Mermaids: character names, family members, and even scenes that were inspired by both versions. In re-imagining the fairy tale for the novel, however, I didn’t want to do a straight retelling in which the main character is a mermaid in a fantasy undersea setting. Instead, I wanted to evoke the overall feeling of the story about a young woman on the verge of adulthood, venturing out on her own for the first time, dealing with immense tragedy and personal obstacles, and of course, falling in love—in a contemporary realistic setting, but still with a sense of magic, wonder, and possibility throughout.



 The Little Mermaid and Other Tales (Charming Classics)

Those are the things that have drawn me to the original tales and I think themes that everyone can relate to.


2. Would you tell us a little about the protagonist, Elyse d’Abreau (what an interesting last name), and her hero, Christian Kane?

Of course! From all my novels, Elyse and Christian are my favorite characters to date. They’re both so passionate and intense, yet struggling with finding and accepting their authentic selves. That struggle means different things to each of them, but one of the things I love most about them is how they really grow together, helping each other face personal demons, falling in love, yet never once eclipsing each other. Elyse and Christian are very much their own individual people, but they’re stronger together because they believe in each other, and that unwavering faith and mutual support helps them to believe in themselves. It was really important to me that this be the kind of love story where the hero doesn’t “save” the heroine from her problems (or vice versa), but where the characters grow stronger through their mutual friendship and love, and as a result are better able to deal with their challenges head on.

Ahhh. Those are the best relationships. Where you have two people who are equal, but make each other better together.

3. Do you know I actually had to look up where exactly Tobago was? I knew the general area, but that was all. Why did you decide to set the story there and in the (fictional?) Atargatis Cove?

Source here.

Right from the start—even before I knew any of the characters or their struggles—I knew I wanted to set the story on the Pacific Ocean in the United States. I’d been wanting to revisit that kind of setting ever since I wrote Twenty Boy Summer in 2009. But Elyse’s Trinidad and Tobago origins came about rather unexpectedly! One night, taking a break from work, I was randomly clicking through YouTube and came across a meme about accents. I’ve always been fascinated by regional accents, slang, and language development, so I got totally sucked in to watching them—a kind of fun game to see just how differently people say the same words and phrases in English. I ended up in the Trini accent tag collection, and one of the videos featured two sisters from Trinidad and Tobago who’d also posted other videos of singing performances. When I saw these girls singing, it just hit me all at once, like a big anvil of inspiration falling on my head! I thought, hey! That’s my character, and she has a twin sister! OF COURSE! But what is her family like? Where does she live? How did she grow up? What does she do for fun? I immediately dove into research mode, learning as much as I could about Trinidad and Tobago, the culture, the food, the music, the history, the people—it was such a rewarding process; I didn’t know much about the country at all when I started. So thanks in large part to random strangers on YouTube, Elyse was born, one of six sisters (like in The Little Mermaid), a girl who grew up singing with her twin, both of them en route to stardom. But then she loses her voice, and everything changes. She can’t sing. She can’t speak. Who does she become? What happens to her sister? Where does she belong? Who is she, if not the girl with the beautiful voice? I wrote the book to answer those questions.

Sounds really intriguing and I love how you asked all those questions to figure out her character!


4. I loved reading The Book of Broken Hearts and I think a lot of that was that I felt immersed in the character’s life and her culture (besides just loving the characters). I’m hoping that I’ll feel the culture of this Caribbean island in The Summer of Chasing Mermaids as well. Would you mind telling us what the culture(s) and setting are like?

Thank you so much! Well, most of the story takes place in Oregon, but Elyse is from Tobago, and her family still lives there. So I tried to bring Trinidad and Tobago to life through her memories of home, and through the connection she still has with her grandmother. When we first meet Elyse, she’s living in Oregon with a family friend. She’s really missing her home and family, but feels like she can’t go back there. She doesn’t want to face her past, and she’s at this crossroads in her life where she has to decide how to move forward. So, she thinks about home a lot, and constantly compares it to her new life in Oregon, which is very different for her.

It’s hard to encapsulate such a rich culture in a short blog post, but I can certainly give a few highlights! Music is a huge part of Trinidadian culture. Trinidad and Tobago is the birthplace of calypso and soca music, as well as the steel pan drum. Elyse grew up singing and performing with her twin sister, and was on track for international stardom before a boating accident left her totally mute.

Carnival is another major part of the culture, a huge annual festival that celebrates the country’s heritage with masquerade, processions, music, food, dancing, and all-night parties. And don’t even get me started on the food! I was hungry the entire time I researched this novel. If only there was a T&T restaurant in my town!

Here’s a music video from a song Elyse mentions in the book—“Advantage” by Machel Montano. It encapsulates some of the exuberance of Carnival!

Source here.

I love ethnic food as well, so I think I would be hungry too. Lol! And thanks for the video. It definitely gives a good taste of carnival.

5. And I just have to ask... What are you working on next?

I’m working on a couple of things right now, including another contemporary YA romance and a dark paranormalish thriller, but I’m not ready to share any details yet! As soon as I have more to share, I’ll post about it on my blog!


Well, I can't wait! Thanks so much for stopping by, Sarah!

About the Author

Sarah Ockler is the bestselling author of young adult novels, including #scandal, The Book of Broken Hearts, Bittersweet, Fixing Delilah, and the critically acclaimed Twenty Boy Summer, a YALSA Teens' Top Ten nominee and IndieNext List pick. Her latest, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, hits the shelves in June 2015. 

Sarah is a champion cupcake eater, coffee drinker, night person, and bookworm. When she's not writing or reading at home in Washington, she enjoys taking pictures, hugging trees, and road-tripping through the country with her husband, Alex.

Visit her website at sarahockler.com or find her on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook.

    

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10 comments

  1. I am so excited for Sarah's new book and think the twist on the Little Mermaid tale is fascinating.

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  2. Connie Saunders5/28/15, 6:17 PM

    I hope to read this soon. I love it when authors use Fairy tales as the basis of their books.
    Thanks for a great interview and giveay.

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  3. I haven't read books that would be called a form of visual expression outside of children's picture books either, but have set a goal to expand my horizons to explore if it is something that would appeal to me.

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  4. I'm not a very visual person either. As for social media, I love it! I am on basically everywhere, but I do limit my time so I don't get lost in it. I love Instagram a lot right now, but mostly because I recently got it (I think, maybe this love will last xD) and Pinterest. But you will find me in a lot of places.

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  5. I think so too. I hope you enjoy it!

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  6. Especially when the it's such an interesting twist. I hope you get to read this soon!

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  7. That's me too. I hope we both find a few that we like.

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  8. I'm glad you love it. I think some of that is that I'm a little older (YouTube was just starting when I was in high school), and I have a lot of limits on my time with four kids so I only have so much online time each day. :)

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  9. Oh, I am so excited. What an awesome interview!

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  10. It was a really fun interview. I like learning about new cultures and I liked that this story feels different than any other I've read. We'll have to see what I think when I actually read it though. :)

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I love comments! I try to read and reply to them all. Feel free to agree or disagree and generally share your thoughts with me.

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