Tell us about The Old Mermaid's Tale:
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In 1960 when Clair Wagner's friends are showing off their new bikinis at the local swimming hole and planning weddings, Clair is plotting her escape from her rural farm-community life. She is headed for college on the shores of Lake Erie with plans for the future and dreams of a "handsome sailor with the constellations of the Northern Seas in his eyes." Into her life comes Pio, a beautiful Italian fisherman, who longs for a life of adventure on the Great Lakes under the aurora borealis. Clair soon meets Gary, the dashing son of a wealthy shipping magnate, who introduces her to Canal Street on the waterfront where she encounters The Old Mermaid Inn, a tavern that, as Gary tells her, " deserves its reputation."
But The Old Mermaid Inn, with its giant painting of a seductive mermaid, is home to some fascinating people including Tessie, the owner and original mermaid, and the intriguing Baptiste, a Breton mariner injured in a shipwreck, who earns his living as a musician.
With Pio, Clair discovers passion, with Gary she gains entry into the world of the commercial waterfront, and with Baptiste she discovers all-consuming love. But as her relationship with Baptiste grows she discovers he is far more complex and mysterious than she could imagine. He has secrets and his secrets will alter her life forever.
Set against the backdrop of Great Lakes shipping legends and lore, The Old Mermaid's Tale is in part a coming-of-age story, in part a history of a transformative time in America, and throughout a love story of grand proportions that pays homage to the importance of story-telling in our lives.
I am the author of a collection of short stories "My Last Romance and other passions" and two novels, "The Old Mermaid's Tale" and "Each Angel Burns". I have also written "Fry Bacon, Add Onions: The Valentine Family & Friends Cookbook - five generations of good eating", a memoir/cookbook of memories and 400 recipes from a Pennsylvania Dutch childhood, and "The Mermaid Shawl & other Beauties: Shawls, Cocoons and Wraps", a collection of my own lace knitting designs. Some of my short stories are available in e-format from HeartThrobBooks.com and additional knitting patterns from KnitYourTailOff.com. I currently lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America's oldest seaport, and I am writing another novel, "Depraved Heart" and another knitting book, "Siren Shawls, Seaman's Scarves and Stories". More information on my work can be found on my website.
I don't ever remember not writing. When I was in high school I wrote a perfectly awful novel about a big family (much like my own) that I burned a few years later (thank goodness). In college I was the editor of my campus literary magazine and I wrote a lot of pretty bad poetry filled with metaphores based on mythology as I understood it at the time.
Over the years of my working life I had several jobs thay involved writing case reports, promotional copy, technical manuals, whatever was necessary for the job. I published some magazine articles, mostly on handcrafts, knitting and quilting. However it wasn't until I moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts and became involved with a few arts organizations that I started taking writing seriously. I authored a book for the North Shore Arts Association on the Artistic Families of the North Shore and then a companion article for American Artist Magazine. I began writing more articles about art and alo wrote a few cime stories that were published in crime anthologies.
When I wrote my first novel, The Old Mermaid's Tale, I wasn't sure what to call it. It was romantic but did not fit the popular romance formula. It was steeped in the folklore and maritime stories of the Great lakes shipwrecks but did not really qualify as a historical novel. So I called it contemporary fiction which is sort of a catchall term for novels that don't really fit anywhere.
My second novel, Each Angel Burns, was even more perplexing. There is a beautiful love story in it but the lovers are in their early fifties -- too old for genre romance. There is also a mysterious component to it but it is not the focus of the story so it is not a classic mystery. So it, too, became contemporary fiction.
Now I'm working on a third novel that contains a love story, some mystery, and one of the main characters is a professional football player so it includes sports. Hard to classify as well.
But all three of my books center around the arts. In The Old Mermaid's Tale we have a musician and a folklorist. In Each Angel Burns there is a sculptor and a wood-worker and my third novel revolves around an art historian hired to catalog a fabulous art collection.
So what kind of novels do I write? Well, romantic, mysterious books about artists. There ought to be a category for that -- I suspect it is called contemporary fiction.