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So she takes a year off between high school and college to don a fake tail and tour aquariums across the country in a professional mermaid troupe.
Everything’s great until she meets a gorgeous real-life merman named Finn. Suddenly, what she thought was a dream turns out to be a nightmare — she’s turning into a mermaid herself. For real.
Yet when she returns to the sea to seek out Finn and reverse her transformation, she finds herself in the middle of an impending war between the land and sea. Tara may have always wanted to be a mermaid, but now it’s sink or swim. In order to survive, she has to learn how to be one, too.
A mermaid care package to help you be the best mermaid:
A signed copy of How to be a Mermaid
Two Mermaid Mix soaks
A mermaid mirror compact
Six starfish hairpins
A mermaid wallet
Mermaid Tail Nail Polish
A mermaid makeup bag
Four Little Mermaid Buttons
And one mermaid handbag to carry all your dinglehoppers
“What is this?” a rough, intense voice demanded.
I swam out of unconsciousness, an uncomfortable experience that revealed my entire body aching, my head most of all. It was so dark, and a strange feeling had overtaken my body. Like I was floating. I tried touching a hand to my head, only to find that I couldn’t.
My hands were tied behind my back with what felt like…kelp?
The realization hit me and I thrashed about trying to free myself, and I finally opened my eyes.
I paused for a moment, unable to grasp exactly where I was.
Air bubbles popped out of my mouth in a flurry when a scream escaped my throat. A thousand thoughts filled my head, none of them making sense except for the overwhelming dread that I was somehow underwater with my hands tied behind my back. From what I could tell, there was no way I could get air to breathe. I’d lost a lot of air when I screamed.
Oh my god, I was going to drown.
My mermaid necklace was thrust in front of my vision, momentarily disorienting me.
“What is this? I demand you to tell me now!”
“What?” I asked out loud. A sharp pain zigzagged across my head from where I’d hit it on the rock. I was trapped underwater and this man wanted to know…what exactly? What my necklace was?
The necklace came even closer to my face, so much that I’d have to go cross-eyed in order to focus on it.
“Where did you get this? What is it?” the man demanded.
“It’s my…” I was unsure and still terrified of my situation. “It’s my necklace.”
Anyone who ever bragged about being a good public speaker never had to do it in front of more than thirty kids and their parents while wearing a bikini top and a mermaid tail.
I’d spent the night before in our hotel room preparing my answers, and I still wasn’t ready. I was sitting on a chair in the rotunda of the Houston Aquarium, looking out into a sea of faces and I’d never felt more self-conscious in my life. My friend and fellow mermaid, Christine, stood to my right, a little bit behind me with a few volunteers and ushers from the aquarium to help out.
Every single eye was on me, and a barrage of questions came at me from all directions. I’ve performed our water ballet many times before, although this was the first time I was face-to-face with a crowd. I was a dancer, not a spokesperson.
As a result, my first meet and greet as a professional mermaid was receiving a lot of scrutiny from a bunch of kids under the age of eight.
“How are you on land?”
“Do you swim with whales?”
“Why isn’t your hair red like Ariel’s?”
“How old are you?”
“How did you become a mermaid?”
My answers didn’t make much sense because my nerves were getting the best of me. Throw me in the water, and I can make you believe that mermaids are real. Expect me to entertain a bunch of kids like this, and I drown.
“I was carried here by my helpers, that’s how I’m on land. Sometimes I swim with Beluga whales… I have dark hair, while Ariel dyes hers. I just turned eighteen, and I’ve wanted to be a mermaid since I was a little girl…”
My voice trailed off as I realized that my last answer gave too much away, by nearly admitting that we weren’t real mermaids. Christine shot me a concerned look, like I’d raised the curtain too much and these kids would be able to see behind it.
“What Mermaid Tara means is, she’s so glad to be a mermaid,” Christine said with a warm smile. She was a bit older than me, in her early thirties, and she was a good mentor for my first two months on the job.
The kids seemed to take her at her word, and my secret that I’d had a normal human childhood was safe.
Yet, despite Christine’s save, what I’d said was true.
Sci-fi junkie, video game nerd, and wannabe manga artist Erin Hayes writes a lot of things. Sometimes she writes books, like the fantasy mystery novel Death is but a Dream, the sci-fi middle grade book Jacob Smith is Incredibly Average, and the Her Wolf paranormal series.
She works as an advertising copywriter during the day, and she moonlights as an author. She has lived in New Zealand, Texas, and now in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, cat, and a growing collection of geek paraphernalia.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll be happy to chat. Especially if you want to debate Star Wars.
If How to be a Mermaid was made into a movie, who would play your main characters?
Tara: Katie McGrath is a bit older than Tara in the book, but I think she’d be perfect. I’ve seen her in comedy and I’ve seen her act, and she looks the part too! She’s been in a few things, but I imagine we’re going to see a lot more of Katie McGrath in upcoming movies.
How to be a Mermaid Soundtrack:
1. Go – Grimes featuring Blood Diamonds
2. Can’t Hold Us – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
3. Never Let Me Go – Florence and the Machine
4. What the Water Gave Me – Florence and the Machine
5. Start a Riot – Jetta
6. Believe – Mumford and Sons
7. I Will Wait – Mumford and Sons
8. Dirty Paws – Of Monsters and Men
9. Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding
10. Part of Your World – Jodi Benson from The Little Mermaid
**No mermaid soundtrack would be complete without that song!**