I am pleased to introduce to you YA Author Zoraida Córdova, a fellow 2012 debut author featuring the best of all mythological protagonists, the mesmerizing yet menacing merman!
THE VICIOUS DEEP will be published by Sourcebooks Fire in March, 2012
Welcome, Zoraida, why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about your path to publication? Is this your first novel, or your first novel to be published?
I didn’t realize writing was something I REALLY wanted to do until junior high when my English teacher asked us to write a 3 page short story and mine ended up being almost 30! My agent will tell you I still have that problem…
Finding an agent was the easy part. I started interning at PMA Literary and Film Management one summer during college and quickly became BFFs with then Junior Agent and now VP Adrienne Rosado. I followed her around because she was so cool and knew all these publishing things, plus she paid for the drinks (hah!).
At that point I was writing urban fantasy fiction before I was told it was its own genre. We tried shopping a contemporary Latin girl book, but we found out that, while NY publishing loved my words, there really wasn’t room for another brown girl book on the shelves. It sounds bitter, but I don’t mean it that way. It’s true. The market for those books is so small. I went through a bad no-writing phase because it was my first real publishing let-down. Still, I was barely 20. It felt like the end of the world, but I kept on writing.
One of the most important things someone told me is to write what you know. And while I may not be part of a mermaid court, I know the essence of my characters, and I know that I love the world I’ve created.
When people ask you what THE VICIOUS DEEP is about, what do you tell them?
It’s pretty much the story of a boy. Tristan Hart is a teenage playboy. He’s a lifeguard, a star swimmer, and at the top of the HS social ladder. When a storm hits Coney Island during one of his lifeguard shifts, he foolishly rushes into the water to try to save someone and is caught in the rip-tide. From that moment on, his life changes. He finds out he’s a merman. A prince of the Sea Court and they’re back and holding a deadly excalibur-like search for their next king.
When I was writing my novel about merpeople, I had no idea mermaids were going to be the next “hot” thing in YA literature. Did you know that as you were writing, or did that come as a surprise to you, too?
Anyone who knows me knows how I’ve been obsessed with mermaids since age 3. They’re my favorite mythological creature. (Though in my heart I know they’re real.) When I was telling myself “write what you know!” I added “write what you love.” And I love mermaids. At that point there weren’t many mermaids books out, not the way there will be in the coming months. I’m catching the trend, totally accidentally.
How would you describe your protagonist’s voice? Why did you go that route?
Tristan is a pretty cool guy. If I were a guy, I would want to be Tristan. In a weird way he’s an amalgamation of guys I’ve dated. Which might say a lot of my dating life.
I started his story all because I was at Coney Island one summer. The weather was pretty shitty for July. There was a nasty storm warning and this BEAUTIFUL lifeguard in orange trunks telling me not to go in the water. It was, like, fate. The pieces just fell into my head. The name Tristan just came to me and I could SEE him, clear as day.
What is Tristan’s biggest strength? What is his biggest flaw/ mistake/ prejudice?
His biggest strength is his loyalty and his courage. He reminds me of a young knight who knows what the right choices are supposed to be, but who is still too young and does WHAT he feels like.
His biggest flaw is that he’s impulsive and sometimes hurts people without realizing it. He has to learn consequences. His love interests are a testament to that.
If your novel were made into a movie, who would you want to be cast in the lead roles? Or another way to think about it, what actors best resemble your characters’ physical traits?
Tough choice. Someone who read the novel said they pictured Tristan being played by Ian Somerhalder? The guy from the Vamp Diaries. I would agree, but only when I google pictures of him in real life and not from the show. Dark hair and turquoise eyes.
Tristan’s main love interest is Layla Santos. I picture Mila Kunis.
There is a wide range of characters, and honestly, I draw sketches of them from magazines I flip through to people I see on the streets so it’s hard to match current actors to them. If it ever were a movie I would feel they’d have to be a lot of fresh unknows.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk, Zoraida! And best of luck with your 2012 debut.