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Misadventures & Merfolk
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   Probably one of the best Merfolk tales out there!

Title: Misadventures & Merfolk

Author: Kelly Reno

Publisher: Reeds Press, (NOVEMBER 2004)

Genre: Fiction

ISBN: 1891437011

Paperback; 340pages

Rating: Highly Recommended


August 11, 2004


Brendan James was a successful travel writer and once best-selling author who now feels he’s suffering from a severe case of writer’s block. He’s arrogant, obnoxious, self-centered, has been blessed with good looks, his conquests many and easily discarded with no remorse. Having asked for a ridiculous advance, he’s about to blow a book deal with no manuscript to show for, thus ruining his career. Reed Press’ editor, Jake Hogan, is on the verge of committing suicide himself due to his “prima Dona.” As a last ditch effort, Jake suggests Brendan attend a number of events, to help spark the flow of creative juices, which are to take place on the Man of Isle, including a mermaid festival.


Frustrated with the scenery and local stock Brendan attempts to catch a ferry to Dublin, but soon learns of its sinking and with no immediate way out, is forced to take shelter in Heather Bay, a small village left behind by modern technology. Trying to obtain a room for the night Brendan impersonates a reporter for a prestigious magazine. What he gets is a musty houseboat that seems a remnant from the 60’s.


The comical mishaps, and deranged characters of Heather Bay prompt Brendan to stay a bit longer than anticipated. He attends a “Live Underwater Mermaid Show,” later meeting the exquisite creature, Christine Hamilton back in her dressing room only to be insulted. Taken by the beauty, Brendan looks for other ways to cross her path, while searching for descent material for his book.


Brendan quickly discovers that these villagers are not only obsessed with their annual festivities, Merfolk, a legend, and “the curse” – that turns out to be a reality and love! But it’s the antiquated villagers themselves that propel Brendan to write, and write, and write! His only fear is that they discover his true identity and the purpose for his inquisitive interviews.


I found myself rooting for the village volunteer “virgin” – Michael, the Siren’s Whale pub owner as he hangs from a mast anxiously waiting a mobbing by an “estrogen fueled, biological ticking bomb,” of lonely women searching for love. Michael thanks God, grins, and shuts his eyes. Like Julian Wesley, Brendan’s psychotic neighbor and Brendan himself, I burst with laughter when the plan went awry.


Kelly Reno has created some memorable characters in Heather Bay. Misadventures & Merfolk is a comedic fantasy with a romantic twist, and being at the lowest point in your life. If you’re looking for a good laugh then pick a copy, you won’t regret it!


 Reviewed by Betsie


Purchase a copy today!


An Interview with Kelly Reno



To start this off, why don't you give an idea of what the book is about?


Misadventures & Merfolk is an uncommon romantic comedy about an obnoxious American travel writer who becomes stranded in a remote village on the Isle of Man during a matchmaking festival.


Where did you grow up and was reading and writing a part of your life?

I grew up in Southern California. My mom was a teacher and taught me to read at a very early age. We always had lots of books around the house. My favorite as a child was The Secret Garden. I read it over and over.


Who were your earliest influences and why?

My dad was my biggest influence. He was a novelist too and an absolutely astonishing writer. He was my best friend and my mentor.



What would a typical day be like for a writer?


Every day is different. When I’m really into a story, I can’t stay away from it and write as many hours as possible.



How long have you been writing and in what capacities?


I’ve been writing for 10 years now. I’ve written 12 books, both fiction and non-fiction and I write screenplays. After all this time, I’d have to say that comedy is my genre of choice. I love to write funny stuff that makes people laugh.


Which is more difficult to write - Fiction or nonfiction and why?

Having done both, I’d have to say that fiction is more difficult to write, but far more satisfying. Non-fiction is all about the facts and organization and communicating it in such a way that others can understand it. Fiction is more of an art – painting another universe with words. And you know you’ve painted something special when a reader gets hooked into it and stays up all night to finish.


Has there ever been a time when you wanted to throw in the towel and give up? And if so, how did you defeat those instincts?


Never. There have been times when it was difficult to make a living as a writer and I did some other work to supplement my income, but I have always come back to my writing and never give up.



What is the hardest part about being a writer?


Sometimes I am consumed with a story or a deadline, but luckily I have a very understanding family and they give me the space I need to finish my projects.


Do you have any hobbies? What are they? How do they enhance your writing?

No hobbies really.



Articles and media alike make it sound as though the only way to rise to the top is to sacrifice. What do you find to be good sacrifices?


I disagree. I’d rather be writing than doing anything else.


What question do you get asked more than any other?

There’s two. When I tell someone I’m a writer, they always ask, “are you published?” I say yes. Then, probably because I’m a woman they ask, “What do you write? Children’s stories?”

Also, most people assume that I’m a British man before they meet me and are surprised to meet a corn-fed American girl. I write British comedy a lot and because Kelly can be either gender, they assume I’m a guy.


What’s the coolest thing a reader has said to you?

That they started the book before bed and stayed up all night to finish it. There’s nothing cooler than hearing that. I know I’ve done my job well when that happens.



What has been your feedback from readers? What do they say to you about their interpretations of your book?

The feedback has been incredible. Many of them have stayed up all night to finish it, others love the village I’ve created and say that they love it so much they’d like to live there.  Another liked the village and the mermaid festival so much she wanted to make arrangements to travel there while on a trip to Ireland. When I told her that village wasn’t a real place, she got pretty upset about it.

I am also getting a lot of feedback about my wandering rogue character ‘Charlie the Tuna’. The girls can’t seem to get enough of him, so I’ve got a sequel in the works to expand on that character. Also to my surprise, lots of guys are really getting into the story. I always thought of it as a women’s story, but several men have told me how they can really identify with Brendan James, the main character.


Do you think that as a writer you are more prone to watching what goes on around you and observing behaviors than most people are?

Definitely. I love people watching. As a writer you have to be in tune with people. But I don’t watch TV at all or stay in touch on the typical channels. I have more fun creating my own stuff and keep myself entertained.


Who are some of the authors you consider to be "don't miss"?

I really don’t read fiction much anymore, but I am completely hooked on the Harry Potter series. I was one of those people in line to buy the 5th book the day it came out. Those books are amazing.




If one were looking to start his/her own career as a writer, what would you suggest his/her first step to be?


Write. The only way you can learn to write is by writing. There is no other way. Eventually, you’ll develop your own style and it becomes effortless.



What kind of movies do you enjoy?

I really appreciate a good stupid comedy that makes me laugh out loud. I also like a well-done thriller with lots of twists and turns. I stay away from war movies and heavy dramas where everybody dies. I love a happy ending.  I want to walk out of the theater feeling better than when I walked in. If I’m feeling good or feeling inspired in some way, it was a good film.


What is your favorite city to visit, but one that you wouldn’t want to live in?

New Orleans. Fun place, great to visit, but I don’t think I could live there.


What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked in an interview?

“So, what happened to the other half of that vodka bottle?”


What’s the best part of being a writer?

Being able to create another world that other people can experience. That’s what it’s all about.


What's next?

I’m writing the sequel to Misadventures & Merfolk right now and after that I’ve got another book that’s begging me to write it.


This has been a great interview... Betsie's Literary Page thanks Ms. Reno for her time and wishes her all the best in her career.