I’m absolutely thrilled to have been invited to join the blog tour for this gripping sea adventure and better still, get the opportunity to ask author Jonne Kramer some questions about some of her inspiration behind the book.
Featuring stunning illustrations by acclaimed illustrator Karl James Mountford and translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson, Carnegie-Medal 2020 short-listed translator, The Riddle of the Sea was a huge hit in The Netherlands and it’s easy to see why.
When Ravian’s father doesn’t return home from sea for his son’s birthday, Ravian is certain he must be in danger. Hearing tales of a cursed ship that captures fishermen, Ravian goes in search of his father accompanied by his only friend Marvin the seagull. Before long, the pair find themselves trapped on the ship with a kindly boy and a bad-tempered pirate for company. The ensuing voyage is beset with battles with giant squid and fierce storms, and Ravian despairs of ever finding his father.
Ask the Author
I read in your guest post earlier in the blog tour that like protagonist Ravian, you are a ‘sailor’s child with a severe and inexplicable fear of boats.’ What made you choose to base most of your book at sea?
The sea is so intriguing to me because it is so enormous and so inaccessible. You can never really know what’s hiding in the depths. That’s what makes the sea so scary, but it also makes it very mysterious and that gives the writer a lot of options. Nothing feeds my imagination as much as a mysterious place where anything is possible, I only have to think of it and write it down.
Was there a particular location that inspired The Harbour of Rotten Herring? Do you have a favourite seaside place?
No, I didn’t base the harbour on any existing place, but the surrounding dunes where Ravian lives were based on Texel. This is a small Dutch island where I used to go very often with my family when I was little, and I especially loved walking through the dunes and the forest next to them.
Ravian finds himself trapped aboard a cursed ship. Are you superstitious? Where’s the spookiest place you’ve ever been?
Haha, no I’m not superstitious. I just like to believe that nature is more powerful than mankind. In the book, the ship is cursed by the sea as punishment. Even the most evil pirate fears the sea and has to obey her. We would all be better off if we’d obey nature a bit more, I think.
The spookiest place I’ve ever been, was a castle in northern France. During the day it was lovely and romantic, and I could picture myself a princess. But at night everything got spooky and very dark, and it seemed like the wooden floors were constantly creaking, and the curtains were dancing while the windows were closed, because of some cracks in the windowsill.
Marvin the seagull is such a great character and he’s an amazing companion & friend to Ravian. Did you have an animal companion as a child?
Yes, I love animal companions in stories. Especially adventurous stories where the main characters have to do scary things, it’s nice to give them a great friend who supports them unconditionally.
My own animal companion was our cat Storm. He’s still alive but a very old and grumpy cat now. He would always chase me and my brother and come along when we were playing outside.
Which was your favourite scene in the book to write?
I loved all scenes where Ravian and Kars talk and get to know each other better. Those were easier for me to write than the more action-filled scenes. Their conversations and cute flirtatious jokes made me feel so warm and I felt they were so needed in between the scary adventure, the sea monsters and crazy pirates.
Are there any stories or authors from your childhood that have influenced you as a writer?
Of course! I loved Roald Dahl’s stories because they’re set in our normal life, but he adds something that’s impossible or magic, but in such a way that makes it seem like it actually could be possible, but we just haven’t noticed it. His stories have always made me try to notice unusual things in what’s around me.
And my absolute favourite book was Wise child and its prequel Juniper by Monica Furlong. When I was young, I always wished I could be the same as the main character and dreamed to live inside the story. I hope my books can have the same effect on readers one day.
And finally, are you writing at the moment? Can you give us a little hint?
Yes, I am! I’m writing a short story collection about a child bandit who lives in a forest with his gang of robbers: a squirrel, a raccoon, and a spider. They go on little adventures and carry out funny robberies.
Please do check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content.
The Riddle of the Sea is available to purchase now.