Today I’m so stoked to bring to you an interview with the fabulous Nicole castroman. She’s the author of your new favorite Blackbeard origin story BLACKHEARts.
ABOUT THE BOOK
You may recall this feelsy
review swooning for my new favorite novel, BLACKHEARTS. I was so enamored with it that I was jotting down questions immediately after finishing (I was inspired!) before I realized that interviews are an actual thing that exist and that I could find Nicole’s website and get in touch with her. And thus, this happened!
Read on for Nicole’s thoughts on Blackbeard, writing, and what Anne and Teach’s favorite TV show would be!
- What did you know about Blackbeard before writing your novel and what was the most interesting thing you learned during/after your research?
The only thing I knew about Blackbeard before writing my story was that he was a notorious pirate. I think one of the most interesting things I learned after doing my research was that he wasn’t as harsh and brutal as many people believe. Was he a good guy? No. But there were much more sadistic and crueler pirates out there. It was said that Blackbeard was quite engaging and almost agreeable to those who did as he asked. He preferred not to use force to get what he wanted. Instead he created his demonic appearance in the hope that people would automatically capitulate or give in to his wishes.
- What was the first pirate story you heard, movie you saw, or fact you learned that made you go, “YES PIRATES!”?
When I heard that Blackbeard had held the entire city of Charleston, SC hostage, I was hooked. He didn’t ask for money. His only demand was for medication. He could have had anything, but that was all he asked for. Because of this, I wanted to know more about Blackbeard and where he came from.
- What was the hardest part of the writing process? How was writing two distinct POVs? Were there things you wanted to have your characters do or words you wanted to use but couldn’t, due to the time period?
The hardest part of the writing process for me was to try to stay historically accurate, at least as far as the voice is concerned. If I read a historical novel, I want it to sound historical. Nothing would have bothered me more than to write a modern voice set in 1697 England. Language has evolved over the centuries. Diction, pronunciation, articulation, and delivery can all change. The way my kids speak now is different from how my parents spoke when they were young. I wanted my story to sound authentic, without making it sound too old fashioned. It needed to flow, but still appeal to a modern teen. My 16yo daughter was a big help in this regard.
- I especially love the moment Anne realizes the double standards between women of lower and upper classes, and how she—as a lower class woman—may have more freedom than someone like Miss Patience. Freedom is a major theme of the story. Do you think Anne, Teach, and Patience would be different people if they had the freedom they wanted?
Oh, good question. If Patience was a maid, it would be interesting to see if she’d act any differently. Somehow, I still get the feeling she’d feel superior to others. She’d most likely boss the other maids about.
I think if both Anne and Teach had the freedom they wanted, they’d be able to accomplish amazing things. It’s all about the choices they would make, and what they’d do with their freedom.
- I loved the duality to Miss Patience. Do you see Anne and Miss Patience as character foils? Did you always set out to frame them that way, or did it develop as you were writing and revising?
I definitely set Anne and Miss Patience as character foils. Anne is supposedly inferior, at least according to Patience, but Anne’s character and strength are far greater. I actually tried to make Miss Patience more appealing, but I couldn’t find one redeeming quality about her. She’s bigoted and cruel and it’s just like Mary and Sara say. She might be pretty on the outside, but she’s ugly on the inside and it shows.
- Teach and his father have a very tense and complicated relationship, and I loved getting to see that through both Teach’s perspective and Anne’s. But the whole novel had interesting and complicated character dynamics like Anne/Teach, Anne/Mr. Drummond, Patience/her mother. Did you have a favorite to write? Or one that was the hardest?
I loved writing all of their character dynamics. Nobody is perfect and I wanted each character to have some flaws. I enjoy a story that challenges the reader and makes them question whether they like a character or not.
- Blackhearts read like a Victorian novel to me. Who are your favorite couples from classic literature? What are your favorite classic lit novels?
One of my favorite couples is definitely Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. I love Pride and Prejudice.
I’m also a fan of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. I might have teared up a bit when my family and I went to the Margaret Mitchell house in downtown Atlanta. That’s where Margaret Mitchell wrote part of the book.
Another novel that some people might not know about is THESE IS MY WORDS by Nancy E. Turner. Sarah Agnes Prine and Captain Jack Elliot belong together as much as the previous two couples I mentioned. I have a soft spot for epic love stories. 🙂
- Do you think women’s clothes should have more pockets?
I definitely think women’s clothes should have more pockets. 🙂
- If Anne, Teach, and supporting crew of Blackhearts were in our world, what do you think their favorite TV shows would be?
I think they’d be big fans of Poldark. Anne might like Shark Tank. It’s a show about people going after their dreams. Teach might enjoy Shark Week.
- Can you tease your next project?
I hope to be able to give you an answer to this question in the near future.
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
I’m hosting a preorder giveaway for a copy of BLACKHEARTS. All you have to do is follow me on Twitter and retweet THIS tweet (also embedded below) and you’ll be entered to win. Contest ends on Sunday 2/7 and is open international as long as Book Depository ships to you. May the odds be ever in your favor 😉
— Michella (@Mic_Domenici) February 1, 2016
MEET THE AUTHOR
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 the country 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.
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