Mini-Author Interview for UNDERWATER:
Case C. Capehart
What inspired your story?
She’s All That, and movies like it. We have a creepy abundance of stories about odd, young girls who have a hard time fitting in socially, but they solve all of their problems by losing their glasses and learning to do their make-up better. Whether the authors intend it or not, we’re sending a message with these stories to young girls that their value is tied solely to their appearance. I wanted to write a story for readers who had weird thoughts and weird hobbies as teens, because many oddball kids grew up to be very important figures in history. And they didn’t have to adopt a new hairstyle or get better at applying foundation to move mountains.
Did you have to do any research? If so, what kind? What did you learn?
My day job actually helped out with this story, because I deal with troubled and unwanted kids every day. I used some of my training and what I read about children from terrible families to form Murina’s background and psyche. At Alisha’s suggestion, I looked further into rape victims, for Tetra’s story. That was probably the most difficult part, because I don’t like to think about those things, but you can’t write well if you don’t have a clue what you’re writing about, and her retelling of the event is stronger due to my research.
Can you tell me a little bit about your protagonist?
Murina is an exaggerated reflection of foster kids. Her thoughts are extra dark due to her childhood trauma; she is literally a different creature than her sisters, and Lord Axelrod is taking a huge risk placing Murina among his daughters. As a Lamia, Murina is a natural predator, which boldly contrasts her natural urges with those of the civilized and amorous mermaids. The features that make her a better predator (bony body, muscular tail, dark colors) are a defect in the mermaid world; one that her sisters are compelled to correct to make her life better.
Tell be about the setting you chose and how it influences your work.
I kind of messed with the mermaid mythology out of necessity. Traditionally, mermaids dwell in the high seas, far away from land, but Lamias are snakes, even the most aquatic of which still need dry land in close vicinity. The only way I could reconcile this was to create “river mermaids.” That’s the great thing about fiction, though: you can create and change whatever you need, as long as the writing is done well. “Crushed” isn’t about the feasibility of freshwater mermaids or the logistics of dwelling within a moving current; it’s about a young girl struggling with her identity.
What would you like readers to know about “Crushed”?
I had to go to some dark places to write it, and I think the excursion paid off.
Also, it used to have a much more pretentious title that was total nonsense. Some writers can easily dream up an awesome title and then have trouble writing the coinciding story. I wrote the entire story, proofread it, and then stared at the screen for thirty minutes, knitting my eyebrows and sipping a beer to come up with something to title the thing so I could submit it.
Case C. Capehart is from a microscopic town in Northwest Oklahoma and currently works for the state. He served as an Infantryman in the U.S. Army for six years and is most proud of his Air Assault wings and Expert Infantry Badge. He is the author of BEYOND THE HELL CLIFFS and BLOOD DAUGHTER, as well as the short story, NIKKI THE BEAST, soon to be released by Cohesion Press. He has a supportive wife and hilarious son, as well as a demonic Xbox One that unceasingly beckons him away from his writing.
You can follow him on facebook, twitter, or visit his website.