Making a splash at BookBar in Denver, part 2 November 22, 2017 09:00

From Jess: 

In my last blog post, I shared some memorable moments and great photos from our first appearance at Denver's BookBar -- now, on to the second event!

Friday, November 10th

While our first event dealt with our children's storybook, "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up," our second appearance featured our middle-grade/young adult novel, "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist." Chris and I each planned to read selections from the book, after which we'd hold a question-and-answer session and signing.

I chose to read the novel's prologue; it was my initial pitch for the property as well as what convinced Chris that I had a good idea going, and it's a perfect introduction to the world of our mermaids (if I do say so m'self).

When I'd finished reading the prologue, Chris flipped through the book until he reached Chapter Six, "Put to the Test," and he read the section describing Pippa's portion of the mermaid tests that the Rescue Sirens put Kelby through while trying to determine if she's the Atavist.

The Q&A segment was so much fun! The audience was really engaging and asked great questions. Here are a few, along with (less-rambly versions) of our answers:

  • What was the process of making the novel? ...Okay, I've already made a liar of myself, because there's no way to answer this question without rambling at least a little bit! Fortunately, it's all in the response to the frequently asked question "How do two people co-write a book?" (Just click the + sign to expand the answer.)
  • Does Chris prefer drawing or writing? Writing! Why? It's less physically demanding, for one thing. You can write and write and write all day long.
  • Did we do any research about mermaid myths in other cultures? Absolutely! From the beginning, I've envisioned "Rescue Sirens" as a global property, paying homage to mermaid myths from around the world. In our universe, Rescue Sirens exist wherever there's a shoreline to protect, and it would be a lot of fun to travel in the stories and encounter Rescue Sirens inspired by, say, the Mami Wata of Africa, or the selkies of Scotland and Ireland. Celebrating diversity is really important to us. On a related note, there are a surprising number of myths describing women who jumped or fell into the sea and became mermaids instead of drowning (like Assyria's Atargatis, Macedonia's Thessalonike, or Ireland's Liban), which aligns nicely with the mythology of the Atavist that I invented especially for "Rescue Sirens." I spent something like a year and a half developing "Rescue Sirens" before ever starting work on the first novel! I love world-building.
  • When was Chris's "That's it!" or "Ah-ha!" moment while reading the pitch/prologue for the first time? Chris said that he'd realized I'd had something special with my "Rescue Sirens" concept when he saw that I'd "solved" a couple of stubborn issues related to mermaids living amongst humans -- so many mermaid stories rely on the tradition of mermaids transforming into their tails automatically when they get wet, which creates awesome tension but also severely limits what your mermaids can do without being found out. I chose to head in a totally different direction and devised my own mermaid mythology and "rules," which allowed for more agency and adventure without sacrificing the suspense, and Chris responded really positively to that. He'd been trying to come up with a unique take on mermaids for years and says that I "cracked the code" with "Rescue Sirens." He's very kind!
  • Why did we opt to self-publish? That one's easy: speed (we wanted the novel printed in time for SDCC 2015) and creative freedom.
  • Did we have an artist in mind for our novel's interior illustrations from the beginning? Oh, yes -- that was always Genevieve Tsai! Chris gets all the credit for suggesting her after buying one of her art prints at SDCC years ago. We were so fortunate that she was available during the time we had to finish the book and that she was interested in contributing to our project! We love Genevieve.
  • Follow-up question: what it was like working with Genevieve under such a tight deadline? Amazing, because Genevieve is a phenomenal artist and person, and she just gets it. Since Chris and I were co-writing the novel at the very same time that Genevieve was creating the illustrations -- that is, she didn't have a completed manuscript as a guide -- Genevieve and I exchanged lots of long, very detailed emails to get each piece just right. She nailed it.
  • How many outlines do we have for future books? I have the next two novels outlined and a further four (maaaybe five) loosely planned, while I have storylines in mind for five more children's books.
  • Do we want to make "Rescue Sirens" into a movie? We're actually in the process of developing it as an animated television series! There's so much good TV right now (whether that's referring to traditional television or streaming like Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu), and we love the way showrunners can tell longer stories and develop characters over time as compared to a single ninety-minute film.
Because Chris was seated with me for most of this event, we only have a few photos from Friday night, but they're fun ones (even though I'm in my human form).

(Click to enlarge.)

One of the highlights of the evening was meeting Garrett in person! He was a "Rescue Sirens" early adopter who purchased a copy of the hardcover during our first online sale in 2015, and Chris and I were stoked to find out that he'd be attending our second reading. We've chatted a bit via Tumblr and Instagram, and getting to talk face-to-face was such a pleasure!

We also loved meeting Violetta and Gabby, who took time off from their jobs at the tattoo parlor down the street (SO COOL) to listen to the reading.

What was really fun was seeing people from the previous evening show up again on Friday night! One family had brought their younger daughter to the children's book reading on Thursday, and then brought her, their older daughter, and their older daughter's friend to the novel reading. Other people came by to buy books as gifts for their family members who couldn't make it, which always warms my heart (we see that at SDCC all the time).

Everyone was just so nice! I can't possibly express how happy it made me to connect with an audience like this. I miss interacting with kids and families the way I did daily in my former theme park Education and Animal Care gigs, and it was so wonderful to have the chance to meet new people and share my passions.

I want to thank BookBar for inviting us and for their hospitality, all the fin-tastic folks who showed up to our readings, and, once again, Chris, for taking time out of his busy schedule so we could fly out to Denver and for doing such a great job at both events. I couldn't do this without him (quite literally, when it comes to getting into my silicone mermaid tail!), and I'm thankful every day that he's my husband and my creative partner.

Speaking of thankfulness... for our American friends, have a joyful and relaxing Thanksgiving this week! Chris and I are thankful for all of you, and for your decision to accompany us on this mer-mazing journey.