*Hi Beverly! Okay, first of all, what in the world inspired you to write such a book?
Charmed are you? Haha! I won’t tell. My inspiration for A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat occurred one morning while visiting my son and daughter-in-law in South Carolina. We went to Folly Beach to watch the sun rise over the water. The Morris Island Lighthouse stands across the inlet. Boy, did images appear to me that morning. A lighthouse must have a ghost, right? Who was he? Why was he a ghost? And who did that ghost ship with the pirate flag that I imagined cruising in the water belong to? Ah-ha! My story was born.
*I really enjoyed the characters of Star and Stormy, the strange twins our protagonist, Eric, hangs out with. Now, I’m sure you didn’t set out to write them this way, but I got sort of a creepy vibe—a “Village Of The Damned” sorta’ thing—from these kids. Care to elaborate?
All I can say about the twins is that they created themselves, like they had always existed, only I didn‘t know it. The only power Star has is her amazing ability to read other folks’ minds. She tries not to be nosey, but what’s a girl to do when the cute new kid has interesting thoughts about her? And Stormy is part genius, part boy, but good at heart. Perhaps the adults should “Beware the Children” as the movie suggests.
*Your middle-grade kids are playful, yet realistic; poised on the cusp of teenaged trauma years. You know them well and capture a distinctive voice. Are they based on anyone you know?
No, they just introduced themselves to me, and Star said she could read my mind dreams. Erik is going through what
many children experience, a split family, and doesn’t know how to deal with it, so he might loosely be based on kids I know. You see a lot of those when you‘re a teacher and also in your own family sometimes.
*(Um, Beverly, your characters seem to talk to you a lot. I think there's medicine for that.) I hope I’m not giving away any spoilers here, but Blackbeard’s ghost (a spooky sequence, by the way) shows up as well as another of my favorite characters, Bonnet. We know Blackbeard was real. How about Bonnet?
Major Stede Bonnet was a real pirate. They called him the “Gentleman” pirate, because he was a wealthy land owner in Barbados, had four children, and, for reasons no one knows, decided to leave home and become a pirate. He made a terrible pirate. He bought his ship, where most pirates stole theirs. He also had no knowledge of sailing or pirating. He got seasick, the story goes. He met Blackbeard who took charge of his ship. Finally Bonnet was hanged, like many of the pirates, and buried at White Points Garden, in Charleston.
*Along these lines, how much research did you do into pirate lore? The pirate dialect seems genuine. Did you drive your family crazy while writing this by walking around saying things like, “Arrr, me maties, dinner be ready once the wind blows fair?”
The Internet makes research very easy. Pirates are a popular subject and there is a lot of information online. I also borrowed books from the library and bought a couple too. I didn’t go around using pirate talk though. Oh, maybe an occasional “Ahoy there, cats.”
*After a project I’m working on now, I think I’m going to keep all of my books in the here and now. Research can be very tiring! I loved the setting (of course I do! Living in Kansas doesn’t give me much ocean-side time). Did (or do) you live there? You paint a very vivid portrait.
The part of Texas where I live barely has any lakes, much less the ocean, sort of like Kansas. My oldest son and his wife live in Charleston, SC. The ocean. Palm trees. Lots of history. I love visiting with them. They take me to all the beautiful spots. This is the second ghost story I’ve set in that area, cause they have lots of ghosts.
*This is not intended as an insult, but in many ways the book brought me back to many years ago when I read Hardy Boys mysteries and the like. Your book almost seemed like a nostalgic throwback to innocent years spent reading such books. But with one huge difference…these kids face modern problems. All three of the tween leads come from broken families. I betcha’ Mr. and Mrs. Hardy are STILL together. Anyway, I thought it was a great combination of themes and style. Intentional? Or am I reading too much into it?
Gracious. I’d have to say it’s an accident. I never thought about the Hardy Boys or books like that. Just lucked out, I guess. Thanks for telling me. The kids let me follow along in their adventures.
*Okay, the major ghost story? Um…seems like it’s sorta’ not quite resolved. Belated Spoiler Alert! Does this mean a sequel is in the works?
I’m not sure. Originally I hadn’t planned to write a sequel, but lately some thoughts have been bouncing around in my head. So I’ll say “maybe” but not positively.
*Anything else in your head or on your computer?
Well, my computer has a lot of information on it, my head not so much. I am on the last reading of a contemporary ya novel. Hope to submit it early next year. A notebook contains several possible stories. Another mg story is due out in January, just waiting for art work. (It doesn’t have ghosts.) And a mg historical fiction story will come out sometimes next year.
*Finally, I found it painfully honest and refreshing you’ve stated how you hated reading and writing until recently. None of that bogus writerly full-of-oneself crap from Beverly! Yay! Please explain…
I’m really not sure why I didn’t enjoy reading as a child. I
don’t recall books in our home, but my younger sister brought tons of books home from the school library. I wasn’t interested. I loved music and played clarinet in the junior high and senior high bands, along with being a majorette. Maybe I couldn’t sit still long enough to read. I don’t know. In eighth grade, my teacher sent my poem “Stars” to a high school anthology and it was published in Young America Sings. I only wrote the thing to keep from failing the class. Book reports were a nightmare. Thank heavens for the jacket flap info., as if the teachers couldn’t tell. In spite of my rocky relationship with books I graduated from high school and ten years later attended the university and became … yep … a teacher. What was I thinking? Reading Newbery winners with my students and my sons helped me discover what I’d been missing. Now, I have I think 39 books in the closet waiting to be read. This isn’t counting the ones on my iPad.
*Beverly, I can’t imagine any young boy (or girl, for that matter) not enjoying your book. What with ghosts (even a cat ghost), pirates, problems kids can relate to, a psychic love interest, and all sorts of other stuff going on, I imagine kids will eat it up.
Thank you, Stuart. I hope you’re right. Yes, I had to include the cat. My pets insisted. Thanks for letting me share my story and life with you and your fans today.
You guys go and get Beverly’s book. It’s a winner. Just a few finger clicks away…
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-pirate-a-blockade-runner-and-a-cat-beverly-stowe-mcclure/1114305122?ean=2940016505473