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In the Texas Monthly Recommends series, Texas Monthly writers, editors, photographers, and producers offer up their favorite recent culture discoveries from the great state of Texas. A few years ago, my now-eight-year-old daughter started writing fiction books. She’d bring me a stack of printer paper and ask me to staple in a binding, then set off filling the pages with backward all-lowercase letters and (quite impressive, in my opinion) illustrations. The COVID-19 pandemic—resulting in remote kindergarten and an abrupt end to extracurriculars—accelerated her pace, and over the months, I noticed a trend. Her protagonists of choice tended to be mermaids: enchanted-stranger mermaids, mermaids that granted wishes, brother-sister mermaids adventuring away from home (big pandemic feels). One of her stories evolved into a series, and then a full-scale—read: backyard—production, in which…
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