A Fairytale Enchantment
Pearl of the Seas is about Chris and Kate who decide to build a boat, sail across the ocean and go on an epic fairy tale journey. What was your inspiration for the setup of the story and how did that help you create the ending?
Unexpected. I was persuaded by a Ghanaian taxi-driver, a local church leader in the town where I live (taxi drivers are so knowledgeable and multi-cultural), that should do a version of my award-winning Black Inked Pearl for children. I anyway wanted to create a simpler, shorter version that was different but still related to the earlier novel – for children of all ages (and aren’t we all eleven still – I read some of my best books then, like Homer who keeps coming all through both novels); actually adults seem to love it even more than children do.
And then is just sort of grew, to be honest I can’t quite remember writing it though I must have done at some points. I think dreaming and sleeping came into the process too. And then it grew some more with Rachel Backshall’s fabulous pictures, the best bit of it all.
What was one scene in the novel that you felt captured the morals and message you were trying to deliver to readers?
Yes: Kate’s despairing answer to Yahwiel’s question ‘How many names has God?” : “I don’t know”; she couldn’t count, couldn’t answer, and since she couldn’t solve the riddle he’d set she would never see her friend or her dog again. But then, as Yahwiel gently told her, ‘You are right. Not to know is the beginning of wisdom”. The “King of Many Names” (that very name a kind of answer) had the same message, later amplified when he explained that every creature on earth that breathes breathes a name of God. What a wonderful inspiration for young people.
Chris and Kate are lovely characters. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?
Kate – out of herself: she learned wisdom from the King-of-many-names and found she could teach and sing, she accepted herself, her limitations and, hard, Chris’s sacrifice and, at the last, shared her mother with him, greatest gift of all.
Chris – grew up and realised he was strong, could save others and, so important, that ‘girlies’ were people and necessary for any true venture.
They grew and developed from the Kate and the unnamed hero, the son of God, of Black Inked Pearl.
I felt that there was a strong use of poetry and poetic prose throughout the novel, was that intentional or circumstantial to delivering this fairy tale?
Both. The book grew out of Black Inked Pearl – even more poetic and resonant – and the sounds of Homer: so I couldn’t help it. But I was glad for it to turn out this way, lending it a fairytale enchantment. The illustrations do too.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will that be published?
Aha – a couple of academic books: one on ‘The shared mind’, another, edited , on Entrancement’ ( about dreaming, music and consciousness), due out with University of Wales Press around Easter 2017. Also Black Inked Pearl and Pearl of the Seas will, together with the fabulous illustrator Rachel Backshall, become a series (called something like the Black Pearl Series or The Kate-Pearl Series). Starting with a board book (next year sometime we hope) it will take individuals from the cradle to the grave as it were. The next to appear will be a picture book (The Magic Adventure). Maybe then a sort of companion novel for Black Inked Pearl, but that’s a secret.
They say boredom and inactivity shorten your life – so I should live a good long time still.
An unput-downable tale of two children building a boat from a log they find buried in the sand and sailing off to far-off fantastic lands in a stormy sea-driven adventure with their faithful – but accident-prone – dog Holly. There they learn much wisdom from a king who, like God, has many names’. After an incredible sacrifice of his dearest dream by the boy (now growing up) they return – another dream – to a family tea with their loved ones. The tale is a prequel and companion to Ruth Finnegan’s award-winning epic romance ‘Black inked pearl’, here adapted for preteens but characterised by (in a simpler form) the same unique dream-like and enchanted style as in the original novel.