Last month, I had the opportunity to read Nicole Castroman’s debut YA novel Blackhearts. And today, it’s finally hitting bookshelves!
Castroman calls Blackhearts a “Pre-Pirate” novel because it details the events of Blackbeard’s early life, the events that drove him to become the notorious pirate we’re familiar with today. But, there is no world exploring or sword-slinging to be found in this story. Instead, Blackhearts is a beautiful, slow-burn romance that’s sure to hook readers. (Pun intended!)
I absolutely loved Blackhearts! So, of course, I jumped at the opportunity to ask the author a few questions about writing, her inspiration, and whether readers should expect a Blackhearts sequel. Here is Fangirlish’s exclusive interview with Nicole Castroman, Author of Blackhearts.
Why did you choose to write about Blackbeard? What inspired you to write this tale about his “pre-pirate” life?
A family trip to Charleston, SC in August of 2012 inspired me to write this tale. Before the trip, I wanted to find out all I could about Charleston. I’m a history buff and I discovered that Blackbeard held the entire city hostage at one point. I did more research on Blackbeard and found out that not much is known about his early life. As I read through his history, the story fell into place. It took me three months to write and I queried it to agents right before Thanksgiving 2012.
I loved Anne’s character — she’s strong in the face of adversity, she’s independent and sharp-minded. But, what I appreciated the most about her is that she is a person of color. What motivated you to write her character from that perspective?
Anne’s character came to me the minute I came up with the story idea. Blackbeard’s flagship was called the Queen Anne’s Revenge. The French had used it as a slave ship, but when Blackbeard and another pirate captured it, they set the slaves free and turned it into a pirate ship.
An image of a beautiful girl came to my mind and I knew her name had to be Anne. As I wrote, she took on a life of her own. There was never a question in my mind about who she was or what she was like. I’m so happy to hear so many people say how much they love Anne. This story is as much hers as it is Teach’s.
One of my favorite scenes in Blackhearts is when Teach and Anne share their definitions of love with each other. What is your own personal definition of the word?
Great question! I think it’s a combination of what Anne and Teach say. If you truly love someone, you’ll stand by them, no matter what. And you want to see them happy.
If it’s not too spoilery, what was your favorite scene to write for Blackhearts? And, which scene was the most difficult to write?
It’s hard to pick just one favorite scene. When I read other books, sometimes I skip ahead to see when my favorite characters will meet again. I know, I’m impatient like that. That’s why I wanted Teach and Anne to have so many scenes together. It really is hard to pick just one.
I think the hardest scene to write was their first kiss. I really enjoy the smolder and slow burn in a romance. I wanted everything to lead up to that kiss. I’m still not sure I got it right, but that’s something I can’t change anymore.
Blackhearts was my first foray into historical fiction featuring pirates and now I’m eager to pick up other books about pirates! Do you have any recommendations for other pirate stories your readers might love?
Although I haven’t read it, I know there is a series by L.A. Meyer called Bloody Jack, about a female pirate. I also know that Goodreads has a list of YA and MG stories with pirates as well.
Who are some of your favorite authors? Were there any books in particular that inspired you to become a writer?
Some of my favorite authors are Charles Portis, Gary Paulsen, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, Brandon Sanderson, Nancy E. Turner, Mary Pearson. I know, it’s an eclectic list. I can’t say that a single book inspired me to write. When I was a teenager, I read a lot. I also had a knack for telling stories. My mom always told me I should write. I’m glad I finally listened to her. Let this be a lesson to other young people…sometimes your mother truly does know best.
Blackhearts leaves off on a bit of a cliffhanger. Should readers anticipate a sequel?
I really, really hope so. I would love to continue Anne and Teach’s story. I don’t think Blackbeard became a pirate overnight.
About The Book
Author: Nicole Castroman
Pub. Date: February 9, 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.
Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.
Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?
From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
Nicole was lucky enough to come with her very own best friend…she has a twin sister who can read her mind and finish her sentences for her.
At the age of 13, she went to Europe for the first time and it changed her life. She loves learning about different people, languages and cultures and speaks fluent German. She knows enough Spanish to get herself into trouble and can still read the Cyrillic alphabet from when she studied Russian.
She received her B.A. from Brigham Young University and has lived in Germany, Austria and two different places called Georgia. One is located on the Black Sea. The other is the state of Georgia where she now lives with her handsome husband and two beautiful children who continue to amaze her.