Summer Island Breeze: Find out what it was like for Hélène to grow up on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! Salty sea smells every day? I’ll take it!
Okay, so not exactly in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean but I grew up on a very small island off the coast of Canada and it may as well have been the middle of nowhere because looking back, it sure felt like a different world.
First, you have to take a causeway, then a drawbridge, then another bridge before finally arriving to my little slice of island paradise called Petit de Grat. Petit de Grat is not a tropical utopia but it was a pretty unique place to grow up in that:1.My friends and I used to have sleepovers on my dad’s fishing boat while it was moored in the middle of our harbour. <boat picture>
2.The island only had a few hundred inhabitants but was full of kind-hearted, colourful characters.
3.Wild cows roamed the east end of our island and were known to chase us through forest paths.
So how did my childhood affect my process of writing the Real Mermaids series?1.My dad took us for boat rides to a town on the mainland called St. Peters. We sailed up a canal from the ocean to a fresh water lake. That canal inspired the setting of my fictional town of Port Toulouse. I often wondered if the purple jellyfish in the ocean knew about the white jellyfish in the lake. It amazed me that two totally different underwater worlds could be separated by just a mile-long canal. That was the inspiration for the mer-world in these books. <canal picture>
2.I wanted my fictional town of Port Toulouse to be small and quaint, with a strong sense of community and full of fun characters like where I grew up.
3.It was a bit harder to work in the wild cows so mermaids seemed like a good alternative. ;-)
Top Five Summer Splashin’ Activities
Discover Hélène’s favorite summer activities – all involving water of course. Make sure to get your swimsuit ready!
I grew up on a small island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean so splishy-splashy summer activities are some of my favourite things to do. Here are my top five summer splashin’ activities!
I am so bad at surfing and have only ever managed to stand on my board about three times in my life but it is so much fun to get out there and catch a few waves even if you’re like me and all you can manage is getting up on your knees. This day, it was only 13 C/ 55 F and the water was even chillier. Thank goodness for wet suits!
2. SAND CASTLE BUILDING
My family and I stay at an ocean side cottage every summer and try to schedule our stay during the annual Sandcastle Building Competition. We came in FIRST last year and plan on defending our title again this summer. Jade the mermaid has even been known to make an appearance!
<sand mermaid image>
3. WHALE WATCHING
Creatures of the sea have always amazed me (obviously!) so if you ever get the chance—don’t pass up an opportunity to go whale watching. It’s so magical!
<whale watching image>
Last time, we even discovered a sea cave. I wonder what’s hiding in there…
<sea cave image>
I joke that I once came in 141st in a race with 140 competitors and that’s not very far from the truth. I am slow. VERY slow. But I love competing in races at least once a summer. These days I usually do walking half marathons (my best time is 3:01 hrs—a glacial pace) but I’ve also been known to do short triathlons. Swimming is probably my worst leg of the race but it’s a great way to cool down for the biking and running part. This is my ‘I’m so glad THAT’S over’ face.
5. SNOWBALL FIGHTS
Yup, you read that correctly. When you live within driving distance of a dozen hockey arenas like I do, there’s nothing like loading up the back of the truck with Zamboni snow and dumping it in your front yard for an instant pile of chilly summer fun. Snowball fight!
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