Author Kelly Sandoval on “Siren Seeking”

Sirens Blog Tour

Deep, deep down, part of me believes I moved from a landlocked state to one bordering the ocean in order to secure a prime location for a siren sighting. I mean, it’s a possibility if one believes in magic, right?

I’ve always been drawn to stories involving sirens, and they are the only mythological creatures I’ve written about more than once. Whether of the feathered or finned variety, there’s always been something wildly intriguing about bewitching, seductive creatures who can bring others to a violent end by way of beautiful music.

When I learned of Rhonda Parrish’s Sirens anthology, it was like hearing a siren’s call. I needed the collection. Immediately.

And I was absolutely charmed by the very first story in the book, “Siren Seeking” by Kelly Sandoval, in which a reformed siren named Thelia, fully integrated into modern society, has signed up for an online dating service for magical beings … and we all know how that goes …

I spoke with Kelly about “Siren Seeking,” writing comedy, and women in mythology – and I may have fallen in love with her sense of fashion, too (tiny hats!).

First of all, what attracts you to sirens?

I’m attracted to myths about women, particularly women who are also monsters. They always seem to be doomed or deadly, or both. So often, these stories feel like cautionary tales. Stories told about women and to women, but not by women. And everything’s taken for granted. Sirens lure men to their deaths. Why? They just do.

I was excited to move beyond that, to see what it all looks like from the siren’s perspective.

The protagonist in “Siren Seeking,” Thelia, is a siren in modern times who’s signed up for a month of online dating through Elsewhen, a service specifically for magical beings. I have to say, a number of Thelia’s negative experiences were all too relatable. So, I have to ask … did you pull any inspiration from real-life experiences? Either yours or those of your friends? 

To be completely honest, I’ve never used an online dating service. But, at the time I wrote this story, one of my friends was playing OkCupid roulette. While none of her experiences directly inspired the story, talking to her is definitely what started me thinking about the difficulties of online dating. I remember joking with her about creating a dating app for writers. From there, I started to think about other groups that might need an online dating app. Immortal beings, for example.

If you were a member of Elsewhen, what kind of magical creature do you think you’d most jive with, and why?

Oh, immortals seem like they’d be too much work, don’t you think? That said, I think every writer wants to date a muse, at least for a little while.

The Grashe (one of Thelia’s dates) were simply intriguing. Is that multi-deity based on any particular lore?

The Grashe are based less on a specific deity and more on a specific idea of deity. The idea that gods are in some ways a reflection of their worshippers’ expectations shows up a lot, and I started to wonder what that would feel like. What happens when you go from being foolish Aries to mighty Mars? Do you keep a little bit of each inside you? The Grashe reflect that difficulty. I imagine they’re very old, older than Thelia realizes. Probably more dangerous, too.

There’s an interesting theme that comes up in your story: whether an immortal – in this case, Thelia – can truly distance themselves from their past. Do you think that distance is possible for magical folk to achieve? How about mortals?

This is a great question, and it’s one I keep returning to in fiction. But I don’t know the answer. Certainly, they must try to change. We all try. But immortals are often archetypal in some way. They represent ideas, concepts. When you’re part concept, how do you become something new?

It’s easier for mortals, and that contrast is great story fodder. You’ve got these timeless beings who are essentially stuck. But pathetic humans, with their gnat-like lifespans, keep changing. Keep striving.

Thelia ponders something thought-provoking with her friend, Meda, toward the end of “Siren Seeking” – what will they be in 100 years. What do you think the next incarnation of the siren will be in the world you’ve created?

Thelia’s role will always be one of coaxing people, of getting them to want. I imagine she’ll get into government work eventually, selling the idea of space travel to nervous colonists. 100 years after that? Maybe a summer home on Titan, swimming with alien fish.

This story made me laugh throughout! You have a great sense of humor. Do you have any advice for authors who want to incorporate more comedy into their writing?

I wrote this story in part as a challenge to myself. I like to joke that I write “sad stories about sad people being sad.” I wanted to try my hand at something funny. I think it’s important to push your boundaries every once in a while.

The best advice I can give is to write characters with a sense of humor. Thelia finds her situation funny, so she makes jokes about it. It’s all a matter of the character’s perspective. If Thelia approached each date with starry-eyed hope, it’d be a much darker story.

Where can we find more of your work? And are you working on anything we can be on the lookout for?

My website, kellysandovalfiction.com is the best place to find more of my fiction. For another story that explores immortality and change, I suggest “The Wolf and the Tower Unwoven,” which was published in Uncanny Magazine. As a warning, it’s a bit sad.

I’m currently finishing up an interactive novel for Choice of Games. It’s about class warfare and adorable baby gryphons. No release date yet, but I imagine it will be some time next year.

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About the Author 

Kelly Sandoval’s fiction has appeared in UncannyStrange Horizons, and Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. She lives in Seattle, where the weather is always happy to make staying in and writing seem like a good idea. Her family includes a patient husband, a demanding cat, and an anarchist tortoise. You can find her online at kellysandovalfiction.com.

 

 

Sirens_SneakPeekAbout Sirens 

Sirens are beautiful, dangerous, and musical, whether they come from the sea or the sky. Greek sirens were described as part-bird, part-woman, and Roman sirens more like mermaids, but both had a voice that could captivate and destroy the strongest man. The pages of this book contain the stories of the Sirens of old, but also allow for modern re-imaginings, plucking the sirens out of their natural elements and placing them at a high school football game, or in wartime London, or even into outer space.

Featuring stories by Kelly Sandoval, Amanda Kespohl, L.S. Johnson, Pat Flewwelling, Gabriel F. Cuellar, Randall G. Arnold, Michael Leonberger, V. F. LeSann, Tamsin Showbrook, Simon Kewin, Cat McDonald, Sandra Wickham, K.T. Ivanrest, Adam L. Bealby, Eliza Chan, and Tabitha Lord, these siren songs will both exemplify and defy your expectations.

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Go Ahead…Bite Somebody!

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What happens when you mix an insecure, novice vampire, balmy Florida nights, a hunky ex-surfer with a penchant for Bob Marley, and a purple-haired, stuck-in-the-80s instigator? You get Sara Dobie Bauer’s novel, Bite Somebody, which has been lauded as the “Pretty in Pink of vampire stories.” Seriously, you need this novel in your life. It’s poignant, hilarious, sexy, and freaky.

I caught up with Sara to talk vampires, rum punch, and writing.

First of all, this is your first published novel. Congratulations! How does it feel? And how are you celebrating?

It feels exciting and terrifying in equal measure. I don’t think it’s quite hit me that my book is a Real Thing. It’s kind of like waking from a dream, disoriented and tangled in my sheets. It’s also a lot of work. When releasing your first book, there’s very little time for bon-bon consumption—but plenty of time for beer, trust me. Speaking of celebrating, I will mark the occasion with a rum punch (or two) since that’s what my characters drink in the beach world of Bite Somebody.

Give me your elevator pitch for Bite Somebody. What’s it about, and why should we add it to our bookshelves?

Celia Merkin is a chubby, insecure newbie vamp in love with the smell of her neighbor. What she needs to do—according to her moody vampire friend Imogene—is just bite somebody. But Celia wants her first bite to be special, and she has yet to meet Mr. Right Bite. Then, Ian moves in next door. Could he be the first bite she’s been waiting for to complete her vampire transformation?

Add Bite Somebody to your bookshelves because not only is it hilarious (think dark comedy), but also it’s sexy and adventurous and, although it’s a vampire book, it sort of pokes fun at the whole genre.

Tell me something funny/freaky/interesting about the process of writing this book that no one else knows.

I wrote the first page at 6 AM while lying in bed in Phoenix, covered in dogs. Call it an epiphany.

Did your characters behave themselves while you were writing Bite Somebody? Or did they go rogue and make decisions you didn’t see coming?

A little of both. I knew where the characters needed to go eventually—they just took some roundabout ways to get there. My characters always do that, but they’re supposed to. If you’ve created a character of depth, he or she will practically become a real person, and real people are unpredictable, yes?

When you think of the setting of your novel, what do you see, smell, taste, hear, and feel?

I think Gulf Coast beach. I see a moonlit ocean. I smell salt water and fruit-juicy rum punches. I hear laughter and waves. I feel happy, because I’d like to live in this place.

There’s a lot of vampire lit out there and thus, a lot of vampire archetypes. Do you have a favorite flavor of vampire?

Vampires with a sick sense of humor. I don’t like moody, pouty vampires. I don’t like angst. I adore characters like Lestat, who’ll giggle while he kills you, or Spike from Buffy with his sly, British sense of humor. I guess my flavor of vampire fits my flavor of friend, too. If you don’t make me laugh, you probably won’t be spending too many happy hours with me. Life’s too short to be taken seriously.

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Okay, how the heck did you get your dentist to make you vampire teeth in celebration of Bite Somebody? I mean, seriously, how did that conversation even begin?

Ha. Well, she had a picture of Bela Lugosi in her office, and I was amused but, like, “Why?” She explained she made vampire teeth for one of her clients once, to which I replied, “Hmmm?” She knew about my novel and immediately offered to make some for me as a gift for my launch party. Now, I wear them randomly around the house and at bars. Some guys get freaked out; other guys want to buy me a drink. I should probably steer clear of the guys who want to buy me a drink.

If you had to describe Bite Somebody in five words, what would they be?

Insecure immortal learns to love.

(And not just other people.)

Who would play the main characters in a film adaptation of Bite Somebody?

Well, the leads would be Felicia Day and Benedict Cumberbatch, but I actually have a blog post with the entire list HERE.

Fast forward. The film is wildly successful and nominated for an Oscar! What would you wear to the award ceremony?

A skin-tight gothic-inspired Dior gown or maybe even something completely insane by Hirooka Naota. Black patent leather Louboutin stilettos, my lucky skull ring, and my hot husband on my arm in a black Spencer Hart suit.

Bite Somebody has received great reviews from first readers. Any comments that have surprised, delighted, or affected you in a big way?

Well, one of my favorite writers, Christopher Buehlman called it “the Pretty in Pink of vampire stories.” Another reviewer said, imagine “going for midnight swims with Benedict Cumberbatch while listening to David Bowie.” Does it get any better?

Anything else you’d like to add?

You can buy the book now on Amazon or directly from World Weaver Press. If you’d like to chat, visit my website. Feel free to stalk!

About Sara:

Sara-Dobie-Bauer-Author

Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She spends most days at home in her pajamas as a book nerd and sex-pert for SheKnows.com. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is also the author of Wolf Among Sheep, Life Without Harry, and Forever Dead. Read more at SaraDobieBauer.com or find her on Twitter @SaraDobie.