The pirate who’s afraid of everything returns for another journey across the seven seas. In Shivers! The Pirate Who’s Back in Bunny Slippers, cowardly Shivers reunites with his best friend Margo and his fishmate Albee. This time, Shivers sets out to find the valuable Treasure Torch and to get back his beloved ship, the Land Lady.
I chatted with co-authors Annabeth Bondor-Stone and Connor White about their new book.
TIME FOR KIDS:
What made you both decide to become authors?
We fell into being authors through writing the first Shivers book. A few years ago, we got an email from my cousin, Harrison. He was 9 years old at the time and he said, “I don’t have enough books to read. Can you write me one about a pirate named Shivers who’s afraid of everything?” We just thought that was such an amazing idea, so we started writing the book for him as a present. And we got so into it that we kept writing and writing, and then we started to think, “Hey, maybe this is what we should be doing with our lives because we had so much fun.”
Annabeth, I think, always wanted to be a writer of some sort. But I didn’t. I wanted to be an actor, a performer, and a comedian. So, I didn’t realize that I was a writer until we almost finished the first book.
Did you base your main characters on real people in the present, such as Annabeth’s cousin, or anyone in history?
That’s a great question. I think the main character, Shivers, just came out of that idea we got from her cousin. We wrote a lot of him just from out of our imagination and not from real life. He’s such a bizarre character, as are some of the other more eccentric, crazy characters in the book. Again, right out of our imagination.
But then there are other characters that are based on people in real life. For instance, Margo is very similar to Annabeth and the way she was when she was 11 years old. They look very similar too.
I think, as a kid, I was generally more like Margo because I really like to explore. I was always running around and climbing really tall trees. I also did have a lot of fears. I grew up in New York City, like you, and my biggest fear was pigeons. And it took me, I think, my whole life to get over that and I’m still not totally over my fear of pigeons.
What makes Shivers such a unique pirate?
He has to try harder than other pirates just to do the normal things that are important for pirates. He was just born so afraid of everything that even making his morning breakfast is a crazy challenge for him. Everything is an adventure. Even if he just takes himself 10 feet off the beach, he’s going to encounter things that fill him with terror.
Yeah, and I think that to make a really good comical character, you need to have the element of surprise. The surprising thing about Shivers is that he’s just so bad at being a pirate. Kids have an idea of what a pirate should be, all the things that pirates should be. You know, swashbuckling, violent, merciless, and wanting treasure. We wanted to make a character that would be really bad at all of those things in a funny way.
When is the next Shivers books coming out?
The next one is coming out next February, and the fourth one will be out the February after that, in 2018.
We're also working on some new ideas for other series, all for kids.
Do you have any advice for kids who want to pursue writing?
Our number one piece of advice is to read a lot. It just makes you a good writer without you even knowing it. If you’re reading books that inspire you and make you laugh, you’re going to draw a lot of lessons from those for your own writing.
When you’re writing, you have two sides of your brain. One is the creative side, trying to get all the ideas onto the paper. The other is the editing side, which is sometimes trying to get rid of some ideas. And you can’t have both brains on at the same time. So when you’re writing, you can just be creative. It’s okay if you come up with a bad idea or a strange idea or a weird idea. If you have an idea that you think is too weird, write it down because the weirdest ideas can lead to the most hilarious and fun stories. And then later when you've written it all, you can turn your “editing brain” on and make it sharper, funnier, and better.