Today, we have another character interview from Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper — this time with our leading male character, Tane. (Pronounced Taah-neh.) Check out our interview with character & narrator Avery here, and our Q&A with author Kendall here.
I’m a harpooner on the whale ship Modena. I’ve been whaling for years, and I suppose it was only a matter of time before I took on with a ship that brought me to this island.
What is the most amazing thing you’ve seen during your travels?
There are small bays in the waters below the equators where, at night, the whole surface of the ocean is lit up with tiny lights, like a sky full of stars flipped upside down. I first saw one of these bays when I was small, just a child starting out, and I was certain it was some kind of magic, but truly, it’s not. I think about those lights all the time: that something so beautiful could exist without magic.
On my island, children receive small tattoos at birth. They are barely more than pinpricks—on the palms of the hands for girls, on the soles of the feet for boys. They have two purposes: to protect the child from illness and to bind the child to the rest of his family. You almost can’t see my baby tattoos now, but whenever I’m barefoot in the water I always lift one of my feet to look at them.
Sailors have lots of stories and superstitions. What is one you adhere to, no matter what?
I believe my tattoos will protect me. I believe the Roe witches, for one, can fashion charms that will work. But in my years of traveling, I’ve seen too many swindles and heard too many lies to believe much else.
Do you see yourself always being a sailor? If you were to settle down, where would it be & what would you like to do when you get there?
I left my island because I wanted to see the world, and the more I see, the more I would like to keep traveling. Someday, far away, I can imagine a place I’d like to stop, a place like my old home—but no more islands. I’ve spent too much time surrounded on all sides by water.