Thanks for having me here today! I'm excited to share my latest Romance on the Go, ON A DARK TIDE, a story I constantly (and probably annoyingly) referred to as the Creepy Ocean Story whilst writing it. I'm a mermaid at heart. I love the ocean, whatever the season, whatever the weather. Nothing makes me feel as at peace or inspired as sitting by the shore. ON A DARK TIDE is one of several stories and books I've written with the ocean at its heart, and it won't be the last.
My jokey reference to it as the Creepy Ocean Story got me thinking about other creepy ocean stories. ON A DARK TIDE was partially inspired by that idea that the deep, vast ocean is concealing a very alien and inhospitable world from us - and that maybe we don't want to uncover it's secrets.
These three books share that theme, and were all incredibly formative reads for me growing up. Enjoy!
DAGON was one of the first stories Lovecraft wrote as an adult, back in 1917. Told from the point of view of a morphine addict recounting a horrific experience he had as a merchant marine, it's classic Lovecraft, encapsulated into a short but striking story. Adrift in an unknown region of the ocean, he finds "a slimy expanse of hellish black mire" thrown to the ocean's surface by a volcanic upheaval. Upon exploring the landmass, he discovers an inhumanly large monolith covered in hieroglyphics that suggest a terrifying truth about humanity. As he studies the monolith, an enormous creature emerges from the waters. Insane with fear, the man escapes, but is cursed to madness as fear of the creature consumes him.This was the first Lovecraft story I ever read! It set me on a long and happy path of trying to make everyone I knew read Lovecraft (only partially succeeding). It's short enough that his sometimes purple prose doesn't grate on you, and leaves enough to the imagination that you can't help being fascinated by his submerged civilisations and cold, distant gods.
On a rather different note, we have TELLING THE SEA by Pauline Fisk. I must have read this dozens of times as a child. It's the story of Nona, who moves with her mother to a coastal village in Wales to escape an abusive partner. Isolated and lonely, Nona deals with her troubles by sharing them with the sea. But as life grows more complicated and no answers seem to be in sight, Nona does more than just talk to the sea...And soon her life is danger as the waters lure her in.This is a YA book dealing with some heavy topics - domestic abuse and suicide, chiefly. I don't think I truly appreciated as a child how well those topics were addressed, but it's a book that's stayed in my memory my whole life. The setting and Nona's strange, difficult relationships, and her sanctuary in the sea, make this a one-of-a-kind book.
3. SEA DRAGON HEIR
Oh man. If you want your high fantasy ripe with incest, have I got a book for you. Twins Valraven and Pharinet are heirs of a royal family cursed many hundreds of years before. Any woman married to Valraven was destined to become the Sea Wife, a being capable of commanding the vast powers of the sea dragons. Growing up, Val and Pharinet become lovers, and an intricate web of magic and betrayal engulfs them and everyone around them.
I love this book, but it's definitely not for everyone. The nature of the sea dragons (are they real or just metaphors for the family's magic?) and the complex political intrigue make this an outstanding first book in the series. The rest of the trilogy drifts away from the ocean and the incredibly sinister dragons, sadly.
Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't share a snippet of my own Creepy Ocean Story with you now...
True crime podcasters Piper and Cam have travelled to the sleepy seaside
town of Findlay to investigate the disappearance of a woman nearly a
decade ago. The theories are wild—everything from murder to mermaids,
and Piper is determined to get to the truth. Battling her fear of the
ocean, Piper soon realizes Findlay has deeper, darker secrets than she
could ever have believed. As she struggles to master her fear and deal
with her unrequited love for Cam, Piper is lured into perilous waters.
The truth waits beneath the waves—and Piper's fate waits with it.
Be Warned: f/f sex
toward the town. Piper started after her, got her feet tangled in
those grabby strands of seaweed, and toppled over. She landed
face-first in the sand, grit and water-worn stones digging into her
tongue-tied. Then she picked herself up and hugged herself against
the bitter cold wind rushing off the waves. She could fix this.
know what, though. She still wasn’t sure what the hell had just
happened. What Cam had expected to happen.
Cam had come further than she realized, and night had swept in while
they walked. She couldn’t even see Cam’s silhouette up ahead. But
she couldn’t have gotten far, surely. Piper had only been down a
Piper flashed back vividly to her dream last night. She wondered if
that’s all it had been, a howling gale invading her dreams. She
glanced out across the ink-dark waters of the bay, watching the white
caps rise and fall as the tide drove in.
mouth full of salt, lungs burning, body sinking and rising at the
will of the water. It was too easy to imagine Dina Mackay walking
into the sea...
strange harmony, filling her head with shipwrecks and yellowed bones
polished by centuries of sand and water. She stopped looking for Cam,
entranced and disturbed by the song of the bay. It did sound like
voices, eerily so. Sweet, inhuman singing as the wind ripped through
hidden caves and over knee-high banks of marram grass.
missing. She could have walked out of the Lobster Pot, just like
Piper had tonight, pleasantly buzzed, and thought she heard voices
down on the shore, out in the water.
either she’d moved or the tide had. She wasn’t sure. It didn’t
matter. The singing swirled around her, warming her where the wind
had chilled her. The water washed over her canvas shoes, soaking in
and anchoring her to the shore. The singing pulled at her, dragged at
her, as inexorable as the ocean.
fancy tea, and unfathomable monsters from the dark spaces between the
stars, not necessarily in that order. She has been writing stories
ever since she learned how to write, but is still trying to master
the art of biography writing. When she's not dealing with werewolves,
demons, or sea monsters, she's hanging out with her cat and probably
watching a documentary about Bigfoot. If the cat isn't available,
she's with her fiancé watching cookery shows and silently plotting
her next book.