Author Interview | Tiana Warner
Its really should come as no surprise that I reached out to Tiana in hopes of a Q+A about her Mermaids of Eriana Kwai series with the book club and she was kind enough to say yes!
If you’re unfamiliar with Tiana’s work here is what you need to know; Mermaids of Eriana Kwai is a trilogy she self published from 2014 – 2017 and its made up of Ice Massacre, Ice Crypt, and Ice Kingdom.
The series follows eighteen year old Meela who’s been trained to fight in The Massacre to venture out to sea and slaughter the monsterous mermaids who threaten her island’s survival. She’s already lost her brother to these creatures, but she also has a secret friendship from her childhood – Lysi.
Lysi is a mermaid and after a chance encounter the two became childhood friends, unfortunately Lysi has also been trained as a warrior to protect her Kingdom from the humans who’ve been harming their seas.
At core the series is action packed, a dash of magic, and over coming taught hatred and violence. Oh, did I mention its also features a f/f romance? I got your attention now haven’t I?
What made you choose a native community in that area to base the series on?
If you’ve ever explored the Pacific Northwest rainforest, then you know why I insisted on writing a story that takes place in this part of the world. It’s pure magic. I also had it in my head that mermaids originated in the Atlantic and migrated to the Pacific via the Northwest Passage. This would put them somewhere near Alaska. I put the fictional island of Eriana Kwai near Haida Gwaii for these reasons. From there, giving the island a culture similar to Haida Gwaii made sense.
What type of research did you do for the series? Was there anything interesting you wanted to include but it didn’t make the cut?
I did a lot of research about the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest and visited Haida Gwaii. I’ve never experienced a more peaceful place in my entire life. I took notes in the middle of hikes so I could later remember what it felt like, smelled like, even the changes in humidity as we moved from forest to beach and back again — because that was the experience I would need to convey in Meela’s everyday treks across Eriana Kwai.
I also researched Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory to help with world building. For both mermaid society and Eriana Kwai society, I had to decide how they perceive power, whether the society is more ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’, how reserved or indulgent they are, etc. For anyone looking to write about a fictional society, I highly recommend reading about cultural dimensions.
For the underwater setting, I watched every documentary about oceans I could possibly find. (Tears were shed during all scenes involving orcas and seals…) I have pages of notes about the most random stuff, from penguins to deep sea creatures. A lot of it came in handy, and even though a lot of my notes didn’t have a place in the story, they helped me to understand how sea life works.
Why did you choose a cold climate for your mermaids?
Again, it was a side effect of the backstory and my personal interests for the setting. After migrating to the Pacific via the Northwest Passage, the mermaids ended up in the Gulf of Alaska — and hey, it’s cold up there. The idea of going on a Massacre in such treacherous waters sounded too exciting not to write about.
Will you ever revisit mermaids or make nods to our favourite girls in other books?
I don’t have immediate plans to write more mermaid stories, but that’s not to say I’ll never come back to it. I’m still working on adapting this trilogy into different formats, so until I’ve exhausted every avenue, I’m not done!
What made you add a third point of view in Ice Kingdom?
By the time the series arrived at Ice Kingdom, the conflict was no longer isolated to Eriana Kwai. To show the magnitude of the problem and to see how other places in the world responded to it, I added Ben. I loved being able to explore the problem as an ‘outsider’ sees it.
Which other characters did you consider changing into mermaids? Or are there any you want to be mermaids but it didn’t really fit into the story?
No one else came to mind for this fate. I don’t think it was their destiny. For all but a few, it’s a bit of a tragic ending, because it means leaving behind everything they know and love. And I do prefer happy endings.
Did you ever see another outcome for Dani?
Considering what she did, no. It’s a law of the universe: for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.
Where do you see Meela’s childhood friends now?
I’m a Happily Ever After fan (um, despite what the death toll in book 1 might lead you to believe) so I think all of them are thriving and enjoying life. Although I imagine a lot of them have a permanent fear of the ocean that they’ll never fully recover from.
What is your opinion on the debate of “anatomically correct” mermaids? (likelarge, blubbery, basically whale-like)
I haven’t encountered this debate, but I like it! I wondered that as I was writing: wouldn’t mermaids have a big layer of blubber to keep them warm, like whales or seals? But that’s why their skin is so impenetrable — it needs to be thick and sturdy to keep in body heat. Dolphins are lean and muscular, so I figure mermaids can be built like that, too. I like the idea of mermaids being muscular powerhouses that can destroy you with their bare hands.
If you were a mermaid, what colours do you see your tail being? (Or any other alterations?)
I’ve always been drawn to red, so I think it would have red in it. And given how much I love the sun, I would probably be the tropical kind.
Do you have any mermaid books/movies that you recommend?
Not ‘mermaid’ per se, but I love The Scorpio Races, which is about fantastical creatures that are basically horse mermaids. And — another fantasy creature — if you haven’t read The Last Unicorn graphic novel, GO READ IT RIGHT NOW. It’s so beautiful that I literally cried.
Are there any type of mythology or lore that you’d love to explore in the future?
Unicorns. I’m also brainstorming mythological creatures that haven’t been done to death yet. When I wrote Ice Massacre, the idea of mermaids as dangerous sea demons hadn’t been done much outside of Pirates of the Caribbean, and that’s what pulled me to them. I’d love to do something similar for another supernatural creature.
How long until the patreon page is live so we can throw money for the graphic novel?
I’m so happy you’re excited about it! We’re expecting to launch very soon — within a few weeks. We’d like to have the first part of the story completed in time for Clexacon in April. For those interested, we’ll send updates via our email list as soon as we have a date set: subscribe here!
Thank you so much for the interview! <3
Thank you for stopping by today, I hope you enjoyed this and keep your eyes peeled for further posts feautring Tiana Warner about her upcoming release Aries 181 about “two young women in tech using their brainpower to ckick ass”! I’m so excited to read more work from Tiana.