Today I have the pleasure of welcoming a trio of people to the blog to answer a few questions about Hook's Revenge, a new middle grade fantasy adventure that released from Disney Hyperion earlier this month. Thanks to the amazing Mary Ann at Disney, I get to share with you short interviews with author Heidi Schulz, illustrator John Hendrix and editor Rotem Moscovich, so I hope you all enjoy!
• • • Q+A WITH AUTHOR HEIDI SCHULZ • • •
What interesting facts or research did you learn when writing Hook’s Revenge?
I learned quite a bit about crocodiles. For instance, they make noise! They hiss and growl, snort and snarl. If you want to hear some, this soundboard has some great examples. Some crocodiles can jump, others can climb trees, and one wild crocodile in the African country of Burundi seems to have developed near supernatural abilities.
Gustave, as he has come to be known, has been estimated to be about 25 feet long, and at roughly 60 years old, is still growing. He has at least three scars from bullets and one large, healed gash on his shoulder. Worst of all, it is rumored that he has killed over 300 people!
Sadly, in all my research, I have been unable to determine if he also sounds like a ticking clock.
When writing a sequel, how do you keep track of events that already happened? Did you ever have to reread your first book?
It was several years from the time I had the idea for Hook's Revenge until it was finished. As such, I became really familiar with the story. I haven't needed to reread to remember events, but I have reread sections to reacquaint myself with voice and tone. Good news though: even after all this time, I still love it.
I also kept post-it notes on my desk with the names of Jocelyn's crew and Peter Pan's lost boys so I didn't accidentally leave anyone out of the sequel.
Did you ever feel like your characters were taking on a life of their own and you had to rein them in?
Jocelyn's pirate crew are real characters in every sense of the word. Early on they tried to take over the story, and acted even sillier than they do now. I had to threaten to clap them in irons and send them to Davy Jones in order to get them to behave. Or at least, try to behave.
Walk the plank or sword fight to the finish?
Walk the plank! I learned to do a diving board backflip when I was twelve. I'd love to give it another try.
What would be your ultimate pirate treasure find?
I'd love to find a treasure chest with Hermione's Time-Turner. I'd use it to give myself extra hours for writing, for having fun, for sleeping-in, but most especially for reading. I'm afraid it will take a Time-Turner for me to get through the ever growing stack of books I really want to read!
• • • Q+A WITH ILLUSTRATOR JOHN HENDRIX • • •
What was the process for your creation of the Hook’s Revenge cover and interior artwork?
Every drawing starts out with tiny doodles and some great visual inspiration. So I looked at some classic pirate artwork, like N.C. Wyeth's images from Treasure Island. Then I start making lists of words that describe the characters and the boat and use that to start creating the visual look of the story.
What was the most challenging and fun part of the process?
I really enjoyed drawing Captain Hook himself, when he appears in ghostly form at the end (SPOILER ALERT!). A wonderful challenge to take such a classic character and put your spin on him.
Your typography is amazing, how many styles did you do before you got the right look you wanted?
The type is, in some ways, way harder to find than the character. I think I figured out what I wanted Jocelyn to look like on the second drawing. But the type to at least a dozen small sketches and tiny brainstorms to get just the right typographic gesture for the title.
If you were a pirate what would your name be?
Easy: Johnny BlackInk
Hook, peg leg, or eyepatch?
Eyepatches are very dashing.
• • • Q+A WITH EDITOR ROTEM MOSCOVICH • • •
What stood out to you after initially reading Hook’s Revenge that made you want to publish this book?
Aside from the adventure (which held me from the get-go), I fell in love with Jocelyn and her discovery of what it means to be a strong girl. She doesn’t have to be frilly, but she also doesn’t have to be awful and mean. Heidi did such a good job showing Jocelyn finding her way. All this, with a hilarious and snarky narrator. What’s not to love?
From an editorial perspective, did you enjoy character development or world-building within the story?
Ooh, tough to choose. Clearly I loved Jocelyn’s character development, but the Neverland is such a rich place, and getting to know its strange ways and its varied and magical inhabitants was pure joy. Getting a chance to see the fairy society from their eye-level, meeting Peter and the Lost Boys from an outsiders point of view, watching Jocelyn artfully outwit the cannibals . . . each was a delight. And now that I think of it, the world of the Neverland posed challenges and opportunities that steered Jocelyn in her character development. So I don’t have to choose, right?
Do you have any scenes that you particularly love?
The scene where Jocelyn meets the mermaids is lovely and unexpected (you imagine them as nice, don’t you? Well, don’t be fooled), and I cannot contain my glee when Jocelyn uses table manners to outwit cannibals who are planning to have her for dinner. Literally.
Besides Jocelyn, who was your favorite character in the book?
I have a soft spot for Smee. He just wants approval in the WORST way, and you’ll know what I mean when you read how Jocelyn orders him around. He’s an absolute mush at heart, and loyal beyond measure. Smee’s the one for me!
What would your pirate name be?
Red Sheers Rotem.
• • • • • • • • • • •
Twelve-year-old Jocelyn dreams of becoming every bit as daring as her infamous father, Captain James Hook. Her grandfather, on the other hand, intends to see her starched and pressed into a fine society lady. When she's sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb's Finishing School for Young Ladies, Jocelyn's hopes of following in her father's fearsome footsteps are lost in a heap of dance lessons, white gloves, and way too much pink.
So when Jocelyn receives a letter from her father challenging her to avenge his untimely demise at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile, she doesn't hesitate-here at last is the adventure she has been waiting for. But Jocelyn finds that being a pirate is a bit more difficult than she'd bargained for. As if attempting to defeat the Neverland's most fearsome beast isn't enough to deal with, she's tasked with captaining a crew of woefully untrained pirates, outwitting cannibals wild for English cuisine, and rescuing her best friend from a certain pack of lost children, not to mention that pesky Peter Pan who keeps barging in uninvited.
The crocodile's clock is always ticking in Heidi Schulz's debut novel, a story told by an irascible narrator who is both dazzlingly witty and sharp as a sword. Will Jocelyn find the courage to beat the incessant monster before time runs out?