Those of you that know me know how much I adored Anela Deen’s Beneath Cruel Fathoms. This is still my favorite read of the year!
Imagine my delight when I had the opportunity to interview this fabulous author and participate in the cover reveal for Between Savage Tides, the second book in The Bitter Sea trilogy! Check out this gorgeous cover:
Book Synopsis: Captured by sirens, Jurek struggles to save his fellow prisoners before they’re devoured. He has little time. His memory is vanishing from his mind, a poisonous effect of the magic that saved his life. With a past steeped in tragedy, it should feel like a blessing. Instead, it’s a curse unraveling everything he is. When he strikes a bargain with the sirens – three impossible tasks in exchange for everyone’s freedom – help comes from someone he least expects and whose motives he doesn’t dare trust.
Ava, youngest of the billow maidens, has become an unwitting traitor in a war between the gods. Her sisters want her to pledge fealty to the ruinous Eldingar. Her brother, the Guardian of the Fathoms, wants her to act as his spy. And then there’s Captain Jurek, a landweller whose fierce heart and haunted blue eyes mean more to her than they should. He doesn’t trust her, but without her help he won’t survive. As the old gods make their move against the world that betrayed them, Ava must determine whose side she’s on. But no matter what she chooses, it’ll mean death for someone she loves.
Release Date: August 31, 2020
In celebration of the cover reveal, Anela Deen is giving away a prize pack including:
- a glow-in-the-dark dolphin bookmark,
- a red sirens book sleeve by Dreamy&Co,
- a signed paperback copy of book one – “Beneath Cruel Fathoms”!
Enter the giveaway here, or click on the picture below!
My Interview with Anela Deen:
Q: What prompted you to start writing?
Anela Deen: The very first story I wrote was about a boy going on an adventure with a talking hippo (a grumpy one). They ran into an evil cactus, but managed to save the world by working together. I was eleven at the time. I can’t say why I started writing that one into my wide-rule notebook except for the feeling that I just had to. The words needed to come out, so I let them out.
I became more serious about writing in 2013 when my dad passed away. Writing became my outlet while I struggled with anger and grief over what happened. I completed my first novel which became my debut book about a heroine from an island kingdom much like ancient Hawaii. I dedicated it to my dad who would’ve probably found a way to make a t-shirt out of it (the man LOVED his t-shirts). Since then, I haven’t stopped. The words keep coming, so I’ll keep letting them out.
Q: How did you become interested in the fantasy genre and, more specifically, merfolk?
AD: I can track the spark for my love of fantasy to Jim Henson’s “The Dark Crystal”. It’s not a long movie, but the world was so detailed with its many languages and creatures and history. I couldn’t get enough of it.
For merfolk…Can you already guess it? Yes, The Little Mermaid. That fantastical underwater world never fully left my imagination. I made a few winks to it in the book, though this underwater world is much darker—Norse mythology has no end to nightmares living in its seas.
A child of two cultures, this hapa haole Hawaiian girl is currently landlocked in the Midwest. After exploring the world for a chunk of years, she hunkered down in Minnesota and now fills her days with family, fiction, and the occasional snowstorm. With a house full of lovable toddlers, a three-legged cat, and one handsome Dutchman, she prowls the keyboard late at night while the minions sleep. Coffee? Nah, she prefers tea with a generous spoonful of sarcasm.
Q: In your bio, it says that you explored the world for a number of years. Did your journey influence your writing? If so, how?
AD: Living in other countries absolutely influenced my writing, in particular learning other languages. The way people verbally structure their thoughts says a lot about the way they perceive the world and interact with it. In Spanish, for example, they have two verbs for “To Be”. One is permanent (I am human.) and one is temporary (I am cold.). When they refer to someone as their friend, they use the permanent form. I remember thinking how beautiful it was that no matter how long a friendship might last, it’s verbally described as something that will always be. It spoke volumes about the way relationships are viewed.
Q: For those who don’t know the story, can you tell us a bit more about Beneath Cruel Fathoms and Between Savage Tides?
AD: I’d wanted to write a series based on Norse mythology, but I was pretty tired of hearing only the Odin/Thor/Loki branch of it (Not tired of Tom Hiddleston. At all. Just want to make that clear.) Maybe it’s my Hawaiian roots that led me to looking into the ocean side of the mythology, but when I did…Wow. There is so much terrifying awesome down there that is on full display in these books.
Beyond the fantasy aspects though, the series is truly about character stories. In book one, Isaura is dealing with infertility and grieving the dissolution of her marriage. Leonel has a large family, but they see him as an outsider. Because he has never belonged, he has trouble with trust and self-worth. Both of them confront these issues against a backdrop of magical storms, corrupt governance, and ancient gods capable of destroying the world.
Q: There are so many layers to Beneath Cruel Fathoms. It’s a fantasy story and a romance, but it is also a story about family bonds, finding oneself, infertility, abuse, and more. What is your process in creating such a deep and immersive story?
AD: Taped next to my computer is a little note that says, “What is this story really about?”. I often look at that reminder as I’m writing. Plot and worldbuilding are important, but to me, the heart of a story is the internal struggle of the characters. What are they striving to overcome on the inside? What is holding them back from the defeating *insert villain*? They can’t conquer what’s threatening them externally unless they confront what’s going on within themselves. This is the parallel I try to draw with the real world, even as I create a fantasy one.
Q: What kind of research did you do to bring the story to fruition?
AD: So much Norse mythology research! I can’t tell you how many research rabbit holes I fell into along the way. I’d never studied any of it before, and since it isn’t my background, I felt compelled to learn it as well as possible and represent it properly in the story. I added a few extras—There are technically only 2 pantheons of gods, but I added a third—just to have a few surprises for those already familiar with it and Aegirheim.
Q: In Beneath Cruel Fathoms, I particularly liked the messages about the importance of familial love and acceptance. What other messages do you hope to convey in your writing?
AD: I strive for optimism in my writing. When a reader closes the book, I want them to exit the story with an impression of courage and hope. Life and struggle are intertwined, but to be a pessimist is to say the struggle isn’t worth it, and I don’t believe that. We’re at our strongest when we believe in ourselves and each other.
Q: What’s the most surprising thing you learned in writing this series?
AD: This is my first novel-length trilogy, so it has a much bigger cast of characters and world details than I’ve had to keep track of between books before. I’ve had to organize my details carefully to make sure I don’t mix up who knows who and who knows what, as well as…everyone’s name? I’m awful with names—oh, and having too many that start with the same letter. I had a run of “E” and “A” names for a while. A real “Sauron” and “Saruman” situation. Thankfully, my writing group catches me on that so I fix this in my drafts.
Q: Is there anything else you can tell us about Between Savage Tides?
AD: The sequel is told from the perspective of two other characters introduced in Beneath Cruel Fathoms—however—you will still see plenty of the primary characters from book one. As a reader, it always drives me crazy when a series totally leaves the protagonists from book one behind, especially if I loved them. Rest assured, those characters are very busy in the sequel.
And a note on the cover design (created by the amazingly talented Jenny Zemanek of Seedlings Design Studio): In Norse mythology, the youngest billow maiden (Himinglava – or Ava as she’s nicknamed in the story) is the keeper of the sea’s relationship with the sun. Since she’s a main character in Tides, it seemed right to give her the cover theme. Plus, you know the sailors’ adage about a red sky in the morning…
Q: Where can readers learn more about you and your writings (i.e., website, Twitter, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.)?
AD: I have a monthly newsletter that includes giveaways, sales, sneak peek excerpts, and other shenanigans. You can sign up for it here: http://eepurl.com/cNQ3iH
And I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to reach out to me through any of the platforms below:
I want to thank Anela again for agreeing to this interview. It is an absolute dream to interview the author of my favorite book of the year, and I look forward to reading Between Savage Tides! 🙂