AN INTERVIEW WITH D.G. VALDRON
Lorina Stephens sat down virtually with D.G. Valdron recently to discuss his forthcoming novel, The Mermaid’s Tale. We think you’ll find the discussion as fascinating as the novel, set to release August 1, 2016.
Q: Tell me about the inspiration for The Mermaid’s Tale. What was it that informed this complex and brutal story?
DGV: It started a throwaway bit of writing—the first scene at the Mermaid’s dock, where the Arukh, fearsome, scarred, battered, terrifying but secretly afraid goes to see the Mermaids, beautiful, innocent, fearless and a little dumb. It was played for comedy. It was a bit of fun, creatures of light and darkness, and carefully subverting expectations, all the way up to a punchline. Four or five pages, an interesting character, an interesting situation, not even a full short story. Just a throwaway bit.
It sat for a few years. Then it turned into this thing, all of a sudden. Like a seed that had been sitting in a corner, minding its own business and suddenly decided to grow into a tree.
Q: You chose to have your protagonist a female. Was that a conscious decision? And why, when the world of SF&F, even horror, is so dominated by male figures?
DGV: Very much so. Part of it was subversion. Monsters and protagonists are stereotypically male. I wanted to undermine that. When I was doing the original piece on the Mermaid’s dock, I portrayed the Mermaids (Mermen?) as sexually…if not aggressive, then enthusiastic and casual. It just seemed to work better to make the Arukh female, and emotionally closed.
Honestly, the thing is, it shouldn’t matter. If something is trying to kill you, you’re not really interested in checking between its legs—that’s not going to make a difference to whether you live or die in the next five minutes. If something is trying to save you, gender isn’t an issue in whether you accept that help or not—or it shouldn’t be.
So if doesn’t matter, it can go either way. What’s important about our Arukh is her willingness to kill, and her inclination to talk instead.