There’s a joke among my friends: that if there is a book with a lady pirate in it, I will read it. They’re not wrong – it’s my favorite character type. It’s no surprise that I jumped all over Daughter of the Pirate King.
Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map — the key to a legendary treasure trove — pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.
Daughter of the Pirate King releases tomorrow, February 28. Take a peek at what Tricia Levenseller had to say about the book below, from her love of romance to why she chose to include an attempted sexual assault.
Tell us a little bit about Alosa!
Alosa is a Slytherin: she’s ambitious, driven, and cunning. She does what she wants and doesn’t care what anyone else has to say about it. She cares deeply for her crew and would do anything to protect them. She is the best friend you could have and the worst enemy.
The world of Daughter of the Pirate King is very lightly magical. What made you decide to weave that element in instead of telling a straight-up historical?
I love fantasy. It’s always been my favorite. And when I saw the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie—saw how they wove magic with pirates—I knew I wanted to do something similar. I also like taking liberties with my world building. Creating a fantastical world allows me to do that.
Your epigraph for Daughter of the Pirate King comes from Pirates of the Caribbean. What other works of media inspire you?
The Lord of the Rings movies definitely had a hand. I love all the fight scenes! Other YA historical fantasies have inspired me, like The Girl of Fire and Thorns, the His Fair Assassin Trilogy, The Grisha Trilogy, and Graceling. I loved the banter in Veronica Mars, the romance in Ever After, the complex dynamics in The Count of Monte Cristo movie. I find inspiration in all types of storytelling: books, movies, TV shows, video games, etc.
I’m a sucker for romances between good-at-heart pirates and the supposed-to-be-a-damsel-in-distress kickass lady. What made you go down that route? What were your favorite bits of writing the romance?
Romance might just be my favorite element in storytelling. I don’t have any plans as of now to write a story without a romance. I’m failing to remember which author said it, but I remember hearing once that if your hero is a firefighter, your heroine should be an arsonist. I just loved the idea of the romance between captor and captive, but I knew it wouldn’t believably work if the hero was awful or if the heroine was pitiful. Thus, Riden and Alosa were born: the pirate with a heart of gold and the savvy pirate princess who gets herself kidnapped on purpose. Banter is probably my favorite thing in the world, and the banter between Alosa and Riden was definitely my favorite part of writing the romance.
One of the things that Alosa deals with, that I found slightly off-putting, is attempted sexual assault by the crew. Do you think this is important to weave into a pirate narrative even though you’re writing a fantasy? Why did you decide to include it?
Sexual violence is unfortunately a part of the lives of many girls and women, and I think it’s important not to ignore the reality of sexual violence. While I didn’t show it graphically — it is only attempted sexual assault — I wanted to acknowledge this as a likely scenario, and include this plot point as a conflict for my main character. On top of this, I wanted my pirates to feel real and cutthroat, even though I’ve placed them in a fantasy. From the period that I drew inspiration from, most pirates were brutal, pillaging, plundering, and raping their way across the seas. While I wanted to create a diverse cast of all kinds of pirates with all kinds of vices, I felt it would make sense to portray this kind of behavior, particularly since this kind of aggression was so prevalent in the people who generally gravitated toward that lifestyle. Alosa is a very attractive woman with unique circumstances (growing up around pirates). I felt this would be something that she would have to deal with—and I wanted to show just how she would deal with it. In Alosa’s mind, those who violate the rights of others like this don’t have the right to live, and I wanted to show how Alosa copes with violence by focusing on others and doing her best to protect them.
What else do you want people to know about Daughter of the Pirate King?
I wrote three novels before I wrote Daughter of the Pirate King, three novels that didn’t sell or didn’t find an agent. When I sat down to write Daughter of the Pirate King, I told myself to just have fun with the story and to not worry about what other people would think of it. It was a growing experience for me as an author, and I hope others will find the story to be just as fun as I do.
What YA books would you recommend to fans of Daughter of the Pirate King?
Definitely Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. If you love Alosa, you’ll love Rose. Also These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas. Loved the humor and historical setting of that one! For fans of YA books with heavy romances, I recommend Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.