Welcome aboard me hearties!
Avast ye and listen well! Today we are on course to shanghai Renowned author Darren Simon and capture him as our guest at the Captain’s table on The Whimsical Herald. He writes middle grade and YA novels about seafaring pirates, danger and adventure, combining both science fiction and fantasy for a tantalizing brew sure to delight our literary palates!
(Not to mention, Pirate tales are our favorites!)
DEADLY WATERS, A YA PIRATE ADVENTURE by Darren Simon,
A Pirate’s Calling Book 2
EVEN LOSING BOTH HIS HANDS IN A DANGEROUS CONFRONTATION WITH DASTARDLY MASTER OF THE DARK ARTS JEM SLAYER WON’T STOP 13 YEAR OLD SAM EVERLY FROM SEEKING REVENGE!
The ship’s quartermaster, dressed like a British naval officer in a long blue waistcoat with two flintlock pistols tucked into his belt, signaled commands like a third-base coach waving a runner to home plate. Ranger’s crew scurried over the deck, grasping lines—lowering some of the yards—anything to keep the ship from tearing apart against the violent tug of nature.
Gazing at them all, Sam cursed himself. He yearned to help. But without real hands what could he do? He glowered at his wooden appendages. Damn Slayer for taking my hands. He lifted his wooden hands, then slammed them against the gunwale. Damn me for losing the fight. For now, all he could do is maintain his mind link with the crew, the only way they could all see their way out of this magical realm.
The captain crossed the deck with confident steps despite the ship’s pitch. His massive hands wrapped around Sam’s noodle-like arms. “Why do you strike my ship, lad? Is that fear or rage I see in your eyes? Do not fear. I’ll get you to Slayer. We’ll be having our revenge. ” Sam tried to speak but his words were not much more than a whisper drowned out by crying wind. “Sucks…I can’t help…your crew.”
Hornigold raised a bushy eyebrow. “I not be knowing this word—sucks—unless you refer to a fine drink, a rumsuck, but I think not. Take heart lad. The only reason we be able to see our way back home be because of you. That makes you the most important man on this here boat. You should get below deck where it be safer”
Thirteen-year-old Sam Every has traveled back in time to the Golden Age of Piracy to face Captain Jem Slayer, master of the dark arts. Deceived into handing Slayer the ultimate weapon, the Sword of Zel-Kar, Sam has lost his hands, sliced off in his first clash with the evil pirate.
But all is not lost.
Sam’s friends have found their way back in time, and with the help of the pirate hunter, Benjamin Hornigold, have rescued him from the island where Slayer marooned him. Now, aided by a new band of rogues and a mystery friend, Sam must rise above his injuries and find the strength to again face Slayer before it is too late—before the future is forever shattered.
1.How did your background as a Journalist benefit you in writing middle grade and Young Adult novels?
My work as newspaper journalist had two major effects on me that helped me become a middle grade and young adult writer. First, it taught me the craft of writing. I firmly believe that everyone can write, but it is a skill that must be learned. Journalism fine-tuned my skills, forcing me to learn to use words in ways that could connect with readers. I especially liked writing human interest stories where part of the story involved using words to create word pictures for readers. That is what I try to do as an author—build a connection with readers and allow them to see in their minds what I have written on the page. Second, and perhaps even more importantly, journalism showed me how much I love writing, and that love expanded into writing novels. That I chose to write middle grade and young adult novels is simply a result of my love for the books I read as a youth—which ultimately led me to a career in writing.
2.Was there anything close to the Deadly Waters series available to read when you were a kid?
While Deadly Waters is a pirate novel, more than that it is an action-adventure story and a story of good versus evil. So there were certainly pirate books and books about the sea, like Treasure Island. But to be honest, I was inspired by the Lord of the Rings series and Choose Your own Adventure books. I loved high fantasy and science fiction novels.
3.Which of the many well drawn colorful characters in Book 2 did you have the most fun with?
Without giving too much away, there is a historical pirate in the novel whom I really enjoyed writing about—especially reimagining that pirate based on the fantasy elements in my novel. It actually took quite a bit of research to understand that pirate and to place that pirate into my book in a way that made sense and fit into the right timeframe of that rogue’s life. Again, I’m trying to hold back information because I don’t want to give away some of the mystery of the novel. But, in the first novel, The Dangerous Legacy, and in this one, Deadly Waters, I have incorporated real life pirates and pirate hunters. In every case, it has been fun to write about those pirates.
4.In your opinion is world building in a novel that blends both science fiction and fantasy trickier to pull off than writing in either genre individually?
Honestly, I’m not sure because every book I’ve written has combined both elements. However, I have written a short-story that is pure science fiction—not yet published—and it was pretty difficult to do. And I have another pure science fiction in mind, and I am looking forward to tackling that book and the challenges that will come in writing it.
5.What were you top 5 favorite reads as a youngster?
My love for reading started with comic books, both Marvel and DC. They led me into the Choose Your Own Adventure series, specifically the Dungeons & Dragons Choose Your Own Adventure stories. From there, I started reading Star Trek novels. Ultimately, I fell in love with JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series. I also loved Tolkien’s Silmarillion.
6.Do you love the ocean as much as your main character Sam Everly?
Yes! In fact, it was my love of the ocean that led me to write the first pirate novel. I now live in the desert Southwest of California, and one summer I just didn’t have much chance to get to the beach. Missing the ocean, I just started writing about an experience as a youth in my hometown of Torrance, Ca. at the Redondo Beach pier. I had no idea writing about a day at the pier would turn into a pirate novel, but it did. But, yes, the ocean is where I find the most peace.
7. What feedback from young readers do you get concerning Sam’s dismemberment? What prompted you to include it in the storyline?
I haven’t really gotten any feedback from young readers as most of my school and library visits are a way of introducing the books, so at that point they don’t know what happens to Sam. I chose the dismemberment of his hands because I felt every true hero must face not only hardship, but face loss and overcome it. Since so much of Sam’s powers have to do with his hands (which control his ability to wield his fire blade), I felt losing that power would be a true test of his ability to become a real hero. Plus, it was a fun scene to write, which goes back to trying to create a great visual for the reader. I wanted them to experience that loss not only with Sam, but as if they were Sam. What would they feel? How would they react? Hopefully, it drew them closer to the storyline.
8.Do your own kids read your novels? What advice would you give youngsters who want to follow in your footsteps?
No, my sons do not read my writing. The thing is they already know so much about the stories because I consult with them, but also, I guess it would be a little weird to read Dad’s book. As far as becoming a writer, there is so much to say, but for now I’ll just simply say if you have any desire at all to write, start by actually writing—whether it be a journal or diary, short fiction, poetry… anything. The more you write, the more you learn about yourself as a writer and discovering that you do, in fact, love writing opens the door to so many different career paths that allow you to be a writer. I would also say—and every writer says this—don’t be your own worst critic. Go easy on yourself. You certainly do have to learn the craft of writing, and that takes time and practice, but try to enjoy the journey of just creating something. If you are too hard on yourself, it becomes way too difficult to move forward. In the end, writing should be fun.
9. What in your opinion are protagonist Sam Every’s greatest strengths and weaknesses?
His greatest strength is his determination to do what is right—to stand up against impossible odds, and rise above his own pain, to protect those he cares about and those he loves. For such a young man, he also shows great courage in that he is constantly in danger. He is less concerned about losing his own life and more focused on stopping the evil Jem Slayer to protect the future. His greatest weakness also revolves around his age. Though he is brave for a young teen, he also has no real idea what he is doing and must depend on the knowledge of others to survive and even have a chance to defeat Slayer.
10. Do you include places you have visited or lived in your novels?
I wish I could say yes, but the truth is—no. I would love to visit the Caribbean and see the places I am writing about, and in this new book, a part of it—an important part—takes place in the London of the early 1700s. I would love to someday visit England, which is clearly a very beautiful place. However, the London I am describing is something very different—dark, foreboding… a cesspool of violence and struggle while still a center for wealth, shipping and commerce. Having never been to England, it took a great deal of research from studying historical books to contacting London historical societies to gather as much information as I could. I really enjoy doing that kind of research, and I think it helps add some authenticity to my descriptions.
11.What can readers look forward to in the future? Can you share a teaser from a work in progress?
Well, I have a new manuscript I’ve written that again mixes fantasy and science fiction, but it is more of an urban fantasy. I can’t say too much more about that right now, but I hope to see the manuscript become a book that young adult readers will enjoy. Beyond that, I am working on a follow-up to Deadly Waters and developing a science fiction story about pen pals across the universe.
Alas, the sun is sinking into the sea, and it is time to bid farewell to our intriguing Author guest. We look forward to many other exciting and magical tales of bravery, torture and perseverance on the high seas from Author Darren Simon.
Until then, fortune be with you and yours as we heave ahead over the mysterious and beckoning literary seas in search of fair breezes and the finest in entertaining reads.
All my duty to you,
Patricia Mattern, Mistress of Madness, The Whimsical Herald
Mistress of Madness
Well, do you have any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?
Lewis Carroll, in 1897, proposed this answer, "Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is 'never' put with the wrong end in front!" (raven, spelled backward, is nevar aka never...or as we like to say here at TT...never more!)