Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.
- What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?
The Whaler’s Daughter, fiction, Regal House Publishing (Fitzroy Books), July 24, 2021.
- In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?
The novel takes place in 1910 on a whaling station in New South Wales, Australia, where twelve-year-old Savannah Dawson lives with her widowed father. The story is about unexpressed grief, and how friendship can turn revenge into repentance, anger to empathy, and hurt into hopefulness. In some ways, it’s a portrait of an artist as a young whaler.
- What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?
It’s considered MG/YA historical fiction.
- What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?
“The Whaler’s Daughter, ticks all the boxes: Twelve-year-old Savannah Dawson’s efforts to earn a place on her father’s whaling boat at the turn of the twentieth century in Australia will inspire twenty-first-century readers to hold fast in their quest to attain their dreams. A rollicking good story!” Karen Dionne, award-winning bestselling author of The Wicked Sister.
- What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]
It’s about whaling so there has to be a tip of the cap to Melville. Comp-wise, as MG historical fiction, it would appeal to fans of older works such as The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, West of the Moon, and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy.
- Why this book? Why now?
Timing is always a peculiar thing with writing. Most of this book was originally developed eight years ago. And yet, the themes are still top of mind; gender roles, friendship, what does true equality mean? There’s a strong environmental message as well that will resonate with audiences. To reinforce those ideals, this fall through Bonfire we’ll be offering tee-shirts featuring the book cover with all the proceeds going the Center for Whale Research, Friday Harbor, WA.In the end, Whaler’s Daughter is about a group of young people who learned to listen and trust each other in order to accomplish something unique that few people knew about, but that was fine with them.
- Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?
Working as a reporter on a small-town newspaper. There was no money in it and few of those papers still exist today, but it was as fun as it was frustrating. You covered the goofy, the poignant, the tragic, the pompous, the bitterness of life, and sadness of small towns. It was a great experience for a writer.
- What do you want readers to take away from the book?
As with most books for young folks, a sense of hopefulness. Along with an awareness that the decisions they make when they’re young will contribute to who they’ll be when they grow up. Life is sad, happy, and tragic, but it’s your life so live it as you see fit, not the way others want you to.
- What food and/or music do you associate with the book?
Ha! Let’s see, bushman’s stew, tommy sauce, pie floaters, skipjack, Sunny Jim flakes, damper bread, mutton stew. As for songs, The Dying Stockman, The Female Rambling Sailor, Click go the Shears, and the Blue Bells of Scotland were all in the book. The Wellerman sea shanty was hugely popular on Tik Tok last summer. I could see the Dawson crew singing that as they rowed out to work.
- What book(s) are you reading currently?
On the recently read, reading, want to read list, in no particular order: Sand Talk, Tyson Yunkaporta, Edge of the Empire, Bronwen Riley, Manhattan Beach, Jennifer Egan, The Wicked Sister, Karen Dionne, CRISPR, Yolanda Ridge, So Many Ways to Lose, Devin Gordon, Peabody Pond, Brian J. Heinz.
Learn more about Jerry on his website.