Marisa, tell us a bit about yourself: All I ever wanted to do was to become a Sea Witch, like my mother. Although I was considered precocious, the truth is, after my mother was killed by a rogue shark I hid my loneliness and sorrow in books. I advanced quickly. Sharing classes with my older brothers was annoying at times but it got me into the Sea Witch program at a record early age. I was so excited when I was accepted into the Aquademy. Then things turned upside down before my first term was over. I had what walkers would call “panic attacks” and left the program. My mentor, Inanna the High Sea Witch, wasn’t pleased. Neither of us knew I was being drugged.
Tell us about the Aquademy. It is the most advanced educational institution in all of the mercolonies. Years of painstaking merfolk labor hand-carved it out of a blown out volcano in the Many Times. They created windows that let light in during the day, and our phosphorescent and bioluminescent lights out at night. The glow is very impressive against the iridescent volcanic rock. Even though it’s underwater, many of the rooms are air-filled through technomagic. One of the most notable airdomes is The Great Hall. When you spill into it you are faced with an amazing chamber of waterfalls, chutes, archways and canals. As impressive as the outside is, it would take me pages to describe the wonders on the inside!
What happened when you left? I went to teach mini-ones in my home colony. I had a state-of-the-art classroom with lantern fish lighting and delightful drawings on the walls. I wanted a quiet life. Then merfolk started disappearing. My father, Alcedo, is a politician who is often away so he was very concerned for my safety. After an incident in the mini-classroom, he made me return to the Aquademy so I could be under the watchful eyes of my brothers.
What incident? I’d rather not talk about it. It was terrible. I think I would have lost my job anyway if my father hadn’t made me leave.
What happened after that? When I returned to school, I was shocked to find out that my oldest brother Sail had disappeared! The rest of my story [in The Secret of the Sea Witch] is about the trials I had to go through – literally – to get in touch with my natural powers so I could save him and the others.
Knowing what you know now, if you had it to do over again, would do something different? I think I might have fought harder against the feelings that made me leave the Aquademy in the first place. But it all turned out well!
What is your biggest fear? After my mom’s attack, it was sharks. After my adventures, it’s lies.
What is your favorite book and why? Two books helped me very much – Sea Paths of Central America in the Aquademy Archives helped me reach my brother, and the tome I found at the end of my trials in the Ancient Athenaeum taught me the secrets I needed to know to walk on land.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Don’t eat mussels that make your tongue tingle; they have been poisoned with walker toxins.
There's not much to say after that interesting and unique interview. Let's give MD her turn at the plate. Which writer or character[s], from either books or movies, [or both] have had a major impact on your writing? I’m an avid snorkeler and only one painful ear shy of scuba certification. I love the ocean. I enjoy reading books on fish, diving, reef life and so on. The mermaids in the Disney version of Peter Pan left an everlasting impression on me as a child. I always wanted to be a mermaid.
With regard to research, where did you start for this novel? Did that lead you down different paths, thereby changing the original concept? To find out more about mermaids I went to Weeki Wachee, a north Florida mermaid theme park. Then I booked a dream trip to Fiji on a 147 foot converted cargo ship. I was at sea for over a week and in the water much of the time. The dresser in my room had a little wooden border around the top to keep my things from rolling off – it was necessary. I snorkeled with white tipped reef sharks, saw an amazing array of soft corals, and was able to come up with several new ways of describing the ocean and its sea creatures. The trip left me wanting more mermaid life so I joined a community of professional mermaids – I’m one of the oldest wannabees - and now attend their conventions whenever possible.
Tell us a bit about your publisher. What is the turn-around time from date of query to date of release? This is the second book I have self-published with Amazon. I also designed the covers for both books although I outsourced the execution because I didn’t have the computer programs to realize my vision. My feelings about the process are very mixed. I feel a certain lack of control over my work with Amazon.
What's next for you? I’m moving between sequels and a new book in a completely different genre. The latter is a book called “Construction” and deals with a young female architect with a penchant for fixer-uppers - both in houses and men!
MD, thanks so much for bringing your unique imagination and experiences with merfolk to Wild Women Authors. We wish you much luck with this book and those in the future!
Kat and Veronica
To learn more about M.D. Mascaro and the stories she creates, go to: