abyss, adrik kemp, alien, anemone, Australia, beaches, bioluminescent, daydreams, deep-sea, deep-sea creatures, discovery, Disney, fantasy, fear, horror, inspiration, interview, magic, marine life, mer-people, mermaids, Mini-Author Interviews, Mischa, mischa and the mermaid, obsession, ocean, rock pool, rock walking, sea, swim, swimming, terrifying, Underwater, water, whales
Mini-Author Interviews for UNDERWATER:
What inspired your story?
As a child, I spent a great deal of time ‘rock walking’ from beach to beach with my family. I’ve always been fascinated by the beauty of rock pools and the sheer scale of the diversity of marine life, so it was enjoyable to create some of my own. Each pool is an opportunity to see something new and alien swimming around, and while many are filled with standard anemones, shellfish and seaweed, every now and then you find a tiny ecosystem of fish or even an octopus, and it’s exhilarating, like hitting a jackpot. I wanted to convey the wonder of discovery that I felt as a child and still feel as an adult when combing rocky beaches.
Did you have to do any research? If so, what kind? What did you learn?
The setting of my story is based on memories, so my research was mainly delving into my own mind while I wrote; however, the more fantastical elements of my story took a little research. I looked into what many would see as unusual mating habits – deep-sea creatures that favour strong, muscular females and tiny, insignificant males, useful only for their sperm. This got me thinking about the potential hierarchy of a deep-sea, marine community of humanoid derivation and it all snowballed from there. Without giving anything away, I also spent some time googling images of whales.
Can you tell me a little bit about your protagonist?
The eponymous Mischa is a teenage boy who has spent his life in a sleepy, coastal town in Australia. He has an older brother, a best friend, Fiona who is about to move away, and an endless fascination with the hidden magic of the sea. A bit of a dreamer, his laid back approach to life allows him to drift along with the current, so to speak.
Where does Mischa’s fascination with the sea come from? His obsession with mermaids?
The driving force behind Mischa’s daydreams is his subconscious understanding that he’s stuck living in a small town, his only constant friend being his brother George and his best friend Fiona. Rather than dealing with this and the fact that his friend is leaving him, he loses himself in fanciful daydreams of mermaids and magic beneath the waves. Making a world for himself within his own world gives him solace.
Can you explain your version of the mermaid? They were terrifying, and I loved that.
There are usually two types of mermaid – the Disney variety and the horror variety. Mine are most definitely on the horror side of things. I’m a little obsessed with the sea, and I think that if mer-people do exist, they would have to do so in the deep. And to do that, I imagine they would have characteristics of deep-sea creatures. I mean, down there, you have things more nightmarish than anything you could dream up, translucent, glass-like teeth, dead, white eyes, bioluminescent lures to trap prey. Not to mention the fascinating life cycles – creatures that are functionally immortal, enormous females that collect tiny males on their bodies as portable sperm banks, worms that live in boiling water over sea vents and more. I took elements from these creatures and fashioned them into a society I thought might come of it if they were mixed with humans.
Tell be about the setting you chose and how it influences your work.
All my life, I have lived on and holidayed all along the east coast of Australia. The ocean and life on its edge are a big influence on this work as they have been, and continue to be in my life. The feeling of the salt and sun on my skin, warm rocks under my feet and the rolling, endless ocean before me is a thing of singular beauty that I hope I relayed in this story.
You also made the ocean a bit horrifying (that may be me), do you find the ocean equally as frightful as it is beautiful?
The short answer is yes. I go to the beach a lot, I live nearby to the ocean and swim 3-4 times a week at it, but I still can’t stay in too long before my mind wanders to what else might be sharing the water with me. I have almost a pathological fear of sharks and monsters of the deep. I once snorkeled away from a reef and over what appeared to be an abyss and panicked instantly. So I suppose the long answer is no, I find the ocean absolutely stunning and awe-inspiring, but the things within, some of those can and do strike fear in me constantly.
What would you like readers to know about “Mischa and The Mermaid”?
I hope that when they read it, they can be transported to this idyllic memory and have it torn to pieces along with Mischa.
Adrik Kemp is a published author with short stories appearing in web based and print anthologies. He holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing, which he enjoys looking at from time to time, and is an avid reader, writer and copywriter by trade. He also likes spending his time eating, swimming at the beach and playing house.