Kaye Lynne Booth’s ‘Melina’ in WordCrafter Press’ Midnight Roost Anthology

I asked fellow Midnight Roost anthology contributors to share some things about themselves prior to publication and those generous enough to do so will be appearing here for the next week or so.

Each entry gives a taste of their contribution, a little about them, how to contact them, how their story came about, and definitely a link to Midnight Roost (which you should purchase because it would make each and every one of us happy.
you do want to make us happy, don’t you?
i mean, considering what we wrote, you want us to know you’re a good person, right?).

Let’s start with a Hallowe’en-themed introduction to the anthology as a whole:

Kaye’s contribution is Melina. Here’s the opening:

Melina flips her tail playfully at her little sister, Elsbeth, who gives a mental titter and swims off in the opposite direction. She lets her gain some distance before flipping her tail to swim after the youngster. I promised to keep an eye on the youngster, not hold her captive. Little guppies need to have the freedom to explore and learn occasionally, too. When Elsbeth needed instruction, Melina need only to send a thought message, so all she had to do was stay in waters within the vicinity of the young mermaid. Elsbeth is a good kid, and she will blossom to become a fine mermaid soon.

How the story came about:
“Melina” began as a challenge to write a Merciless Mermaid story for the 2022 call for submissions for the Western State Colorado University and WordFire Press. I’d never written a mermaid story before, so I began researching to learn all I could about mermaids. Legends about mermaids vary, but they are not all Disney’s Ariel. Some claim mermaids have the ability to enchant men with their song and are often confused or combined with the sirens who drew many a sailor to their deaths just by singing their eerie song. Other tales told of mermaids who traded tail for legs and became landbound to live among humans. Still others reported mermaids who devoured their mates, with sharp teeth and glowing eyes.
The character of Melina is a young mermaid who sacrifices herself to a fisherman’s net to save her younger sister. Due to her young age, she’s only just started her mermaid training, so throughout the story, she discovers how to use her powers out of necessity. Her captors aren’t very nice or very bright, and she finds herself trapped with no one to come to her aid. Since I was still learning about mermaids, my character was, too.
But there lies the problem, because that single altruistic act of sacrificing herself, meant to endear her with readers as a sympathetic character they could relate to, left me with a character who was naive and sort of innocent, not very merciless at all. How do you make an dark protagonist?
I wrote this story by the seat of my pants, letting the characters steer the plot. My character kept saving people at her own expense, instead of doing evil deeds. Because of this, I pretty much knew it wouldn’t make it into the Merciless Mermaid anthology. Melina just wasn’t scary enough. The story wasn’t dark enough. I was hoping to at least draw comment from the Merciless Mermaids editorial team, but alas, my story was rejected in the first round with no editorial comment. Even before I got the rejection letter, I started planning the rewrite for this year’s dark fiction anthology from WordCrafter Press.
I tried a number of techniques to make my young mermaid scarier, and give the story a darker tone. I revealed her feelings of strength and powerfulness when she takes her first life. She still saves a life by taking a life, so it isn’t truly an evil act. She was strong enough and smart enough to take action to save herself. I tried to make her more devious.
I realized part of the problem was the human female character, who was older, and more confident, and viewed herself as Melina’s rival. I figured that if Melina could turn her rival into an ally, it would help make her a stronger character. So, that’s what I did. Or at least, what I aimed for. The final result is a character who readers can empathize with, who is only as merciless as she needs to be. And a dark story that might be funny at times in a dark humor sort of way. It’s my story in Midnight Roost: Weird and Creepy Stories, and I hope you’ll give it a go.

About Kaye Lynne Booth:
For Kaye Lynne Booth, writing is a passion. Kaye Lynne is an author with published short fiction and poetry, both online and in print, including her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, and her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets. Kaye holds a dual M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing with emphasis in genre fiction and screenwriting, and an M.A. in publishing. Kaye Lynne is the founder of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services and WordCrafter Press. She also maintains an authors’ blog and website, Writing to be Read, where she publishes content of interest in the literary world.
Writing to be Read
WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services
WordCrafter Press
Write it Write Quality Editing Services
Facebook: Kaye Lynne Booth – Author & Screenwriter, WordCrafter Services

See all Midnight Roost stories here.

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