After giving up her tail for an international banker, Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom is aged beyond recognition. The horrified banker abandons her on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England, leaving her to face a difficult human journey as a plain and practically destitute fifty-three-year-old woman.
With the help of a magic tablet and online mermaid support, Isabella evolves into the persona of Barbara Davies. Along the way, she encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them former mermaids, supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, and several New Agers.
Isabella was seething, but she did not want to lose her composure in full view of this lowly mermaid. She managed a tight smile and changed the subject. “I’ve read the file on Barbara Davies. She doesn’t appear to have too many skills, other than a degree in philosophy. What am I to do with that?”
“Get a job.”
“Like all other humans, you must take responsibility for your own life and make full use of your gifts.”
“I don’t know how to do that,” Isabella said. “In the mermaid kingdom, I knew what my gifts were.”
“You still have some of your gifts.”
“Can you tell me what they are?”
Lisa738 shrugged. “I have no idea. Only Annabella knows.”
“Let me speak to her.”
“That is not possible. Annabella made it clear that she would no longer be communicating with you in your new life. I will be your only connection to the mermaid kingdom for the coming year.”
“Yes, yes, I know all about that,” Isabella said. “This tablet will malfunction and I will be on my own.”
“You will not be alone. You will have found a man to support you.”
“What if I don’t want a man to support me?”
Lisa738 frowned. “You must find a man to help you before the year’s end.”
“But what if I don’t find this special man? What happens then?”
1. Where did you get the idea for the novel?
When several members of my writing group signed up for workshops at the Guelph Public Library, I decided to join them. The facilitator, Sarah Totton, had entered the Writers of the Future Short Story Contest 17 times before winning and went on to write a collection of short stories. Impressed by her tenacity, I listened attentively to her advice. Many of her examples dealt with the fantasy and science fiction genres. Not my usual reading material, but I was open to learning more about the witches, vampires, robots and zombies and robots that enthralled the other participants.
Driving home one evening, I toyed with the idea of writing fantasy. I thought back to the fairy tales I had read as a child and recalled my favorite: The Little Mermaid.
And then the wheels started turning.
What if the mermaid was not so young and not so beautiful?
Would the man still want her?
2. Your title. Who came up with it? Did you ever change your title?
In pictures, a mermaid is usually perched on a large rock close to the water. Often, there is a wistful expression on her face. She may be considering leaving the underwater kingdom, but is not firmly committed to living on land. In the novel, Isabella is definitely grounded, but she is still connected to the Mediterranean kingdom via her magic tablet. The title, Between Land and Sea, immediately came to mind and my editor liked it as well.
3. Why did you pick this genre? What do you like about it?
While participating in Sarah Totton’s workshops, I decided not to write about werewolves, witches or anything too dark. Mermaids have always appealed to me and I knew that I could keep the novel light and breezy.
4. Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?
Pursuing a second act as a writer was one item on my bucket list. As soon as I retired from a 31-year teaching career, I started attending workshops and taking courses. One month into retirement, a local newspaper published my first article about a vacation in Newfoundland. Convinced that I was on the right track, I celebrated with friends and framed the article. Since then, I’ve published over 500 articles and written two novels.
5. What book are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?
I just finished reading Going Home Again by Dennis Bock. An excellent read and worthy of its Giller Prize nomination.
6. What is your writing process?
I am a plotter and enjoy the planning stage of each novel. I start with a list of characters and include details about their appearance, careers and relationships. Location is next. In Between Land and Sea, I wanted Isabella to end up in Canada, but needed her to have a short stop in London. Once the logistics are complete, I produce a very rough synopsis (500 to 600 words) and then start writing. Goal: 1000 words a day.
7. At a book signing, do you just sign your name or do you write a note? How do you come up with stuff to say?
I am looking forward to the print release of Between Land and Sea. At that time, I will schedule several readings in the area. I hope to write personal notes and include words of encouragement for aspiring writers. When I attended New York Best-selling Author Louise Penny’s reading in Stratford, I was impressed by the time she spent with each person and the lovely messages she wrote.
8. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
To balance the yin in my life after retirement (reading, writing, yoga), I joined Toastmasters. I have achieved my CC (Competent Communicator), CL (Competent Leader) and ACB (Advanced Communicator Bronze) certificates and placed in three contests. Motivational speaking is another item on my bucket list.
9. How do you react to a bad review?
I try not to take any criticism of my work personally. If I feel the review is unfair, I reread some of the scathing reviews received by such prominent writers as Herman Melville and John le Carré.
10. How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
My good friend, Magda, treated me to a celebratory lunch and presented me with a beautiful butterfly print.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
In high school, I dabbled in poetry, but decided to wait until I had more life experiences before writing a novel. The original plan was to get a general arts degree and take a few years off to travel and write. Instead, I gave in to my practical Italian side and obtained degrees in mathematics and education.
While I experienced many satisfying moments during my teaching career, I never found the time and energy to write. In 2008, I took advantage of early retirement. Slowly, a writing practice emerged and my articles and book reviews started appearing in newspapers, magazines and online.
My debut novel, Between Land and Sea, a paranormal romance about a middle-aged mermaid, was released by Soul Mate Publishing on September 18, 2013.
I live and write in Guelph, Ontario.
Where to find Joanne…
YouTube (Trailer #1): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xipZ6quZDOs
YouTube (Trailer #2): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfiKOQe_yuU
Joanne will be awarding a $75 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn host. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: