Monday, June 1, 2009

Girlfriend Visiting: Under the Sea

In Over Her Head"A playful debut... sincere wit."
-Publisher's Weekly

Who here hasn't really wondered about...merpeople. I mean, it could happen, right?

When Erica Peck, one terrified-of-the-ocean marina owner, finds herself at the bottom of the sea conversing with a Mer man named Reel, she thinks she's died and gone to her own version of Hell. When the Oceanic Council demands she and Reel retrieve a lost cache of diamonds from the resident sea monster in return for their lives, she knows she's died and gone to Hell.
When they escape the monster and end up on a deserted island, she amends her opinion - she's died and gone to Heaven.
But when Reel sacrifices himself to allow her to return to her world, she realizes that, Heaven or Hell, with Reel, she's In Over Her Head.

Okay, fine. It didn't happen. Except behind that hot-cool book cover--and from the delightfully original mind of Judi Fennell. And she's agreed to the girfriends cyber-chat with me!

HANK: You and I get into an elevator on the first floor. We're both going to 22! Oh, I say, you're the famous author. What's your new book about? You say:

JUDI:He's a merman and she's terrified of the ocean.

HANK: Do you remember the moment you had the idea for the book?

JUDI: Oh definitely!
HANK:How and when did that happen?
JUDI: I had just finished revisions of my American Title story, Beauty and The Best, and was trying to come up with another fairy tale I could twist and I thought of The Little Mermaid. Then I had to figure out how to "twist" it. That took all of about two seconds, because the best way to flip it around was to make HIM the mer. Then I saw the movie, Failure to Launch, with Matthew McConaughey and that character is Reel. The devil-may-care, playboy, Mr. Hotshot - who's really hiding a fear - is Reel. The story started flowing (pun fully intended).

HANK: Your main character--is she you?
JUDI: I'd say that any of my heroines that have a backbone are me. Now Erica, she doesn't have a backbone when it comes to the sea. And, yes, that is me, too. I saw JAWS at an early, impressionable age, and it totally ruined the sea for me. I have a running commentary with myself whenever I go boogie-boarding or snorkeling about how I'm being ridiculous and no sharks are going to attack me, and I know it's a totally irrational fear. But I still make sure there's someone out farther than I am and on either side. I'm not comfortable when my kids are out there, but I try not to impart my fear on them.

HANK: Ah yes, Jaws. It's ruined many a summer. I freak out over tornadoes. Absolutely as a result of Wizard of Oz. So--movie time. Tell us who you envision playing your main character?
JUDI: I think Sandra Bullock could play Erica perfectly. Kate Hudson would be a good second, but I could see Sandra as she was in Two Weeks' Notice, with her chattiness, playing Erica perfectly. The love interest?Matthew McConaughey. Reel was fashioned after him, even physically because, let's face it, it's Matthew McConaughey. A bad guy? After seeing the movie Enchanted, I could totally see Susan Sarandon as my sea monster, Ceto. She did the DragonLady Stepmother so incredibly evilly, that she could pull Ceto off.

HANK: And you can be in the movie too--what part would you play?
JUDI: Oh, I'd love to play Kai, Reel's mother. And, no, I'm not that much older than Matthew McConaughey (he could be my younger brother, thankyouverymuch), but Kai is Immortal and magical, so she doesn't age. But Kai has some great lines in the book and puts him in his place so beautifully when he's on his high seahorse.

HANK: Do you read other people books while you're in the writing process?
JUDI: I do read while I'm writing, but I try to stay away from others who write stories similar to mine. I stayed away from Shana Abe's The Last Mermaid and MaryJanice Davidson's Fred the Mermaid series until after I'd finished In Over Her Head.

HANK: How does that affect you?
JUDI: I don't want to be influenced by anything anyone else comes up with.

HANK: What's the very best line of the very best review you've gotten?
JUDI: "A great way to spend a snowy afternoon or a sunny day at the beach," by Lynda K. Scott, Star-Crossed Romance. I hope to see people reading this at the beach when I go this summer.
So far, of course.

HANK: What was your favorite book as a child?
JUDI: I have three. One is The True Story of Okee The Otter by Dorothy Wisbeski. And, yes, I do still have it. I bought it at a book fair in 6th grade and absolutely love this story of a woman who raised a Columbian river otter (back when you could) in suburban NJ. The others are by Dodie Smith: 101 Dalmatians and Twilight Barking. To this day, I still love reading them and wish they would have taken more of the original story into the Glenn Close remake.

HANK: Do you still love them?
JUDI: I bought the Dodie Smith books for my kids to read, so, yes, I still love the stories.

HANK:. What's your secret indulgence?
JUDI: I love finger food at parties. We have Friday night "family hours" in the summer in my neighborhood and I have to walk away from the table because I love all of that food.

HANK: A certain food?
JUDI: Hershey chocolate kisses. There is no more perfect piece of chocolate.

HANK: A particular movie?
JUDI: Ever After and Enchanted. Yes, they're Cinderella stories. Is it odd that I write twists on fairy tales?

HANK: What would you buy on a day of shopping?
JUDI: I hate shopping, so I'll head for a bookstore instead. Or Home Depot. Yes, Hubs had to threaten to take the Home Depot card away. LOL

HANK: What's one thing no one knows about you?
JUDI: Now if I told you, everyone would know, wouldn't they? :)
HANK: Grrr.
JUDI: :-)

HANK: . Do you remember when you typed "The End?"
JUDI: I was sitting on the beach, which is so fitting. I wrote 25 pages that day and it felt soooo good. What happened next? I went in the ocean. Yep, I did. Talked to myself the whole time, calling myself all kinds of idiot.

What they're saying:

"Nora Roberts? Danielle Steel? Much acclaimed romance writers should step aside. There is a new romance writer in town and she is certainly causing a great splash with her debut novel, In Over Her Head."

"I truly found a pearl in my oyster when I read this delightful tale. I was surprised how good of a book In Over Her Head is. It is extremely well-written, the storyline flows and I was hooked from the first page."

"IN OVER HER HEAD is a delightful, quirky blend of humor, adventure and passion. All in all, this is a fast, fun read and a great way to spend a snowy afternoon or a sunny day at the beach."
-Lynda K. Scott, Star-Crossed Romance

"In Over Her Head is a heartwarming, but action-packed story of two people-one human and the other of the seaworthy body-joined together in an adventure. I enjoyed this story immensely."
-Dawn M. Ekinia, Armchair Interviews

"A delightful underwater adventure... full of good-natured humor and fun. A strong first effort by a promising new talent."
-Romantic Times

About The Author:
Judi Fennell has had her nose in a book and her head in some celestial realm all her life, including those early years when her mom would exhort her to "get outside!" instead of watching Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie on television. So she did--right into Dad's hammock with her Nancy Drew books.

These days she's more likely to have her nose in her laptop and her head (and the rest of her body) at her favorite bookstore, but she's still reading, whether it be her latest manuscript or friends' books.

A three-time finalist in online contests, Judi has enjoyed the reader feedback she's received and would love to hear what you think about her Mer series. Check out her website at for excerpts, reviews and fun pictures from reader and writer conferences, and the chance to "dive in" to her stories.

To celebrate the release of each of her books, Judi Fennell and the Atlantis Inn
and the Hibiscus House bed and breakfasts are raffling off three romantic beach getaway weekends. All information is on Judi's website,
Check it out! And have fun...

Judi Fennell
In Over Her Head, coming from Sourcebooks, 6/09

Sourcebooks, June 2009
ISBN # 9781402220012
Wild Blue Under & Catch of a Lifetime, books 2 & 3 in the Mer trilogy


Judi Fennell said...

Thanks so much for having me! This was such a fun interview to do! (Love the quotes on your website, btw!)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hey Judi--thanks! I was fascinated by your idea..

You's interesting. The next time we go to the beach, it'll be completely different. You have changed the way I look at the ocean.

I'm smiling just thinking about it...

Judi Fennell said...

:) Oh, I look at the beach verrrrry differently these days, too!

Sunnymay said...

Love finding out how authors come up with ideas. A merman has a lot going for him and this book sure is different from what's out there.