Q. What inspired you to write The Sea Lord Chronicles?
A. I’m a big fan of Young Adult literature, a category of fiction geared toward younger readers that is increasingly popular with adults. I’ve always felt that there could be more adventure books for boys in this YA category. As an author, it was my goal to write an exciting, historically based military adventure that would keep boys reading and perhaps inspire them to learn more about real-life history.
Q. What kind of adventures stories did you read as a kid?
A. Not counting Classics Illustrated comic books, I grew up reading a lot of frontier adventure novels, particularly those by a wonderful writer named William O. Steele. In his books, a boy becomes a hero through bravery, being true to himself and his family or friends, and meeting a challenge that’s beyond his years by using all the skills he has learned. He often has a mentor or someone he looks up to and has learned from. The Sea Lord Chronicles is a sea adventure story with similar heroes, a lot more history and a little magic thrown in for good measure.
Q. Tell us something about the main character, Alexander Hope.
A. Alexander is a fourteen-year-old English lad who has lived a fairly sheltered existence at his uncle’s crumbling manor house. Alexander comes from an aristocratic family whose ancestor Sir Algernon Hope was a sea elemental famous for defeating the Spanish Armada and saving England. Since then, the family’s fortunes have faded. His uncle sends him off to serve as a junior officer in the Royal Navy, which was a fairly common practice back then. So this poor kid Alexander hasn’t even seen the ocean before, and he gets seasick in the harbor, which is very embarrassing. He pretty much doesn’t know anything about running a ship. But Alexander discovers that he has inherited his distant ancestor’s ability to manipulate the sea. I think that Alexander’s real power is that he is brave and very loyal to his new friends and to his country. We see him struggle do the right thing, and we root for him, and Alexander needs all the help he can get because he has his share of enemies who are jealous of his power and his loyalty.
It’s important to keep in mind that the story takes places at a time when England is fighting for survival against the French Emperor Napoleon. There’s a lot at stake, not just for Alexander, but for England.
Q. Gryphons? Magic? Really?
A. Re-imagining history can be so much fun. In its simplest form imagine that Napoleon won Waterloo, or that a modern Aegis-class battleship time traveled to the battle of Trafalgar. Imagine a realistic portrayal of life aboard a Royal Navy frigate, sea battles, storms, naval strategy and all of that. Magic has pretty much died out or been outlawed, but here is a boy with a rare talent who could change the war. Airplanes haven’t been invented yet, but the Royal Flyer Corps uses gryphons for scouting, messages between ships, and aerial attacks. Huzzah!