In addition to our Q&A with Kendall, you’ll also find a blog tour giveaway and more information about the book, so be sure to scroll all the way down.
In the author’s note for SALT & STORM, you mention having little knowledge about whaling before writing this book. So why did you write a book about 19th century whaling?
I really didn’t set out to! I wanted to write about islands, and since the only island I know much of anything about is Martha’s Vineyard, I decided to set the book in New England. When I started thinking about the story, I looked into New England folklore and found stories of women who would make good luck charms for sailors. I thought that was so fascinating, especially combined with the history and culture of whaling in the area, so despite my lack of knowledge, I dove right in!
I knew I wanted there to be a fantasy element in the book because I wanted to write about those women. I love books that treat magic as something real, accepted, and integrated into society—I think it’s so fascinating how most people assume having magic would make life so much easier, when it probably would just make life more complicated.
As for blending historical fiction and fantasy, sailing has always had a close relationship with magic and superstition. A lot of the magic described in the book (like the idea that sailors can buy winds or that tattoos offer protection) came from real-life accounts that I found in my research. It’s not surprising, given how wild and unpredictable the sea is, that you’d want to try to put some faith into charms and magic.
I have to give the credit to my editor, Bethany Strout, for suggesting writing another book in this world. I don’t think there will ever be a sequel—I always knew that Avery’s story would begin and end with SALT & STORM—but I had been kicking around a couple of ideas for a prequel, focusing on some of the other Roe witches. Writing SALT & STORM, I had to come up with a lot of backstory that ended up not being used in the book, so this was a great opportunity to delve into some of that.
The prequel was also a chance to see this world beyond just the island where SALT & STORM takes place. Avery mentions other magical people out in the world, and with the prequel, I’m able to show more of those people and how the rest of the world treats them.
What’s the most interesting tid-bit of information you learned while researching SALT & STORM?
I learned so much, but one of the things I found most fascinating was how these island communities dealt with the reality of a huge population of men being gone for several years at a time. Whaling trips took, on average, two to three years, and in that time the women back at home were expected to act as the heads of their households. They created these really tight-knit communities of mothers and wives, working together and supporting each other during the years their husbands were gone.
When the men came back, they would sometimes be on leave for only a few weeks or months before heading out again. I can only imagine how difficult and lonely that would be on both sides, especially given whaling’s extremely high mortality rate and the very likely possibility that married couples would never see each other again. But there was still real love and affection within these families; so many of the little things sailors made to pass the time were presents for their wives and sweethearts.
A lot of the history of whaling focuses on the men, but the struggles and successes of the women they left behind are just as deserving of attention.
You’re about to become a mother (congrats!). We know there are plenty of big differences between the two, but what is one similiarity between having a BOOK baby and having an ACTUAL baby?
Thank you! The real baby arrived August 21st, and she is wonderful J. I would say there are lots of similarities between birthing a book baby and real baby! Sleepless nights, needing lots of help, the long long wait for them to get here, and then that moment when you’ve got them in your arms (baby) or on the shelf (book) and think about how all that work and time and expectations led you to this moment—it’s just an indescribably wonderful, happy feeling!
Well, I married the love of my life in 2011, sold my book and adopted my beautiful pup in 2013, and published that book and had a baby girl in 2014, so the 2010s are looking pretty good so far!
Must-have writing snack?
I always start the day with a cup of tea served in my fine porcelain tea set, which was a wedding present. It always looks so pretty, and it’s such a nice, relaxing way to ease into things.
Favorite Disney movie?
Oh man. I’m going to have to say Newsies, because even though I haven’t watched it in years, between the ages of 13 and 18 I was pretty much obSESSED with it. I had a website devoted to it (~*~kENDALL’S nEWSIES pAGE~*~), wrote massive amounts of fan-fiction, watched the movie literally daily with my friends. A few years ago I saw the show on Broadway and it was like a full-on nostalgia bomb.
The beach or the mountains?
Mountains, definitely. Which I realize is probably surprising, given SALT & STORM, but I actually don’t really like the water. Beaches can be lovely, but I am a huge hiker, and there’s something about climbing a mountain that gives you such a different perspective on life.
Song that can always get you dancing?
Right now it’s Happy by Pharrell. But I’m biased because it’s also baby girl’s favorite song!
Name 5 things currently on your desk (or in your writing space), and share a photo, if possible
A menagerie of origami animals (which will eventually become my daughter’s mobile), a teeeeeny red LeCrueset pot that I use to store paperclips and odds and ends, my grandmother’s old makeup compact, my personalized beer stein from my college dorm, and lots of cards from friends and family about the new baby.
About the Book
A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder–and the one boy who can help change her future.
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she’s to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.
Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane–a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.
Kendall Kulper writes historical fiction with a fantasy twist for teen readers and knows more about nineteenth century whaling than she ever imagined. Her debut YA novel, SALT & STORM will be published by Little, Brown September 23, 2014. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in history and literature in 2008 and spent several years as a journalist before deciding to write full-time. She grew up in the wilds of New Jersey and now lives in Boston with her husband and chronically-anxious Australian Shepherd mix, Abby.
And now it’s time for your chance to win a copy of Salt & Storm. Two U.S. winners will each receive a hardcover copy of the book. Enter the Rafflecopter form HERE. (Be sure to check out our Seaside Writing Contest for another chance to win, too!)
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