Black Pool: Mermaid Legend Meets Modern-Day Dublin

by Allison Horton on

Black PoolA couple weeks ago, one of our VookMakers stopped me in the office. "I just read an entire manuscript, start-to-finish, while building the ebook," he said. So I promptly downloaded the ebook and was delighted to discover the combination of mermaid legend, modern-day Dublin, and a young boy who finds himself with a powerful trident and mysterious connection to the Mer people. Now, Black Pool: A Jack Flynn Adventure is available on Vook's store for $2.99.

Author C.H. Garbutt fell in love with children's literature when she read A Wrinkle in Time and The Chronicles of Narnia. It was years later, when she began reading to her own children, that she re-discovered her love of fantastical action-adventure fiction and was inspired to write Black Pool. It's a thrilling story that will engage middle-grade readers as well as their parents (just ask the grownups in this office). We asked C.H. a few questions about Black Pool, its inspiration, and what it was like to dive into the world of self publishing.

This is your debut novel. What inspired the story?
I have always been intrigued by the myth of mermaids, since I was in middle school. The idea and mystery of living in the sea alongside all kinds of unimaginable (and scary) creatures stayed with me. When I ran across the Irish legend of the red cap in a children's bookstore one day several years ago, it sparked my imagination and the adventure began.

And why did you decide to publish now?
I worked on Black Pool for a number of years, and it went through several iterations as it evolved into an urban fantasy set in modern day Dublin. I decided to publish it now because I felt the story was finally ready. I wanted to see if Black Pool would resonate with a middle grade readership which, on a global scale, is now starting to enjoy the benefits of e-readers—whether personal or through their school or community library. I grew up in libraries, spending every spare minute I could devouring books of all sorts. Now countless books are available with the touch of a few keystrokes. It is an exciting time and method to publish a book.

Do you have any advice for people considering self-publishing?
Be confident in your work and true to yourself. I received a great deal of feedback on this story as it evolved, from fellow writers to agents and editors to young middle grade readers. It both encouraged me and made me work harder to see the story through. If you love your story, you stay with it, you nurture it to the point of readiness, and then you send it out into the world. Self-publishing also allows the author a sense of control and ownership that traditional publishing does not always provide. For example, I have the opportunity to do a second version of the story with a WeJIT format (embedded links that allow the reader to interact with the story). It is brand new new technology that is not yet readily used with younger readers. I hope it stirs the reader's imagination and helps them grow closer to Jack Flynn and his Mer friends.

What was the hardest part of the process?
The actual publishing part was incredibly easy. I am sincerely grateful for the existence of Vook and their knowledgable staff. Reputable eBook publishers are vital to authors who know they have a good story and want to share it. The technology is here, it is as simple as submitting a poised and polished Word document, and then the formatting and eReader submission work is done for you.

The hard part will be getting the word out and making a place for Black Pool among all the other eBooks, and building a market for the story, especially for a middle grade readership. I am hopeful that parents and librarians will discover the benefits of Black Pool—it is an action fantasy adventure with a literary twist, filled with mystery, magic, mayhem and meaning—and then bring it to the attention of the middle graders they know and love.

Any surprises along the way?
The nicest surprise was how much fun it was to do this. I was dreading it a bit, as I believed in my story but not in my ability to deliver it to market on my own. I happily discovered I was not on my own but instead was supported by a team of very savvy eBook people who really know their job. I also enjoyed the interactions with my illustrator, the positive reaction from people who read the story and praised it, and the promise of being able to develop and market Black Pool in my own way at my own pace going forward.

Any advice for writers in general?
You should never, ever think about giving up. Anything is possible. That's what makes life an adventure.

Black Pool is available for purchase and download to the major e-reading devices from Vook's store. Stay up to date on all Black Pool and Jack Flynn news on the the author's website.

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