Zoraida Córdova was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where she learned to speak English by watching Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker on repeat. Her favorite things are sparkly like merdudes, Christmas, and New York City at night.
Tell us five random facts about yourself?
* I used to have a goat in Ecuador, even though we lived in the city. It was a gift.
* I love trying out baking and cooking recipes.
* When I was little I wanted to be either a flight attendant (Pan Am style) or Miss Universe.
* I dress up for all of Halloween week with a different costume.
* English is my second language.
What was your favorite scene to write?
My favorite scene is the first time Tristan shifts into a merman. I wanted it to be serious, but still funny. It’s the equivalent of getting your first period at the mall with all your friends around. Naturally, I love the rest of the book, but this scene is such a personal moment for Tristan that it’s hard not to sympathize with him.
Coney Island is such a fun setting for Tristan’s story. How did you choose Coney Island and does it have any special meaning?
Coney Island has a long history. Not all of it good. I’m especially drawn to its original romantic glamour during the late 1800s when it was a bustling boardwalk. The home of the first wooden roller coasters and the first hot dog! New York City really did it injustice by letting it fall apart in some ways. But you still see the life it has in the Wonder Wheel, the restaurants and bars, and the Sideshows by the Seashore. PLUS, the mermaid parade every June.
I try to spend many of my summer days there. It was actually there, sunbathing, that The Vicious Deep came to me.
Do you have things you need in order to write i.e. coffee, cupcakes, music?
When I write, I need visual aids. Pictures are my biggest form of inspiration, next to real people and music. Even magazine ads. I was flipping through a Vogue once and found a shot of a guy with such an intense stare, not even supermodel hoaky, but something special. I kept him for a Tristan visual!
Other than that, I need beverages. They vary by writing mood/stage.
Lost + frustrated – bourbon
On a roll! – wine
Last chapter/sentence – champagne!
I love the idea of mermen. What drew you to telling this story? How did you decide what your merpeople would be like?
I chose mermen over mermaids because I wanted to tell a reverse The Little Mermaid. In the beginning, it was more of a love story. The love is still there, it’s just more complicated that it was when it first occurred to me. As the world kept building, I found there was more to Tristan than just being a heartbreaker. Sometimes I see people, or even hear a name, and it sparks inside me. It was like this at Coney Island one summer. I was checking out this lifeguard (shamelessly, I should say) and I put him in different situations. I wondered who he was, why did he stare at the sea this way? was he just bored or did he feel some kind of connection? Why is there such a close circle of sunbathing girls near his lifeguard post thinking he isn’t noticing! That was the birth of Tristan.
The rest of the world fell into place. I’m also a mermaid freak and have been my whole life. I didn’t have a strategy or a book when it came to world building. I went with what the story called for. I hope everyone enjoys my take on these merpeople.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on book 2 in Tristan’s adventure, The Savage Blue.
Where to find Zoraida
When an unnatural riptide sweeps lifeguard Tristan Hart out to sea for three days and then dumps him back on the shore of Coney Island, it’s the start of the Sea Court claiming its own. Suddenly, Tristan’s girlfriend dramas and swimming championship seem like distant worries as he discovers the truth: he’s a Merman. Now Tristan must fight for his life, the lives of his friends, and his humanity (if he still wants it), while competing in a race for a throne as ancient as the gods. Seductive, duplicitous, and with an agenda of their own, these are not the mermaids you know.