I know it has been a long time, and I have a lot of explaining to do about my absence, but I have a treat for you all first. The last time I posted was about a cover reveal, and today you can hold that very book in your hands! The third book in The Pirate Hunter Chronicles: Rumors, Reunions, and Revenge - by Sarah Rodecker and Helena George came out! I am part of the blog tour to celebrate!
I have loved reading these books, as you can tell from my review of the first book Ships, Secrets, and Survivors. They are brilliantly adventurous and witty, with epic fights and characters deeper than the seas they sail. Let's talk about what it's about!
The Official Blurb:
'A wealthy duke from a mysterious island.
Rumors of the dead walking.
And siren songs of immortality.
A year has passed, and another Scaera Dumeda is about to begin. Captain Adi and the rest of the pirate hunter crew are escorting the Belfarren nobles when they come across a fleet claiming to belong to the Pirate Nation, led by the last person she ever expected to see again. Perhaps it’s not as easy to leave her past behind as she thought.
As Ravin settles into his new life he begins to consider the del Mankayl clan and others in his family who might want to run away as he did. But when an opportunity comes to rescue a relative, is he truly making a difference or is he only putting his loved ones in danger by bringing a violent assassin on board?'
It is fantastic and if you think so, too, then you should check out.
Find it on Goodreads HERE.
Find it on Storygraph HERE.
Buy it from Amazon HERE.
Buy it from their website, The Order of the Pen, HERE.
What I get to do today is settle down with the lovely authors, Helena George and Sarah Rodecker, to talk about what has gone into the book and the whole series, as well as all kinds of good writerly things.
I will be in blue. Helena will be black and bold. Sarah will be black and italic.
Thank you for joining me on my blog, Sarah and Helena! My first question for you is this:
When did you start writing stories and when did you know that you wanted to be an author?
Helena: According to legend, I used to write scribbles in a notebook (before I could even actually write) and claim it was a “story”. Once I learned how to write and draw, I was always making little horse stories (usually while keeping Dad company when he worked late at work). So I’ve always written stories, basically, lol.
I honestly never considered being an author until the past year or so, when I had a moment of “wait, if I have published books, that makes me an author, and not just a writer” so that’s been kinda weird.
Sarah: I started writing stories when I was eight-ish, when I also started writing little horse stories in notebooks. I think I’ve wanted to be an author ever since I started writing stories. Something inside of me said that was what I was meant to do: being an author, along with caring for my family, was what the Lord called me to do and I’ve never really questioned it. Most of the decisions I’ve made in my life were made with that belief in mind, from the jobs I’ve picked up to the college path I’ve chosen.
How long have you two known each other and when did you find out that the other liked to write?
Helena: It all began in ‘07 or something. I was at church, and my dad pointed at a random girl sitting by herself. “Go say hello to that little girl over there,” he said.
Yeah, the rest is history.
Not really sure when we started writing though? I know we made a little Bible verse memorization group, and then it somehow evolved into making up horse farms? And then writing stories about the horse farms...then into regular stories? I dunno. Sarah, you know?
Sarah: I’d forgotten about the Bible verse group until you mentioned it! That was a great time.
I think discovering that we both liked to write was a rather organic process. We both had an interest in stories and horses, so we both began writing stories about horses. Then we both developed a love of fantasy, which led us to start writing fantasy stories. I think that was around when we were about twelve. So I guess we wrote horse stories for 2-4 years, maybe?
When did you decide to join efforts and write something together?
Helena: Heh. 2018 or 2019? Brooke said something along the lines of “y’all should write a book together!” and we plotted out a vague story line, and basically wrote a couple chapters, RPG style. Then it just went on from there.
Sarah: Well, we did a few co-authoring things prior to that. We had our joint horse world where we wrote stories together, then we did RPGs on the website Howrse. But yeah, once Brooke said in 2017 that we should try our hands at co-authoring a book together again, our brains started whirring and we cranked out the book that is now Ships, Secrets, and Survivors!
What does co-authoring look like? Are there characters that you are both allowed to write?
Helena: We’ve talked a lot about our co-writing process on our blogs, but it basically gets down to: lots of communication. We talk over the phone, and work out a plot, then an outline, then a chapter-by-chapter outline. When it gets down to the actual writing, I write Ravin’s chapters, and Sarah writes Adi’s chapters. Then we go over editing together.
Character wise, we have our “own” characters, kind of. I write Ravin’s POV, and so sometimes I have to write what Sarah’s characters (like Adi) do. If I get something wrong, she’ll correct me, and vice versa when she writes her chapters.
Though I kinda feel like after a couple books, we kinda know all the characters like they’re our own. :) But again, lots of communication.
Sarah: Ditto what Helena said.
What do you think is your favorite thing about writing, and what do you think is the other’s strong suit?
Helena: My favorite thing about writing is when it all comes together. :) Threads you hinted at in the first book suddenly can be pulled into broad daylight. Something that started in one book gets wrapped up nicely. Surprises are pulled out of hats. I love it!
I think Sarah’s strong suit is keeping track of everything. She is the one who makes sure every plot gets wrapped up, every character with any kind of story arc gets handled, and (very important) keeps track of where the characters are on the map. I’m easily distracted and next thing I know, she’s pulling me back to what we need to focus on.
She also has a thing for writing passionate, moving speeches. She’s the Captain America of writing. Like, does she just make it all up spare of the moment??
Sarah: *Doesn’t quite know what to do with being likened to Captain America*
I also love when everything starts coming together. It’s so thrilling to start building the plots for the later books and realizing that everything that you’ve spent months working on is now coming together in a seamless thread.
I think that Helena’s strong suit is actually her distractedness. By that, she’s able to come up with such fun plot ideas that I never would come up with and it makes the story so much more exciting!!! When we’re plotting, she’ll be like “WAIT! What if we do this?!” and I’m usually like “THAT’S PERFECT! LET’S DO IT!” It’s the best. I love it!
What has been the easiest part of co-authoring a book and what is the hardest?
Sarah: I think one of the easiest parts for me was coming up with ideas. We tend to bounce ideas off each other a lot anyway, so blending our idea generation styles was second nature to us. The hardest, I think, was trying to meet deadlines when both of us are fairly busy in our non-writing lives. We manage, but it’s still hard.
Helena: The easiest part is the fact that having a co-author (and co-business-owner) is that if I’m really busy (like the fact that I worked a couple 50-60 hour work weeks last month), I can trust Sarah to step up and kinda handle things that I might have to drop. And vice versa. If Sarah’s going through a really busy time, she can step aside from Pirate Hunters and handle what she needs to at home, and I’ll just spend some extra time doing edits or whatever. (If we’re both busy, well...we’re just screwed, lol.)
Hardest part, I think, is when we do kinda have disagreements. How do we want a certain plot arc to end? What should a certain sea creature be like? Would a character say or do something? It’s important to fully explain your thoughts and why you feel a thing should be that way, and then politely listen to and respect the other’s opinion as well. And look for a solution that leaves everyone happy with the plot/character/creature.
What are the best and worst parts of being published?
Sarah: The best part is having people tell me just how excited they are about the stories. That makes my day!
The worst part of being published, though I don’t know if I would necessarily call it “bad”, is the fact that once you’re published, the work never seems to stop. You now have hard deadlines. There’s no more piddling about; you have to get work done. When you have other responsibilities in life other than writing, it can be tough at times to keep up.
Helena: Best part, hands down, is having my book on my shelf. Like, it’s cool seeing it on Bookstagram posts and stuff, but my dream was to have them on my shelf. I could be happy with just that, y’know? I love re-reading these books and just thinking of the memories in them...how Sarah and I came up with a scene, where we got the idea for that twist, what Mars said in the dissertation…
Worst part is...it’s OVER. I mean, when a book is in drafts or edits, you can still play around with it. Maybe add a new scene, create a new plot thread, delete a boring paragraph. But now that a work is published, it pretty much doesn’t get touched. I can’t add anything else. And it’s relieving, but also sad (especially when you are talking about an entire series, not just a single book).
What's your favorite thing that you've written together and what’s your favorite thing that you’ve written on your own?
Sarah: I think book 4 of the Pirate Hunter Chronicles is my favorite thing that we’ve written together. As far as things that I’ve written on my own, I think Simon Says is my favorite.
Helena: I agree with Sarah. The last Pirate Hunter book has just been...utterly amazing. Some of my favorite scenes, favorite characters, favorite speeches...yeah. It’s all in there. It’s like the culmination of the past couple years.
Honestly, the Red War Annals is my favorite work (of my own). I started it in 2015, and the story has just grown in leaps and bounds, and I am beyond excited to begin the release of the first two books in 2022!!
Oh my goodness, that's so exciting, Helena!
Next question: what is your favorite genre to write in, and what is your favorite to read?
Sarah: My favorite genre to write in is either fantasy or dystopian. I love the ways I can worldbuild in both of those genres! My favorite to read is either fantasy or historical fiction.
Helena: Fantasy all the way!!! I can tolerate almost any genre as long as it’s written well and I enjoy the characters, but fantasy will always be my comfort genre. I love the adventure, the new worlds, the languages, the different cultures, the variety of characters...all those things that come with fantasy!
What are some of your favorite books and movies that have inspired you to write?
Sarah: There are a lot of books and movies that have inspired me, but I think one of the ones that has inspired me most recently is Coral by Sara Ella. It was the first book written for the Christian market that dove so deeply into mental illness. Reading it was like being given permission to write that part of my life story into my books. Before then, I shied away from opening up that part of myself but now I’m slowly allowing myself to incorporate my experience with mental illness into my writing.
Helena: The Blades of Acktar really inspired me, as a Christian author wanting to independently publish. Here was someone who indie published, had clean fantasy, with a Christian message, and was still well received. I read them and thought “this is what I want my books to be like!”
I should read both of those, as the sounds amazing!
Name an author who inspires you.
Sarah: Stephanie Morrill. She doesn’t shy away from hard topics and I find that inspirational.
Helena: Brandon Sanderson. Like, WOW. What do I have to do to write like him???
Wow, I haven't read anything by either of them, so I should get cracking!
I love to ask this next question. What is your favorite quote or saying about writing?
Sarah: “I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.” ~Pearl S. Buck. Being an author isn’t about aesthetics and mood boards and getting your muses all in a line. It’s about sitting your butt in the chair and getting to work, no matter what.
Helena: “If it’s important to you, you’ll make time for it.” ~my dad, Jeff George. He was actually talking about making sure one has private worship in the mornings, but I try to apply this to other things in life as well, and especially writing. If it’s important to you, you’ll make changes to your schedule, look for time wasted that could be better used, and purposefully ignore distractions, just to make time.
See, it makes me happy to ask that question because I get such great advice! Speaking of, what advice would you give to fellow writers?
Sarah: Be very clear with yourself about what your goals are. This is important when you start feeling that wave of envy over what other writers are doing crashes into you. Once you remind yourself of what you want out of your writing, you can cheer them on for their accomplishments without losing confidence in what you’re doing.
Helena: Just write the book. Just do it. Aesthetics, Pinterest boards, fanart, playlists...those are all fun, but just go write the book. Just sit down and write, and don’t get distracted with other things. You can make aesthetics once the book is released.
I believe I know the story, but can you guys tell my readers why you decided to write a story involving pirates?
Sarah: Uhh, I think it was just because Helena had a story lying around about pirates and that’s the one we decided to write?
Helena: Yeah, pretty much. I watched Pirates of the Caribbean in 2010, wanted to write a pirate story, never finished writing it, and then we revived Jay Hill and the Red Wind for a wild attempt at writing something together.
If you were part of the Pirate Hunter Crew, what would your role be? Or even, which character do you think is the most like you?
Sarah: I think I would be a combo of Heather and Adi? With some Hawthorn mixed in? I would probably have a role similar to Heather’s, as her’s is what I do in real life.
Helena: Probably Sandaline. Like, kinda ended up there by accident, and somehow knows more about sailing than half the crew put together.
This might break hearts, but can you tell me your favorite character from The Pirate Hunter Chronicles?
Sarah: My favorite character is the High Dragon. She’s spunky, hilarious, and has a no-nonsense attitude that I love to write.
Helena: Justin. I share his love for tea, for being rather chill during most situations, and casual ignorance for many things. He is so fun to write, like one of those characters that you never know quite what they’re going to do.
I echo Helena, because Justin is totally my favorite character. From the first time I met him on Helena's blog I knew he would be, and he has never disappointed.
In your books you have magical creatures, rolicking good times on the wild waves, dangerous missions and thrilling adventures while breathing in the fresh sea air. I want to know, what is your favorite part of worldbuilding?
Sarah: My favorite is coming up with sea creatures and things like that. We base most of our creatures off of the mythology in our world, but change it up to make it fit the fantasy world. Coming up with those fresh ideas are some of my favorite brainstorming sessions! They’re usually filled with squealing and googling and all the fun stuff!
Helena: Creating the assassin clans, their histories, and their “vibes” has been really fun! We get an idea of this in the first book, where a del Mankayl assassin and an Aladale assassin sometimes butt heads and sometimes are strangely loyal to each other. And then in the second book, we really revealed a lot of the darkness that goes on in these clans (especially for the del Mankayls). And in this third book, we get to meet someone from a new assassin clan!
Without spoilers, what has been your favorite type of adventure that the Pirate Hunters have gone on?
Sarah: *Grins* My favorites are the ones the characters go on in book 4. I won’t give anything away, but they cover places that we haven’t explored in the series yet and it’s really awesome to open up those doors.
Helena: I’m with Sarah...really excited for book four. But, honestly, Ravin’s emotional journey in the second book is probably my ultimate favorite. I cry every time I read chapter 10 (I actually wrote it before we’d even started book two, and we barely even edited it after the first draft), and chapter 30...phew, that one was really moving to write as well!
To wrap up, how does it feel to only have one book left in The Pirate Hunter Chronicles?
Sarah: *goes and finds a corner to sob in* But seriously, it’s a bittersweet moment for me. I’m sad that we’re closing this chapter in our writing lives, but I’m also so excited about everything that’s going to happen in book 4. I can’t wait for y’all to get to read it!
Helena: In one sense, I’m excited, because now I can place all four books on my shelf and move forward with The Red War Annals. I can’t wait to share Marywyn and Duren and the Bards and all the epicness that is those books.
But again...I love Ravin and Adi and Justin and Gerrard and all the other Pirate Hunter characters. I will miss them. And it feels strange, honestly, to not be brainstorming what their next adventure is. After 2ish years of thinking about ships and sails and sea creatures...it will be really odd to no longer be writing about their journeys. And I will miss them a lot.
This is MC again. I don't know about you guys, but I am now really eager for book 4! In the meantime, go check out Rumors, Reunions, and Revenge, and the rest of The Pirate Hunter Chronicles if you haven't read them already.
You guys are in luck, too, because there is a giveaway! It is going right now and will end on Saturday, September 11. It includes,
-Signed copies of The Pirate Hunter Chronicles books 1-3 and all coordinating swag packs
-A bag of looseleaf tea
-A kraken mug
-A kraken teaball
People can enter by signing up to receive the Order of the Pen Press newsletter (anyone who is already signed up is automatically entered). Additionally, anyone who enters the reel competition on Instagram will get an extra entry. Everyone who helps out during the blog tour gets an additional entry.
HERE is where to join the Order of the Pen Press newsletter to be a part of that!
How epic is that??
I'm going to get out of here so you guys can bask in the glow of this book. I'll be back soon for full explanations, but in the meantime, safe sailing!
Chloe the MovieCritic