Anyway, Mintie was very kind to write a post about the series so, before I hand it over to her, I must thank Mintie for taking time out to write this post and for Emma & Hayley for organising the post for me.
Now, over to you, Mintie!
I’m not sure which girl came to me first—Charlie, Sadie, Liu, Raquel or Ingela. It just seems that ever since 2013, when I began writing my YA series Storm Sisters, about five girl pirates sailing the high seas in the 1780s, we’ve all been on this wild adventure together.
Storm Sisters: The Sinking World is the first book in the pentalogy and will be published in about twenty countries this year. I’ve received a lot of early praise for the fact that each of the girls are so different. While I’d like to credit this to my writing skills, the truth is that I see and hear them all as separate, distinct voices. I use the comparison of a band with rotating leading singers—each girl is uniquely powerful. That’s why each Storm Sister takes a turn narrating a different book in the series.
At seventeen, Charlie is the oldest and self-appointed captain of the crew. She’s fiercely protective of the girls and ready to cut any enemy who dares to cross them but her tempestuousness threatens to sink them all. Sixteen-year-old Sadie is book smart but she needs to get her out of her head if she wants to survive the seas. After stealing his ship, fourteen-year-old Liu is running from a vengeful father intent on marrying her off. Liu’s “twin,” Raquel, hides her treacherous obsession with revenge behind a romantic, sweet façade. Finally, eleven-year-old hellraiser Ingela is a Viking in training who buries her emotions with daredevil stunts that will surely end up with someone dead.
I hope that my Storm Sisters are a mix of good and bad, soft and hard, capable and incapable. In my real-life experience, I’m not part of nor do I know groups of girls where there’s a funny one, a smart one, a pretty one, a feisty one, etc. We’re all of those things and so much more. Limiting females to a stereotype might help to sell a manufactured idea of girl power but it actually shortchanges female and male audiences when we fail to acknowledge all of our fantastically complex layers. Girl power is real but it exists in a world where females are so much more than flat, one-dimensional carbon cut-outs.
I wanted my Storm Sisters world to reflect where I come from and more importantly, where I want to spend my time. My five female heroines, ages eleven to seventeen, aren’t related. Their sisterhood comes from the fact that they escaped the Day of Destruction, a day that killed their entire families and annihilated Storm, the secret guardians of the sea. Now Charlie, Sadie, Liu, Raquel and Ingela are the only Storm left, forced to survive on their own while trying to find the people who murdered their parents.
The Storm Sisters form their unbreakable bonds amidst this nonstop adventure that is as thrilling as it is terrifying. Much of this comes from my own life. My mother died when I was two-years-old and I spent my childhood travelling the world with my father. It was as exciting as it sounds but also, there was an incredible amount of insecurity that came from the unknown. But what was always a constant source of strength and love for me were the incredible female friendships I made throughout the world, many of whom are still my ‘soul sisters’ all these decades later.
Charlie, Sadie, Liu, Raquel and Ingela are badass. But what makes them real heroines to me is that they are fierce and vulnerable. My girls are as strong when they wield their swords, practice their panchi kicks or navigate a hurricane as they are when they make mistakes, expose their weaknesses and try to survive the growing pains of life. And just like in my own life, when one of the Storm Sisters doesn’t have the strength to face it alone, she can rely on the others to get through it. Individually each girl is strong while together they are powerful.
Maybe it’s because of the power of the Storm Sisters’ collective voice that I don’t remember which girl came first. In fact, the first words I wrote in the story formed a creed that I heard them saying together to tell the world who they were and why they mattered. It begins every Storm Sisters book and I’d like to end this by sharing it:
On the sea, we are free. Free to be ourselves, free to go where we choose, free to speak our minds. We are not judged lesser either by our sex or our skin. Here we are equal.
And so it is on the sea that we choose to live. Live like our ancestors did.
The history books will erase us. Convince you that girls are not smart, are not brave, and are not powerful. We share our story to show you we are. Most importantly, we share our story to show you that you are, too.