Please join me today in welcoming to Peeking Between the Pages author Judi Fennell. She wrote the very funny and amusing In Over Her Head that I reviewed yesterday. You can see my review here. What I liked most about this book is it was different from anything I’ve read before in terms of the underwater world that the story takes place in. So, without further delay, let’s relax and enjoy what Judi has to say…
Thanks so much for having me!
When I was working on my debut novel, In Over Her Head, I kept hearing the theme from Jaws in my head. And why not? The opening scene has Erica, the heroine who owns a marina yet is afraid of the water, in the water and there’s a shark. A big one.
Ah, but is it the ex-boyfriend on the boat, or is there actually something in the water?
That’s where I was coming from when I wrote this story. I LOVE going to the beach (or “down the shore” as those of us around the Jersey Shore say). We go every year, and I’ve been doing it for most of my life. (Although, there were a few years when the kids were in diapers and needed naps where it just wasn’t fun, so we took a few off.) We’re going again this year.
The problem is, I saw Jaws at an impressionable age. If you’ve ever been to the Jersey shore, you know that the waters isn’t quite (cough,cough) as pristine as say, oh, the Caribbean. It’s murky. Gray. You can’t see the bottom.
None of which would be a problem if there were a huge chain-link netting up and down the coastline to keep the nasties away. I mean, I know there’s no shark out there just sitting there (well, treading there), twiddling his pectoral fins, just waiting for me to get in the water, but sometimes, it sure feels like that.
I am not a total wuss, however. I have teens – they wouldn’t let me even if I was. I know this is an irrational fear. I get it. I try to overcome it – every single time I’m in the water. I’ve been to the South Pacific, the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean… I’ve swum in some pretty gorgeous waters. Gone snorkeling. Fed the fish in Hanama Bay in Hawaii. It’s beautiful. I love to float. I love to swim. I’m an Aquarius – the water bearer. Water is good for me.
Until my “shark meter” starts ratcheting up. Sigh.
So, while I do talk to myself ad nauseum while I’m in any body of salt water (and I just found out that bull sharks can swim up rivers!!! Oh no!!), it still hasn’t eradicated this fear.
So I used it. Figured I should get something out of the $2.50 +/- my mom spent to take me to that movie (it was released in 1975 – remember those days when you could actually afford to take a family to the movies and get popcorn?) I gave Erica my fear of the ocean.
Then I tossed her in. With a shark.
That wasn’t very nice of me, was it?
So I gave her a Mer man (notice the distinction: not merman. Very important to the Mers.).
He’s a very sexy Mer man. I thought that was rather nice of me. LOL.
So Erica and Reel are in the water, there’s a shark, some stolen diamonds, a chatty remora with an attitude (and a big ol’ scar on his head where his sucker is supposed to be, thanks to an unfortunate boat propeller incident). There are more Mers. Atlantis. A sea monster or two, a few gods, some magic, and, well… it’s been compared to The Little Mermaid but for adults.
I like that. After all, Ariel did defeat Ursula in the end and got her handsome prince.
Now if only she’d taken out that mechanical shark from that other movie, I’d be happy.
Here’s a taste of what Erica went through:
Her life’s air bubbling in front of her, frothing the water as it enfolded her in its claustrophobic embrace, Erica took another deep breath. It didn’t help. She repositioned the mask, fiddled with the regulator, and tried to enjoy the scenery, but images from Jaws kept thrusting their way to the front of her brain. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. She’d try any mantra to get through this. The line slid through her hands as she lowered herself into the depths. Okay, maybe seventy-five feet wasn’t “the depths” to regular divers, but she’d never been alone this deep. Hell, she never went in ocean water higher than her knees anymore. The wet suit insulated her from the drop in temperature, but nothing could disguise the fact that the sunlight dimmed with each foot she descended. Black sea bass zipped past, the thin orange striping on their snouts flickering in the flash of her dive light. A lion’s mane jellyfish drifted off the far edge of the reef. Great. The world’s largest jellyfish-rarely seen at this latitude-picked today to take a vacation. Perfect. Just beyond flipper-reach was what was left of the SS Minnow, an old lobster boat sunk by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department for an artificial reef. It shouldn’t be hard to find Joey’s diamonds then get herself the hell out of here. She could do this. She had to do this. As her fins fluttered near the wreck, scamp and porgies swam above the barnacles and mussels claiming it. Sea stars and white star coral covered the hull. A lobster disappeared inside a hole when she got too close. This should be beautiful. It should give her a sense of awe. Instead, it almost paralyzed her. Ever since The Incident, going back in the water had never been safe, no matter the incentive, but Joey’s gun made it the safer option. She examined every possible crevice, although she drew the line at poking into any place she couldn’t see. Pinching crustaceans liked little hidey-holes and her fingers did not. The mollusk colony snapped shut as she passed, colorful anemones hid their vulnerable parts, and crabs scuttled out of her way. But after twenty-five minutes, her search yielded no diamonds. Air tank at the return point, Erica turned toward the dive line. Joey was going to be pissed. Well, he shouldn’t have put the diamonds in Grampa’s urn. It wasn’t as if he didn’t know her grandfather’s last wishes; he’d been there when the will was read. Of course, he’d also known her fear of the ocean. Probably figured it was a safe bet that Grampa’s ashes would never make it to the dive site. This wasn’t the first time Joey had underestimated her. That had been when he’d thought he could schmooze his cheating ass out of a broken engagement with gifts and roses and phone calls. Her brothers had known what he was. They’d tried to tell her, but she’d defended Joey every time. She’d wanted to find someone whose life’s work wasn’t tied to the sea, so when Mr. National Account Manager had rented a slip at their marina and swept her off her feet, she hadn’t put up a fuss. Stupid her. And now he’d betrayed her yet again.
And just to thumb my nose at my fear, I contacted some Bed & Breakfasts in the areas where my stories take place. They’ve come on board with three romantic beach getaway weekends for me to raffle off to winners. The Atlantis Inn in Ocean City, NJ and the Hibiscus House in West Palm Beach, FL are gorgeous properties and maybe even the honeymoon choice of a few of my characters 🙂
All information is available on my website here.
See you on the beach! (‘Cause you won’t see me in the water. Well, okay, you might. But I’ll be the one having a conversation with myself, trying to convince myself that there are no sharks out to get me.)
About The Author:
Judi Fennell has had her nose in a book and her head in some celestial realm all her life, including those early years when her mom would exhort her to “get outside!” instead of watching Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie on television. So she did–right into Dad’s hammock with her Nancy Drew books.
These days she’s more likely to have her nose in her laptop and her head (and the rest of her body) at her favorite bookstore, but she’s still reading, whether it be her latest manuscript or friends’ books.
A three-time finalist in online contests, Judi has enjoyed the reader feedback she’s received and would love to hear what you think about her Mer series. Check out her website at www.JudiFennell.com for excerpts, reviews and fun pictures from reader and writer conferences, and the chance to “dive in” to her stories.
I’ve got 2 copies of In Over Her Head to share with you. Again, one is open to US and Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) as it’s coming from the publisher and the second one is my gently read copy which will be open to all my friends worldwide and will be coming from yours truly. What do you have to do to enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment.
- For 2 entries follow my blog. If you do already-thank you-and let me know so I can make sure you get entered twice.
- For 3 entries blog/tweet this giveaway to spread the word.
I will be drawing for the winners on Sunday, June 21, 2009. Good luck to you all!
Be sure to check my other giveaways on both sidebars!