The Most Excellent Maria Lewis has a surprise YA novel out, It Came From the Deep. I forced her to sit down and tell me about it. You’re welcome.
1. Think quick: tell us about It Came From the Deep in thirty words or less!
It Came From The Deep is my young adult debut and is like a cross between The Little Mermaid and Creature From The Black Lagoon.
2. What was the inspiration for this novel?
I was an ironwoman and surf life saving competitor for nearly 12 years, racing all across Australia and against international athletes for Northcliffe surf life saving club. It’s something that often feels like a lifetime away compared to my world now, but much of my formative years were spent either in the ocean or a pool. Many of my close friends still do the sport on a professional level. Back when we would training three times a day, every day, I often used to make up little stories to keep myself entertained as I was doing laps or paddling in the surf. It Came From The Deep was one of those stories and it manifested during sessions where we used to train at a particular fresh water lake. My friends and I bounced around ideas for how that story could work and I consumed a lot of mermaid and sea creature pop culture to get an idea of how these tales usually got told. Essentially, I wanted to do one that felt like a homage to those classic ‘shit there’s something in the water’ stories but in a way that felt grounded and as if it could happen in real life.
3. So, how did you feel about The Little Mermaid when you were a kid?
I have a complicated relationship with that story and my feelings vary greatly depending on whether it’s the Hans Christian Andersen version or the Disney one. As a kid, it was ‘meh’ when it came to the film as opposed to most of my friends around that age being OBSESSED with it. As an adult, I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with the filmmakers Ron Clements and John Musker a few times over the past decade (they’re Disney royalty). Every time I’ve seen them, we’ve somehow ended talking about very specific elements of the film in a way I never anticipate given that I thought I wasn’t the biggest, frothy fan of that movie. For instance, the last time I met up with them was in LA at the studio where they were making Moana and they were telling me how Ursula is a tribute to the drag queen Divine, who was a friend of the production. That’s a little tidbit I love and there’s lots of imagery from that movie I adore, which I balance out alongside the more complicated stuff like a woman literally being stripped of her voice in order to woo a fella.
4. What’s scarier? Something creepy through the dark woods behind you, or something swimming beneath you just too deep to see what it is?
OH MY FUCKNG GOD SOMETHING SWIMMING BENEATH YOU, ARE YOU KIDDING?! That’s the worst! Looking back on it now, I honestly have no idea how I was able to do the things I did as a surf life saving competitor for so long giving my crippling fear of a) being eaten by a shark and b) something being beneath me, waiting, that I just cannot see.
5. Can we expect more from Kaia & Co. in the future?
Honestly, I’ve always felt It Came From The Deep was a one and done kind of story. That’s not to say in a few years I might be willing to pick up those threads again, and I have definitely been thinking a lot about sequel ideas lately, but right now I’m content for that world to live inside the lone novel.