Today is my stop on the ‘Girl. Boy. Sea’ blog tour. In addition to telling you all about this shipwreck adventure, I also have an exclusive piece from the author himself about the sea-faring adventures that inspired him whilst growing up.
This is a story of storm, shipwreck, survival and the formation of an unlikely friendship between British boy, Bill, and Berber girl, Aya. One has been left clinging to a tiny rowing boat following the sinking of his yacht off the coast of Morocco, whilst the other has to be rescued from the barrel she’s clasping after the capsizing of her migrant ship during the same storm.
After many star-scattered nights and burning hot days drifting at sea, the pair are starving and dehydrated. To distract them, Aya tells Bill The Arabian Nights stories told by Shahrazad over 1001 nights in a bid to save her life. They’ve almost given up all hope of rescue when the pair wash up on a desert island, inhabited by a stranger who is not as he seems….
Wow! What an opening. My breath was knocked out of me by a ferocious storm which swept across the wide ocean, destroying all in its path. An absolutely gripping read, with the drama of the storm cleverly balanced with moments of utter stillness. You can see flashes of some of Chris’s literary inspirations in his writing – the deadly storms, the iron will needed to survive. I’m lucky enough to have a guest post from Chris about those very influences to share with you now.
Stories of the Sea – a guest post by author, Chris Vick.
May came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea
e e cummings
I was young and holidaying in Cornwall. It was so wet there was nothing to do but stare out at the stormy ocean through a rain–streaked window. From the dusty sheIves I plucked an ancient paperback, Clare Francis’s Come Hell or High Water, the story of her solo sail across the Atlantic.
I read on… and on, feeling the cold wind and fierce spray, gasping, sea-sick and with my heart in my mouth, as page after page she faced 60ft waves and ferocious storms.
I’ve been hooked on tales of ocean adventure ever since. From Robinson Crusoe to Life of Pi, via Moby Dick and Lord of the Flies, I’m transported by stories of the radiant blue. Now, if I’m not in the water or on it, reading or writing about it, there’s a part of me that feels not quite complete.
The sea, you won’t be surprised to hear, is a huge part of Girl. Boy. Sea. It is not just where the adventure takes place, it is an important character in its own right.
As I work in ocean conservation (www.whales.org) and I’m a member of @authors4oceans, I wanted to explore the ethical issues around the sea. A strong theme of the book is why the ocean matters and what we are in danger of losing.
The sea is stranger than any planet we can imagine, full of beings too alien to be real. A wilderness that is unlike the land, where we’ve lost nature, have tamed it. With too many factories and roads, and too few trees,there’s no deep forest to hide our darkest dreams or monsters to feed new fairy stories.
But the sea does have that wildness still. It can’t be tamed. You can’t plough it, fence it or build on it.
Or is that just a fantasy? Because we can still drill the seabed, fill the water with plastic, ravage fishstocks, upset the chemical balance of the 7/10 of the surface that gives us 50% of our breath and regulates atmospheric carbon.
I wanted Girl. Boy. Sea to be set in a pristine ocean world. It is about what we are losing but still have time to save.
Bill and Aya’s survival depends on the sea, but like the dark forest of a fairy tale, it’s a thing of terror as much as beauty; that gives life and snatches it away in an instant. On their odyssey they encounter whales, turtles, and a gull who becomes their friend. But they are threatened by storms, and a dark shadow, lurking in the deep, that follows, getting closer day by day.
The sea puts Bill and Aya – who are as unlike each other as two characters ever were – through trials of fear and starvation. To survive, they have to work together, and in so doing, discover who they really are and what they have in common. It’s an experience that binds them, showing their power and vulnerability.
Like e e cummings’ poem, Girl. Boy. Sea. is about what we lose and what we find in the sea.
Never underestimate the power of the sea. Protect it, enjoy it, respect it. And never underestimate the pull of a really good book!
*Many thanks to Zephyr for sending me a proof copy to enjoy and for including me in this blog tour*