All About Fantasy Hen Lit
Guest Post by Joanne Guidoccio
I never intended to write fantasy. I avoided books that featured werewolves, vampires, witches, and other dark creatures. I’m probably one of the few people on this planet who couldn’t read past Chapter 1 of the first Harry Potter novel. But after participating in a series of science fiction workshops, I decided to try my hand at light, breezy fantasy with inspirational elements.
So, I sat at my computer and came up with a contemporary version of my favorite fairy tale: The Little Mermaid. While the original version by Hans Christian Anderson always fascinated me, I struggled with the ending. I wanted a happily-ever-after ending for the little mermaid and the prince and couldn’t wrap my mind around this depressing prediction:
You, poor little mermaid, have tried with your heart to do as we are doing; you have suffered and endured and raised yourself to the spirit-world by your good deeds, and now, by striving for three hundred years in the same way, you may obtain an immortal soul.(Hans Christian Anderson,1836 )
When the Disney version was released, I still wasn’t satisfied. I realize now that I wanted to read about a different kind of mermaid, one who could enjoy a happy and successful life, with or without the prince. And maybe one who wasn’t quite so young or so beautiful.
Keeping this vision of an older and wiser mermaid firmly in mind, I wrote Between Land and Sea, the first book in the Mediterranean trilogy. Later, I added Book 2, The Coming of Arabella.
In early query letters, I described Between Land and Sea as urban fantasy. That did not sit well with one agent who commented that my novel was too light to be considered urban fantasy. Her suggestion: Use “contemporary women’s fiction with fantasy elements” in future queries. I used that mouthful several times and was relieved when senior editor Debby Gibson of Soul Mate Publishing classified Between Land and Sea as a paranormal romance.
Confusion followed when the book was released on Amazon. One friend confided: “When I heard it was a paranormal romance, I assumed you were writing about witches or werewolves. I’m so glad to hear you’re writing about mermaids.”
Still wondering about the “right” descriptor, I started reading articles about literary genres and sub-genres and came across an interview with literary agent Jenny Bent. Asked about the future of chick-lit, Ms. Bent replied, “I think if there’s any future for chick lit, it will be in paranormal chick lit or multicultural chick lit or in mom lit or hen lit.”
I zeroed in on hen lit.
I discovered that these books focus on older female characters (aged 40 to 65) as protagonists and address such themes as giving birth after age forty, dealing with three generations living in the same house, dating after divorce or widowhood, and launching second (third or fourth) careers. To address the mermaid element, I added fantasy.
My new sub-genre: Fantasy Hen Lit.
Now, if I could only persuade editors, publishers, Amazon, Barnes & Noble…
After giving up her tail for an international banker, Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom is aged, weathered, and abandoned on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England. She faces her human journey as a plain and practically destitute fifty-three-year-old woman.
With the help of a magic tablet and online mermaid support, she reinvents herself as a career counselor, motivational speaker, and writer of self-help books. Along the way, she encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them former mermaids, supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, and several New Agers. As Isabella evolves into Barbara Davies, she embraces her middle-aged body, heals her bruised heart, and learns to love again.
This contemporary version of The Little Mermaid offers hope and inspiration to anyone who has been dumped, deceived, or demoted. It will also appeal to mermaid enthusiasts.
On sale for 99 cents – March 29 to April 4
Blurb – The Coming of Arabella
On the day of her engagement party, an ex-mermaid’s life is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of another mermaid—a sister she has never known. Under normal circumstances, Barbara Davies would be overjoyed, but her special day is already wrought with tension. While Barbara is not the first mermaid from the Mediterranean kingdom to settle in small town Ontario, she has yet to reveal her origins to her fiancé. So, when Arabella, the gorgeous sister whose disturbing black eyes banished her to the island of Crete, saunters into her life, clutching the arm of Barbara’s discarded lover, a powder keg of emotion is released.
Relationships falter and careers stall as envy stirs in the hearts of the sisters. On the verge of meltdown after her fiancé leaves Canada for a teaching job in Vermont, Barbara flees to Arizona hoping for a reprieve. There, she finds solace at a retreat for ex-mermaids and a second chance at love with a charismatic preacher. As she contemplates a new life in the desert paradise of Sedona, shocking secrets emerge and tragedy strikes. A stronger and wiser Barbara rises up to face these new challenges and embrace the best parts of her mermaid heritage.
On sale for 99 cents – March 29 to April 4
A member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime, Joanne Guidoccio writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.
Website – https://joanneguidoccio.com