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MerMountain Fantasy

You’ve heard about my Wombat friends – if not, grab one of my books and check the Acknowledgments page; they’re all over the place! – and today, one of them, author Pat Bertram has stopped by with a very clever post! Thanks, Pat!


mountainsI feel a little out of my depth here — an inland dweller in the land of merfolk– but it made me think of the importance of setting. Since I’ve lived most of my life in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, those mountains form the backdrop of my books, and because of that, they limit the stories I can tell and the characters I can create. My characters all breathe air, are subject to the vagaries of weather, and have to buy shoes. I’m being a bit silly here, but the truth is that setting does affect our stories.

What if I wanted to write a mermaid story? I’d either have to abandon my mountain theme, which I can no more do than breathe water, or I’d have to figure out how it’s possible for merfolk to live in the mountains.

Once upon a time, the area around here was beneath the sea — the soil is alkaline from the leftover deposits, and in spots the ground is totally white from sea salt and calcium. What if there was a remnant, deep in the mountains, of that primordial sea? If that leftover lake could be fed with sweet water to keep it from turning briny like Salt Lake, I could people it with merfolk who became separated from the rest of their kind. What would be the story? That they are trying to find their way home? That they are trying to find a way to live on land because the lake is drying up? That a mountain man and a mermaid fell in love?




That is an example of how setting forms the story. In A Spark of Heavenly Fire, I purposely worked against the mountain theme. Although the mountains are always there, two of my characters head east to try to escape quarantined Colorado rather than into the mountains. In Light Bringer, which will be published next spring I made use of known under-mountain facilities, such as a mention of NORAD beneath Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, as well as fictional installations. In Daughter Am I, my heroine inherits a farm on the eastern plains and a played out mine near Gunnison, so I included both significant Colorado topographies.



mermaid charm bertram


In keeping with the mountains and mermaid theme, and in honor of being a guest here on Judi’s blog, I have a special offer for you. For $16.00, I will send you an autographed copy of Daughter Am I, a mermaid pendant (the mountains in the background are not included), and I will pay postage. Contact me at pat at patbertram dot com, and we will work out the details.

This has been fun. Thank you all for indulging me in my mermountain fantasy.

pat bertramPat Bertram is a native of Colorado and a lifelong resident. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book — character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre — she decided to write her own. Daughter Am I is Bertram’s third novel to be published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Also available are More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire.


25 Responses

  1. Good morning and thanks, Pat, for such a fun post!

  2. Pat, you’ve shown both the importance of setting for fiction and that writers can take any circumstance and create a story around it. Merfolk in the Colorado mountains? Why not? Just fashion the right elements and ta-da, the story is ready to go.

    Love the mermaid draped over the mountain. Too funny.

  3. Great stuff here.

  4. Pat, interesting as always. Thanks.

  5. Pat, I just adore your idea for Mountain Mermaids! Sounds as if you need to take that theme and run with it! My stories are all set in places I’ve never seen–I’m just drawn there. I’m hoping someday to go and see them for real. And I may have to take you up on that book deal! Sounds like fun, and one can never have too many mermaids in one’s life. Plus, you know, I’m kinda fond of shiny things!

  6. Ooh, I may have to take you up on that book deal too. Except…I want the mountains too!! 🙂

  7. Hi, Judi! Thak you so much for inviting me to be a guest on your blog. It’s been fun hanging out with the merfolk.

    Beth, I thought the mermaid on the mountain was funny, too. Now whenever I see that mountain, I’m going to wonder where up there the mermaid lives.

    Kathryn, Thank you. I wanted to do something a bit different, but I couldn’t stop myself from including a writing moral.

    John, I am delighted that you stopped by. Thank you.

    Kat, Hmmmm. I was just being a bit silly here, but Mountain Mermaids would be a fun story. I’ll have to think about it. Mermountain is a good title. Or would it be Mer Mountain? More to think about!

  8. […] November 18, 2009 — Pat Bertram I have an exciting day ahead of me today. I am a guest on Judi Fennell’s blog talking about mermaids and mountains, and Judi is here talking about mermen and humor. Judi is the […]

  9. Pat, I know you were kidding, but I actually like the mermaids in the mountains story. You could bring in a bit of the geological history of the area, and you’ve already got a jump start on some story elements. Might be fun for you to do something a bit different. Your post was a good way to start my day (actually, to end it–I’ve been up all night and am heading to bed).

  10. Mer-maid falls for Mountain man? Ohhhh, love it! So many delightful possibilities.

    Mountains have always tugged at my imagination. Romantic in their own way.

  11. Hi, Donna! So pleased you stopped by. You never know — I might do mountain mermaids. Then I’d have to do a secret corporation who wants to study them, add a problem with the water — maybe the drought is causing the lake to become too briny — and a host of other plot devices. You should know by now that I always manage to complicate a simple story.

    Sherilyn, Mountains are romantic until you have to drive through the passes in the winter. Not so romantic, then. But still lovely.

  12. What a great article, Pat. Thanks for the amusing anecdotes. DAUGHTER AM I is an excellent read. I encourage you all to pick up a copy.

  13. Definitely on my to be read list, Pat. I like your discussion of manipulating setting. Very interesting.

  14. darn. Now I can’t write Mermaids in the Rockies… ;}

  15. Great blog post, Pat. A mermaid and a mountain man? Now there’s one I’ve never heard of or even thought of. I think it’s an ingenious idea.

    I think it’s fun to write in various settings. Being familiar with a locale brings a certain authenticity to a setting that just researching it (without visiting) can never match. So I definitely understand your hesitation in setting your story in a different location. I, however, won’t be writing any novels set in Nebraska. You’re welcome.

  16. […] Judi Fennell’s guesting over at Pat Bertram’s blog. And … Pat’s at Judi’s. Go see what Pat has to say about setting. […]

  17. Cool offer, my friend.

    Just me. Dropping in to say this is posted at Win a Book for you!

  18. Waving hi to Susan!

    Jamie, I’m certain your rock stars could have a great time in NE. And just think, NE would never be the same again!

  19. What a lovely post! Your writing is beautiful, too. Best of luck with your book.

    Regards, Adele

  20. I’m thinking that it would have to be an underground lake, otherwise it would have long been discovered. Maybe pollution is ruining the lake or drought and one of the merwomen has to come up top to see what can be done. Works for me.

    Deborah, thank you for stopping by. Your support means so much to me.

    Hi, Vivian. Now all we need to do is get rich so we can buy all the books on our to-be-read lists! And as more Wombats get published, that list just keeps growing.

    Jamie, I’m with Judi — do Nebraska. It needs shaking up.

    Susan, It was interesting seeing Judi’s name on the list of authors you have on your blog, and now here we are all together. Kismet, or is it KisMer?

    Adele, thank you. Good luck with your book, too.

  21. Hi Pat and Judi – Memaids in the mountains? I’m definitely feeling out of my depth. For folks who are enjoying the Pat Bertram blog tour, be sure to stop at my blog, which is the next waystation down the road.

  22. Hi, James. I’m looking forward to our discussion. It will be a far cry from mer-people.

    Perhaps I’m going overboard here on the mer-theme, but if there is such a thing as mer-people, why not mer-cats?

  23. This is a wonderful story. I have been to Colorado Springs many times to the Olympic Training Center there. I can just picture a mermaid in the mountains and springs there. Not to mention, the Red Rock formations there too. I love that area.

  24. What a fun post. My mind is full of mountain mermen awoken from the mists of time. Loved it.

  25. Hi Pat. Hi Judi.
    I’ve just now seen this post! I didn’t know of this wonderful offer! I’ll be by soon to take you up on it. I love the way you hung the mermaid on the mouuntain, although you can keep the mountain… you’d have to pay a fortune for shipping! And I so want to read DAI.

    BTW, I love your idea of mermaids in a mountain lake! I think you should run with it.

    Have a great day you loverly lady guys.

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