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An Interview With Kate Inglis

Today we're thrilled to be hosting Kate Inglis from Sweet|Salty on the Daily Grommet blog, and we're giving away a copy of her book, The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods (if you can't wait to see if you win, you can pick up your copy here). (See rules for the giveaway at the bottom of this post)

Kate has graciously answered my interview questions. I loved reading her responses and I'm sure you will as well.

How did the idea of writing a story about pirates happen to come about?

Four years ago, I was hiking through an old woodlot with a 6-year-old who was cold and wet and hungry, and we still had a long way to go. I remember telling him SHHHH and “Eric, you need to pay attention when you’re in the woods, because they might come along and squash us,” and he said “Who?” and I looked around and saw trees and splinters and snowy moss and bogs and it just popped into my head: “The Wood Pirates.”

As we walked, Eric asked all kinds of questions that needed answering. “What makes their ship go?” And, “Why do they want junk?” And, “What do they look like?” And, “What do they smell like?” And, “What do they do for fun?”

I got home and felt a need to capture it before I forgot—a story about a pirate-tracker named Eric who lived in a very remote and old farmhouse in the middle of Nova Scotia with goats and peacocks and an old barn with a stone foundation and an iron hulk of a kitchen wood oven, all just like the real thing. Plus pirates.

Writers often talk about their "muse." What does your muse look/feel like?

My muse is a plethora of voices that answer questions. It’s uncanny how those voices don’t feel like they’re coming from me. As long as I pay attention, they tell me everything I need to know. So I guess you could say my muse has maggots in his beard and horrible manners. That and a whole lot of Johnny Cash.

What did you find to be the hardest part of the writing process for the book?

When you’re a creative, work-at-home parent, everyone wants a piece of you. Your kids want you to play lego. Your supper is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Your corporate client wants a feature article on the effect of social media on mass brands in a fragmented market. Your husband wants you to curl up on the couch for an evening and watch a movie and have you be mentally as well as physically present.

In the midst of all that, a small girl—a pirate scout—climbs through a window and whispers in your ear I may be small, but I’m the fastest they’ve ever seen. And you’re entranced, and you fear she’s going to disappear back out through that window if you don’t drop everything and write about her. Then a small voice chirps from the other room HA! HA HA. LOOK. FUNNY POOP.

What did you find to be the best part of the writing process for the book?

For me, the most enjoyable aspect of writing the book was the process of editing. Mapping out the story—the task of getting through 40,000 words that tell a compelling story—that can feel like some unending epic journey. In comparison, editing is fish in a barrel. You step away from the finished first draft for a while and you come back to it with feedback and perspective, strangely refreshed. Revisiting sentences and paragraphs and chapters is so easy and fun, and the impact of good editing is so profound and instantaneous.

You write a novel. Then you rest. Then you return to it with a new eye, feeling less attached to your own cleverness.

This is critically important. When you finish a large piece of work, you’re left with this self-satisfied film, pleased with what you’ve accomplished. That film has to be peeled back or you run the risk of falling in blind love with your own words—words that would be so much stronger with a vigorous edit. You trim a sentence by half and it’s ten times stronger and it’s suddenly got cadence and feels artful and goes ZAP and it makes you feel high. It’s a drug.

Maybe I just need to get high more.

Are any of the characters based on people in your life? I mean, I'm pretty sure you haven't encountered any members of the Dread Crew (Or maybe you have?) but are there glimmers of personalities that belong to people you know?

Absolutely. (grin)

Do you have a favorite character in the book? Or does it vary from day to day?

I love Joe for his hospitality, his sense of justice and for how he lives his values. And Eric for his earnest curiosity. And of course I adore Missy… and the pirates for all kinds of different reasons. Hector for his charisma. Johnnie for his grandness. Meena for her lungs. Some of them I love for reasons not apparent in the books, for aspects of their back stories that I’ve had glimpses of. Some of them were just kind of ‘there’ until I saw them sketched by Sydney, at which point I fell wildly in love with them and wished I’d given them more limelight. (Famous Amos and Ironbound Ike are two of those.)

Now that the book has been out for a couple of weeks, and you're on the other (Published) side of it, is it anything at all like you thought it might be?

Every time someone pushes a book towards me and asks me to sign it, I feel like apologizing for spoiling such a pretty thing. That’s something I just can’t believe—how this book is so beautifully put together, and it’s mine. I watch as people pick it up and run their hands over the cover, and they pore through it giggling and marvelling at Sydney’s illustrations. Gives me butterflies every time.

I’m also flattened by how exposing it is to have people reading my story after holding it so close for so long. Every person who buys a book… I feel like I’ve made them a promise. I’m so honoured by the attention granted by every single reader, and that sense of honour can be unnerving. I want so, so much to make good on that promise.

Are there any plans in the works for a second novel? If so, will it be a continuation of the Dread Crew story, or something altogether different?

I started the next book a couple of weeks ago. It will be a sequel but will also be new—it follows the adventures of Missy. It will reveal more about where she came from, and will see her travelling the world until she gets embroiled in a mystery that has implications beyond piracy.

The Dread Crew felt like play—but with so much at stake, this next book feels a little more daunting. There’s a time pressure now, knowing that I’d like to have it released for a certain season. But with this first experience behind me, there’s so much that I just can’t wait for. I feel scenes coming to me and I can’t help but imagine how Sydney, our phenomenally talented Dread Crew illustrator, would draw them. I hear a conversation between characters and I have to hold back from emailing Penelope, my editor, right away.

This next time around, I’m simultaneously more nervous and more confident. I’m just doing my best to block out both those feelings, and just do my best to pay attention to voices.

Thanks, Kate!

Kate will be checking in throughout the day to answer any questions that our readers might have. You can also enter to win a copy of her book by simply answering the question, "What would your pirate name be?"

The contest will remain open until 9pm EST and we'll use Random.org to pick a winner. What are you waiting for?

General contest rules: To enter, you must be at least 18 years of age and a resident of the U.S. or Canada. No purchase necessary. The winners will be randomly selected by Daily Grommet and we will select one person to win a book (one entry per person). Employees, contractors, and the families of employees and contractors of Daily Grommet, Inc. are not eligible to enter. Void where prohibited. Contest will run from 9am through 9pm EST December 14, 2009.


  • Sweet & Salty | Dutch Blitz Says:

    [...] gets better! As part of Kate’s interview over at The Daily Grommet blog, I’m giving away a copy over there as well. That giveaway is only open from 9am until 9pm EST, Monday December 14th, 2009. I’ll keep my [...]

  • witchypoo Says:

    My pirate name would be Grog. I'm feeling particularly Groggy today.

  • Darcey Says:

    I so want to read this book! I briefly met Kate at BlogHer in Chicago, and have been trying to get a hold of my own copy of this ever since!

  • Amanda Brown Says:

    Wow, what a great interview! She sounds so gracious and humble, and open in sharing her experience. Very cool.

  • Emily Says:

    This looks amazing!! I can't wait to read it :)

  • kirida Says:

    What a great interview. Kate is just phenomenal.

  • Laura Says:

    As an American, there is absolutely no way I can wait until spring for this book to come out.

    What would my pirate name be? My son says a good name for a pirate is "Mateys." Mine is Jezebel the Disgruntled.

  • Kyran Says:

    Our house reader, ten-going-on-eleven, declared it "one of the best books I've ever read." I doubt I'll get anywhere near as good a blurb for my book!

  • Catherine Says:

    She makes me want to write pirate stories too. I think my pirate name would be Umpaloo. (I'm not sure why.)

  • susan Says:

    We would LOVE a copy!

  • Bethany Says:

    This interview made me even more excited to read this book -- I'd love to win a copy. And I think my pirate name would be Fable.

  • Julie Randall Says:

    My pirate name would be Guenivive the Great. Is that even a pirate name? Anyways, this book sounds like on my 6 year old son will love.

  • Sarah Says:

    I love hearing how you wrote this- I completely relate to the challenges of being a work from home mom. So inspiring to hear that you pulled off writing (what sounds to be) such an amazing book. I would love to read this and share it with my daughter as well.

  • Brittany Says:

    I'd be Moonstruck Molly! ARGGHH!!! I hope I win me a book!

  • onthecurb Says:

    Cap'n Suzy Saggingsails at yer ser'ice. Argh.

    Fascinating interview. Thanks for giving us a peak into Kate's writing process.

  • sweetsalty kate Says:

    Thanks everyone for all the kind words. So glad there are so many proponents of hooliganism out there, especially Kyran's kid who is clearly a complete miscreant. My heart swells. :)

  • sizzle Says:

    I can't wait to read it!

  • Jilian Says:

    I'm crafty with my hands - not with words. We'll go with Daring Dafne.

    Sounds like a great adventure - can't wait to get caught up in it!

  • Kerri Anne Says:

    Great! interview, babe. You and Kate are both The Awesome, and the fact that this book exists makes me happy.

    I'm beyond psyched to read it (and would beyond psyched to win! a copy). Thus, my pirate name would be...eye-patched drum roll please...Iron Deficient Lucy.

    (Or so the Pirate Name Generator dubbed me.) I actually sort of love it.

  • Tamara Says:

    Great interview. My pirate name would be Brisco....arggg!

  • Michael Says:

    Bruticus Barley. That's my pirate name matey!

  • barbetti Says:

    She sounds so gracious and humble, as another commenter mentioned. Wonderful!

    My pirate name would probably be Swasbury (swaz-berry) because it's a combination of the first initials of my husband's name, my name, with our last name making up the rest. We use that name for basically EVERYTHING, so why not? Sounds kind of swash-buckling right? Maybe?

  • Mel Gallagher Says:

    Okay, those answers were awesome. This book sounds just amazing, it will be a good read. Can't wait!!

  • jeanneconnon Says:

    Hi Kate - and welcome all pirate fans. What a book! We're so thrilled to be hosting you and to have had the opportunity to preview this imaginative, and exciting adventure story (and you know how much we love a good story!).

    Good luck everyone - can't wait to see who wins!


  • JenniferB Says:

    My pirate name would be "Sweet Tooth Jenny" or something else equally silly (I believe in Silly Pirates too!)

  • Amanda Says:

    May just have to get this one for the classroom...either winning a copy or buying, either works for me. :)

  • BHJ Says:

    I like Famous Amos.

  • OldBAM Says:

    I love reading her blogs, would love even more reading her book.

  • OldBAM Says:

    Of course my pirate name would be Old BAM.

  • Angella Says:

    I just ran the numbers on Random.org and it came up with Number 25. Congratulations, Jennifer B! I'll email you to get your address. :)

  • sherry Says:

    My pirate name would be something like Seaside Sherry because by the sea is my dream home.

    Or maybe Sherry doesn't fit in a pirate name. So then let's go with Seaside Swine or something!

  • sherry Says:

    Doh, never mind, I missed it!

  • Elizabeth (Bloggy Mama) Says:

    My pirate name would be "Crafty" because I like to think I am, and I like to think that I'd be a "thinker" as a pirate... you know?
    Also, I really like what you said, Kate, "Every person who buys a book… I feel like I’ve made them a promise. " Totally something that made me think.
    I look forward to reading this!!

  • sweetsalty kate Says:

    Thank you Jeanne! It was a pleasure.

  • sweetsalty kate Says:

    Hooray for Jennifer B! Jennifer, if you'd like it signed, send me your address and the name of the intended reader (or just your family name) and I'll send you a custom book plate. sweetsaltykate (at) gmail. Enjoy!

  • sweetsalty kate Says:

    Thanks again to everyone for being so kind and so feisty... this was great fun, and I loved hearing from everyone. Even got a few pirate name ideas for next time! :)

  • Neena Says:

    My pirate name would be something silly...like 'Boxxy"

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