Hannah Carter is just a girl who still wakes up every day hoping to figure out she’s secretly a mermaid. Her short stories and award-winning flash fiction pieces have also been published in anthologies such as: SR Press’s “Whispers From Before,” Havok’s “Prismatic” and “Casting Call,” Alex Silvius’s “The Depth’s We’ll Go To” and “The Height’s We’ll Fly To,” Anne J. Hill’s “Fool’s Honor,” Effie Joe Stock’s “Aphotic Love,” and Nightshade Publishing’s upcoming “The Willow Tree Swing.” She also won a competition with her short story, “Lara.” She currently has two published novellas, “Amir and the Moon” and “Seashells.” In addition to fiction, she also has had over a dozen devotionals published in various magazines, as well as three devotions published in Finding God in Anime. Connect with Hannah at linktr.ee/theintrovertedmermaid3.
What anime/manga/light novel inspired your short story?
The biggest two influences were Princess Tutu and Sailor Moon! In fact, Cassius’ story MAY have started out as a Princess Tutu fanfic, years and years ago. 😆 I never finished it/published it anywhere, so when my friend Beka told me about the Ganbatte anthology, I immediately thought of Cass and tried to spruce up his story and make it unique.
What was your process like for writing this story? Did you have a specific idea for the ending or a theme you wanted to write around?
The process was a HOT MESS. (But I’ve come to realize, my drafts always are, haha.) For months I planned on writing something to submit, but nothing ever worked. The first drafts were very serious—Cass’ sister would have been kidnapped, and he had to take up the Harmony Girl mantle from his mother because she’d been paralyzed by Major Dissonance years before. There wasn’t a lot of room for humor in this draft, which made Cassius’ complaints about his outfit seem really trivial. I mean, c’mon—your sister’s life hangs in the balance, your paralyzed mother is pleading with you to help, and you won’t wear some high heels to save the day? After months of trying and failing to get past the first scene in the house, I almost scrapped the story entirely. But then I decided—forget the sister and paralyzed mother. Why not lean into the lighthearted humor that this story naturally has? And once that was decided, it was easy to find the heart of the story and let Cass grow into that reluctant hero role, who puts aside his insecurities to focus on helping others.
What was your favorite part about writing this story? Was there anything challenging about it?
Haha—EVERYTHING was challenging! But so worth it in the end. My favorite part about writing the story were the times I’d make myself laugh. Specifically, the battle scenes—I fondly refer to them as a fever dream, because at that point, the book had given me so many fits that I just decided to do the wackiest stuff I could. Giant cat creature? Sure, why the heck not? I spent most of the latter half of the story cackling and wondering what was wrong with me. 🤣
(Plus, Major Dissonance himself just makes me laugh. I imagine everything he says in a Dr. Doofenshmirtz voice, and it really makes his scenes 100 times better. 🤣 If, for some reason, it’s ever animated, I would give my left kidney to have Dan Povenmire voice Major Dissonance.)
Do you have a favorite sentence or quote or paragraph from the story?
This, right here, might be my favorite moment from the entire story:
“Coming!” Aunt Lily bounced the rest of the way. “Join us when you can, Cass. We’ll keep the monster from rampaging through town. That would be a—”
“Don’t you dare say ‘cat-astrophe’ or I will retire my high heels right now and throw them at you.”
Each time I read this line, I laugh WAY too hard.
Can you tell us about one character in the story? Any insights into who they are as a character that we didn’t get to see in the story?
Ooooh! I’ll do Cass, since he’s the main. Cass’ sarcasm and teenage angst really take the center stage here, but I’d love to highlight how much of a sweetheart he really is. He and his mom have such a genuine relationship—he loves and cares about her a lot and would do absolutely anything to keep her happy (even wear a skirt and high heels 😜). He’s definitely a mama’s boy and grew up idolizing her.
He’s also super shy and socially awkward—part of the reason he didn’t want to go out at all. He’s definitely got that “emo/goth/scene boy” style and aura. Which is why I think the scenes where he starts to come out of his shell and steps into a “hero” role are so impactful to me. He’s trying his hardest to get over his inherent awkwardness, which takes a LOT of courage.
Can you briefly share about your other works? Where can people find you if they want to read more?
Aww, I’d love to!
I’ll start with something that might be of interest to anime fans—I’m part of an anime inspired devotional, “Finding God in Anime.” Volume 1 is out in the wild, and Volume 2 will be coming out this summer! I’ve got 3 pieces in each volume, and it’s so fun to me to see how other anime fans can find the Gospel of Christ in everything from My Hero Academia to Ghibli movies! No matter the genre, I’m sure every anime fan can find at least one devotion based on their favorite show.
In fiction, I’ve been published in several anthologies, for either flash fiction or short stories. SnowRidge Press has published one of my favorite short stories I’ve written, “Of Underwoods and Underworlds,” in their book Whispers From Before. It’s a gender-bent take on Hades and Persephone, with more off-beat humor and sarcasm like readers will find in “The Harmony Girls’ Understudy.” The plot revolves around Haddie, my Hades-inspired heroine, a witch who accidentally creates a magical beast that eats her friend Percy and sends him to the Underworld. Lots of shenanigans and sarcasm ensue as she is forced to enter the Underworld and save him and confront her own worst enemy… herself.
(And keep an eye out for some announcements soon—there may be a top-secret project I’m about to announce with SnowRidge! 😉)
I’m also a writer for Havok, and have been in their last two anthologies—Casting Call and Prismatic. You can find my flash fiction there or at gohavok.com. My piece “A Home for Nova” is the Prismatic Editors’ Choice piece, so I’m really proud of that. 😊
Lastly, I’ll highlight one of my solo short stories— Seashells. It’s a more poignant, coming-of-age story about a girl who befriends a merman. Sariah and George, the main characters, are such small beans, and I love their friendship and how they’re both willing to put everything on the line to save one another. Plus, it has pirates!
To keep in touch with me, look me up on Instagram: @introvertedmermaid3. You can find a lot more of my short stories and upcoming releases on there. All of the stories I mentioned today are also on Amazon, so I’d be honored if anyone checked them out. 😊
How did you come up with Major Dissonance's specific powers? What, for instance, prompted the cats?
Hahaha, oh my gosh. So, firstly, Major Dissonance’s powers in the original version were mostly the same—he could create symphonies/music that could control things. One problem I ran into, though, was giving him a motivation. WHY did he want to create evil? I struggled with his backstory a lot, and, again, I have to thank my friend Beka, who helped push me past this.
We were on the phone, and I was so defeated. I wanted to make him a compelling villain, like Loki. I didn’t want him to be the stereotypical bad guy without a compelling motive! But I just couldn’t figure out what made him want to do evil.
Then Beka said: “what if he just wants to create chaos for the sake of creating chaos? That’s a motive, too.”
Dear, sweet Beka probably didn’t know the danger of what she’d just suggested. 🤣
With that, he immediately became more of an off-kilter, lovable Dr. Doof to me. His motivations? The daily hassles of life. Minor inconveniences!
As for the cats specifically… they came about because my cats kept jumping on my keyboard when I was trying to write. 🤣 I remember getting so frustrated and saying to my darling daughters: “how come when I WANT to give you attention, you don’t want anything to do with me, but when I’m busy, you always want to cuddle?”
Look at that—a minor inconvenience!
And thus the cat-controlling symphony was born. 🤣
(In fact, Kitty Purr-ide and Cleocatra are based on my kittens, Yelena and Lucy, and their cute-but-annoying habits.)
There's mention of other villains that the Harmony Girls have to face. Are there any tidbits you can offer about them? Any ideas for possible spinoff stories with these characters?
Oooh, I’d love to work on a spin-off! 👀 As far as villains go, I imagine the Harmony Girls take care of a lot of day-to-day crime, but every once in a while, they face a huge threat. There are a few other people that found power crystals and use them for evil. I’d like to do a Dark Harmony Girls spin—the traditional trope where heroes have to fight people with their powers, but “evil.” And those power crystals had to come from somewhere, so it’d be fun for there to be a “big bad” who is searching the galaxy to collect them. I did imagine Cass one day training some little sisters (or cousins), and them one day creating the next generation of Harmony Girls. 😉
On another note, one character I was bummed to not be able to use was Cass’ dad, Felix. There’s a line where it’s mentioned Felix has been mind-controlled by Major Dissonance a few times. In my head, that’s actually how Lyra and Felix met. If I stick with my original idea, he also (sometimes) has powers of his own—kind of like the Harmony Girls’ own Tuxedo Mask!
How did you come up with the design for Cassius' outfit? Do you have any reference photos for what it looks like? *grins*
Hehehe, I LOVE the way my artist rendered Cass’ outfit in the official Ganbatte artwork! But no early sneak peeks here. 😉 In my head, though, it was a combination of several outfits.
Of course, Duck’s Princess Tutu costume: