Wanted: Dead or Alive! (Or smashed into little bits and delivered in boxes.) Causing chaos wherever they sail, the robotic Steampunk Pirates are roaming the high seas, hunting for gold! But the evil Iron Duke has other ideas...He's determined to capture the pirates in return for a handsome reward from the King. Can the mechanical marauders stay one wave ahead of their enemy? This hilarious new series from Gareth P. Jones, author of Ninja Meerkats, is sure to delight young readers with its madcap humour and larger-than-life robot pirate crew. Perfect for fans of Jonny Duddle's The Ghostly Galleon and the Space Pirates books, looking for more swashbuckling action!
The Leaky Battery Sets Sail is now published in the UK by Stripes and is a great book for younger readers! I really enjoyed it and am already looking forward to the sequel. As part of this blog tour I have a guest post from Gareth P. Jones himself, where he talks all about stories and his steampunk pirates. I hope you enjoy reading it, and thanks to Gareth for writing it!
A STORY ABOUT A STORY ABOUT THE STORY
by Gareth P. Jones
The only hard thing about writing stories is deciding which bits to keep in, which to leave out and what order to put things in. After that it’s a doddle.
I’ve told the story of how I came up with the idea for The Steampunk Pirates quite a few times now and I plan to tell it quite a few more. I like it because it shows how ideas can come out of playing. It’s a story about a story and it goes like this.
A couple of years ago, I was sitting on a pirate ship with my son Herbie. It wasn’t a real pirate ship. It was a pretend pirate ship in a playground near a hospital. We were playing pirates. We looted. We raided. We brandished our cutlasses. In spite of this, we had failed to find the buried treasure and it was a hot summer’s day. Like the pirates of old, we went to the shop and had an ice cream to cool down, but even after that we were still lacking in energy.
Herbie and I sat, dangling our legs into the imaginary water, fishing for imaginary fish but only catching imaginary boots and invisible seaweed. I said to Herbie, “Herbie, do you know what we need?”
“Another Icecream ?” he said.
“No,” I replied. “We need someone to give us direction. Someone to give us orders. Someone to tell us what to do and when to do it. We need someone ruthless and brave. Someone who will lead our scurvy ship to golden glory and find that buried treasure. We need a Pirate Captain.”
“Or an icecream,” said Herbie.
“I haven’t got any more money and I think they’ve run out of ice creams anyway,” I lied. “Oh,” he said, disappointed. “I wanted an icecream.”
“Look, let’s ask him.” I said, noticing a child step into the playground. “Excuse me… Are you the pirate captain?”
From his reaction I could tell he was not.
Nor was the girl who came along after him.
Fortunately the third child I asked, drew his imagery cutlass and cried, “Yes! I’m the pirate captain. Hoist the main sail, swab the decks, sharpen your swords and prepare to attack that ship, you mutinous mob you.”
Herbie and I jumped to it. We did as we were ordered and our Pirate Captain took us on adventures around the world. He made me walk the plank three times, keel-hauled us twice and finally led us to that buried treasure.
But occasionally during this game, this boy would suddenly stop what he was doing and say: I AM A ROBOT… I AM A ROBOT… The buccaneer’s bounce in his step would be replaced by the distinctive awkward shuffling of a robot. The first time it happened I thought I had imagined it but it happened again.
“Herbie,” I whispered. “I think our captain is a robot.”
“A robot pirate?” said Herbie.
“Yes,” I replied. “Hold on… Robot pirates. That’s it. That’s what I’ll write about next. Robot Pirates! Brilliant.”
“Then can we have an ice-cream?” said Herbie, who is nothing if not persistent.
As I said at the beginning, I have told that story a few times and, as with all stories, it has developed and changed. The bare bones of it are correct as far as I remember but I have elaborated, added dialogue and altered bits. I have done this to make it a better story.
I also had to do this with my idea. I decided that my robots would be steam-powered-automatons from the early 19th century. All except one who was clockwork. I worked out that they were on the run, having been made as servants for the king (the word robot is from the Czech word for slave). I realised that if they were made of iron they would be going rusty so would want to replace their parts with a non-rustable metal such as gold.
I developed the idea with my excellent editor, Ruth, at Stripes. She worked with the cover designer, Jesse and the artist at Artful Doodlers on what the crew of The Leaky Battery would look like.
Last week, I finished writing the third in the series. I wanted to do something a bit different with these books. I wanted them to feel epic and sprawling, to include lots of humour but also to have a real heart. I also wanted a developing story arc and a theme about the nature of freedom. And obviously there needed to be lots of fighting with cutlasses, swinging from ropes and people saying “Argh” and “Ye Scurvy Seadogs!”
So, having told you the story about the story and a bit about the story itself, I should also mention that with stories, you have to miss bits out. For example, I haven’t mentioned that another book came out of that day in the park called 'Are You the Pirate Captain?'. Garry Parsons has drawn the pictures and it comes out in August.
Nor did I explain that Herbie and I were only waiting in that park because my wife was in hospital, as we were going though IVF at the time. Herbie was born with the help of IVF and we were trying it again. Upsettingly, it didn’t work that time but it did the next time. On November 7th 2014 our daughter, Autumn was born. I hope that one day soon I’ll be in a park with both my children dreaming up other story ideas so I can tell another story about a story about a story.
The Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates: The Leaky Battery Sets Sail is published by Stripes on February 2nd 2015. The second book in the series, Attack of the Giant Sea Spiders comes out in May.
Are You The Pirate Captain? (Andersen Press) is published in August 2015.
Watch the trailer here.
Gareth’s website: garethwrites.co.uk