More on the background of "Little Jane Silver"
by Adira Rotstein
I don't remember if I was teaching the book Treasure Island at the ESL school where I was working when I got the idea for "Little Jane." It wasn't one of those stories where I remember exactly what the spark was for its conception. I was hanging out at a lot of Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores in LA at the time. I was working in schools with kids, so I was reading plenty of children's picture books. I got the idea to do a picture book about a little girl who wants to be a pirate and sail a big ship. I did some drawings for it, but then the idea just began to grow and it grew and grew into one very long book with illustrations, then into two books with even more illustrations and now into a a series of books that are just text with no illustrations. My original concept was that it should be around 12-15 pages and I'd finish it in a month! But then people who know me, know never to trust my time estimates of things. They are always somewhat unrealistic, but then I don't write a whole lot of realism.
You might think a fictional book that takes place in a fairly inexact historical period on two completely made up islands would require little prepartion on my part. Not so! Partly because I am a terrible procrastinator and partly because I am addicted to purchasing books online and in person, I did tons of research for the upcoming "Little Jane Silver" book and for "Little Jane and the Nameless Isle." I'm going to use this blog a bit like a director's commentary on a DVD. If you think it spoils the mystery then don't read it. Personally though, I love "Making Of" documentaries and shows like"Magic Secrets Revealed." I'm a big Samuel Taylor Coleridge fan and he was seriously into annotaion, so here it is-- the first of my "writer's commentary" for "Little Jane Silver."
I think I would be completely unjust if I didn't mention how indebted I am to certain books. "Treasure Island" most of all and the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies which rekindled my interest in the subject matter.
If you really want to understand what real piracy was like in the "Golden Age of Sail" you should read "Under the Black Flag," by Cordingly, (a book I mentioned in my previous blog). Cordingly is one of the foremost authorties on piracy and now works for the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. I read this book in the fairly early stages of writing "Little Jane" when I was living in Los Angeles. Back then I had no idea I'd actually end up living only a few blocks away from the museum, the burned remains of the Cutty Sark tea clipper and the former home of the British Royal Naval College in Greenwich, England five years later, but that's the funny way my travels go.
Some other early research involved going ot the Maritime Museum in San Diego, California and the Tall Ships festival in San Pedro, California. Actually seeing the kind of ships I was writing about, and watching modern sailors learn the age old sailing tradition on these ships were truly helpful experiences. The cool thing about the San Diego museum is that it isn't a building, but actually consists of a group of historic ships assembled along the pier. They have the USS Midway helicopter carier from the famous WWII battle of the Midway and the HMS Surprise, the ship built for the film version of "Master and Commander."