posted in: Horror, Sci Fi, Short Story | 0

bait-ebookby Laura VanArendonk Baugh


They eat us to live. We eat them to live forever.

When Tomás Torres agrees to consult on an unsuccessful breeding program for a rare species, he finds his new patients are fish with oddly humanoid face and torso — merfolk.

The legend that eating a mermaid will grant immortality seems to be based loosely in fact, and early trials suggest their meat is a powerful curative with incredible potential. The corporation with a successful fish farm will command nutrition and pharmaceutical markets. But many of the fish are not reproducing.

Before they even begin to evaluate the program, Tomás and fellow consultant Dr. Alyssa Cooper learn staff at the facility are dying, devoured after falling into tanks they had no reason to approach. Tomás and Alyssa set out to discover the secrets of the carnivorous mermaids — but Nature will not wait for research.

“I could almost hear the mysterious suspenseful music in the background as Bait began. The science, the scientists, the deserted compound, all of it began much like any of the classic Japanese monster films do. Bait read like King Kong or Jurassic Park. I loved the set-up, the foreshadowing, the nod to greed fueling research. It was all great.”

“An episode of Dr. Who mixed with The Twilight Zone. Well done!”

“This story certainly packs a punch! It’s a tale of horror and science in all the best ways. The mythology seems very well-developed, and so does the specific image of the mermaids themselves. If you’re in the mood for a dark, suspenseful story full of tension, pick up Bait.

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CIR: Did this require any research, and what kind?
BAUGH: This required lots and lots of research! The great thing about writing fantasy and science fiction is that is has to be plausible even when improbable; there have to be enough facts to support the fiction. And even aside from the mermaid science, I had to research a lot of real-life marine and geologic material for this story.

CIR: What was the hardest part of writing this story?
BAUGH: I’m a native and resident of a landlocked state. I’ve visited the ocean and sailed upon it repeatedly, but I’m fairly ignorant of boats and seamanship. I called in favors to help correct and review!

CIR: What would you compare this book to?
BAUGH: This has been called “Jurassic Park with mermaids” and I like that a lot.

CIR: What message do you hope your readers will get out of this book?
BAUGH: Animal behavior is my day job, and it’s important to remember that we need to respect the animal, and seek to understand it and meet its needs, even as we are researching or utilizing it. Also, we don’t always think things through before doing them!

CIR: Is there any content that some readers might find questionable despite the overall “clean” feel of the book?
BAUGH: This is a dark fantasy or horror story. People die. Not always prettily.

Learn more about Laura VanArendonk Baugh at