I'm excited to have the Privateer's Apprentice Blog Tour stopping by today with my interview with Susan Verrico. Privateer's Apprentice is a historical adventure story for middle-grade readers...
by Susan Verrico
Jameson Cooper always assumed someday he'd grow up to be a printer like his father. But after the death of his parents, he's wrongly accused of stealing bread and sentenced to indentured servitude for the baker, changing his fortunes forever. What happens next defies all of Jameson's expectations: suddenly knocked out and kidnapped, he awakes on board the Destiny, captained by the fearsome Attack Jack, a privateer in the service of Queen Anne.
Now Jameson is learning an entirely new trade as a sailor. He's also using skills he learned from his father to aid Attack Jack in mapping the New World so that they can claim new territories for England. But the captain and his first mate, Solitaire Peep, have a secret hidden deep in a cave on a mysterious island. England's future might hang in the balance...and so might Jameson's.
Excitement, Suspense, Adventure
Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers (especially reluctant readers) why they should give PRIVATEER'S APPRENTICE a try?
Jameson’s journey, filled with danger and adventure as he travels from a jail cell to a secret island, will keep you turning the pages until you reach the very last one.
Grab a copy of PRIVATEER'S APPRENTICE and answer the following:
Chapter 24. Jameson has to step up and he does.Favorite page?
188 – I really like the scene where Jameson is sketching the crew as they sit around the fire on Crossed Island.Favorite character?
Tie between the captain and Cook.
Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser:
Page 178 – The judge, who thinks Jameson is lying, threatens to have Jameson’s arms and legs pulled from his body and put on display.
What inspired PRIVATEER'S APPRENTICE? And what do you hope readers will walk away with from this book?
Growing up in Florida and hearing about pirates and buried treasure was an inspiration. I thought every shiny object in the sand was a gold coin. I hope readers will first and foremost, enjoy the story, especially those who normally don’t read historical fiction. I hope they walk away with a better understanding of the period, Queen Anne’s War, and life on a sailing vessel.
Since PRIVATEER'S APPRENTICE is a historical fiction novel, did you have to do a lot of research while writing? If so, what kinds of research did you do?
I did tons of research. I began with just a general overview of the period and then went deeper into sailing vessels, weapons, occupations, etc. I had a great editor at Peach Tree who even had me checking word origins to make sure the word was in use during the story’s time period.
What do you love about writing middle-grade fiction? Why do think middle-grade is such a popular and important category of books?
The life of a middle school student is very interesting. There is so much going on: school, building new friendships and letting go of old ones, finding one’s own path. Students enter middle school as 11 or 12 year olds and in two or three short years they transition to young adults ready for high school. It’s such a fast paced journey! So, for writers, the middle school age provides a wealth of ideas and opportunities. On the flip side of that, middle schoolers are a demanding audience. They have their friends, school, clubs, etc., so they require books that have the power to pull them away from all that for a little while. I think it’s important that those type of books are available to them so that they move smoothly as readers from their elementary years through their high school years. You don’t want them to stop reading when they leave the elementary grades.
Who is your favorite middle-grade hero and heroine?
Junior from The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian. That’s probably considered more young adult, but students in my class loved it and so did I. He was so courageous. Heroine: Anne from Anne of Green Gables. I loved her spirit.
What's your favorite thing about being a writer? What's the hardest?
Favorite: Creating the scenes in my head and plotting a story. The hardest is always the writing for me.
Fill in the blanks:
I'm really awesome at___
being optimistic.I'm really embarrassed to admit that___
I would make a terrible pirate. I would be seasick, refuse to scrub the deck without sunscreen, and insist on a low carb diet. No weevil filled biscuits for me.
My pirate name would be ___.
I don’t think I would be allowed to be a pirate. I would talk like an English teacher which would probably annoy everyone on the ship, and I would be forced to walk the plank.
My favorite middle-grade curse word or expletive is ___.
I don’t have a favorite, but I’m always amazed at the way kids can rework a word or phrase to mean something totally new.
The last great book I read was__
Actually, two books come to mind. Jefferson’s Sons and The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by PRIVATEER'S APPRENTICE, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
A Privateer’s Apprentice cupcake would be full of Island flavor. The cake would be as white as the sand on Crossed Island. The frosting would be pale yellow and taste like fresh bananas. It would be decorated around the edges with Tropical Skittles and coconut. I would name it something like Island Surprise.
Thank you so much, Susan, for stopping by to chat! And that cupcake sounds super yummy!!
Susan Verrico has been writing stories since she was ten, when she won her fifth grade class writing contest. She grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and spent countless hours roaming nearby beaches looking for pirate treasure. She earned a BA in communications and a MA in writing from Rowan University. A history buff, Susan spends her spare time researching and writing. She teaches language arts in a middle/high school in New
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Privateer's Apprentice Blog Tour: