Friday, June 5, 2009

Guest Post: Judi Fennell, author of In Over Her Head

Today I would like to welcome Judi Fennell, author of In Over Her Head. Check back tomorrow for my review of her book. Welcome, Judi and thanks so much for joining us today!


Thank you so much for having me, Carey!
Since this is the Tome Traveller's blog, I figured I'd talk about traveling. Whether to actual places, or through books, traveling is, indeed the spice of life.
All the books I read growing up took me to wonderful places. Starting with the fairy tales and their castles, then I zipped through all of the Oz books - you want to talk about traveling! - then on to the Doctor Doolittle books... ah, to go to the moon on the back of a lunar moth, or travel under the sea in the great pink sea snail!
Then there were the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys/Bobbsey Twins books which took you to secret staircases or old mills.
Books are such great (and inexpensive) ways to travel!
So, when it came time for me to place my story, In Over Her Head, I chose the Jersey Shore. Not exotic. It doesn't have white sand beaches, or crystalline blue water, but it's close to home, we go there every year on vacation and it's the shore. For those of us who grew up in this area, the Jersey Shore combines the great memories of our childhood, the traditional fare of funnel cake and pizza and donuts and popcorn on the boardwalk, as well as the wonderfully relaxing atmosphere of living at the beach. And I got to take a couple of research trips while I was working on my Mer stories - can't complain about that.
I also had to come up with a place to put Atlantis. Now, if you've ever studied the North Atlantic on Google earth, you'll notice that there's not much there off the coast of the US. Until you hit Bermuda.
I've never been to Bermuda. I'd like to go to Bermuda, but have never been, and, sadly, we couldn't work that into our budget for my research. So I did the next best thing and traveled there via the internet. I am so thankful for the people who take underwater videos when they're scuba diving or snorkeling - all the beauty and fun of actually doing that without the expense or fear of sharks (which is a big fear for me...). There are so many photos of the caves beneath Bermuda, and a lot of video that I could build my Atlantis sitting in my office chair.
Then I had to build a castle in the Caribbean. Now, I've been to the Caribbean, but, I got to tell ya, I've never seen an underwater castle. :) So, once again, I went back to the internet (memory doesn't serve as well once you get past a certain age...). Again, thank you to all the people who post their scuba experiences so I could get the descriptions down and create the pink castle that's
They followed Carlos around a half-submerged, rusting plane fuselage to Ceto's home. Or should she say, palace? Erica almost forgot they were heading into the depths of a figurative Hell because Ceto's home was every bit as gorgeous as Atlantis.

Sunlight filtered through the water, twinkling on the pink conch shells lining the walls. Slabs of black-veined white marble supported an abalone portico roof, all its iridescent colors sparkling through the wakes of hundreds of neon fish darting to and fro in an even prettier garden than the one by the gates.

Midnight parrot fish tended manicured coral topiaries. Floating overhead like vines on an invisible pergola, swaths of sea grasses provided the perfect hide-and-seek locale for schools of tropical fish. Octopi draped over ionic columns like living statues, their colors changing with every shoal of fish that swam by. Black, double volcanic-rock doors loomed twenty feet high in front of them.

"That's it?" Why was she whispering?
Reel nodded and gripped her arms. "Listen. Whatever I say, just go with it, okay? This isn't the time to try to work things out for yourself. Don't be a hero. Just follow my lead. Got it? Oh, and whatever you do, don't take that actinia off your ear."

"Why?" She crossed her arms.
"Because I lied to my mother."

Freakin' great. Just what she needed right now. "You? Lied? Hard to believe. So, what's the big secret and what does your mother have to do with this?"

"Let's just say that Ceto has tried for more than friendly neighbor status between us, and it's been a bit dicey to keep her at arms' length."

"And you're telling me this now because...?"

The black doors swung open toward them. "Look, just whatever you do, don't take off the actinia." He dropped one of her arms and turned back to face the doorway as the barracudas fanned out behind them. "Let's do this."

© Judi Fennell, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2009

Someday, hopefully, I'll get to Bermuda. I'm also playing with ideas for more Mer stories - if there is a book 4 it will take place in the South Pacific. Again, I've been to Hawaii (close), but it was a while ago, so I'll be relying on the internet.
I have to tell you, though, that while the travel through books was enough when I was younger, nowadays I want to see these places. Preferably before I write about them.
Hmmm... maybe I could set one in Spain, since I did live there in college. I'll have to work on it.
And in keeping with the travel theme, I'd like to let everyone know that I'm having a giveaway on my website, for 3 readers to win a romantic beach getaway. Two in Ocean City NJ at the Atlantis Inn ( Bed & Breakfast, and the other at the Hibiscus House ( Bed & Breakfast in West Palm Beach, FL.
About The Author:
Judi Fennell has had her nose in a book and her head in some celestial realm all her life, including those early years when her mom would exhort her to "get outside!" instead of watching Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie on television. So she did--right into Dad's hammock with her Nancy Drew books.
These days she's more likely to have her nose in her laptop and her head (and the rest of her body) at her favorite bookstore, but she's still reading, whether it be her latest manuscript or friends' books.
A three-time finalist in online contests, Judi has enjoyed the reader feedback she's received and would love to hear what you think about her Mer series. Check out her website at for excerpts, reviews and fun pictures from reader and writer conferences, and the chance to "dive in" to her stories.

I spent years curled up on the couch with every book I could get my hands on, so I knew Judi would be a kindred spirit when I read that her Mom used to holler "Go outside," just like my Mom! And she just proved it by totally understanding that the name of my blog is a combination of the joy of visiting anytime/anywhere through the book in your hand and the excitement of actual travel to see the fantastic places you have read about (the real ones, anyway).

Thank you so much for that wonderful post, Judi! It was a pleasure having you here!


Michele said...

What a fantastic guest post....a very enjoyable read!

Judi Fennell said...

Thanks for having me! Yes, the minute I saw traveller, it took me RIGHT to the escapism I got from books and all the wonderful places they've taken me.

I'm heading off to work on edits, so I'll be "internet challenged" today but will check in on my breaks.

Happy Friday!

Beth F said...

Great guest post. And although I try to travel as much as I can, I'm forced to do most of traveling through reading. Can't wait for the review.

Kit Donner said...

Hi Judi,
I love hearing how other writers read Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins when young. Also read every fairy tale I could get my hands on, like Snow White, Rose Red and the more obscure ones. Gosh, how I remember crying at the Little Mermaid's ending. I visited Bermuda many years ago, and there really are pink beaches. It's quite a paradise. You'll get there one day, I'm sure. All the best.

Judi Fennell said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

Unknown said...

Thank you for the great interview, I have added the book to my summer reading pile. Have a great week. :)

Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

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About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.