Ocean’s Gift by Demelza Carlton
Award-Winning and Int’l Bestselling Author
You’ll never look at mermaids the same way again.
Mermaids don’t fall in love with humans. For centuries it has been so…
But Sirena is different. She lost her first love to sharks and a storm, cursing the islands that stole him from her.
Times have changed and she must swim ashore once more, to the islands she once cursed. Gone are the boats powered by sail and steam – jet boats with GPS are now the order of the day.
Enter Joe, the deckhand on the Dolphin. A handy man to have around when the lights go out. He’ll fix your generator and have the lights back on in no time, no worries. But can he seduce a siren?
Or will she swim away before he can uncover her secret?
A book about lobsters, beer and boobs, on some cursed islands off the coast of Western Australia. At least, that’s how Joe tells it.
For Sirena, it’s a very different story.
Featured Book: Ocean’s Gift
Hiya, and thanks for having me. I’m a little nervous, but I shall do my best not to stammer too much.
Welcome, Demelza! It always amazes me when writers say that; they have such a command of the English language and are such magic wordsmiths! How long have you been a writer and how did you come to writing? I’ve been writing for over 20 years, but I’ve only been published for four of them. Ah…come to writing or come to writing something I intended to publish? Because the first book I wrote was actually the third book I published, and there’s a reason for that. Nightmares of Caitlin Lockyer…no, the whole Nightmares Trilogy, is very dark. Psychological thriller type dark. It was based on a series of recurring nightmares I had during the trial of two notorious serial killers in my home town. While I won’t go into the gory details, they kidnapped and tortured women before they killed them and disposed of the bodies. The only reason they were caught is because when they were about to kill one of the girls, she managed to escape and get help. That’s where the similarity ends, though, because my serial killers are subject to a much darker kind of justice than the Australian legal system. I thought the whole thing – which was just the one book then, not a trilogy at all – was too dark to publish or even show anyone, but I was talking to some other authors on the site Wattpad, who expressed a desire to read some of it. They’d tell me if it was too dark, they said. So…I posted the first few chapters. And within a matter of days, those chapters had over ten thousand reads. So I posted a few more…and a few more…until in the end I posted the whole book on Wattpad, and the website staff offered to feature it to their (then) ten million readers. I think it had more than two and a half million reads or something – a very popular book. So, I went from believing it was too dark to release, to publishing the first book…and two more in the trilogy as it stands now. But if you’re asking about why I published my first book…that’s Ocean’s Gift, a light comedy urban fantasy.
How did you come up with this storyline? Ah….that’s kind of a funny story, really. I did my Masters research on shipwrecks at several remote islands off the West Australian coast, and as I was writing up my dissertation, I came across one shipwreck that just didn’t make sense. During a cyclone in the 1920s, a fishing boat broke free of its moorings with the two-man crew still aboard. One man managed to swim ashore, but the other couldn’t swim, so he disappeared in the waves when the boat sank. Everyone thought he drowned, but his body wasn’t found…until more than three weeks later, when it washed up miles from where the boat went down, in the complete opposite direction to the ocean currents. Stranger still, the man was recognizable – which meant his corpse hadn’t been floating at sea for all those weeks – and he’d done some first aid to his broken leg. There was nowhere the man could have been all that time except in the ocean, because if he’d washed up on the island, someone would have seen him and helped him. So how could a man survive for three weeks at sea, do first aid on himself, and yet drown within sight of land? No matter how much research I did, I couldn’t solve the mystery, so I wrote "mermaids did it" in my report and left it at that. When I did the final proofread of my report, I burst out laughing when I saw that bit, because it was still there. I quickly deleted it, submitted my dissertation, and decided to celebrate with a glass of wine. Wine in hand, I decided to search mermaid myths on the internet. Was it actually possible? I was amazed to find heaps of mermaid stories from all over the Indian Ocean, and of course I also dug out my copy of Hans Christian Anderson’s tales to read the fairytale I remembered. Put the two together with my miracle man, and I had a story. What if the reason mermaids went ashore was a biological imperative – they needed human men in order to breed – but instead of saving the man like the prince in Anderson’s tale, what if my Indian Ocean mermaid accidentally lost him to the waves? She’d be heartbroken, not wanting to return to the place she lost the man for a very long time. And a very long time later, she did come ashore again, at the same islands, investigating an environmental issue. Right at the same time as a brand new deckhand starts work on a lobster fishing vessel at the islands – a deckhand who’s very interested in the woman who lives in the fishing shack next door to his. And he just happens to have the same first name as the man she lost to the waves…
What are the best and the worst aspects of writing? The best part is getting lost in the story. I love the research and working with new characters in amazing places and seeing just what they can come up with to make their story special. The worst bit…is when the characters are so real to me that they hijack my head, the story and anything else they can get their imaginary hands on. So when I was writing Joe Fisher, the deckhand who’s in love with the woman he doesn’t know is a mermaid, and I walked past a reflective window while I was wearing a low-cut top, the thought that popped into my head was a very clear, "Ooh, boobs!" I’ll never forget that moment, because it was like Joe Fisher was alive in my head…and perving on me.
What inspires you to write? Anything and everything, especially when my characters won’t shut up. I swear they’re either having a party in my head or starting World War III. At least, I think it’s war. It might be a particularly violent orgy, which is entirely possible, as Lucifer features in several of my books and he gets quite vocal. I honestly don’t know.
How did you conduct your research for Ocean’s Gift? Ah…well, I used my Masters research, but part of that included site visits to the islands where the book is set. I’ve stayed in those shacks, walked the jetty, been out on the fishing boats…and visited Giuseppe’s grave, and the site where his boat sank.
What are 3 of your favorite quotes from Ocean’s Gift? Oh hell…that’s a hard one. ~ When Joe Fisher has a few too many drinks and then tries to drive his dinghy back to the island in the dark: "I checked out of Hotel Consciousness. At least I got to dream of Vanessa naked."
~ Ah…this is an introduction to what Joe did for a living before he signed on as a deckhand, constructing remote mining camps with his offsider, Dean: "While we worked, we lived rough. We were the last people who actually camped there. We slept in swags and cooked outside, in the beam of the spotlights on the top of the car, which was a ute. There was one ute to two men, and I shared mine with Dean the plumber. Dean was full of shit, so it seemed natural that he was a plumber. Still, he was a better cook than me and a good mate, too."
~ Dean calls Joe while they’re both between assignments, asking for his help on his uncle’s fishing boat: “Look, he needs someone as soon as possible. How soon can you get up here?” Dean’s in Geraldton, then. “I could finish up at the end of the week and fly up on Sunday,” I told him reluctantly. “Cool, I’ll get my cousin to sort out your flights and he’ll meet you out on the islands. You can see how it goes the first week and if it works out you get paid to go fishing for the rest of your holidays. Seeya.” He hung up. Shit. What’ve I got myself into? Knowing Dean, this was going to be a disaster. Oh well, next trip I can always get back at him by putting huge spiders in his swag. He’s terrified of them, but he always forgets to zip his swag up properly. And he screams like a girl when he finds them, too. What’s the worst that can happen? A week on a free fishing charter and possibly getting paid to fish for weeks after it. And if it didn’t work out, the next three months of seeing Dean do a high-pitched jig every night when he found spiders in his swag. Hell, there wasn’t a downside that I could see. I started writing down a list of things to pack.
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What do you do when you don’t write? Honestly? Probably researching my next book. It might not have been my intention when I stepped onto the whale watching boat/jetty over a volcanic lake/the walkway into a million-year-old cave or waded into the water with my dive gear, always with my camera in hand, but by the time I get home, I usually have a new story idea in my head – or something I’d like to include in an existing book. I should tell you about the snorkelling trip where I spent around an hour chasing this shark around so I could get a picture of it. I never did get a good one. I’ll have to try again sometime.
Tell us about your other books? Are you sure? I have almost thirty of them now.
Ocean’s Gift has two other books in the series – Ocean’s Infiltrator, and a prequel about Belinda called Water and Fire. I realised after I wrote these that there’s ninety years missing in Vanessa’s tale, so I started writing what I thought was a single book called Turbulence and Triumph. Ha. Now, that’s the name of a series of seven books to date, all of which take place in the 1920s and 1930s, starting with Ocean’s Justice. My Mel Goes to Hell series is about an angel sent in as a temp to the office from Hell. Quite literally, as the CEO is the devil himself and Mel’s supposed to find out his plans while she’s working there. But the devil falls for the angel – and falls hard – which makes her job a lot more challenging. My Nightmares Trilogy I’ve already mentioned, but an odd spinoff from that is my Romance Island Resort series. You see, the girl was in a band, and because of what happened to her, she managed to garner some media attention, and once the lead singer’s interview went viral, the band just sort of took off. Five years later, that lead singer, Jay Felix, is one of the hottest rock stars in the world, with more money than he knows what to do with, and the band breaks up. He buys Romance Island Resort, a luxury celebrity resort off the West Australian coast, and proceeds to look for love…inspired by the resort’s library of romance books. But what works for most romance heroes always seems to go wrong for him, even if he does get the girl in the end. Just not the way he intended. Yes, I have other projects in the works…but that’s all I can talk about for now.
Thank you so much for joining us and sharing a little of yourself with our readers and fans. We’ll be looking for you on the ‘Bestseller Lists’! Thank you so much for having me – and letting me chew your ear off about my books.
Demelza Carlton has always loved the ocean, but on her first snorkelling trip she found she was afraid of fish. She has since swum with sea lions, sharks and sea cucumbers and stood on spray-drenched cliffs over a seething sea as a seven-metre cyclonic swell surged in, shattering a shipwreck below. Sensationalist spin? No – Demelza tends to take a camera with her so she can capture and share the moment later; shipwrecks, sharks and all. Demelza now lives in Perth, Western Australia, the shark attack capital of the world. The Ocean’s Gift series was her first foray into fiction, followed by the Nightmares trilogy. She swears the Mel Goes to Hell series ambushed her on a crowded train and wouldn’t leave her alone.