Chris Seabranch - Pirates and Butterflies
When Chris Seabranch is not on a treasure hunt, fleeing from aliens or conjuring up interesting scientific articles as a Danish science journalist, he likes to write fantasy books. Butterfly Islands is a great example of his storytelling skills, and was conceived during a 175 kilometer walk around Mount Blanc in France. As our Author of The Day, Seabranch chats about female pirates, 15 year olds and why he used butterflies in the book.
Please give us a short introduction to what Butterfly Islands is about
Butterfly Islands is the first book in the Chronicles of the Twenty-One Butterflies pirate fantasy series. The book and the series tell the story of a young woman's transformation from being a scared little girl to becoming a feared pirate Queen. The events of Butterfly Islands take place in the fantasy world of Gallow's Sound, a tropical island colony filled with pirates, treasures, dangers, evil villains, dangerous creatures and of course the female only pirate group known as the Twenty-One Butterflies. Together with the Twenty-One Butterflies, the main character 'Casey' embarks on an epic journey to find out who she is and her place is in the world.
In which way is Butterfly Islands a coming of age story?
We meet Casey in her 15th year and through the story follow her life until she becomes a woman. We learn of her fears, struggles, friendships, love, and confusion.
What inspired you to write about female pirates?
Have you ever heard of a female only pirate group? Neither have I.
How much has your background in environmental and molecular biology influenced your writing?
My scientific background gives me tools to make the impossible seem plausible. Why do creatures look and act like they do? How do islands suddenly appear out of nowhere? I try to give the magic and unreal a credible scientific explanation.
Why the butterflies/moths - what made you write about them?
Butterflies’ metamorphosis is probably one of the most used symbols of transformation – the transformation from being a larva to becoming something that most people find beautiful. The same can be said about a woman’s transformation into adulthood. The moths kind of just appeared somewhere along the way.
Why did you decide to write about a 15-year-old heroine? Why did you make Cassie so young?
The age between 15 and 21 are the most defining years in many people’s lives. That is when we define ourselves in relation to the world around us, which makes these years the most exciting to write about – so much to write about, so much at stake. Also, I do not find 15 years old to be that young in a historical context. Consider that Jean D’Arc (Joan of Arc) was only 17 years old when she participated in the siege on Orleans from which she emerged as a celebrated heroine.
Your descriptions of the scenes and locations are very vivid. Did you plot out the world in your book before you started writing?
I went for a 175 kilometer walk around Mount Blanc in France before I started writing. It took me 7 days and 2 pairs of shoes. Away from all kinds of disturbances, I had plenty of time to develop something I found new and unique, which I think I did.
Does your book contain a hidden message? What do you hope readers will take away from it?
No messages. I only hope that people will read my books and feel that they have been on a pirate ship with the wind in their hair and their friends by their sides.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? How do you manage to stay productive? Where is your favorite writing spot?
Writing novels is 95 percent discipline and 5 percent inspiration. If it takes 300 hours to write a good novel, then find 300 hours and start writing. You can wait a lifetime if you expect inspiration to come down from heaven and finish the novel for youJ It won’t. I prefer to write in a chair that does not kill my back.
Which of your characters has been the most challenging to write for?
I found Jack to be the most difficult character to write because of the complexity in his development through the series.
What are you working on right now?
A novel about the personal struggles of a woman who lives forever. (It is in Danish)