It was the late 90’s. To get everyone on the same page, here is a little recap. Those that have already purchased my book (thank you, thank you!) and read in my dedication, I wrote and illustrated the original book back in high school. I won 3rd place and the opportunity to do a reading book tour at the local elementary schools around Carmel. I even had my photo taken for our local newspaper, ‘The Monterey Herald’, reading my book in one of the classrooms.
Originally presented in our Creative Writing class as a project at the lovely Carmel High of Carmel, California, everyone was required to write a children’s book and we would have a judging contest among the other classes. At the time, I was still reeling from a bittersweet break-up from one of my best friends. I didn’t realize in my 16 years old mind, that it was the friendship I was missing more than a potential romance. A year before that, I had broken another guy friends heart in our friends group. So, lots of teen angst going around. Again, it was the 90’s.
A crush I was trying out during this time, told me over the phone one night that while listening to some music, one of Jimi Hendrix’s songs titled “Angel” came on. It referenced an angel coming down from heaven and telling the story of the sweet love between the moon and the deep blue sea in one of his (Hendrix) lyrics. The crush said it reminded him of me, since he knew how I loved the moon, stars, the ocean, and mermaids. I had all sorts of bumper stickers on my car, binders, locker. So, this was a well known fact. I immediately went on the hunt for this song. (It’s not one of his more common ones, however still beautiful and you can never deny Hendrix’s guitar work of art.)
It was only that brief line! Nothing more in depth about their love.
I was curiously inspired.
When the creative writing project was presented, I took this inspiration to expand on it, along with my current state of teen emotions, added pearls (which at the time were my favorite stone)…and viola, it all made sense! Also, being a fan of Hans Christian Andersen, his tone of writing was an influence on how I approached the subject matter. More on him in another blog.
Later on, in my 20’s when I was being encouraged to submit it to publishers, and actively looking into children’s writing communities, I was also in the early stages of my professional mermaid career. So, to stay on brand, I changed the angel to a mermaid. It not only made better sense with my pearl tie in, but felt more my own. Originally, I had it where a little girl goes to school to tell her best friend (a boy) she has a crush on him, only to come home heartbroken and the angel visits the girl at night in her dreams.
Not only having a mermaid replace the angel a stronger choice, but also changing the opening to what is now in the final publication. The little girl meets a mermaid while looking for treasure to give to her best friend. It has a more innocent hopefulness to it, and not so “on the nose” of my personal experience and highlights the main point of this story about the sea and the moon’s love and friendship.
An interesting point a dear friend shared recently in regards about the swap out of the Angel to Mermaid in the story, “Jenn, this not only makes sense since YOU are a Mermaid, but the evolution of your emotions and perspective on this time of your life. In the original YOU were the little girl looking for comfort, now YOU are the Mermaid in this story, sharing and spreading hope and love and comfort.” Cue my tears and the pleasant surprise of this observation.
I am happy to share below some of the original illustrations drawn by me and the progression of what is published by artist Anna-Marie. Enjoy this trip of how this the book started, molded and came to what it is today.
This one below of the Moon dusting the sea I loved since I used glitter and glitter nail polish at the time.
This next display I share since I heard from my readers is their favorite page.
Below is the original art and story of the 1997 version. Fondly, I named the girl after my baby sister at the time. A fun fact, usually the children dearest in my life at the current time somehow make it into my writing projects. I have a few writings in development now that carry the honor of some pretty amazing youths. Oh, and the boy is named after the brother of the boy who was my “heartbreaker”.
For the record, the story of the love and friendship of the Moon and the Sea never changed. That is the core and soul of this book. Only the original opening (and ending) with the little girl and the Angel becoming a Mermaid.
What are your thoughts on the changes? Is there a page of story that is your favorite that you would like to see the original? I encourage you to leave a comment and keep the conversation flowing.
For those of you who haven’t bought my book, but this inspired or intrigued you to, here is the link to Book Baby Book Shop where you will get it the fastest.
Its also on Amazon’s Kindle! You can always carry it now and for cheaper!