Issues. Or in the case of most of my characters, whole subscriptions full of multi-issue volumes bound in lovely Corinthian leather as a bonus gift for being born in my brain. The thing about my characters' issues is that unlike a magazine subscription unable to follow a simple change of address form, they follow you everywhere.
In No Souvenirs, which comes out this Tuesday March 9, Dr. Jae Sun Kim is trying to his first ever vacation as a way of burying some of those lovely issues at the bottom of the sea. I love the water, oceans and lakes—and in a pinch—pools. I don't suppose it's a surprise to anyone who's read the other two books that take place in north Florida. Cameron and Noah from Diving In Deep both make their living from pool safety, and Joey from Collision Course, despite his klutziness, is a surfer boy, through and through. But in No Souvenirs, I took my characters underwater, to the place where gravity's rules are waived, where you carry your portable zoo cage of tank, mask, regulator and vest as you travel to an alien landscape to interact with creatures more diverse, and more lethal than those that are commonplace on land.
Even a cynical curmudgeon like Kim is overwhelmed by that shift in worlds and has to trust in the reliability of his gear--and that the hot dive master has substantial experience in something other than cocksucking, which Kim would admit, the divemaster has by the oceanful. In order to allow Kim the opportunity to meet someone, I had to shift him some place where he was not all-skilled and all-knowing, to an environment where despite his issues, a sea-change was possible.
Shane, the aforementioned divemaster with gifts in the oral arena, has been doing his best to slither away from his own issues, burying not his troubles, but himself at the bottom of the sea. As familiar as he finds the environment, in Kim he finds someone as unpredictable and inexplicable as his favorite place to be.
There's no ignoring the sea. If you look at any structure built near it, you know that it's impossible not to be changed by its power, and if there is any underlying fault, the sea will expose it. It's impossible to go into that world and not come away with some kind of souvenir, whether a scar from a fire coral burn (I was pushed) or the vivid tactile memory of what it's like to pet a ray. And given that my characters are always given a bit of a shaky start in the issues department, those souvenirs can be life-altering.
I've always been drawn to stories about the sea, to the way other writers have used it. While I was writing this, I kept stumbling over phrases they've left behind in my head.
"But doth suffer a sea-change into something rich and strange" William Shakespeare
"For whatever we lose like a you or a me, it's always ourselves we find in the sea." e. e. cummings
"And her voice is a string of colored beads or steps leading into the sea." Edna St. Vincent Millay
Share your favorite sea-inspired words with me.