Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: June 2nd 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Retellings, Chick Lit
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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 . . .

Hello Sarah! Welcome Back! We are super excited to have you in our FFBC tours again!

Thank you for having me! I’m excited too. J

Of course! Aside from the “official” book summary, here are some things that come to mind about The Summer of Chasing Mermaids:

Coastal Oregon’s wild, untamed Pacific. A singer from Trinidad and Tobago, and a silent summer away from home. The Little Mermaid remade. Falling in love with the totally wrong (but totally perfect) guy. Awesome girlfriends who’ve got your back even when you’re at your worst. A mermaid parade, a pirate regatta, a sea glass artist. Finding your true voice, no matter who or what tries to silence you.

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 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. To me, that what makes them the perfect YA couple. Not that they’re perfect people—far from it!—but that they support and encourage one another so much.

Dean Winchester on a boat. But slightly younger. And without all those nasty demons chasing him. J

Like all of my book ideas, inspiration for The Summer of Chasing Mermaids came from many different sources, all crossing my path at the same time and ending up in a big daydreamy soup pot that eventually boiled down into a story! It went something like this:

1. The beach. I love books that take place in the summer on the beach, and the last time I’d written a story like that was in 2009 (Twenty Boy Summer). Five books and five years later, it was time for me to go back to the sea!

2. Mermaids. Daydreaming about the ocean got me thinking about mermaids, and soon I found myself wondering how I might incorporate a bit of mermaid lore while still keeping the book grounded in a contemporary realistic setting. I re-read the original The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, and watched the Disney adaptation, and took a bit of inspiration from each!

3. Voice. This was a huge one for me. Denial of voice is a major theme explored in the book, and something I see so many young people—particularly girls and women—struggling with. From a young age girls are often taught—explicitly or implicitly—to be nice, accommodating, and selfless. Often we’re also told to “be ourselves,” and that we can do anything we put our minds to, but we’re not given a lot of direction on what that really means, or how to deal with the challenges that inevitably arise when we truly, authentically put ourselves out there. Not everyone will accept that—even (and sometimes especially) the people who claim to love us most. And so often I see—in my own life as well as the lives of girls and women around me—denial of voice in action, where we’re shut down and shut up simply because we don’t fit into whatever box society has built for us. We’re confronted by things like sexism, gender roles, expectations, double standards, lack of opportunity, aggression, poverty, racism, fear, power dynamics, institutionalized misogyny, just to name a few. That’s a super simplified reduction of a complex issue, but one that’s very important to me. So I really wanted to explore that theme in a YA novel, symbolized by a character who literally has no voice—she’s permanently mute after an accident—and has to learn new ways of expressing herself, embracing her new life, and standing up for herself when others either speak for her or shut her out.

4. Trini Accent Tag. Around the same time I started thinking about the beach, mermaids, and denial of voice issues, 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, that’s my character, and she has a twin sister. 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.

5. Supernatural. It’s true when I said earlier that Christian Kane is basically Dean Winchester on a boat. ;-) 

“When one dream burns to ash, you don’t crumble beneath it. You get on your hands and knees, and you sift through those ashes until you find the very last ember, the very last spark.”

In addition to the sexy romance scenes (of course!), I really loved writing the tarot card scene. I read tarot, so it was super fun to use one of my decks to create a tarot spread specifically for Elyse.

“Sea of Lovers” by Christina Perri.

Gosh, I have no idea! I’m so bad at this question. I love it when readers make fan casts, because I can’t do it to save my life!

Pick out some soca music, fix yourself a fruity frozen drink, and find a place to stretch out on a blanket in the sun! That’s what I’d do, anyway! 

Deb Caletti, Sarah Dessen, Cindy Pon, Jessi Kirby, Courtney Summers, Lynn Joseph, Maggie Stiefvater, to name just a few!

San Diego! I love visiting California, dipping my toes in the ocean before an event. 


Sarah Dessen is my go-to summer reads author, but this summer I’m looking forward to curling up with two fantasies that recently hit the shelves: AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir and THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Ahdieh. Typically I wait until the fall to read fantasies, going for more beachy settings in the summer, but I just can’t wait that long for those two!

Heaven! As long as you’ve got some shade and a cooler full of drinks and snacks.

I’m working on two very different projects at the moment—another contemporary and a paranormal thriller—but I’m not ready to share any details yet!

Thank you so much for everything, Sarah!

Thank YOU so much for having me on your blog, and for sharing THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS with your fans! It means a lot to me. J

Follow the The Summer of Chasing Mermaids Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

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 or find her on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook.

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  1. I have always been such a huge fan of mermaids and a Little Mermaid retelling is just the kind of book I NEED for my summer reading! This book truly sounds fantastic!!

  2. I'm game for anything RETELLING, but I also love the fact that this book has some diversity. I imagine it's rich with culture from the MC's family history and I can't wait to read it. Also, am I the only one who has never read a book by Sarah? I feel so insignificant right now, just so you know.

  3. I love this interview and the questions. I want to find some soca music and a drink and read this out in the sun!

  4. I have never read anything by Sarah.
    I hear great things about her and her books, so I definitely want to read the book.
    This is an awesome giveaway! I would love to win to read some of her other books ASAP!!

    Lots of Bookish Love to Sarah!!