I am excited to welcome author, S.M. Wheeler, who is celebrating her first novel, Sea Change.
The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.
Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly’s quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.
A powerfully written debut from a young fantasy author, Sea Change is an exhilarating tale of adventure, resilience, and selflessness in the name of friendship.
Sea Change and Why?
I like to know the reasons behind my writing choices, and most of the time it’s easy enough to discern. Look at Sea Change, ask questions, and I’ll have answers. Inquire, “Why set the novel in a world that mimics 19th century Germany as sketched by the Grimm brothers?” and I’ll answer with ease: Because I had just read those fairytales and fallen in love with the brutal and capricious sensibility that goes hand in hand with their enchanting side. You continue, “Why begin with Lilly so young, only to spend the rest of the novel on travel and magic with her mature self?” Easy again: It may be a linear plot, but it’s got a funny shape to it, which is my preference; besides, how could I give up the chance for all those interactions between a little girl and her (progressively less little) kraken?
Finally, we come to a question I dread somewhat: “Why is Octavius a kraken, and not a dragon or magical bird or fox or—”
Hell if I could justify it to you. A fox would have made a great deal of sense. They serve many folktales well and the symbolism would be a fine foil for Lilly’s behavior. But thusly it did not go.
I pretend complete control over the drafting process, rather as if I’m a workman, but there are times when the Muse strikes and I become stuck in the land of the artist talking about inspiration and what the characters want. I would like to sidetrack you by talking about style, contrasts in texture, and the symbolism of the sea, as if that answers the question—which it doesn’t. Why go for tentacles? A sea serpent would have fitted, and I’m fond of describing flicking snake tongues. Sirens are mentioned early in the book—could it not have been a chick of their kind that Lilly met, befriended, and influenced into becoming a charming monster? This choice would have tied neatly into the novel’s sexual themes.
In theory these might have sufficed, but in practice did not. The subconscious engine that drives the process of writing wouldn’t produce a single letter if I dared transform Octavius into a vertebrate. Maybe there’s fairytale logic in it. Imagine:
“Friend, what numerous arms you have!”
“The better to hug you with, my dear.”
I don’t want you to think, however, that this novel has much of Perrault in it, so let’s leave that answer aside. It might be, ahead of the wave, I chanced upon the inherent lovability of cephalopods. Besides that, it’s possible that I consumed too much Lovecraft as a young person and developed an affection for the Dread Cthulhu instead of the drab human characters. The only certainty I can offer is this: this is a story about friendship and sacrifice, all done by a young woman for her kraken.
Meet S.M. Wheeler!
Fantasy, science fiction, myth, folklore—I favored the unreal in reading and told the same sort of stories as soon as I could articulate those ideas in words. adolescence. This became an important tool when I developed several chronic health problems in my adolescence. Rather than using the world of fantasy to escape from these, I normalized them by creating disabled characters within the familiar landscapes of the fantastic. One o’ clock in the morning with an unruly mind and aching joints was best faced with characters whose hallucinations and missing limbs were oversized projections of my own difficulties.
I flew out of Upstate to California for college with one suitcase of clothes and ten boxes of books. I am now living with family while attending the University of San Diego, where I am pursuing an English degree, a Classics minor, and all excuses to write fiction.
Want to purchase S.M. Wheeler’s novel?