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Shadow in the Sea

Readers will return to Windwaithe Island once again. When sixteen-year-old Sadelyn Hanson washes up on the shores of Windwaithe Island, her beauty and the strange marks on her wrist make superstitious locals suspect she is a mermaid. Feigning amnesia, Sade hides a far worse secret: she was sailing to her own murder trial when she was thrown overboard by the real killer, the cunning and cruel Captain Westwood.

Sade's quiet effort to rebuild her life on the island is threatened when she meets an actual young merman. Unable to speak his language, Sade still longs for the warm companionship he offers, despite the locals' dire legends about merfolk and their dark magic. But her confused feelings for the impossible boy become the least of her problems when Captain Westwood's ship docks at Windwaithe. With nowhere to escape, Sade must trust in the one person who doesn't fear the merfolk. A woman who had dealings with them herself—years ago

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Only Thing You Can Count On Is Change

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers to Forbidden Sea. If you have not read the book yet, skip to the next entry.


The very word brings shivers to the heart of any author. Even so, nothing could be more necessary to the creation of a good book than some good old fashioned spit and polish. Anyone contemplating being an author better get used to the idea. You’ll never get a book published without extensive revisions, so learn to enjoy them. My editor has helped me improve my book in ways I would never have imagined possible. Most of her suggestions, when I stopped to consider them, were right on target. At first I might be sad about changes to the plot, but after some time and hard work, I can see for myself that these changes only improve my story for the best. Curious to know what in Forbidden Sea was changed? Here are a few examples.

Originally Adrianne’s name was Rhama and her sister Cecily was called Chloelle. When the editor asked me change the names, I chose Adrianne because that is the name of my cousin (spelled Adrienne in real life, but I thought the “a” looked more old-fashioned). Adrienne and her twin sister have been fans of my writing since they were little girls. This was my way of thanking them for their support over the years. Thank goodness Adrienne’s twin sister’s name was too modern to consider or I would have been in a real bind. Because of this last minute change, I still have a hard time remembering what my main character’s name is when I talk about the book sometimes.

Windwaithe Island was originally set in a completely fantastical world complete with its own religions, deities and lands. In order to bring it into the real world of the past, I had to do some in-depth research. Luckily, I’m a librarian with easy excess to many resources of information. I also have a very dear friend named Donna who can research what a dog kennel was like in the late 1800’s in her sleep.

In one early incarnation of the book, Adrianne never made it to the mercity. She decided she didn't want to meet the prince early on and had Jendayi take her back. I like it better the way it is now.

Lord Durran's ancestors were awarded Windwaithe Island after doing a favor for a king. They originally came from the Orkney Islands, which is where most of my research on mermaid legends came from. This information was cut from manuscript in the second round of revisions because it wasn't pertinent to Adrianne's story.

My title for this book changed many times during editing. Some of the titles that did not make it to the final round were: The Mermaid of Windwaithe Island, Between Moonlit Rock and Dark Ocean, and Dark Water. Which one is your favorite?


RainCoyote said...

Wow, lots of changes go into books, that's for sure! Good thing one of my favorite parts of writing after creating the story is fixing it up to make it the best it can be.

And I'm glad she went to the mer-city, that was good for the contrast and why she chose the way she did.

PS I just saw two copies of your book in the BYU bookstore and it made me smile!


Anonymous said...

My Favorite is Dark Water

Anonymous said...

i like "between moonlit rock and dark ocean" as well as "the forbidden sea," but may i ask (hopefully without sounding too dense) why you would name the book either of those? Why is the sea forbidden? is only forbidden to Adrianne because she is human, or is it for a deeper reason - about how she refused the prince, or just about things forbidden? and what happened "between moonlit rock and dark ocean" that would make it worthy of being the title?

Sheila A. Nielson said...

What great questions, thanks for asking them! "Between Moonlit Rock and Dark Ocean" is how Jendayi describes the Rumbles when she asks to meet Adrianne face to face there. To me that was the most important moment of the book, when Adrianne and Jendayi finally meet at the edge of their respective worlds and talk together for the first time. That is also where Adrianne find herself--and her courage--and begins to change. I was not the one that chose the title Forbidden Sea. It was the publisher. It referred to the fact that the islanders were afraid to even speak of the mermaid. It was forbidden because they believed it would draw her attention. Also once Adrianne makes the decision to leave the ocean the mark is taken away and she is forbidden from returning.

(c) 2010 Sheila A. Nielson

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