Ink: A Mermaid Romance by Melanie Karsak
Publication date: June 2nd 2015
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
A mermaid princess destined to wed a handsome king…
It sounds like a fairy tale, but the reality is far murkier.
Ink, Princess of the Florida Atlantic mers, is slated to wed the ancient enemy of her tribe, the King of the Gulfs. After years of war that led to countless mer deaths, as well as the genocide of aquatic shapeshifters and the freshwater mers of Florida, Ink’s marriage will bring lasting peace.
Or so it seems.
Mere hours before she’s supposed to leave the ocean for her customary year as a drywalker, Ink meets Hal, an alligator shifter who warns her that a storm is brewing. There is malicious intent behind Ink’s marriage—and worse, meeting Hal has also caused a storm to rage in Ink’s heart. Nevertheless, loyal to her tribe, Ink will put aside her feelings and journey to Miami to marry the decadent King Manx.
Ink soon learns that her only hope of surviving the crashing force swelling around her is to tap into a power deep inside—a forbidden power that might destroy them all.
Melanie Karsak is the author of the Amazon best-selling series The Airship Racing Chronicles, The Harvesting Series, and The Saga of Lady Macbeth. She grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania and earned a Master’s degree in English from Gannon University. A steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and zombie whisperer, the author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.
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What is your favorite mermaid story or myth?
When I was a teen, I fell in love with the Slavic/Russian novels written by C. J. Cherryh, including her work Rusulka. Rusulka is the story about a drowned girl who becomes a haunted spirit. Rusulka are prevalent in Slavic myth. They are often depicted as spirits, but sometimes they appear as nymphs or water sprites. I was really inspired by Cherryh’s Rusulka character.
You can catch the paperback for a penny on Amazon!
What was the inspiration for your mermaid novella?
I moved to Florida about five years ago, and I was really inspired by all the sights on the coast. We’ve taken trips to Miami on a few occasions. I enjoy the architecture, but dislike the vibe of the city. It’s the same vibe Ink feels when she is there (sorry, Miami). I live on the Space Coast, not far from NASA, and I love this area. We are close to Cocoa Beach which has the feel of a “once-happening” place. There is a quaint charm to its faded, sea-side glory. I adore Cocoa Village, a quaint downtown area. There are lovely little shops and old oak trees with Spanish moss. It was the perfect setting for Ink’s eventual rendezvous with a good friend.
3. Cast your characters. If your novella was made into a movie, who would play your main characters?
Ink is hard to cast, but I would probably choose someone like Megan Fox.
For Hal, I would definitely cast Jason Momoa. Because, well, Jason Momoa.
4. What was most challenging thing writing about mermaids?
The world building! Oh my gosh, it took me forever to figure out just how “under the sea” functioned in terms of a society. There was nothing to go from so I just made it all up! It took a lot more time and brain-power than I expected.
Ursula’s attitude with Ariel’s looks. Ariel is too “I need a man” for me. Ursula is too “I need power” for Ink. But they both have good qualities.
I actually really love cecaelia, mer-octopus like Ursula. They play an important role in Ink.
6. What else should we know about your novella?
There are alligator shifters and nyotaimori (Google it). I now know way more about alligator mating calls than a normal person would find useful. Don’t judge me by my Google searches. 🙂
As I jerked my knife, I stared at the boat motoring overhead. Seaton was right. Everything about this fishing practice was illegal. The purse-seine fishing method they were using had been outlawed years ago. Disgusting. At least merpeople honored their laws, even when we didn’t like it.
The torn net wagged with the motion of the waves. As I worked, anger welling up in me. If it hadn’t meant having their refuse in my waters, I could just sink their boat and drown them all. It was, after all, instinctual for me to want their death. While our law forbad using siren song, which was nothing more than tuning of sound resonance, I still felt the ancestral tug in me. I would have loved to purr a sweet song and pull them down into a murky death. I could almost hear the tune in the back of my head, humming from an ancient source. The song of the siren was nearly lost now, its banishment causing it to fade from common use or knowledge. I closed my eyes. With just a few notes, it would all be done.
I opened my eyes. Careful, Ink. “Good. Almost there.” I glanced back at Indigo. She’d moved the mother dolphin deeper into the water, away from the surface, and had shifted back into mermaid form. Her blueish hair, befitting her name, made a halo around her. She was using merdolphin magic to dazzle the creature, talking in low melodious tones that echoed softly through the water.
Seaton stopped just above me.
“Got it,” I said, then slid my blade upward. The net broke in half, wagging like seaweed in the waves.
Seaton and I swam to Indigo who was guiding the mother dolphin, holding her gently by the flipper. From above, there was a terrible groan, then a screech as the gears on the winch sprang to life. The net wall moved like it was alive, the tentacles of a great sea monster closing in on us.
“We must hurry,” Seaton said.
Moving quickly, we swam through the tear and out of the net, back into the safety of the open ocean.
The gears on the winch lurched. Water pressure pulled the tear, causing the net to rip wide open. The tuna rushed free. I tread for a moment, stopping to watch the sight as Indigo guided the mother dolphin into the dark water below us.
“The pup is coming,” Indigo called from the blackness below.
Above, the bottom of the boat rocked, unsteadied by the broken net. The winch slowly reeled the mesh out of the water. It looked like a dead thing, a man-made monster fished out of the living ocean. As the fishermen moved along the rail of the ship, their images were weirdly distorted against the surface of the water. With all my willpower, I sucked in the death-dealing note that wanted to escape from my lips. The massive swirling tribal mark on my back started to feel prickly and warm. Harnessing myself in, I reminded myself that it was forbidden. I turned and swam into the shadowy deep.
“Who are they?” I whispered to Indigo.
“The Gulf tribe,” she replied excitedly. “You’ve missed half the discussion. Apparently some deal has been struck.”
“I don’t know,” Indigo said with a shrug. “They talked about the contaminated conditions in the Gulf of Mexico and a plan to find a new home for the Gulfs. Did you see their young king? He’s handsome.”
“His name is Manx,” I told her. Seaton, who had met the new king of the Gulfs the year before in Pensacola, had not been impressed. He’d called him an overgrown and spoiled child. I hadn’t been interested enough to ask more. Nonetheless, I looked him over. Sunlight slanted through holes in the cave walls above the grotto and fell on Manx. His long, dark hair floated in the water around him. I studied his muscular body. He was a drywalker like me. He bore swirling tattoos on his arms. His tail was a dark blue, the color of the deepest pockets in the ocean, each scale trimmed with a filigree of red. His body was athletic, and from this angle, I could see he was handsome. But what of it? It wasn’t like he had the rugged charm of the nagual. A creature like Hal could make any mermaid’s heart beat faster. The nagual was a fine creature, not an overgrown child.
I looked away from Manx. I was an orphan of the war between the tribes. The Gulfs were our enemy. Peace or no peace, these people had killed our kind, my parents. It left a bitter taste in my mouth to see them in our grotto.
Indigo, however, was staring at him. I followed her gaze. We must have been eyeing him too intensely because this time Manx looked at us. Even from this distance, I could see his eyes were bright, green-blue. He smiled at us. I looked away.
“Well, that’s embarrassing,” Indigo whispered behind her hand.
It was then that I realized why the Gulfs were there. Something told me that the Gulf tribe was there for more than just a friendly, diplomatic meeting. Something told me there was a reason I was sent, with haste, to round up Indigo. Something about the way Manx held himself so gracefully before Creon told me that a bargain had, indeed, been struck. Something told me, when I saw the glimmer in Indigo’s eyes as she gazed at Manx, that my cousin suspected the same thing I did. All the words yet unsaid spoke a truth: the Gulfs had come for Indigo.
King Creon moved from his dais. All attention turned to him. I gazed back at Manx and was surprised to find him staring at me. He grinned, a bemused expression on his chiseled features.
I then saw an elder woman among Manx’s group motion for him to turn his attention back to the Atlantic king. Manx did as instructed, looking dutifully in front of him. The ancient-looking mermaid set her gaze on me. She had long white hair adorned with shells and bones. She was a frail looking thing, her skin deeply wrinkled. Her tail had started losing its green-gold pigment. The old mermaid was dying. She must have been the Queen Mother, the renowned ancient lady of the Gulf. Was she there to help broker the young king’s future? I held her gaze. She softened, nodding politely to me, then turned her attention to Creon.
“Noble king,” Manx said then, “We thank your highness for affording us this official visit to your court to discuss the joyous agreement drawn between our tribes.”
“We, too, are pleased with our negotiations. All will come to fruition in time. But today we shall share a special announcement.” Creon motioned for Indigo to come forward.
I was right. My cousin squeezed my hand, rose tepidly, and then moved toward the gathered troupe. In the very least, my cousin would be happy with a handsome king. Indigo’s tastes had always been very different from mine. I had no use for a puffed-up merman. Until that very morning, I’d never had use for any male save the friendships I shared with Seaton and Roald. Now, however, I couldn’t shake the nagual from my thoughts.
As Indigo moved forward, Lady Isla’s expression change from serene disconnect to worry. She rose quickly and motioned for her daughter to stop. She shook her head at Indigo who paused.
Creon cleared his throat. “My apologies, Lady Indigo. I had intended for Ink, Daughter of Dauphin and Coral, to come forward.”
Me? What in the hell did they want from me? I sat frozen.
I gritted my teeth and turned back, staring at those gathered on the small island. Steeling my nerve, I swam forward. My tail dragged along the sandy ocean bottom. I curled it, resting it on the sand, then closed my eyes. I had seen the transformation many times, had come to bear witness as the others left the tribe for their year in exile. I always pitied them.
The first crash of agonizing pain washed over me. I felt as if I had been stung by an entire bloom of jellyfish. Pain swallowed me. It was like I’d been sliced from my flipper to my waist. I betrayed myself by gasping out loud.
“Ink,” Indigo whispered softly.
My body arched as another shooting wave of pain bolted upward. My body shook as jolt after jolt racked me. After the sharp pains subsided, I felt a warm tingling sensation. I opened my eyes. Blue and gold light spiraled around the lower half of my body. I stared down at the water in amazement, watching as my tail slowly transformed into legs.
The glowing light then traveled up my body. It centered on the tribal mark on my back. The mark began to feel very hot. Suddenly, pain seared across my back. I felt like I’d been scraped along a coral reef. A drywalker’s tribal mark forms into its final pattern when we make our first transformation. The mark on my back, strange and large, always puzzled me. Now I learned it was renowned enough to earn me a prophecy. I hardly knew what to think of that. Had Creon known? Would he believe something like that or did he just find a way to use it to his advantage? The answer, it seemed, was obvious. At the end of the pathway, King Manx waited for me.
The glowing light pulsated brightly once more, surrounding my body in an orb of light, then dissipated into the night’s sky. Moments later, I felt a strange sensation as cool water swished between my legs, touching my body in its most sensitive female parts which, without the protective covering of my tail scales, were exposed. It took me a moment to steady myself in the rocking waves. My hand drifted underwater to my sides. I gently stroked my hands over my body, feeling the bastardization of myself as a mer. Now, I was just like the humans. I stood on two feet, feeling the sand between my toes. Fighting the waves on wobbling knees, I made my way toward the beach.