I interviewed fellow YA pirate author, Nicole Castroman, regarding her debut novel, BLACKHEARTS.
Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.
Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.
Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?
From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
BLACKHEARTS is a Blackbeard origin story. It’s what Nicole likes to call PRE-PIRATE, which means it’s more Poldark than Pirates of the Caribbean.
And now for the interview!
Tricia: Pirates are the best! What led you to writing about Blackbeard and, more specifically, his pre-pirate life?
Nicole: My family planned a trip to Charleston, SC in August of 2012. I started doing some research and learned that Blackbeard had held the entire city hostage. After more research, I learned that only the last two years of Blackbeard’s life are documented. So I asked myself the question, what would cause him to leave everything he knew behind and become one of the most notorious pirates to sail the seas?
Tricia: I also understand that there’s a girl in the story who is just as much of a main character as Blackbeard. Where did her character come from, and how was the process of entangling her story with Edward Teach’s?
Nicole: Anne came to me almost immediately. I could picture her in my mind. I knew she needed to be strong and fearless, someone who could hold her own against Teach. Blackbeard had quite a powerful presence, and she couldn’t fade into the background when he was around. I also knew that she would be the reason he turned to piracy. It’s so fun for me to see how readers are reacting to her. She’s fierce, but feminine.
Tricia: Could you tell us about finding yourself as a writer? I believe you didn’t start out writing historical fiction or third person. How did you come to understand that was your true calling? And do you intend to stick with it or branch out in the future?
Nicole: I initially wrote contemporary. I signed with an agent, but that manuscript never sold. I wrote two more, but by that time, both my agent and I knew we weren’t the right fit for each other. Publishing is a business, and sometimes authors and agents realize that the working relationship isn’t working. So we parted ways, and that was when my husband said, “Let’s go to Charleston for a vacation.” I think he did it to take my mind off of being unagented again, and I will forever be grateful to him for that.
I’m a history buff, and so I did my research about Charleston and voila. The seed for BLACKHEARTS was planted. Because I wanted to make the story sound historical, I changed the POV to third person. I didn’t want my story to sound like a modern teen in 1697 England. I wanted it to read like a historical novel.
I have some ideas for other stories. I’m always open to new ideas and would never say never about branching out into other genres.
Tricia: What’s your day-to-day writing process like? Do you write every day in the same place at the same time? Need music playing or a specific snack on hand?
Nicole: I do write in the same place every day. It’s in my study. I can’t have any music playing, but I can handle interruptions. I have two children, and ever since I’ve been writing, I’ve learned to answer a question or get them something and then get right back to the story. As far as snacking, I’m a fan of smokehouse almonds. I will take salty over sweet any day.
If I weren’t a writer, I’d be: In marketing or publicity somehow.
Favorite celebrity: Aidan Turner
Favorite Disney movie: I’m really enjoying the live action Disney movies, like Maleficent and Cinderella.
Favorite fictional character: Atticus Finch
Movie I’ve seen the most times: Tie between The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Bourne series.
The most delicious cereal is: I don’t eat cereal. Breakfast isn’t my favorite.
About the author:
Nicole has a twin sister who can read her mind and finish her sentences. When she was 13, Nicole went to Europe, and it changed her life. She loves learning about different people, languages, and cultures. She speaks fluent German, knows enough Spanish to get herself into trouble, and can still read the Cyrillic alphabet from when she studied Russian. She received her B.A. from Brigham Young University and has lived in Germany, Austria, and two different places called Georgia. She resides in the state of Georgia with her handsome husband and two beautiful children who continue to amaze her.