DFTG Author Feature – Interview with Christina L. Barr, Author of The Dark Mermaid
At just 27 years old, Christina L. Barr is an accomplished author, having authored and published nine novels, under her indie publishing company, Ninja Dust Publishing. Her new novel, set to be released later this month is called The Dark Mermaid, a despairing reimagining of the classic Hans Christian Anderson Little Mermaid fairy tale. Recently, our writer Cory Lara had the chance to speak with Christina at her booth at C2E2, the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, to hear from hear firsthand about this inventive new novel.
CL Can you tell us a little bit what it’s about?
.C Yeah, it’s a take on the very original story, but just, obviously a much darker one. The very first opening line of the book is, “I was born with a defect, on the surface world, they call it kindness.” So, this is a very different world than the bubbly Little Mermaid that people are accustomed to. It follows a character named Luna, and she saves the life of a human named Ian, and it basically ruins her life. She’s outcast by her father who is a very cruel ruler and she takes comfort with the Sea Witch, who is her father’s greatest enemy. She (Luna) knows how to fight already but the Sea Witch teaches her more (skills), and teaches her magic as well, but Luna is afraid that her magic could turn dark. She doesn’t want to be anything like what her father is, or even be like what the Sea Witch is, because even though she’s grown close to the Sea Witch, she’s also obviously hell-bent on revenge for how her father betrayed her years ago too. Later, she finds Ian later in life and has a connection to him, and it plays on the fairy tale “true love” aspect too, because in real life you usually don’t meet someone and decide to run away with them like in a day or something. In this mythology, it describes that “true love” is actually mystic, and that there’s a force in the universe that draws two people together either for good or for chaos. So there’s a big question mark on whether it’s chaos that is actually bringing them together. She will eventually make a deal to gain legs, but actually her father wants her to kill Ian to regain her honor and prove that she’s his heir and some other things I won’t divulge. You have to read it for yourself, but it’s a really interesting and new, fresh take on it, and I’m excited about it.
CL Can you tell us how you kind of came up with the concept of taking the story and making it in this new way?
.C Well, you know, I’m big on the Disney story. I was thinking about all this other live action stuff that they’re doing and I just thought it would be interesting to take it and reshape it into something else. So, I was reading the original story and was like, “Man, this is way darker than Ariel’s little story. I mean she dies and turns to sea foam at the end because she didn’t kill the prince.” I guess it’s that way with all fairy tales, but if you go back to original stories, like The Odyssey, sirens are not nice beings. They sing the sailors to try and kill them. So, I looked at other history and legends too, and actually some cultures believe in mermaids too. In Nigeria, my dad did a mission trip out there and you could not convince them that they’re not real. Some of those people are convinced that there are actually mermaids. I usually write dark stuff anyway, usually on purpose, but I just wanted to do something different. So, I binge watched H2O just to add a lot. I’m a little ashamed to admit that. I know it’s a really cheesy show, but I kind of really liked it.
CL So are you referencing like all of the different permutations of the Little Mermaid story that we’ve seen before?
.C Well, Ariel had sidekicks like Flounder, Sebastian and Scully. There’s someone that takes the place of all of those. She doesn’t have a goofy little sidekick, but she befriends a shapeshifter that can shapeshift into different animals. So, he’s actually of human origin. When she meets him he’s trapped in animal form and he’s trying to find a way to get back to being a human, but he’s still her outside source to dropping knowledge, and he brings her treasures like the original Little Mermaid story as well. There’s a nod to that. When I was thinking about her love interest, I was thinking about who would look like Prince Eric in Hollywood, and I thought of Ian Somerholder, so that’s why her love interest is named Ian. I mean his eyes are really blue.
CL Oh those eyes are really dreamy, yeah. You can’t imagine a better prince for The Little Mermaid to be infatuated with.
.C You know it’s funny because I was a big fan of Lost, but at first he was just Boone, this kid running around. And then after (Lost), he was on Vampire Diaries, and I was like “He was on Lost?” It’s funny what a role can do for you.
CL Yeah, he really turned it around there. Was there anyone else that you had in your mind when you were characterizing the people in the same vein?
.C Gosh, I don’t think so. I think he was the only one. I mean, for a lot of my other books, I have folders of people who play certain people, but this is probably the only one I had in mind. And he’d be kind of too old to do it anyway, maybe I’ll find the next new (Prince).
CL What about the naming for the main character, Luna?
.C Well, actually, the mermaids speak to each other telepathically, so they don’t really refer to each other having those names. So, the Sea Witch the whole time will be referred to as the Sea Witch, her father will just be the father, King. The only reason why she has a name is because, when she befriends the shapeshifter, he gifts her a name. She remembers the first time she saw the moon when she was coming up from the water. She asks what that was called, and they thought being called the moon was stupid, so he threw out a couple names and she liked Luna.
CL When I was reading your description, and I saw that her name was Luna, I kind of think, Luna, which is Spanish for moon, and the moon is during the night when it is dark, and this is our dark version of the little Mermaid story. I think that works, because it is such a stark contrast from what we have seen before with that story, and to see it represented, not just in what the characters do and what they’re going through, but also in the symbolism.
.C I kind of struggled with when I was trying to figure out what was going to be similar and what was not. I kind of wanted her to have red hair, because that’s so iconic, but if it gets big and people are cosplaying, I don’t want someone to be her and have red hair and think of Ariel and not Luna, so I’ve changed things like that. Even with the name, it took a while to come up with, because even in the original story, I don’t think they ever give her real name either.
CL I think I heard recently that some other studio, not Disney, is planning a live action (version), but they also said they want to make this one darker too and go for that tone. Maybe they’ll give you a ring?
.C Well, that would be awesome. I thought it was already supposed to be in production. They rumored that Chloe Grace Moretz was supposed to be in it, but I think that she said she wanted to take a break from acting for a little bit, so whatever happened behind the scenes fell apart. I heard it’s supposed to be based off of the original story, and the original story is darker. I would imagine that if they turn it into a film, they would have to tweak it a little bit, because it is just really sad.
CL There’s always a chance for a sequel, and they could always get your number some way.
.C Well, I mean mermaids are kind of in right now. They’re redoing Splash, that movie with Tom Hanks. And the H2O series, Netflix just picked it up, it’s like Little Mermaid. There’s another independent writer Amanda Hocking, she got her big series starting off as Wake, it’s about mermaids and sirens. Her friend just encouraged her to write and put her books on Amazon, for just a dollar, and bloggers picked it up, and a year and a half later she’s a millionaire. So she’s like the one to aspire to be.
CL Were there any other influences that you pulled from outside of the Little Mermaid story?
.C Well, this other fact or cool feature is all of my books usually have nothing to do with each other. They’re not connected, but this one is actually connected in another universe. I have this book called Phases of a Broken Sky, which is about werewolves. The series for that is a trilogy, the Cursed Moon series. And there’s another series I’m coming out with this year too, called the Cursed Blood series, and that’s about vampires. So, this is the Cursed Water series, so after all their trilogies finish, they’ll all intersect together. As Luna learns to do her magic and stuff, it transitions from really being about a mermaid to being about the Sea Witch, so that magic element will play a lot in these other worlds too.
CL Have you planned ahead to where the story will be going afterwards?
.C Yeah, there’s some things I’m not 100% sold on yet, like for the first one. I do have them planned out. I’m really excited to get through all of them, so they can all start affecting each other’s lives. It’s not going to be like the Avengers, where everybody teams up. There’s going to be some things where they’re like at odds with some characters warring with each other.
CL Have you thought at all about doing a reverse of the Disney’s direct-to-DVD Little Mermaid II? With Ariel’s daughter?
CL Good. That’s probably for the best.
.C Maybe the prequel.
CL Do you have any other projects like this that you’re planning for the future? Like a dark take on classic stories we’ve known?
.C Not so far, but as I was thinking about this, as we’re talking about it, I thought maybe that’d be cool to do different takes on stuff, but I don’t know. I have my goal, to finish 30 books by the time I’m 30, and I have so many books started that are in series that I have to get through. Because I don’t want five years down the line to have someone like “Where’s the sequel to this book?” And I’m like “I’m sorry, I started ten other book series.” So, I’m trying to discipline myself a little bit, so I can start pushing some stuff out.
CL Yeah, I think that’s a good idea too. Well, this book sounds really awesome, can you tell us like when you plan on having it come out?
.C May 19th. It’ll be available on digital and also you’ll be able to order it (in print) online. But if you order it for Kindle on the day it comes out it will be $.99 the first day.
CL That’s awesome! Do you have any social media?
CL Well, Christina, I think this has been most excellent talking to you. I’m really excited to see how this book goes and to see everything I’ve ever known about this story flipped over on its head and make me start crying over the little mermaid.
.C I’ll try to make you cry.
You can see Miss Barr’s full list of books right here on the official publishing website. We here at Don’t Feed the Gamers love hearing about rising authors and their creative stories If you know an author you would like us to feature, let us know in the comments below!
Don’t forget to also check out our other interviews, such as our interview with Jonny Cruz, the voice of Overwatch’s Lucio, and our interview with cosplayer Ezmeralda Von Katz! Follow us on Twitter to see future interviews the minute they go live!
Cory Lara1841 Posts
A royally radical and totally tubular 90s kid, Cory has a passion for all things nerdy, particularly gaming and nostalgia. While an accountant by day, he strives to be as creative and humorous as possible in his free time, be it here writing on Don't Feed the Gamers, or making dumb satirical posts on his Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram accounts.