Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother’s death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family’s homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock’s daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there’s more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Yikes! Let’s see…I married my high school sweetheart whom I’m still crazy in love with, and we have three kids who are big into Irish dance, hockey, and musical theater. We’re a family of five redheads! I loved high school–loved, loved, loved it!–so I’ve always sought out ways to stay connected to those years, like being a high school English teacher, a juvenile defense lawyer, and now a YA author.
What do you do when you’re not writing? (For fun, that is!)
Um… reading? I work full time and I write every night, so it’s hard to do much else. I do like to travel, so we go to Lake Superior a handful of times each year, and we go on a Labor Day camping trip with our closest family friends. Other favorite places are Cape Cod and Ireland.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I was obsessed with Nancy Drew mysteries as a little kid and that phased into Agatha Christie mysteries as I got older. When I was twelve, I went crazy over a book called The Thyme Garden, which was about time travel via inhaling thyme… I read that no less than fifty times. When I hit Junior High I got on an historical romance streak so I got my fix with Anne of Green Gables, and a book called Evergreen that I read until the pages fell out.
My oldest daughter introduced me to YA paranormal novels awhile back, and I got sucked into those pretty hard. Dystopians and contemporaries, too. They brought home alot of those old high school emotions for me, and I fell in love with YA literature all over again.
What are you currently reading?
Two fellow 2012 debuters: Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole and The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova.
Regarding Lies Beneath, what inspired you to write a book about mermaids who dwell in Lake Superior?
I grew up sailing on Lake Superior, so the lake itself was my first inspiration. It’s ancient, deep, clear, and fuh-reezing cold. It’s always had a mysterious quality to it, maybe in part because of the local saying, “Lake Superior doesn’t give up its dead.”
As for the mermaids, I was actually writing a different book (adult contemporary) set on the lake. My main character was a ferry boat captain, and every night for a week I had this dream where he dove off the back of the ferry. Which would be stupid. He’d be dead in a few minutes. Obviously, I couldn’t write that scene. Then in one dream, he dove and burst out with a tail.
I woke up with the first line of LIES BENEATH in my head: “I hadn’t killed anyone all winter, and I have to say I felt pretty good about that.“ It’s the one line that never changed over the course of many revisions. Calder White’s voice was always very clear on that point. So I started work on the story that wanted to be told.
What was your favorite chapter (or part of the book) to write and why?
I loved writing the Daily Grind Coffee Shop scene at the beginning where you meet the whole White family around the table, together. All their personalities are established, their plan is set, as is Calder’s personal motivation for going along with the plan.
If there is ONE THING you would like readers to know about the book, what would it be?
I think the story has caught a lot of people off guard because they think Mermaids! Ariel! I love The Little Mermaid! Plus, it’s categorized as paranormal romance so they think it’s going to be sweeter than it is. The romance is definitely a big part of the story, but I see it as more of a symptom of the larger plot. To me, LIES BENEATH has always been an Evolution Story. Calder and his sisters are animals, or at the very least animalistic. They’re predators who stalk their prey. From a human standpoint, it’s definitely creepy, but for them it’s no different than the lion on National Geographic stalking the gazelle.
However, over the course of the novel, Calder starts to evolve–becoming more human. He falls in love, which is something he didn’t know he was capable of, and he heads toward what I consider to be the two most profound and difficult of all human capabilities: the ability to forgive and the ability to be self-sacrificing. Does he get it right? Not entirely. He’s not the hero. But he’s trying to be.
Can you reveal anything about the next installment? *eye wink*
The sequel, DEEP BETRAYAL, is a continuation of the story, but told from the point of view of Lily Hancock, so there’s a huge change in voice. It involves several different layers of . . . (wait for it) . . . betrayals: societal, family, and first loves. There’s a mystery too, which is a shout out to my earliest literary obsession.
This is your debut novel. How has the road to publishing been for you? Any memory that stands out?
It’s been a looonnnnggg road. I spent three years (2005-2008) writing in every kind of genre I could think of, except YA, and it never felt right to me. I could never find my “voice” and everything felt forced. No surprise those novels went nowhere. In 2009 I was still in experimentation mode, and I wrote a MG novel that got the attention of my wonderful agent, Jacquie Flynn. After that, I put my focus on MG and YA literature and things started to “click.”
I wrote LIES BENEATH in 2010. Jacquie submitted it to publishers the last week of January 2011, and Random House bought it five days later, on February 1, 2011.
Since February 1, 2011, I’ve been surviving the 16 1/2 month wait for publication by writing DEEP BETRAYAL and working on a third book to wrap up the trilogy. I’ve also had a lot of fun establishing friendships with the other Apocalypsies (2012 YA/MG debuters) and so many supportive book reviewers. But my favorite experience was producing the book trailer. I story boarded it myself, then hired a filmmaker and photographer, all the actors, and the musicians. We filmed it the last warm day in September, and it was one of the most fun days I’ve ever had. To see what had been in my mind suddenly standing in front of me . . . AMAZING!
Chocolate or vanilla?
If we’re talking ice cream, it’s vanilla. Otherwise, chocolate all the way.
Pepsi or Coke?
Tom or Jerry? ;)
Do people still know who they are? I used to race home from the bus to catch that cartoon! I suppose the cool answer is “Jerry,” but I always felt a lot of sympathy for “Tom.” He never got the respect he deserved, and he never gave up.
(Yup, people know who they are! As a matter of fact, they even make a Tom & Jerry fruit snack!)
Is there anything more you would like to say to fans?
Just a big thank you to everyone who has supported LIES BENEATH. I suspect you all have a story inside of you and I, for one, can’t wait to hear it.
Enter to win a signed copy of LIES BENEATH!
- A signed LIES BENEATH bookmark
- Patchouli-scented essential oil (for when you want to be mistaken for a mermaid!), and
- A LIES BENEATH T-shirt
Two winners will receive the book, plus all the items listed above.
A third winner will receive a LIES BENEATH T-shirt!
Open to US residents aged 13 and older only.
Giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, June 27, 2012.