In an interview with Simon & Schuster's own Simon, Terri Farley talks
about her new book SEVEN TEARS INTO THE SEA.
I'VE HEARD SEVEN TEARS INTO THE SEA INVOLVES A SELKIE. WHAT IS A SELKIE, ANYWAY?
TERRI: Celtic legends say selkies come ashore as seals, shed their skins, then assume
awesome human forms. Why do they do that? Some stories say they're fallen angels or
spirits of the drowned who are allowed to come "home" for a while. Other tales say
selkies are beautiful, good-natured shape shifters who move between the sea and shore
in human and seal forms.
SIMON: AND THEN WHAT?
TERRI: Female selkies are rumored to fling their skins on the beach to dance naked in the
moonlight. The males hide their skins, then wander into the closest pub looking for fun.
They usually find it, since selkie guys are almost pathologically handsome and seductive.
SIMON: BUT WAIT, YOU TRANSPLANTED AN ANCIENT CELTIC MYTH TO MODERN DAY CALIFORNIA?
TERRI: Yes. Facing magic in a familiar place is more fun and more frightening. Besides, the Summer
Solstice is an important part of the story, and still celebrated around the world. On the
longest night of summer, parties are mandatory! Gwen and Jesse are lucky enough to spend
Midsummer's Eve at Mirage Bay, where lovers still hold hands and jump bonfires, stay awake
all night, then crawl through the grass at dawn, looking for bright green grass rings left
by dancing fairies.
SIMON: IF YOU HAD TO PICK ONE LINE FROM THE BOOK TO TANTALIZE READERS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
TERRI: "You have to be careful when something in the dark is calling your name."
SIMON: LOVELY AND CHILLING, MY DEAR. NOW, CONFESS. WHICH CHARACTER DID YOU HAVE THE
MOST FUN CREATING?
TERRI: One of my favorites is Zack, a guy I would not hang around with. Zack looks like a younger,
tougher Brad Pitt who's spent a couple nights sleeping behind a Dumpster. You'll recognize
him as the kind of guy who has every reason to be bad. And is.
SIMON: A MENACING SORT, EH? BUT SPEAKING ACADEMICALLY, IF YOU HAD TO DECIDE ON A GENRE
FOR THIS BOOK, WOULD YOU CALL IT A FANTASY, A ROMANCE, A MYSTERY?
SIMON: I SEE YOU WANT TO BE CONTRARY. WELL THEN, WHY IS THE BEACH A PERFECT SETTING
FOR THIS KIND OF BOOK?
TERRI: The beach blurs the line between what is, and what might be. Stare out over the
rocking waves and a wet black rock looks like a seal. Then a killer whale. Then a swimmer's
wet black hair. Bring in dusk or a veil of fog and it's not hard to understand ancient
storytellers' insistence that the sea is full of mermaids, sea dragons and dangerous
SIMON: HMM. DOES ANYTHING MAKE GWEN COOK DIFFERENT FROM EVERY OTHER TEENAGE GIRL
FALLING IN LOVE FOR THE FIRST TIME?
TERRI: In most ways, Gwen is totally average. She's outgrown the scary sleepwalking
stage of her childhood and put the days she was the target of small town gossip behind her.
She's doing fine in high school --with one brainy friend who's totally on track for a great
future, and another who's had so many high maintenance stepmothers, she's convinced life
revolves around sex.
Gwen's in the middle and feels like a pretty typical teenager until her summer at Mirage
Bay. When her first real boyfriend turns out be funny, handsome, fond of her cat, but
absolutely not human...normal is kind of out of reach.
SIMON: AND JESSE IS THAT BOYFRIEND. HOW DOES HE DEAL WITH BEING "SPECIAL"?
TERRI : We all go through a stage when we ask : who am I really? Not feeling comfortable
in your own skin is typical when you're growing up, but the situation is extreme for Jesse.
He can read everyone's mind but his own. He doesn't know what he should do. His life's in
the ocean and his love is on land.
He deals with it by living every moment as if it were his last, then doing what he must.
SIMON: MS. FARLEY, CLOSE YOUR EYES AND PRETEND THE BOOK IS A MOVIE. TELL US YOUR FAVORITE
SIGHT AND SOUND FROM IT.
TERRI: My favorite sound is the Sea Horse Inn's wind chime jangling
like mad in the gales which rush in just before a disastrous storm. My favorite sight
is more tranquil -- the full moon's reflection, captured in a tide pool. And though you
didn't ask about a favorite touch -- eyes still closed -- there's this incredible underwater
kiss . . .
SIMON: YOU INSIST ON IMPLYING GWEN AND JESSE STUMBLE INTO DIFFICULTY. EVEN THOUGH GWEN
HAS HER VERY OWN BEACH COTTAGE AT MIRAGE BAY, HER GRANDMOTHER IS RIGHT NEXT DOOR. SHE
CAN'T GET INTO THAT MUCH TROUBLE, CAN SHE?
TERRI: Sure she can. Just because she's sure to be caught doesn't mean she won't try to do what
I tell my children I was a perfect teenager who never did anything wrong. That's almost
true. Each time I did cross the line, I got caught.
SIMON: WOULD YOU MIND GIVING US AN EXAMPLE?
I was using my mom's yellow boat-sized Buick to take my friends to the drive-in. They were
having an "any carload for $5" special. At the last minute, my high school's foreign
exchange student wanted to try something she'd seen in an American movie. And I went along.
So there I was, handing over my $5, when the cashier hears all this suspicious thumping, calls
a security guard, makes me get out of the car and open the truck. At least Som-chai wasn't
tied up and was giggling.
SIMON: ONE LAST QUESTION, SINCE IT'S TIME FOR YOU TO RETURN TO OBEYING THE MUSE. DID YOU KNOW
HOW THE BOOK WOULD END WHEN YOU STARTED WRITING IT?
TERRI: I thought I did, but it turns out only Gwen's grandmother is very good
at telling the future.
But when I wrote the final pages, I was bewildered by what the characters demanded of me.
* SIMON (aside to readers) : The old dear scrys* you know -- reads reflections of the future in a
copper mirror, cups of tea, tide pools and the like. Ancient skill, highly suspect, but great fun.
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