|Nicole Plyler Fisk|
Wednesday, March 02, 2016
Author Interview : Nicole Plyler Fisk, author of ‘The Pirate Train’ (Part 1)
Read up, the first part of the Interview with Nicole Plyler Fisk, author of 'The Pirate Train'. In this part of her Interview, she describes her journey of writing the book, how the Yo Ho Matey's family came about, how she came up with the core idea and developed it, what she thought was the most challenging part of the book was, etc.
There wasn't a single mistake. That is because she teaches English! :) There is more you can read that in Part 2 of this Interview, Folks...
How did ‘The Pirate Train’ happen? Could you describe the journey?
Last year, my husband and I made the decision to homeschool our kids: Arina (age 11) and Jack (age 6). Jack and I wrote 'The Pirate Train' as part of a homeschool project. Since he’s in kindergarten, rhyme is part of the curriculum, so I suggested we write a rhyming story that combines his two loves: pirates and trains.
How did the story, especially Yo Ho Matey family’s come about? Did you have a lot of personal experiences to go with it?
Our experiences that have found their way into the book include both train travel and dog rescuing. A couple of summers ago, Jack and I took a train from South Carolina to California, so from coast to coast. The whole family has taken train trips together too.
We love to travel Amtrak, and to splurge on sleeping cabins for long trips. As for dog-rescuing … well … let’s just say that I’ve fostered eighty dogs over the past few years and that we have five of our own.
How did you come up with the core idea and develop it?
Once we knew that we were writing a book that combines pirates and trains, we made a list of questions (e.g., what would make pirates move from their ship to a train? how would traveling via train … think of more inland vs. island destination spots … affect their search for treasure? etc.).
These are fun questions to explore when you really like pirates and trains. So, in short, the book is the answer to all our questions.
What according to you is different about your book?
We haven’t seen many pirate-train combos. We’ve seen dinosaur-train combos (e.g., 'Dinosaur Train' is a popular cartoon here in the USA), and occassionally, 'Thomas the Tank Engine' goes on a pirate-related adventure.
But we haven’t found another story of a pirating family who breaks the mold in quite the same way. And, as a family who thrives on difference, we’re fans of anything that breaks the mold.
How would you relate the lives of characters to the lives today? Any similarities?
The Yo-Ho-Matey family is traditional in some ways (Dad, Mom, Brother, and Sister) but progressive in others. Compare them, for example, to 'The Berenstain Bears' series. Our series undermines traditional gender norms (e.g., our Mama Bear … or Mama Pirate … drives the train sometimes, while our Papa Bear … or Papa Pirate … sometimes sews and cooks). In future books, we plan to introduce characters of other races and ethnicities.
A fun similarity between our characters and those in real life is the adventures they have. For example, anyone can travel by train and dig for gemstones at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. We’ve done both ourselves.
What was the most challenging part about writing the book?
The challenging part wasn’t writing the book but marketing it! We wrote the story, found an illustrator, and put text and image together all pretty easily — thanks to a boy who knows a lot about trains and pirates, and the Internet that makes both connecting with illustrators (e.g., fiverr.com) and publishing independently (e.g., lulu.com), so simple.