What inspired the idea for a "true-blue" friend?
When I started writing Maybe a Mermaid, I knew I wanted to write about a lonely girl who is looking for a friend. As I developed the character of 11-year-old Anthoni Gillis, who has had a hard time finding friends because she is constantly the new girl, I thought a lot about the types of friendship we look for in our lives.
When I was a kid, I longed for a certain kind of friendship. The Anne and Diana (or Emily and Ilse), Frog/Toad, Wilbur/Charlotte kind. I knew from an early age that there's a difference between a friend (someone you like and hang out with) and a kindred spirit (someone who sees the inner strengths that no one else sees, and who understands your deepest flaws and loves you anyway). A true friend was a friend for life, no matter what ups and downs, fights, or distance got in the way.
I remember being Anthoni's age and realizing that some friends I'd thought were true were only true on the surface. And that others were truer than I'd known---only I wasn't looking in the right direction. I think sometimes we can try so hard to fit people into our idea of who we think they are or who we want them to be, that we're willing to go to great lengths to change our own perceptions of reality.
In Maybe a Mermaid, Anthoni struggles with all of this. More important than finding a True Blue Friend, she has to figure out how to BE one. Because ultimately, for all of us, that is what opens us up to so many hopeful, magical possibilities.
Thank you, Josephine, for this insightful glimpse into your writing. Readers can find out more about Anthoni Gillis when Maybe a Mermaid releases on March 26, 2019. It is published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
You can discover more about Josephine Cameron at her website. Josephine maintains an account on Twitter. Josephine chats with another author about her writing and this book at Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb. At the publisher's website you can read an excerpt.