Catherine Doyle

Pirates of Darksea
Catherine Doyle

About Author

Catherine Doyle introduces her new swashbuckling tale, Pirates of Darksea!   Catherine grew up beside the Atlantic in the west of Ireland. Her love of reading began with great Irish myths and legends, and fostered in her an ambition to one day write her own.  Her debut middle-grade novel, The Storm Keeper's Island, was inspired by her real-life ancestral home of Arranmore Island, where her grandparents grew up, and the adventures of her sea-faring ancestors.

Catherine studied Psychology and has an MA in Publishing. She lives in Galway, although she also spends a lot of her time in London and the US.  She enjoys watching movies, running and travelling.



Pirates of Darksea  (Bloomsbury Children's Books)

March 2024

"It's a story of swashbuckling adventure, impossible bravery and a very special bond of brotherhood."

Journey to Darksea where magic flourishes, pirates roam and stardust fills the skies.... We speak with author Catherine Doyle - ReadingZone's Children's Author of the Month - to find out about her new high seas adventure, Pirates of Darksea, in which 11-year-old Max travels over the horizon to the magical Darksea, seeking a cure for his brother.

Read a Chapter from Pirates of Darksea

Review:    "Pirates of Darksea is a high energy, high drama and electrifyingly exciting epic adventure on the high seas."

Q&A with Catherine Doyle: Pirates of Darksea

"Even during the darkest, scariest times in our lives, hope will always shine out to light a pathway forward.
Courage begins with a single step

1.    Can you tell us a little about yourself? what gets you up in the mornings and what are your real life adventures?

I live beside the sea in a very stormy part of the west of Ireland (my fave!), with my husband Jack, and our dog Cali. I'm definitely a night owl but usually my dog gets me up in the mornings (by jumping on me with her muddy paws!).

I love travelling in real life - some of my favourite adventures include swimming with sea-turtles in Hawaii, watching the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, touring Elvis Presley's house in Graceland, holding several parrots (at the same time!) in Kuala Lumpur, and watching the Princess Parade in Disneyland California!

2.    What happens in your new adventure, Pirates of Darksea?

Pirates of Darksea is about an ordinary 11-year-old boy called Max Reid, who is minding his business one night when a mouthy red parrot knocks on his bedroom window with an invitation to join the legendary Pirate King Captain O'Malley on an adventure to the magical land of Darksea.

The only problem is, the invitation is technically meant for Max's older brother Christopher, who is unwell in hospital. Seizing his courage, Max decides to go in his brother's place in the hopes that he might be able to bring home some magic to help his brother get better.

But once Max journeys over the horizon, he finds that Darksea is in grave danger and all the magic there is being gobbled up by a villainous monster ship. Max makes a deal with Captain O'Malley to help save Darksea in return for help saving his brother, but in Darksea not everyone is as they seem, and some bargains are more dangerous than others…

It's a story of swashbuckling adventure, impossible bravery and a very special bond of brotherhood.

3.   What inspired this latest story of island-crunching sharks and mythical pirate ships?

I've loved pirate stories ever since reading Peter Pan as a child. I also adore anything that involves the wild magic of the sea. This story is a perfect mix of those two things, and was so much fun to write!

"I love writing about siblings because I think they can provide the most important relationships
you'll ever have in your life."

4.    Why did you decide to focus on siblings in this story - Max and his brother in particular.  Why are siblings so enticing as characters (they've featured in some of your earlier stories, too)?

I love writing about siblings because I think they can provide the most important relationships you'll ever have in your life. I have two brothers, and when we were younger, all three of us fought like cats and dogs. Now, we're the best of friends. I am continually inspired by the depth of our bond, and the loyalty we have to one another. I think if I knew as a child what I know now, I would have been a lot nicer to my brothers, and vice versa!

5.    How did the world of Darksea and the idea of a mythical pirate captain develop and what were your favourite creations?

The first kernel of Darksea developed from a legend I made up - the story of a magical star shark, Cetos, who fell from the sky and scattered her magic across the waters of Darksea. Next, came the islands, which are all inspired by real places or unique concepts. For example, Aristo is inspired by ancient Greece, whilst Turtle Roost is made up of hundreds of cranky, slumbering turtles, an idea I got while I was swimming with turtles in Maui.

Captain O'Malley is loosely inspired by the famous fearsome Irish pirate Grace O'Malley, and Squawk (my absolute favourite creation) was a simple exercise in fun and sarcasm!

6.    What's the craziest adventure that Max and Ruby have in this story, and why do they make such a great team?

I think it has to be when they climb into a magical, volatile volcano on the island of Volcana. They make a good team because Ruby is naturally brave and Max is naturally cautious - they help balance each other out. They're kind to each other and supportive, too, which makes them good friends and allies.

"I was inspired in part by Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean, and some of my own
sea-faring adventures"

7.    Did any places you have visited or films you've seen help inspire any parts of this story?

I was inspired in part by Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean, some of my own sea-faring adventures in Maui, Bali and Singapore, and there are probably light sprinklings of Narnia in there, too!

8.    As well as a great adventure story, Pirates of Darksea is a story about sacrifice, courage, and our fears. What would you like your readers to take from Max's adventures?

Apart from a sense of enjoyment (and perhaps even a new-found appreciation for their sibling), I'd like readers to come away from this story with the message that even during the darkest, scariest times in our lives, hope will always shine out to light a pathway forward. Courage begins with a single step.

9.    If you found yourself on the Stolen Sunrise, where would you want it to take you? What would you like to see?

Oh, I would want to go all the way around the world. Could I have the full cruise experience, please? If I had to choose one place, I would go for Hobbiton in New Zealand, or maybe Japan.

10.    Where do you do most of your writing and what are you writing currently? Do any of your earlier books stand out for you for any reason, and if you could see one of them turned into a film, which one would you choose?

I write in the evenings and late at night, at my kitchen table. Right now, I'm working on a top-secret comedic MG project that is making me laugh a lot (I do hope this is a good sign!).

In terms of my earlier books, The Storm Keeper's Island will always have a special place in my heart, as it was inspired by my own relationship with my grandfather, who was an extraordinary man. I would love to see it made into a film one day.


Find out about Catherine Doyle's earlier novel, The Lost Girl King (Bloomsbury Children's Books)

Catherine Doyle's The Lost Girl King takes us to Tír na nÓg, a magical land from Irish mythology, where siblings Amy and Liam discover a terrible curse that threatens to change it forever. Catherine tells us how her Irish roots helped inspire the story, and about the legends and mythical creatures that inhabit this adventure.

Read a Chapter from The Lost Girl King

Author's Titles