Lure tells the story of a family who came to a fishing village named for a hero and the aftermath of a literal mermaid showing up on their shores. Full of gnarly fisherman, preachers in denial, lovestruck idiots, and kids who don’t know better, this novella is a treat for those who like watching characters struggle with goodness, heroism, and mythologic reverence. It’s great for fans of Robert Eggers films and other folk horror tales.
In today’s release day interview, author Tim McGregor shares with me the origins of this haunting tale, his experience working with Tenebrous Press, and the stories he’s working on now.
Luring a Mermaid
What inspired this seaside tale?
It was a monster movie, actually, called She-Creature (2001). A low-budget, but very fun movie about a captured mermaid. The concept of a killer mermaid blew me away, and I wanted to try my own take on the idea. It nestled in the back of my head for twenty years until I found a way into the story. Sort of like how a pearl is formed, I guess. A little bit of grit polished into something shiny.
Did you do any research? If so, what are some things that you learned that didn’t necessarily make it into the pages of the novella?
I did a little research, like reading Hans Christian Andersen’s classic, The Little Mermaid and sifting through mermaid myths from other parts of the world. Most of what I found made its way into the story in some form. Like the Slavic Rusalka, which is a malevolent water spirit born from a murdered woman or a suicide. I also read some modern takes on the whole mermaid concept, which was enlightening. Like historian and author Marina Warner’s assessment of the mermaid: “Sexual but inaccessible, under threat but powerful in her own right, (the mermaid) is a symbol of both men’s idealization and fear of women.” Inspiring stuff!
What was your favorite scene or moment to write?
Without giving away any spoilers, there is a scene where the protagonist defeats his nemesis. What should be a triumphant moment for the “hero” becomes meaningless and empty, achieving nothing.
Throughout the writing process, are there any scenes that changed? Which ones stayed the same?
The biggest change was the setting. Originally this had an historical setting, somewhere vaguely on the North Sea in the 17th century. It was Alex Woodroe, editor at Tenebrous Press, who thought the story would have more impact if it had a fantasy setting. She was right!
On Publishing’s Shores
Is Lure your first novella?
It is, actually. Everything up till now has been novels. But the novella is having its moment in the sun and I wanted to try my hand at it. I had so much damn fun writing this that I wrote two more novellas.
What are you working on now?
This one’s historical horror, set in Berlin 1945. A woman struggling to survive the bombing is surprised when her missing husband returns from the front. Damaged and injured with a face hidden under bandages, his strange behavior leads the wife to suspect that he’s not who he says he is. It’s sort of a wartime retelling of the Martin Guerre legend. Fun, but problematic.
Tell me about the experience of working with Matt and Alex at Tenebrous Press.
Straight up, Matt and Alex have been so wonderful to work with that I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s not a dream. That sounds like hyperbole, but it’s the honest truth. Matt is a tireless publisher hellbent on bringing weird fiction to the world. He’s also a fantastic artist and designer. Have you seen the cover for Lure? He did that!
Alex Woodroe is a bit of dream editor for me. She has an instinct for story that asks the right questions and pokes the right plot/logic holes, urging the writer to make the story the best it can be. She has a passion for storytelling that is inspiring and charming. She’s also a writer, and I’m really looking forward to her book, Whisperwood, coming out next year from Flame Tree.
Actions speak louder than words, right? Look no further than the charity anthology, Your Body is Not Your Body. In response to the brutal attempt to criminalize trans youth in Texas, Matt and Alex worked like demons to produce this anthology as a way to fight back. In less than two months, they’ve raised over six grand for Equality Texas Foundation.
Which books are you looking forward to reading, be it new releases or otherwise?
Tim McGregor is the author of Hearts Strange and Dreadful, the Spookshow series, and a handful of other titles. Taboo in Four Colors comes out in November. Tim lives in Toronto with his wife, two kids, and one spiteful ghost. He can be reached at timmcgregorauthor.com.