I’m very excited to have children’s author and illustrator, Rita Monette on the blog. Rita is talking about her new book, THE CURSE AT PIRATE’S COVE. (Musa Publishing). This is the second book in a series of swamp legends featuring Nikki Landry, a young girl living in the bayous of Louisiana in the 1950’s. THE CURSE OF PIRATE’S COVE is the sequel to THE LEGEND OF GHOST DOG ISLAND. You can read more about THE LEGEND OF GHOST DOG ISLAND on a blog interview on this blog here. Rita also keeps a great blog, Tales of the Bayou,
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your middle grade book: THE CURSE AT PIRATE’S COVE?
In this book, Nikki has reached a milestone. Her papa had told her she could ride her bike to school when she turned eleven. But all is not well. No sooner has she left home, when her rusted old bike falls apart. Now it’s back to riding the smelly old school bus until Papa can afford another one…unless she can figure out something on her own.
Nikki’s friend, Spikes, tells her about an old pirate ship resting in a cove at a swamp island, and a legend that there’s buried treasure nearby. With every legend there is a dire warning, but legends don’t scare Nikki. After she blows out her birthday candles, she makes a wish. But did that wish trigger a curse?
2. THE CURSE AT PIRATE’S COVE is a sequel to your first book, THE LEGEND OF GHOST DOG ISLAND, what were some of the challenges of writing a sequel?
The challenges I found in writing a sequel using the same group of characters is that I had to re-introduce them, and give a little background information, without doing a page long info dump. During my edits, I found I had to go back and clarify some characters, landmarks, as well as incidents, that had happened in the first book. Tip: Let someone read your draft that hasn’t read the first or previous books. And if they start asking questions, you’ve probably left something out. Great tip, Thanks Rita!
3. Can you tell us a little bit about how you created the main character, Nikki Landry? Any tips or tricks for creating a character that has many adventures?
Nikki was easy. She was me at that age. The difference is that I had to make her more daring than I was in order to get her involved in the adventures and solve the mysteries. Nikki is sassy and gets into trouble more than once. She is tenacious when it comes to getting to the bottom of things, and learning the truth behind the legends. Although Nikki is tough, she has a soft side when it comes to her dog Snooper, her close friends, and her family.
I think the traits a character needs for adventure stories needs is to be likeable and strong willed. Very well said!
4. What is your favorite scene in THE CURSE AT PIRATE’S COVE? Why? Please post a short excerpt of the scene.
I have many favorite scenes, but the one that shows Nikki and Spikes’ relationship, and sets the tone for the book, is the one where she is talking with her friend in the old oak tree on the school grounds where they usually eat their lunch. (Warning: Nikki’s English leaves a lot to be desired.)
“I ain’t believing there’s no pirate ship out in those swamps.” I lifted my chin.
“Just hear me out, Tomboy.” He sounded impatient. “There’s a legend that goes along with it, see.” He leaned toward me and lowered his voice. “There might even be a curse.”
“A legend?” He had my attention. I prided myself in being a super legend buster ever since I solved the one about Ghost Dog Island last year. I even got my picture in the newspaper. “And what about that curse? Well? Come on, tell me about it.”
“I’m trying to.” He waved his hands in the air.
We propped ourselves against a couple of large limbs and got out our lunch bags.
“Uncle Luke says he first heard about it back when he was a kid. He says a friend of his grandfather, by the name of Beco, was out trapping on Fog Island with his buddy Clamare. They came across this here hole in the ground with a half-buried wooden chest, see. It had a big old lock on it. A couple of old coins sat there in the dirt, so Clamare picked them up and slipped them in his pocket. Beco decided he’d go back for some tools and shovels to dig the rest of it out, and told Clamare to stay there and watch the chest. On his way out to the edge of the island, he saw this ragged old ship. Thinking it was kind of odd-looking for being in the swamps and all, he got a little closer. It had a broken mast and raggedy sails.” He poked me with his elbow. “When was the last time you ever saw a fishing boat with sails?”
I shook my head. “Never.” I unwrapped a peanut butter and jam sandwich and took a bite. “What’d he do?”
“Well, he started to board it, see?” Spikes dug into his own lunch bag. “But then he heard some talking coming out of the boat. He stopped right then and there, ’cause he didn’t know who might be on that old wreck out in the middle of nowhere, and there weren’t no other boats around. This one had a big old hole in the hull, so it couldn’t have sailed there on its own. At least any time in recent history.”
“Then, what?” I licked some of the jam off my fingers.
“Then, someone stuck his head up over the bow, see. He had on one of them three pointed hats that pirates always wore. Old Beco yelled a big hello, and the man took out a pistol and shot over his head. Well, Beco took off right then and there. That night, he went down to T-Noon’s bar and got drunk, and told some other fellows about it. The next day, they all went back out to the island with shovels and brought guns just in case that crazy guy in the boat was still there.”
“Was he?” I asked.
“Nope. The ship was gone, and so was Clamare.”
“What about the treasure?”
“They never found it. Not even the hole it was in.”
Thank you for stopping by, Rita! Readers who want to learn more about your books can find you at:
Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. After retiring from her job as an administrative assistant, Rita began doing what she always wanted to do…write, draw, and paint. Five long years later, Musa Publishing offered her a contract for her debut middle grade novel, The Legend of Ghost Dog Island, and now the sequel, The Curse at Pirate’s Cove, which also include her artwork. Her stories are set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state. Rita now lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee.