I’m always thrilled to host Merrie DeStefano, and she was kind enough to stop by to talk a bit about her new YA, Fathom! I’ll have a review for you soon, but in the meantime, you can check out Jo’s review over at Vampire Book Club and I’ve got buy links at the bottom so you can snag a copy for yourself!
Creating a new monster
All story ideas begin somewhere. Mine usually begin with a character in an unusual setting. The idea for my young adult novel, Fathom, was born from a single scene: A mother telling stories to her two young daughters, all three of them nestled in a tree house. The whole story unfolded from that one scene idea, although in the end, I removed that scene from the book.
The mother was telling her daughters myths and legends from their homeland, Ireland.
The concept of myth played a strong part in this novel. In the process, I did a lot of research—especially when it came time to create the monster. Somewhere along the way, I came across the legend of a lake in Canada, where the local people believe that if you take anything from the lake, the lake will come after you and kill you. Unfortunately, I later lost all my notes and couldn’t find any mention of this lake or the legend in any of my reference books or online.
At that point, I had to do what writers have done for thousands of years.
I just made stuff up.
In a way, losing my notes was the best thing that could have happened. I was then free to create my own legends and my own mythical beast. With each chapter, my monster—which lives in the ocean, but can also come on land for short periods of time—became more wicked and more dangerous. I was able to give this beast a mysterious back story and a nefarious purpose. As creepy as this thing was, it fit perfectly into the well-knit weave of Fathom’s mythology, just like a natural predator who serves a purpose by maintaining the balance of nature.
The monster became the dark note in the book’s score, but there are light notes as well. One of the main themes is that of coming of age. The main character, sixteen-year-old Kira Callahan, leaves childhood behind as she gains the courage to stand up to the bullies at school, and as she begins to fall in love for the first time. The mysteries of her past slowly unfold throughout the book as she discovers that her past isn’t what she thought it was.
At its heart, Fathom is book about courage and love and hope—and never giving up, no matter how fierce the monsters in your life are.
Turning sixteen can be hell, especially if everyone in town thinks your mother killed herself and your sister. All Kira Callahan wants to do is swim, hang out with her best friend, Sean, and ignore the kids who torment her at school. That is, until one day when she gets invited to a party. For three minutes her life is wonderful—she even kisses Sean. Then somebody spikes her drink and some girls from out of town lure her into the ocean and hold her underwater.
Kira soon discovers that the group of wild teenagers who have come to visit Crescent Moon Bay are not as innocent as they seem. In fact, nothing is as it seems—not the mysterious deaths of her sister and mother, not her heritage, not even her best friend. And everything seems to hinge on the ancient Celtic legends that her mother used to tell her as a child.
Purchase: Amazon | B&N
CURRENTLY A FULL-TIME NOVELIST with HarperVoyager, Merrie Destefano’s second novel, FEAST: HARVEST OF DREAMS, released in June, 2011. In a previous life, she was the editor of Victorian Homes magazine, founding editor of Cottages & Bungalows magazine, and contributing editor of Romantic Homes magazine, and as such, she wrote for a combined circulation of approximately 250,000.
With 20 years experience in publishing, she worked for a variety of publishing/broadcasting companies that include Focus on the Family, The Word For Today, and PJS Publications (now Primedia). Besides editing and writing, her background includes print buying, writing/producing radio promos, directing photo shoots, developing new products, writing jacket copy for books, creating sales media packets and organizing direct mail campaigns.
Born in the Midwest, she currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time.