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Author Interview: Stephen Wedlock and Steve Dean

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Trix Lee-Rainwater is talking with Stephen Wedlock and Steve Dean, authors of Scoundrels: The League of Maritime Adventurers, Book Three.

FQ: Steve Wedlock, your extensive sailing experience across oceans and seas must have heavily influenced the maritime adventures in this book series. Can you share some real-life inspirations that found their way into the stories?

WEDLOCK: To start - I actually did grow up on the Maine Coast, living many of these adventures! Can’t give away many yet- hope to be basis for other stories.

FQ: The maritime trivia on chapter dividers is such a cool addition! Whose idea was it to include these educational nuggets, and what kind of research went into curating them?

DEAN: Agreed! They’re educational and atmospheric as well as fun. Those were all Captain Wedlock’s idea.

WEDLOCK: I had always thought it would make a nice way to start a new chapter- some little factoid relative in a round-a-bout to the book.

FQ: The teens face eco-crimes and confront environmental themes. Is raising awareness about ocean conservation one of your key motivations?

DEAN: Absolutely. I’ve been an advocate of conservation in all its forms for many years. We share this planet, not just with other humans but all forms of life, and we need to remember that. Of all the natural environments, I think the oceans get the least attention.

Author Steve Wedlock

WEDLOCK: When I first went to sea, I was very surprised how little we knew about the oceans - my first real voyage was on board a square-rigged ship, chasing Humpback whales to photograph their tail flukes, that act like fingerprints - from Silver Bank, north of Dominican Republic up into the Arctic...

FQ: Can you discuss the thought process behind crafting the five protagonists? What made you choose these 5 specific individuals to lead the League of Maritime Adventurers series?

DEAN: We chose the number of characters first. An odd number of people form a more dynamic group, in my opinion. Three wouldn’t give us enough variety and seven wouldn’t fit in the boat, so we went with five. Any group of people needs a reason to spend time together, so we introduced Conner and Ryan, whose friendship forms the core of the group. Bringing in Dawn, who is Ryan’s sister, felt natural and true to life. Jenna is also a school friend and shares their interests. She is the oldest in the group and brings a certain maturity. For the fifth person we wanted someone who had a different perspective on life, someone from a markedly different background. So we chose Terry, who is a member of the Penobscot Nation, who have their headquarters in Maine, which is where the action takes place. The whole group is bound together by their love of pizza, video games, and, of course, the sea.

Technically, there is also a sixth character, their boat the ’eggy Su.’ Originally called the ‘Peggy Sue’ this small boat becomes an essential part of their adventures.

WEDLOCK: The kids were modelled on the real thing! There were no African Americans, there were Native Americans...

FQ: Steve Dean, you bring experience writing sci-fi/fantasy, while Steve Wedlock has a maritime background. How did you blend those different genres and perspectives into a cohesive adventure story? What was the co-writing experience like, and how did you sync your creative visions?

DEAN: Any story, no matter the genre, needs to have the same elements: believable characters, a solid plot, pacing, realistic dialogue, etc. I think what helped the most was that to many people the oceans are still places of mystery, fantastical and even magical, which played right into my fantasy background. I also write material for role-playing games, so writing adventures is something I’ve already done. The world-building is different, but the structure is very similar.

The co-writing experience has been great. Steve knew exactly what he wanted to write, the narrative themes he wanted to cover, the setting and the flavour of it all. He’s very passionate about the sea and is keen to share that with others, including me. I was inspired by that passion and the ideas began to flow. The creative side matched up with the practical side very well. After that, it was all plain sailing, if you’ll forgive a maritime pun!

WEDLOCK: I think we were both surprised how easy it was to work together, given our very different backgrounds - biggest agreement was based on using fact based - not putting in one of each ethnicity, etc. to satisfy current societal norms!

FQ: The book touches on themes of youth activism and standing up against corporate greed/environmental damage. What messages did you hope to impart to young readers through the League's crusade?

DEAN: I think for me, the most important message to youngsters, and it might sound clichéd but it’s still true, is that change starts with yourself. If you want something to change you have to get involved, not leave it to others. It doesn’t have to be anything major. Picking up litter on the beach, getting your family to recycle properly, getting your school involved, it all helps.

WEDLOCK: Hope today’s teens will look up from their screens and see a world of adventures to be had! And a world worth saving...

FQ: The mystery around the stolen kelp farm drives the central plot. Were you inspired by any particular real life situation when conceptualizing this storyline?

DEAN: I’m interested in science as well as science fiction. The kernel of the idea came from an article I was reading about aquaculture. Like the characters in the book, I was sceptical about kelp farming when I first read about it. It’s not a perfect solution, but where you have a seabed scoured by overfishing, a kelp farm is far more preferable to a lifeless ocean floor. We expanded on this idea and came up with the main storyline.

WEDLOCK: I had looked into starting a mussel/acquaculture business back in the 60’s- problem was that Maine coastal / tidal was commonly owned and anyone could have come and harvested! Changed soon after that.

FQ: The series is ongoing - can you give us a sneak peek at what adventures or mysteries might be in store for the League of Maritime Adventurers next?

WEDLOCK: Could be anything from more coastal issues to treasure hunting in one of their “recovered” vessels and the development of the marine “school.”

FQ: Stephen, the artwork on your website is lovely. Can you share a bit about how you got started in photography and the inspiration behind your photographs?

WEDLOCK: Thank you for the compliment! Been photographing since college- even had a few shows on the west Coast- like the juxtoposition of man and nature- especially when man was smart enough to take advantage of nature.

FQ: I listened to some of the recordings on your website and they were fascinating. Can you explain to your readers where these sea stories came from and how they were transcribed into recordings?

WEDLOCK: Stories from all over: writer-friends, historical, old magazines...

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