I wrote a post when Breathing Water was released telling you about my character’s namesake, Sariah. I received so many comments asking for an update that I had to comply. However, I’ve waited because this post will contain SPOILERS!!!
Sariah began reading Breathing Water as soon as it was placed in her hands. She is only eight and the book’s target audience is more around the age fourteen so she struggled with a lot of the words and concepts. In stepped her mom, Ruth, to read it to her.
This turned out to be a huge benefit–for me. It ensured me a spy into Sariah’s every reaction to the story. I was not disappointed.
When Sariah heard her name the first time she jumped up shocked and excited. When she learned that there was a mermaid names Sariah she danced around the room. Her mom told me the whole thing was so exciting and wonderful that Sariah wanted the book to be read at all times.
Ruth is a busy mom–as all moms are–and when she would tell Sariah that she couldn’t read to her because Ruth had to do laundry or dishes or take care of the baby, Sariah would volunteer to do it for her if she would keep reading. So Ruth sat and read… and Sariah did the work.
Breathing Water is getting children to do chores!
But then it all came crashing down.
There mermaid Sariah dies in the book. It had to happen. It was a pivotal plot point and spurred events in the ocean for thousands of years to come. But try explaining that to an eight-year-old.
Sariah was extremely upset.
She came to see me at a book signings along my tour. She looked me sadly in the eye and asked, “Why did you kill me?”
Break. My. Heart.
I tried to tell her about plots and martyrs and heroes. Didn’t matter.
“Why did my sister kill me?”
Cue me loudly crying.
After the book signing we went on a hike. Because if you go to St. George, Utah and don’t go hiking you are some sort of monster without a soul. The entire hike she walked right along side me asking why I killed her, why her sister killed her, and why she had to die. As if that wasn’t bad enough then she started giving me ideas for the sequel.
“Maybe she was just hiding and in the next book she’ll come out and isn’t dead.”
Look at the anguish in Sariah’s teeny little face as she berates me with accusations. And my face is probably trying not to cry; although I look apathetic, I assure you I wasn’t.
To summarize: Naming ones characters after a best friend is a GREAT idea. But you better not kill that character or You. Will. Pay.