Author Tricia Levenseller discusses the swashbuckling inspirations for her YA novel, Daughter of the Pirate King.
What was your initial inspiration for Daughter of the Pirate King?
The Pirates of the Caribbean movies are what first interested me in pirates. After falling in love with the movies, I started looking for similar stories, but in book form. I was very disappointed to find that there were so few books about pirates on the YA shelves, and there were even fewer books about female pirates. I wanted to fill this gap.
Were you inspired by any particular pirates in pop culture, or elements of pop culture in general?
Jack Sparrow is my favorite pirate in pop culture. I like how smart he is. He can get himself out of any situation, usually by letting his enemies underestimate him. And he’s just so dang funny. Also, Captain Hook from Once Upon A Time definitely inspired the way I wanted my pirates to look. He has such a presence about him. DreamWorks’ Sinbad inspired my ideas of how ship dynamics would look.
I love the way all the crew members interact with one another and care for one another in this movie. This was the first time I’d seen this kind of portrayal in a pirate movie.
Mostly, however, I was inspired by real life female pirates. Ching Shih, a Chinese prostitute turned pirate; Jeanne de Clisson, a French aristocrat who turned pirate as a means of revenge; and Grace O’Malley, the Irish pirate queen, were my biggest inspirations.
What was it like to develop Alosa as such a powerful protagonist? Is she in any way a response to the historically dude-centric pirate culture?
It was so satisfying to write Alosa as a powerful protagonist. When people think of pirates, Blackbeard is usually what comes to mind. I wanted to show that females can be just as brutal and fierce as male pirates. And in fact, THEY WERE! There were so many real life female pirate captains, who were especially brutal, as mentioned in my answer to the previous question. I tried to think of how fierce they would’ve been to captain so many men. (Ching Shih captained tens of thousands of men!)
Daughter of the Pirate King is your debut novel. What was that process like? Were there any surprises along the way?
Though my debut, Daughter of the Pirate King is actually the fourth novel I finished. It was exciting to finally have a book lead to a publishing deal. I had had two previous novels go on submission and fail to sell, so it was nerve-wracking as I waited for news on this one. From the time the book went on submission, it took about eight months to sell. At this point, there weren’t really any surprises since I’d been through this process before. What I didn’t anticipate, however, was just how awesome my editor is. She’s so good at her job, and I feel so lucky and grateful to have her.
I also signed on with a new agent for Daughter of the Pirate King, and it is so effortless working with her. I think we work so well together. So I think the best surprises were the new relationships I made while selling and editing the book!
How do you approach writing villains or antagonists?
I approach villains the same way I do the rest of my characters. They have their own goals and fears and quirks. I want them to feel like real people, just like the rest of the characters. I also try to think of them as having goals that are directly in opposition to the goals of my protagonists. That helps to drive the conflict in the story.
Which do you find easier to write, the first line or the last line?
The first line is much easier for me to write. When I decide where I want a book to start, a first line usually comes to me quickly, something to show character or the situation of the opening scene—something that makes people want to keep reading. Last lines are so tricky, because they’re like saying good-bye. It’s hard to find the right words.
What is your writing setup like? Do you need anything in order to write?
I can write just about anywhere. I just need my notebook with my outline, and I’m good to go. White noise (like a fan) in the background is helpful, but not necessary. I can’t listen to music when I write. I find it too distracting.
If you had a pirate name, what would it be?
Tricia the Terrible!
About ‘Daughter of the Pirate King’ by Tricia Levenseller
Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map ― the key to a legendary treasure trove ― 17-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.
More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.