Sam Vives is a pretty typical kid. He goes to school. He does his homework. He even has to deal with a bully. But what happens to Sam as he’s walking home with his mom and sister is anything but typical. One moment he’s caught in the rain, the next he’s standing on the deck of a pirate galley about to take part in a sea battle with a French ship in the middle of the ocean. Same writes it all off as a dream at first, but when he doesn’t wake up and finds himself sitting in a meeting with the most infamous pirate of all time, Blackbeard, it might not be as much of a dream as he originally thought. Now he’ll have to use all of the cunning he possesses to get back to his life as a normal teenage kid.
The Pirate’s Challenge was an interesting concept. A kid is somehow transported through space and time to become a pirate captain in a completely different century. It was a fun quick read that was a perfect opening the series it introduces, but I had a couple issues that kept me from fully enjoying this book. First off, there were some grammar/punctuation issues. Not a lot, but they were there. More importantly though, was the length. I know this is a YA book so length is a bit variable for the audience, but I still felt like the action was just starting to pick up and the characters just starting to develop and it was over. Despite those couple things, this was a fun read and the ending definitely left me wanting more.
If you like pirates and YA stories, The Pirate’s Challenge won’t steer you wrong. I’m definitely excited to see what’s in store for Sam next.
Now let’s meet the author!
Simon Brading tried his hand at many things before it occurred to him that he might have a few stories to tell. He writes screenplays for his production company and every so often does some acting.
A Londoner most of his life he recently settled in Barcelona where he now has a second red and blue team to support as well as the Eagles.
Visit his website here!
Visit his website here!
Start us off with a Twitter synopsis of the book (140 characters or less):
Sam Vives is a normal boy who lives with his family in Barcelona. Then one rainy day he suddenly finds himself fighting for his life aboard a pirate ship in the early 18th century.
Where did you get the idea for The Pirate’s Challenge?
The book and the series itself grew out of an idea that I had many years ago for a number of very short stories for my nephew based extremely loosely on a TV show from my childhood called “Mr Benn”. It has evolved since then and the first thousand-word tale has expanded and become “The Pirate’s Challenge”.
The world is lacking in good pirate books, especially in the YA genre. Why did you want to do something outside of the norm?
As far as I’m concerned, where imagination is involved there shouldn’t have to be such a thing as a “norm” but unfortunately you do tend to see some things more often than others. The “Displacers” series is a chance for me to give a boy a few adventures, adventures that we have all maybe dreamed about having ourselves at one time or another: “Boy’s Own” stories for a modern audience. A pirate adventure was just a nice first step, a good, fun way to introduce some of the characters and concepts of the series without going too deep.
Blackbeard is one of the most infamous pirates of all time, but how much of your book is historical fiction as opposed to historical fact?
I try to keep my historical fiction as close to fact as possible. The characters in the past in all of the books are based on real people; the situations they find themselves in are not, being affected by a time-traveller and by my imagination.
In the case of Pirate’s, not only is Blackbeard based on a real pirate but Caesar and Bonny are too, although some liberties had to be taken with them to serve the novel.
Who is your favorite fictional pirate?
Right now if someone mentions “pirate” your mind automatically goes to the fantastic job that Johnny Depp did, but in my youthful innocence I rather liked Captain Pugwash when I was very young and he is very hard to replace
Who was your favorite side character to write?
In this book it has to be Smithy, he was one of the few characters in the book that wasn’t based on someone who actually existed or that would have a continuation in the series and that meant that I could give him a personality of his own, have him interact and play with Sam in a way that the others couldn’t really. He is Sam’s guide and protector as well as role model when he isn’t playing the sidekick.
If you could be transported to any era in human history, where/when would you go?
The trouble is that most eras in human history have been romanticised so much that how we perceive they were (especially in films) doesn’t bear any relation to how it actually was. So while the romance of being a knight in shining armour, one of Sam’s main fantasies, may be attractive, I like my comforts a bit too much to be traipsing around in the dirt without any electricity or home conveniences (read: decent toilets). With that in mind I would probably have to say I’d like to go to Victorian England or America for the founding of the United States; they are historically very interesting with many people to meet and talk to but the risk of premature death or disease is relatively low!
What can we expect next from Simon Brading?
I will be publishing my next book, “The Whitechapel Plot”, the third in the Displacers series in a month or so and I plan to continue writing about Sam’s adventures for some time to come, but I’d also like to write down some of the other little ideas I have running around in my head, we’ll have to see if I can fit them in somehow.