SF: I'm Sunny Frazier and I live and write in Lemoore, California. This small town is located in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the richest agricultural regions in the world. I love this area, despite the outrageous heat in the summers and dense Tule fog in the winters.
I want to introduce you to this part of the country through my mysteries. Twelve of my award-winning stories are found in VALLEY FEVER: WHERE MURDER IS CONTAGIOUS. My novel, FOOLS RUSH IN, introduces astrologer Christy Bristol. She works in the Sheriff's Department, just as I did for 17 years.
Okay, thanks! Now what about this pirates and spices book you were telling me about?
SF: I'm just finishing the rewrites and getting it entered into the computer.
I wrote it 30 years ago. There was no Internet or PC's--I typed it on a typewriter. An editor at Simon & Schuster was excited about it, but then I was told children didn't want to read about pirates. Space was the big thing.
I researched by studying the translated Portuguese logs of Vasco de Gama and Bartholomu Diaz. I researched the origins of foods I thought children would be interested in. I pitch it as Pirates of the Caribbean meets the Food Channel.
What age group were you aiming for?
SF: The age group is 8 to 10. Because I insert real characters (Vasco de Gama is a bad guy), I'd like children to read it as fiction and then recognize it as fact when they study the history of exploration in the 6th grade.
Did the pirates MAKE the first voyage to India for spices, or is it a book about sea adventures in general?
SF: The first book is the first voyage around Africa to India for spices. Captain John Connoisseur is captured by a king with an appetite. The captain talks his way out of the dungeon by promising to sail to India and bring back spices. He is joined by a lively crew, a stowaway princess, an orphan and his cat, and an obnoxious knight to keep him out of trouble.
Sounds like a hoot! Did any surprises come up in your researching?
SF: The three most surprising things for me were the fact that at the time, the voyage around Africa could be compared to going to the moon. Secondly, Vasco de Gama got off lightly in the history books. He was really pretty bad. And third, pajamas came from India. That's another thing John brings back.
Anything else you can tell us without giving too much away? What do you think will "sell" this book to a publisher/reader?
SF: It's funny and there are lots of small "lessons" for children. They will also learn that ginger is a good remedy for seasickness and skillygolee was the mainstay of sailors (hard biscuits soaked in broth and perhaps some meat). Lots of history, information and food facts mixed with fiction and a fun pirate story.
"Fun pirate story" does it for me! Thanks, Sunny, and let us know when the book is out!