Author Interview: Katie O'Sullivan, author of SON OF A MERMAID

Remember when I reviewed Son of a Mermaid by author Katie O'Sullivan? I gave it four fin-tastic starfish and today I bring you an author interview with Katie, in which we discuss her Pinterest board, love for mermaids, awesome characters and much more!

Son of a Mermaid by Katie O'Sullivan
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Released: May 15th 2013
Format: Ebook
Shea MacNamara's life just got complicated. After a freak tornado devastates his Oklahoma farm, the fifteen-year-old orphan is whisked away to Cape Cod. Struggling to make sense of his new surroundings, he's trying hard to deal with feelings of abandonment... and the emotions stirred by a girl he meets along the shore.

Kae belongs to an undersea world hidden from drylanders. The daughter of royal servants, she knows the planned marriage of her Princess to the foreign King should put an end to the war between the clans. But two things stand in the way of lasting peace: the ambitions of the foreign King's regent, and rumors of the Princess's bastard child. Sparks fly when she meets Shea, but could the cute drylander really be the Son of a Mermaid?

Sherlyn: Hi Katie! Thanks for agreeing to the interview (: Let's start off with this question — which character do you love more: Shea or Kae? Why?

Katie: First, thanks for inviting me to stop by and chat! I love talking about SON OF A MERMAID! And then second... do I have to pick just one? I love both of these characters! When I first started this book, Shea was my favorite guy I'd ever written. He's strong and vulnerable at the same time, which I love in a character. But then Kae's character started growing, and after her bicycle lesson I fell in love with her bravery as well. So, yeah. I don't think I can choose between them.

Sherlyn: I liked the bicycle lesson scene very much. Kae is just too adorable! So, how do you visualise your characters? Do you search for images or have actors/actresses in mind?

Katie: That's an interesting question, because usually when I start writing a character I have a hazy image in my mind. It solidifies as I write, but then someone inevitably asks, "Who would play the characters in the movie version?" (I like to ask other authors the same thing!)

I do have a Pinterest board where I pin images that remind me of my characters and settings, but mostly I do this after I've already written them, when I'm procrastinating during the editing phases. I found a great photo of a young Alex Pettyfer that's my image of Shea, (circa I am Number Four, pre-Magic Mike.) The mermaid photos and the pins of "Kae" aren't of a specific actress, but I picture someone like Amanda Seyfried. It's so much fun to search for mermaids and see what other people have pinned!

(Here's a sneak peek at Katie's Pinterest board!)

Follow Katie O'Sullivan's board Mermaids and Ocean Views on Pinterest.

Sherlyn: This is one of my favourites from your board; those waves are simply stunning! I'm sure Kae would have hair like that.

There've been many books written about mermaids. What inspired you to write about the son of a mermaid, particularly?

Katie: My kids all loved Disney's Little Mermaid, especially my daughter, who had a mermaid-themed bedroom throughout elementary school. As she got older, I realized there weren't a lot of mermaid books for her to read (although that's certainly changing!) and there was nothing mermaid-themed that my sons even wanted to take a second look at.

The spark for Shea's story came one day as I was walking on the beach with my middle son. We found an odd stone on the beach, with a strange hole cut right through the center. We decided a mermaid must have lost it, and talked about what my son would do if she came ashore to get it back from him. The adventures kind of took off from there, with him at the center of it all.

Unfortunately, when he took that beach rock into school for 5th grade show and tell, another boy broke it so we no longer have the rock. But we still have the stories.

Sherlyn: Aww! I would loved to have seen a picture of the beach rock. I do appreciate how Son of a Mermaid is a novel that guys would be more likely to read, as compared to other mermaid books. Have you always loved mermaids? If so, what drew you to them?

Katie: As a kid I spent summers at the Jersey Shore. My friends and I would pretend to be mermaids and make up elaborate stories about riding our dolphins through the waves and whatnot. Okay, they were really boogie boards but the waves were real and we had vivid imaginations! Now my family lives year round on Cape Cod, and we walk on the beaches almost every day. I still love mermaids and dream about their adventures.

The oceans are vast and mysterious places, with so much still to be discovered. The idea of another race of beings living beneath the waves isn't totally impossible! I love that mermaids have a totally different perspective on our world, and are so closely tied to the environment. I also like the idea of them having mercurial temperaments... mermaids are not all sweetness and light, and we shouldn't underestimate them.

Sherlyn: I wholeheartedly agree with you on that. Sirens are not to be trifled with ;) Now... Shea's granddad is probably my most favourite supporting character (other than Mr Guenther). Did you plan on making him funny from the start?

Katie: I'm so glad you enjoyed him! And no, originally he was more gruff and formal. You know, "regal" in a stuffy textbook sort of way. It's got to be hard ruling a territory as large as the Atlantic Ocean and dealing with a defiant daughter. I was thinking he was pretty much a jerk for dragging Brynn away from her baby and husband and making Shea grow up without his mother. But these are the choices a king has to make.

But then my son started comparing him to Liam Neeson, who is also gruff in so many of his roles. Duty and honor come first, but always with a twinkle in his eye. I wanted that twinkle, lol, and tried to add it into the story.

Sherlyn: That's awesome! I'm really happy that he turned out to be so hilarious. Are any of your characters based on people you know personally?

Katie: "Not in this book," she says with a smile. Some of Shea's traits are based on my sons - he's not one or the other, but a blend of the two. But he's his own character.

Sherlyn: Now that's interesting! 'A blend of the two' is totally cool. So what's your favourite mermaid book or movie of all time, and why?

Katie: I love the movie "Splash" with Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks - it's a classic! I love how Madison the mermaid is fascinated by all the new things she discovers on dry land, her openness and curiosity about stuff. And I'm a sucker for a happy ending. For a more modern mermaid tale, I have to admit I enjoy watching "Aquamarine" with my daughter. Navigating the shifting sands of friendship (and boys) is hard for humans and mermaids!

Sherlyn: I'm an Aquamarine fan too! The best part about mermaid movies is when the mermaids are curious about the stuff on land – it always makes for a good giggle. By the way, what are you currently reading?

Katie: I have a pile of ARCs I'm happily reading to review. The current book on my Kindle is called "The Memory Witch" by Heather Topham Wood (witches and magick, but no mermaids), and my sister just gave me a paperback of "The Shark Dialogues" by Kiana Davenport for Christmas, which I'm eager to start. (It's set in Hawaii, but there are still no mermaids, lol.) Actually, I don't read the other current mermaid tales because I don't want them to influence my story or writing.

Sherlyn: Oh, The Memory Witch! It's on my to-read list – I found the synopsis interesting when I chanced upon it. Good to hear you're enjoying your current reads. Well, now for the last question! Seashells, or starfish?

Katie: Seaglass, actually. The shards of broken glass that the ocean smooths and buffs... I love it!! I have jars filled with all different colors of seaglass from my many walks along the shore. I love that it's something that starts out as trash but the ocean takes it and actively changes it into something beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I love seashells and starfish as well - but if I have to choose one treasure from the ocean, it's definitely seaglass.

Thank you so much for inviting me to visit! It's been fun!

Sherlyn: Thank you, Katie, for stopping by with such great answers! It's been a pleasure to have you around! (:

Katie O’Sullivan lives with her family and big dogs next to the ocean on Cape Cod, drinking way too much coffee and inventing new excuses not to dust.

She writes YA and romantic suspense novels, as well as working as an editor. For the last four years, she’s worked as the Editor of magazine and writes “The Write Way” column for the magazine.

She hopes her debut YA novel, SON OF A MERMAID, will make a big splash this summer, engaging young readers with a Cape Cod tale of a boy who discovers both his roots and his destiny far below the waters of Nantucket Sound.

Connect with Katie: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Get your copy of Son of a Mermaid!


  1. Wow, I've never heard of seaglasses before. They sound so magical haha, I kinda want to go to the beach now to find some. I'll definitely be on the lookout for those when I do go the beach tho! Great interview. :)

    1. Thank you! I'm pretty doubtful of our shores having seaglass though. I've never seen any natural seaglass in Singapore before.

    2. We have quite a bit along the coast here on Cape Cod. All colors, although blue is the most rare. If you do a google search, there are some beautiful images to be found.

    3. NO FAIR. No wonder our beaches are all so...brown... Haha I don't remember seeing anything colorful so far. But omgg, I'll put Cape Cod on my bucket list then. It really sounds amazing.

  2. Great interview! I really enjoy discovering what sparked a story. The seaglasses sounds a like like a faerie looking stone. I would have loved to see it too.

    1. Hi Cherie, I do agree with you! Story inspiration and behind-the-scenes stuff are always fascinating. I especially love finding out how the cover image of a book was made (:

  3. I grew up by the beach so I also have a fascination with all things mermaids! ..My family collects Sea Glass, agates and glass balls that wash up after the storms! I have been wanting to dive into another mermaid book and I think I just found my next one! This interview was just so fun! Thanks for sharing! ~Chelle

    1. Wow, that sounds like a really beautiful collection you have! Would love to hear what you think of Son of a Mermaid <3


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