Thirteen-year-old Prince Noa has hated the ocean since the day it caused his mother's death. But staying away from the sea isn't easy on his tropical island home where he's stuck trying to keep up with his dim-witted and overconfident younger brother Dagan--the brawn to Noa's brains.
When a vengeful pirate lays siege to their home, Noa and Dagan narrowly escape with their lives. Armed with a stolen ship, a haphazardly assembled crew, and a magical map that makes as much sense as slugs in a salt bath, the brothers set sail for the realm's other kingdoms in search of help.
But navigating the sea proves deadlier than Noa's worst fears. To free his home, Noa must solve the map's confusing charts and confront the legendary one-eyed pirate before an evil force spreads across the realm and destroys the very people Noa means to protect.
About the Author
Melissa Hope is passionate about helping writers improve their craft and connect with the writing community. She escaped the frostbite normalcy of Canadian winters to live in Florida with her family, bipolar cat, and growing collection of scuba gear. Visit her website www.authormelissahope.com to watch free writing tutorials. Twitter: @hopefullhappens Instagram: @hopefullhappenings Youtube: HopeFullHappenings
Hi Melissa, and HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY! I'm so excited that SEA OF KINGS is out in the world! This book is a fun pirate adventure, but I'm curious where you got your inspiration? Have you always been into pirate stories?
I think there's always been a part of me that has loved the sea. When I was younger, my favorite animal was an orca, and one of my favorite movies was Flipper with Elijah Wood. I loved The Swiss Family Robinson. I also loved the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and I suppose the love of the high seas sort of evolved from there. One of the most prominent side characters in the story is Noa's brother, Dagan. What drew you to writing a strong sibling relationship, and why do you think that's important in a MG story?
For as long as there has been Noa, there has been Dagan. I don't ever remember a time when they didn't both exist, and I love it! I think it's rarer to have a sibling relationship be the main relationship in a book, but I think it's more realistic. The most memorable moments of my childhood are almost all with my family. I wanted to highlight what a fun, yet flawed, family would look like when held against the flame (is that the right expression?). This book features several fun islands, which house their own flora and fauna. How did you go about creating these places? How do you approach worldbuilding in general when writing?
Worldbuilding may be my absolute favorite part about writing. It started off with an idea and from there I went to work researching everything I could about the tropics, the ocean, fruits, animals, food, history, and so on. The more I research, the more ideas come in shaping what the world and what each island will be. This has been my process for other books as well: idea, then research, then more ideas come. Noa spends much of his time at sea. Did you have much experience with sailing/the ocean before writing this book, or did you have to do research? What kinds of research did you do while you were writing this story?
I don't have experience sailing the sea, but I have lived by the ocean for the last seven years and I've learned how it looks, feels, smells, and even tastes from just being around it. I researched ships, ocean currents, tides, along with tropical fruits, plant species, tropical animals, and anything mythical was researched as well. For example, the Blue Men were inspired by the Blue Men of Minch. There were many long hours reading history books on the 1700's, as Sea of Kings is set in a loose timeframe in the 18th century. Luckily, I really enjoyed it!
Noa deals with some heavy, grief-related struggles during this story. Why do you think it's important to tackle difficult things in books for young readers?
I think it's necessary that children see themselves in stories. All of us use stories to grapple with our emotions, and oftentimes we might think no one else understands how we feel, so when we read about a character that is going through similar emotions to us, we can relate to them and not feel so alone. On the flip side, books that tackle difficult things like Noa tackles with his mother's death can help the reader develop sympathy and compassion because they are forced to step into someone else's shoes who is dealing with something hard. What was your favorite part of writing this book?
I absolutely love the characters, so it's always a fun time when I can create new stories with them. However, I think the best part of writing this book was seeing the progress I made with each draft. It's so satisfying to know that it's getting closer and closer to being shared with the world! What do you hope readers will take away from SEA OF KINGS?
That's a great question. Honestly, I just want readers to have fun! I want Sea of Kings to take them on an adventure they can't stop thinking about. I hope they also come away remembering how important it is to forgive - yourself and others. Thank you so much for answering my questions! Huge congratulations on your debut novel!!!
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Jessica S. Olson lives in Texas, where she spends her time singing praises to the inventor of the air conditioner. When she's not hiding from the heat, she's corralling her three children, dreaming up stories about kissing, murder, and magic, and eating peanut butter straight from the jar.