Sunday, March 28, 2010

Author Bites - Aimee Friedman on the Sea

A huge thanks to Aimee for stopping by and talking about her book, Sea Change. It was one of those surprise books for me that, had it not been in my reading pile, I probably wouldn't have picked it up but thank god I did! And after talking with Aimee a bit, come to find out we have quite a bit in common when it comes to the ocean!

It’s right there in my author bio, in the back of Sea Change: I don’t know how to swim. I can doggy-paddle for a few seconds and I can bob, like a sea horse, in the shallow end of a pool. But actual, long, graceful strokes and kicks that slice the surface of the water and propel me forward? No way. I grew up in New York City, far from any swim-able bodies of water. And instead of going to summer camp, where most normal kids learn to float on their backs and blow bubbles in the chlorine, I spent my summer days in the air-conditioned library, working my way through nearly every book on the shelves (which may explain why I became an author). By the time I was old enough to realize that swimming was a very useful life skill, fear had stiffened my feet, keeping them rooted to the sandy floor of the ocean. Patient friends have tried to teach me over the years, but I’m a terrible pupil, never letting go of a sturdy edge, never venturing into the deep end.

Despite all this, I have always been drawn to water. I love soaking in a hot, bubbly bath. I love the sound a wave makes when it breaks around a dock’s stilts. I’m most at peace on a beach, the sea lapping around my ankles and the surf roaring in my ears. Maybe it’s because I was born a Cancerian crab — if you believe in astrology. Maybe—as I’m sure Sea Change’s Miranda would say — it’s evolutionary, a kind of desire all people have to go back to their aquatic roots. As Dar Williams— a favorite singer of mine whom I listened to while writing much of Sea Change— sings of the ocean: “It’s where we came from you know, and sometimes, I just want to go back.” And yes the ocean can be dangerous, and dark, and deep…but maybe that’s also part of its appeal.

But many people have asked me why, if I can’t swim, would I write a novel so water-oriented? A novel all about sea life, whose main character loves to swim, and loves a boy who is tied to the ocean. Perhaps the best answer, though, is that water is so unknowable to me. Because I’ve never quite conquered it, the ocean holds so many more mysteries for me than it might for someone who’s explored its murky depths. When I look down from the railing of a ferry boat, as I did the day I got the idea for Sea Change, I invent a whole host of life and secrets beneath the waves.

That day, many summers ago, I saw dark, silvery, half-distinct shapes around the boat, which got me thinking about mermaids. It’s surprise that “The Little Mermaid” had been my most beloved fairy tale as a child, and I began to wonder: what if the roles were reversed? What if the land-dweller was a girl, and the creature from the sea a boy? When the ferry docked, I took the subway home, sat down, and wrote out an outline for what would become Sea Change.

Maybe one day I’ll gather my courage and take real, serious swimming lessons, from a weathered teacher who knows the water like the back of her hand. Until then, though, I’ll stay in the shallow end of the pool, and continue to write down stories of what may be in the depths.

5 comments:

Audrey; (AyC) said...

an absolutely lovely post! it was almost relaxing :P, and I love dar williams too :)
thanks for sharing!

KrysteyBelle said...

Beautiful post. So visual. No wonder she's a writer. =)I keep seeing it in the bookstore but have yet to pick it up. I may have to now.

Sarah said...

Loved this post; loved this book.

Donna said...

Isn't she great? And I'd highly recommend Sea Change, especially if you're hesitant about romance in general. It's just a great book.

Lydia Kang said...

Wonderful post. I was always curious about this book, but I may have to buy now...

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