Find out about the worst pirate - ever!

Posted on Thursday, June 1, 2017

Pirates Ahoy! We caught up with author Amy Sparkes to talk all things pirates, treasure and fishy goings-on in her latest series, PIRATE BLUNDERBEARD!

Young Barnacles Blunderbeard could lose his ship - unless he can prove he's worthy of being called a pirate by finding some treasure! Look out for a dodgy chicken, the odd kraken, a spot of treasure and laughs a plenty! We caught up with AMY SPARKES to ask her more about PIRATE BLUNDERBEARD - WORST. PIRATE. EVER. Q: Have you ever fancied the idea of a pirate life? A: I grew up by the sea, staring out to the horizon and dreaming of adventure. There was also a pirate-themed adventure park, 'Treasure Island' in my home town which we used to go to, so pirates and the sea were always part of my childhood. I love the idea of a pirate life - going off into the wide world on a quest, filled with adventure... the crash of the waves... the smell of salt in the air... However, I also get very seasick so I think if I'd been a pirate, I'd have to keep asking people to stop at the next island! Q: Did you do need to do much research into pirate life before you started writing Pirate Blunderbeard, or are you already a pirate 'expert'? A: All my five children love playing pirates so for the last ten years, I've felt like part of a pirate crew anyway! We were playing pirates again yesterday. (Why do I never get to be Captain?? - boo hiss!) We dress up as pirates, play 'Pirates of the Caribbean' soundtrack and make up a story which we act out. It's great! Much more fun than doing the washing up. I did a pirate project with my children, which was great fun! We found out all kinds of interesting facts about pirates. Did you know 'shiver me timbers' probably originally meant shaking the wooden structure of the ship, either when it's being pounded by the waves or blasted by cannons? I'm not really a pirate 'expert' but then neither is Blunderbeard! Q: Why do you make Barnacles Blunderbeard the 'worst pirate ever'? A: There are lots of stories about amazing, famous pirates who were just awesome at being pirates. But what about the ones who really weren't very good at it? I thought it would be fun to write about that. I think the worst thing a pirate could do is probably sink his own ship because it's so much harder to be a pirate without a ship! Does that happen to Blunderbeard? You'll have to read and see... Q: How did you decide what tests the pirates would undergo for the Pirate of the Year Award? A: There are so many fun piratey things to do, so I squeezed in as many as I could! And I thought the kraken-wrestling would challenge even the toughest of pirates, so how would Blunderbeard get out of that in one piece? I think I would have definitely failed at treasure-hunting. I can't even find my car keys in the morning! And when I do find them, I make the mistake of putting them down to put someone's cardigan on for the third time... and then can't find the keys again! Even if I had a treasure map, I'd have forgotten to put a 'X' on it. Or put it in the wrong place! I would have been great at kraken-wrestling, though. All those limbs everywhere! It's just like trying to put coats and shoes on all my children and get them all out the door in time for school. No worries. Q: What is the best pirate pet to have - and why do you give Barnacles a chicken as his pet? A: I think a pet kraken could come in really useful for a pirate. Though I'm not sure how tame it would be! Maybe that would be part of the fun! Blunderbeard starts off wanting to be like all the other pirates, so he was aiming for a parrot, sort of missed... and ended up with a chicken. And Boris is brilliant! She is one of my favourite characters. I wanted Blunderbeard to have a pet who would also be his friend, even if they drive each other mad sometimes. I love how they squabble, even though Boris never actually says a word. Q: What's the oddest pet you've ever had? A: The oddest pet I ever had... Well, I once had a woodlouse circus, which I used to run at about 6 o'clock in the morning. I thought woodlice were fascinating little creatures. I'd collect them from the garden and make them a little obstacle course in my bedroom. I always looked after them and put them back in the garden afterwards. Oddly enough, my mum wasn't very impressed... Especially when I woke her up to come and look... Q: Barnacles is also something of an inventor - which of the machines he creates is your favourite? A: Ooh, my favourite invention. That's hard as they're all such fun. Probably my favourite is the Blaster-HunterTM although I think I'd fiddle with it slightly so it tracked down chocolate instead of gold! I wish someone would invent a SockSorterTM. Somewhere in my house - in a dark, forgotten corner - there must be a mountain of odd socks. There's seven of us living here and that's a lot of odd socks. I mean, where do they go? How does it happen? I've decided we must have a Sock Goblin (we've called him Arthur) who nicks them all. This invention would be able to find and match up the right socks and have some kind of stapler arm to staple them together so they can NEVER GO MISSING AGAIN. EVER. Although it would make the socks quite tricky to put on. Maybe we should just wear sandals. Q: What about Ben Cort's illustrations - did the characters end up looking how you'd imagined them? A: Ah, Ben has done such an amazing job! I'm delighted with how he's drawn the characters. Blunderbeard does look quite a bit as I pictured him. And the inventions are great! I love the details Ben's put in. They are so good, he could probably design inventions for a living. Hmm, will talk to him about the SockSorterTM idea... Q: The pirates are searching for the Lost Hord of Captain Loser - what would you do with the stash if you found it? A: Hire Ben to make a SockSorterTM. Q: Barnacles has many highs and lows during this story. What were your biggest successes and failures as a child? A: I think they are both linked to imagination. My biggest success was probably running with my imagination (or at least making an effort to keep up!). I could see adventure, mystery and magic in everything. I wrote and performed plays at school and was full of inspiration. However, on the flip side, it did sometimes get me into a teensy bit of trouble... Which leads me on to my biggest failure. At school, I was convinced there was a magical land underneath this huge drain in the girls' toilets and I spent ages trying to undo the massive screws in there - they were about 9cm long and 2cm wide! I did get one out before I was discovered. Whoops... It probably made for a funny conversation in the staff room but I think if I was a pirate, I'd end up walking the plank A LOT. Q: What's next for Pirate Blunderbeard? A: There are many more adventures on the way for Blunderbeard. His second tale, PIRATE BLUNDERBEARD: WORST. HOLIDAY. EVER. is out on 27th July. Blunderbeard gets tricked into going to the Island of No Return and Blackbeard won't collect him until he finds some treasure. All Blunderbeard has to do is follow a treasure map through a jungle of pirate-eating creatures, into the deepest, darkest, probably-haunted cave, and track down the hidden gold that is SO well hidden, everyone gets lost trying to find it. ...So that can only end well. Q: You give a lot of advice to aspiring authors - what are your top tips for younger writers? A: Dream a lot, read a lot, and write the story you wish someone else would write! Enjoy! Q: What is your favourite thing about being an author, and your favourite escape from writing? A: My favourite thing about being an author is the freedom of imagination - the magic which is just waiting there for you to dream it. There are no boundaries, no rules, anything is possible. And I love that. I don't really have or need an escape from writing, as I love it so much. It's a part of me. But when I'm not writing, I love climbing trees or walking by the sea, over hills, or in forests. I think I'm probably my most creative in nature, which is why I love climbing trees and writing up there! Perhaps a boat trip out on the sea might inspire a new Blunderbeard book. As long as someone can drop me off at the nearest island before I get too seasick! Thank you very much for your interesting questions! Amy