Storm Sister by Mintie Das
Published by: Bastei Entertainment
Release date: 30th June 2016
Source: Blogger copy, Buy on Amazon
Goodreads rating: 3.05
I had the amazing opportunity to ask Mintie Das the author of Storm Sisters some questions. I loved all her answers! This Q&A is about pirates, complex characters, violence against women, metaphors and freedom.
When you were writing Storm Sisters was it difficult to write your characters as one group and maintain their individual identities and personalities so strongly?
It sounds kind of arrogant but no. I think of Storm Sisters as a band with different leads. The girls are always with me wherever I am. I see and hear them so vividly that they’re distinct personalities come out clearly. “Writing” them is really about allowing myself to listen and see them. Likewise, it drives me nuts in movies, tv, music and books when I see a group of girls and there’s a pretty one, a smart one, a tough one, etc. As though girls can’t be a little bit of all of those things because in reality, people are complex and complicated.
Why is female solidarity important in books?
There’s a lot written about ‘mean girls.’ To the point where I think there’s an assumption that catfights, bullying and jealousy is the norm for how females relate to one another. In my experience, it’s been the opposite. I would not be who I am without the incredible females throughout my life. So that’s why Storm Sisters—the sisterhood—that’s very much modeled on my relationships from childhood to university and now. We do a disservice to our art and to ourselves when we fail to recognize the many different layers between females and the strength of our bonds.
Which girls story do you most relate to in the book and why?
Honestly, I relate to them all because they are all a part of me—it’s the idea of how a parent loves all her children equally but differently. It’s so important while creating Storm Sisters to make sure that all five of my girls are equally powerful. Going back to the comparison of a band with rotating lead singers. That’s why in each of the books (there are five books total in the series), a different girl takes a turn being the narrator.
In Storm Sisters the sea is a metaphor for the girls freedom, land is seen as a restricted world – Why did you create this metaphor and was it intentional? What do you hope people will learn from it?
The metaphor was absolutely intentional. Rovio’s publishing division (now called Kaiken) came up with the idea of girl pirates and gave me total freedom to develop the characters, the story and the world. I had already written a ‘girl power’ novel that they had read and I’m a huge history buff. However, up until that point, I didn’t know a lot about pirates. Obviously though, I knew they spent most of their time on the sea. But to be able to create/connect with the idea of girl pirates, I had to find a deeper reason for why my characters would choose the sea, which is so treacherous, over land. I also knew that I was going to set the story in the 18th century, a time when control of the sea is essential to a country’s power and pirates are a dominating force. Therefore, knowing what the status was for females in the 18th century, I was able to understand that my girls would choose the sea, in spite of the constant danger, because at least there, they had a chance at freedom—deciding their own course.
I hope what people pick up from the sea metaphor is that although we’ve made much progress since the 18th century, we still have a long way to go in terms of female empowerment. Many of the abuses that my girls are subject to (forced marriages, slavery, violence, etc.) still go on throughout today’s world and many females are still struggling to be free.
The girls have various strength, however their strength isn’t entirely physical, you have slowed them to be more than that – why did you do this?
I loved Charlie’s Angels as a kid but the idea of a group of perfect females just doesn’t interest me as a writer or a reader. I hope people love the kick-ass fierceness of my characters but what I really want is that they relate to the vulnerabilities and mistakes that my girls make.
You address serious issues in the book such as physical violence towards children and women – what made you write about these? And why are these issues important to highlight to a young adult audience?
When I wrote the book, I didn’t do it with the intention of writing about physical violence towards women and children but that is the reality of the world that my characters live in. And it’s also a horrible truth that we continue to deal with today. The 18th century was brutal and in many ways, things haven’t changed.
I chose the historical setting because I thought it would give me more freedom to highlight the status of females today by letting readers draw their own parallels than had I set the story in contemporary times. Books, movies, tv, music, art, etc are what I rely upon to wake me up. For me, the chance to create something that is both entertaining and hopefully a bit thought provoking for a young adult audience is an invaluable platform.
If there was one adventure you could take on the open sea, what would it be and who would you take with you?
I always feel like I’m the sixth Storm Sister, exploring the world with my girls. The real adventure is where do we go next…