For a mermaid to walk on land, the price to be paid is far greater than the loss of her voice in Alethea Kontis’s story “Blood and Water.”
I’ve been following the adventures of Princess Alethea over social media for some time now, but haven’t had a chance to meet her in person yet. Someday. I wasn’t expecting to get a story so exquisitely dark and violent, to be honest. If I remember correctly, this was the story that Jamie and I tried to figure out whether we wanted it for Briny Deep or the next volume, Monster Love, but ultimately decided that the ancient deeps of Briny were a more compelling match.
If you’re looking for a story where love is a four-letter word, though, this is a good one.
You can find “Blood and Water” in Amazing Monster Tales #4: Into the Briny Deep, out now!
How do you feel about the ocean?
Once Upon a Time, I graduated from USC with a major in Chemistry and a minor in Marine Science. I was obsessed with deep sea hydrothermal vents. I envisioned spending my adult life on a research ship out in the middle of the ocean, smelling like fish and writing fiction in my copious spare time.
For better or worse, that dream never came to pass. But my fondest memories of college (there weren’t many) were my trips with the Marine Science Undergraduate Society to conduct research on our own private barrier island.
What is your favorite media (stories, nonfiction, video, games, music) about the ocean?
My favorite novel about the ocean is Diane Duane’s fantasy Deep Wizardry (the sequel to So You Want to be a Wizard). Fledgling wizards Nita and Kit get tangled up in an underwater drama where they must help stop the evil Lone Power from escaping his prison in the ocean’s depths and destroying the world. The story is deeply, powerfully emotional—it moved my soul in a way that I’ve never forgotten.
Axie Oh’s novel The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea, a brilliant feminist retelling of the Korean folktale “Shim Cheong,” is my second favorite.
What monster did you bring to your AMAZING MONSTER TALES story in this issue? Why?
Andersen’s unexpurgated version of “The Little Mermaid” was one of my favorite stories when I was young—I would read it, cry, and then read it all over again. Once my education blossomed into Marine Science, I started wondering things like, “How would sirens actually function as a species within our ecosystem? Would sirens look the same as mermaids to the untrained eye, but remain different in nature?” That and a million more questions—many answered by the hydrothermal vents, where beings live on chemosynthesis instead of photosynthesis—begat this story.
You may have heard recently about NASA’s underwater “sharkcano” discovery and the “mutant sharks”—it’s basically the same principle!
Bonus question! Anything you’d like to share with the readers, promotional or otherwise?
I have another original fairy tale short story out this summer called “Dear Auntie Star” (Shattering the Glass Slipper), about an orphan girl who defeats an evil wizard and grows up to become an Agony Aunt/Fairy Godmother whose mission is to save everyone except herself. For those mermaid (and fellow K-drama) fans specifically, my original story “The Ghost Lake Mermaid” comes out this fall in the Literally Dead anthology. For the much younger set (and their parents), the super fun Oodles of Doodles will be released at the end of September from Simon & Schuster.
NYT bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, a storm chaser, and a geek. Author of over 20 books and 40 short stories, Alethea has received the Scribe Award, the Garden State Teen Book Award, and won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award twice! She has also been twice nominated for both the Andre Norton Nebula and the Dragon Award. When not writing or storm chasing, Alethea narrates stories for multiple award-winning online magazines and contributes regular YA book reviews to NPR. Born in Vermont, Alethea currently resides on the Space Coast of Florida with her teddy bear, Charlie.
You can find Alethea at: