Thursday, March 16, 2017

YA Guy Interviews... Marty Reeder, Author of HOW TO BECOME A PIRATE HUNTER!

YA Guy is excited to welcome Marty Reeder, author of HOW TO BECOME A PIRATE HUNTER, to the blog! This time-travel fantasy for young readers is a lot of fun, with a boy who feels he doesn't have any talents discovering that he's a natural born pirate hunter! Marty stopped by the blog recently to chat, and here's what he had to say...

YA Guy: Welcome to the blog, Marty, and congratulations on your new book! How did you come up with the idea for How to Become a Pirate Hunter? What do you think is the most fun or fascinating thing about this story?

Marty Reeder: I hear the phrase "natural born" every now and then, and I once wondered what my natural born talent would be. Well, I couldn't think of a modern one, but I thought that it would be cool if I were a natural born pirate hunter (that's where my mind usually wanders). I knew there wasn't much I would be able to do about it ... unless I wrote about it in fiction. The idea stewed for a while until the story came into focus and I finally got to live my dream of what it would be like to hunt pirates!

My favorite parts in the story are those parts that came as surprises to me. While I had the story pretty much figured out, as I was writing some of the important scenes, the reasons for the protagonist to achieve his triumphs were subtly different from what I expected. I'd like to think that it's because there is hidden truth there that refused to be let out of the story.

YAG: I'm a big fan of discovering the truths in my story as I write, too! What do you enjoy most about writing for young readers? (If you have a particular story to share, please do!)

MR: I never write for a young audience. I write what I think would be interesting to read. As it turns out, I must be young at heart because once I started getting serious about doing something with my writing, I found out that I had to label my audience before submitting it to publishers. I realized that my protagonists are all youth--I had been writing to a younger audience this whole time and didn't even notice it. It's probably why I ended up being a high school teacher ... it's about my maturity level!

YAG: Walk us through a day in your life as a writer. Any habits, quirks, or special ways you approach the writing process?

MR: Because I have a family and day job (high school teacher), my writing process has taken some necessary adjustments since my lonely bachelor-writing days. Generally, however, I've found that I write best in the morning and edit best in the evening. The morning is when I am most alert (not the case for everyone, I know!) and my mind is fresh and ready to spill out ideas. By the evening, I'm tired from the day and don't have the endurance for solid writing sessions. However, my mind is calmed down enough that I can take a sensible look at my morning's work and help it make more sense. I suppose it's sort of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde approach.

YAG: I like that approach: draft early, revise late. Speaking of writing, what are some of your favorite YA or MG books? How have they influenced you as a writer?

MR: I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Treasure Island as an influential young adult work for me, especially in the context of How to Become a Pirate Hunter. I've long had a fascination with history and sailing, and I'm not sure if Treasure Island started that or simply furthered it, but either way it is such a strong piece of literature in plotting and characters I would be hard pressed to find a single piece of (non-series) young adult literature that matches it. Lloyd Alexander is another stalwart author from my youth. Going back and reading some of the stories of his that I loved to lap off the library shelf as a kid, I realize how efficient and engaging his writing is, a combination that is truly difficult to sustain. His more known series is the Chronicles of Prydain (The Black Cauldron and The High King earning Newbery Honor and Winner awards, respectively), but one that I simply love is the tight and emotionally investing Westmark Trilogy.

YAG: Now that we know what you've read and what you've written, tell us what's next for you and your fans!

MR: First of all, we'll have to see if I have any fans! But for anyone even remotely interested in How to Become a Pirate Hunter, a sequel is in the process of being written. I know that's pretty common for most young adult stories, but for the longest time I did not think there could be a sequel to Pirate Hunter (and I have had this story finished or close to it for years). But last year, just before it got picked up by a publisher, an idea sparked and I realized that there was a story that I still wanted to tell within this world. I'm a few chapters in and I'm pretty excited by it, so hopefully fans will be too! For now, however, I'm just satisfied with this fun process of letting the story go out there and see how far it reaches.

YAG: Thanks for visiting the blog, Marty! Personally, I'll be on the lookout (in the crow's nest?) for the sequel to PIRATE HUNTER!

Readers, here's some more information about Marty and links to find him on the web!

About the author: Marty Reeder lives in Smithfield, Utah with his wife and five children, where he teaches Creative Writing and Spanish at the local high school. Though not a natural born pirate hunter, he taught sailing at Scout camps for many years and uses his history degree to fuel worlds of piracy and compensate for perhaps being born in the wrong time and place for his passions.


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