Some new artwork for Merren. I had a lot of fun making this, and actually had to get in the water to model for it myself because I had no volunteers on this beautiful evening when high tide and dusk matched up just how I wanted. It was as cold as it looks and I think I confused quite a few passers by but I’m happy with what I got. I’ve been thinking a lot about how the merren’s hair would go in the water and I’ve been experimenting with my own – letting it get salty wet and then drying with no brushing only finger combing – some natural matts are starting to form in their own way. Since I’m basing these particular merren on descendants of ancient inhabitants of the north sea coasts who were sunk before the evolution of white skin and straight hair about 8,000 years ago, I thought I’d leave my own curls on.
The location is Margate Steps – a place people sit and watch the sea in the day time. They overlook the open sea in the middle and the north coast of the isle of Thanet (to the left) where most of my characters live and work. To the right you can see the end of the harbour arm with the red light of the ship beacon shining, as well as the lights from the bars. One of these is the bar that Jordan and Charlie’s band perform in, and the very end of the harbour arm is where Auellie and Niah first come face to face.
This is the first merren I’ve made in one of the book’s locations and I’m definitely going to be making more.
Here’s an extract of when Aurellie meets Niah on the harbour arm.
Charlie stepped out into the wind in her sleeveless top and spread her arms, letting out a satisfied sound as it blew away the heat of the gig. I tucked my hands into the sleeves of her borrowed hoody as I waited on the big steps at the water’s edge. My fingers were so cold I could barely feel the cutting of the heavy plastic bag full of my own soaked clothes. Looking past Charlie I could see the lights from the beacon and the bars on harbour arm now opposite us. I stared at the waves that touched the end of the harbour arm, in the place where the merren boy had been, but I could only see the dark grey of the water. The seals were gone now as well. In my head I could still see the merren boy’s face so clearly, those big seal-like eyes that stared at me. My mind wouldn’t stop replaying those memories he sent to me of Jordan and my dad at the wind farm, and of me and Mr Warwick on the seal tours. I was still bewildered by how he had done it. And why? Had he been following us? I should have been scared of him, I knew that. I hadn’t forgotten the stories, the drownings, but the feeling that had come with the memories he sent me was still lingering. It was as if my mind was still buzzing with it, glowing and warm like the red light at the top of the beacon. More than afraid of him, I wanted to see him again. I had to find out what he wanted with me. What would he have done if he had not been scared away by the others? But if they hadn’t come, would I have followed him, gone completely under? Of that, I was afraid.