Tell us about your upcoming novel, Between Land and Sea.
This contemporary version of The Little Mermaid offers hope and inspiration to anyone who has been dumped, deceived or demoted. It is the first in a trilogy about the Bella tribe of the Mediterranean kingdom. In Between Land and Sea, Isabella gives up her tail for an upwardly mobile international banker. Her grandmother, chief elder of the tribe, is furious and, in a fit of rage, transforms Isabella into an overweight, middle-aged woman. The horrified banker abandons Isabella on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England. Alone and practically destitute, Isabella is left with only a suitcase and a magic tablet that has online mermaid support. On her human journey as Barbara Davies, Isabella encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, ex-mermaids and several new Agers.
What inspired you to write this book?
I never intended to write fantasy, preferring to take my distance from vampires, werewolves, witches, zombies and other such creatures. Instead, I like to curl up with historical and contemporary women’s fiction, psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries and memories. So, I surprised myself and everyone in my circle when I signed up for a series of creative writing workshops with science fiction author Sarah Totton. As I took notes, I observed the rapt attention and fascination on the faces of my fellow learners. Unlike me, they were not feverishly writing or asking questions about literary techniques; they were mentally plotting paranormal romances and young adult dystopian novels. And then the wheels started turning. Could I write fantasy?
Do you have any writing rituals?
When I retired from a 31-year teaching career, I had only a vague idea of what life after retirement would look like. Leisurely breakfasts. Lunches with friends. Yoga. Traveling. Writing when the muse struck. Three months into retirement, I reached the following conclusions: I needed more than this patchwork quilt of activities and the muse does not appear regularly. If I wanted to seriously pursue a writing career, I needed more structure in my life.
I’ve kept the leisurely breakfasts, but do not linger over that second cup of coffee. If I choose to have more than one cup, I do so while checking email and social media. At 9:00, I start writing. My goal is 1000 words a day. At first, I used the oven timer to keep me on task, but that annoying sound reminded me of the incessant school bells, so I invested in a bird clock. Each hour, one of my feathered friends, among them the Downy Woodpecker, Belted Kingfisher, and Great Horned Owl, chirp and remind me to pace myself.
Are you working on a new project?
Ideas are percolating for the second book in the mermaid series, The Coming of Arabella. I have written about 16,000 words of the first draft and intend to make this book my winter project. Before starting Between Land and Sea, I had several other manuscripts in the works. My cozy, A Season for Killing, and a memoir of my cancer experience, When It Comes Out of Nowhere, are sitting on the back burner.
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Joanne Guidoccio taught mathematics, computer science, business and co-operative education courses in secondary schools throughout Ontario for 31 years. In 2008, she took advantage of early retirement and filled her days with workshops, seminars and courses. Slowly, a writing practice emerged and her articles and book reviews started appearing in newspapers, magazines and online. Her debut novel, Between Land and Sea, will be released by Soul Mate Publishing in September 2013.
Joanne lives and writes in Guelph, Ontario.
Where to find Joanne…