Would summer be complete without a good mermaid tale? Go read Georgia Cook’s Issue 046 story “Voyage of the Siren,” then come back for some exclusive insight!
LSQ: What a lovely and lyrical story! This is such a unique perspective, I really enjoyed seeing the main character adjust to each new situation. What inspired you to write this journey from tree to figurehead and beyond?
Georgia: Thank you so much!
I originally set out with the goal of writing a simple mermaid story. I usually write in the horror genre– spooks are my bread and butter!– and liked the idea of branching out into something rooted in typical fantasy tropes.
I love figureheads, I think there’s something so fascinating about their designs, and as I was sketching out my ideas sheet for this theoretical mermaid story I remembered a figurehead I’d seen on the isles of Sicily; it’d been recovered from one of the hundreds of ship-wrecks around the islands, and was a remarkably preserved likeness of a mermaid.
After that, I couldn’t get the image out of my head, and slowly the story evolved into the lifespan of this wooden carving.
LSQ: The main character seems remarkably adaptable, becoming more human when surrounded by humans, then more siren-like. What made you decide to emphasize this trait?
Georgia: I really wanted to challenge myself with a non-human narrator; giving them a voice and personality without removing that unique outside perspective. I wanted to explore how that personality could adapt and change in this now alien world of humanity and how their perception of their own forced transformation would affect their decisions.
Ultimately it’s a story of captivity and stolen choice, so the challenge was balancing the deeply human with the uniquely inhuman.
LSQ: The ending is just gorgeous, melancholic but hopeful at the same time, and so well-drawn in my mind as I read it. It made me wonder—what was the first image in your story that came to you? Did you know the whole plot from the very beginning, or discover it based on the spark of a thought?
Georgia: I tend to write my stories in chunks. I really envy the people who can start at the beginning of a draft and just write their way to the end!
Usually I’ll write a paragraph or two of an opening– just enough to hook me into the world and get a general feel of the first draft–then skip down to my first impression of an ending. Often that ending will change drastically by the final draft, but I like having a destination in mind! From there I’ll write the story upwards chunk by chunk, based on what feels right at the time, until everything’s connected from beginning to end– a bit like sewing together a story quilt. Then starts the terrifying process of editing!
In this case, I believe I wrote the ending first. I really liked the image of this wooden mermaid resting on the ocean floor, calling out to the living mermaids high above her. Once I had that locked in, I worked backwards to discover how she’d gotten there.