By DANA BORICK
Dr. Amber Laurel Garr, a 1995 graduate of Hughesville High School, recently published her first trilogy, "The Syrenka Series."
Garr is the daughter of J. Glenn Shawl III and Sandy Holdren, of Hughesville, and Karen Lasher of Salida, Colo.
She also received a doctorate in integrative biology from Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Fla., earlier this year and a bachelor's degree from Goucher College, Towson, Md., in 1999.
Spending much of her time underwater and following her creative side, Garr has successfully published a young adult fiction trilogy involving mermaids, selkies and water sprites titled "The Syrenka Series." The three books in the series are "Promises," "Betrayal" and the latest release, "Arise."
"The first series I released (The Syrenka Series) revolves around a hidden world of mermaids, selkies and water sprites that interact with unsuspecting humans. I'm a marine biologist, so I was inspired by my love of the ocean and all things in it," Garr said. "It seemed that vampires and werewolves needed a break, so mermaids were the next obvious choice for me."
In "Promises," when 17-year-old Eviana Dumahl is faced with the responsibility of an arranged marriage and clan leadership, she is forced to choose between the life required of a mermaid and one of a teenage girl simply infatuated with the wrong guy. Kain, her devoted fiance, would make a wonderful husband except that she's been in love with Brendan, a shape-shifting selkie, ever since they were kids. Choosing to abandon her family, her clan and her life with Kain will have dire consequences far beyond anything she could have imagined.
The trilogy follows Eviana and her friends through the perils of growing up in a discrete world that inherently threatens human society.
Garr also has published "Touching Evil - A Leila Marx Novel." This book follows Leila Marx, who is trying to put her life back together after her fiance is murdered. When Detective Garrick Pearson enlists her help with a difficult case, she is thankful for the distraction and the opportunity to use her talents as a touch clairvoyant.
"Touching Evil involves a whole different set of supernatural creatures, ones that blend with humans quite well. I've always been fascinated with that idea, and love reading and writing in that genre," Garr said. "It's nice to take a break from my analytical science world once in a while."
A fifth book, "Furthermore: An Anthology," a collection of stories by seven authors, will be published in December.
"After watching too many loved ones battle cancer, I decided I needed to do more. So I organized this anthology, and when it releases, all of the proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society," Garr said. "The other authors jumped on board immediately and we had two artists donate the cover art."
Garr said it usually takes her about a month or two to complete a book, with several months of editing and beta reading before I feel it's ready to go.
Her books are published through Amazon, CreateSpace and Smashwords.
"My books are available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, at our local bookstore in Florida, and are available for libraries," she said. "The electronic copies range from $0.99 to $2.99 and the paperbacks cost $10.99 to $12.99 online."
She's still working on books, with a follow-up to "Touching Evil" expected to be released next summer.
Garr is married to Bryan Garr, also a marine biologist, and they reside in Vero Beach, Fla.