Simply 7 interview with Diana Murray #3–“Ned the Knitting Pirate”

I’m excited to talk with Diana Murray once again.  Her THIRD picture book is coming out TOMORROW and it’s absolutely a cutie!  “Ned the Knitting Pirate” is a fun take on being yourself (and it has a mermaid!).  Is it any surprise that this sea-loving-blogger loves this book?  I think not!  How exciting to have not one, not two, but THREE picture books come out in one summer!

If you missed my first two interviews with Diana, be sure to check them out: City Shapes and Grimelda: the Very Messy Witch.  Her other books are also worth a read.  If you want to know more about her, be sure to visit her website here: 

Me: “Ned the Knitting Pirate” is another funny picture book! What inspired the idea of a pirate that knits?

Diana: It was an episode of Anthony Bourdain (a travel and cooking show) in which he visited Sweden and met some extreme snowboarders who knitted their own hats. The snowboarders also happened to be descended from vikings. I just thought it was an interesting juxtaposition. Also, I tend to like tales that are gender-benders. So that’s where the spark of the idea came from.

Me: I love that!  Proof that you CAN get inspiration from TV and random shows of interest to adults only!  I also love the illustrations for this. Did you leave illustration notes at all for the illustrator as you wrote the story? Or did you leave the art side of things alone for this project?

Diana: I do add illustrator notes sometimes, but usually only to clarify things. The artistic vision was all Leslie! I think she did an amazing job.

Me: I am madly in love with mermaids. I love the mermaid that swims silently throughout this story. Was that something you had envisioned? Or was it something Leslie Lammle came up with all on her own?

Diana: That was Leslie! And it was such a wonderful surprise! Seeing the illustrations is probably the most exciting part of the process for me. It’s a whole other perspective, and vision, and skill set being brought to the project.

Me: I would have to agree.  Though I’ve only had a doodle done for one of my manuscripts so far, I framed it and put it above my writing desk as inspiration.  What is one thing that surprised you in writing “Ned the Knitting Pirate”?

Diana: I gave up on the first draft of NED. I thought it might be too weird. But about two years later, I came back to that draft and everything suddenly seemed clear to me. A fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference.

Me: Wow!  Two Years!  Though, honesly, that’s really encouraging.  I have a couple of manuscripts I’ve shelved as well.  Maybe after enough time, I can make it back to them to figure out how to rewrite them.  Since I already asked about mermaids, I have to ask about one of my other loves.  I see that like me, you have a love of tea, but do you think Ned does too? Is this something he might teach the pirates to love next?

Diana: I’m pretty sure that all the pirates drink strong black tea in the morning. But in the evening, perhaps Ned could teach them the benefits of a nice cup of chamomile and kelp tea–his own concoction–paired with toast and sea jelly.

Me: LOL!  I love it!  I see that you have 5 other books coming out in the next few years. Are they all picture books? Are any of them sequels with Ned? Do you foresee any sequels with Ned?

Diana: There hasn’t been any talk of a NED sequel. I guess we’ll see. Most of the books I have coming out are rhyming picture books, but one of them is an early reader.

Me: I know you used to go on fishing trips as a child. Did you dream of becoming a pirate yourself someday? Do you still like to go out in boats?

Diana: Haha! I’m far too timid to be a pirate and I get far too seasick to go in a boat. I’ve been on some boats in the past, but not anymore. However, I DO like kayaking. These days, it’s my oldest daughter who likes to go fishing and boating with her dad. Me and my younger daughter usually do something else, like get ice cream and watch a movie.

LOL!  Funny story: LOTS of Alaskans like to kayak.  BUT I’ve had a fear of kayaking for years because they usually show pictures of doing it on the open sea.  And then there’s those photos of whales coming up under kayakers.  I feared that with my clutziness I’d tip the darn thing over while stuck inside (I envisioned the original native kayaks where you have a hole to get into and sit inside an enclosed boat) and drown.  It wasn’t until this last summer while visiting friends in Sacramento that I finally tried it, on a nearby river where we spent the 4th of July.  I quite enjoyed it as well!  I was surprised that I had feared it for so long.  Maybe just like Ned’s fellow pirates, I had to try it out for myself before I could fully appreciate it.

I hope your book birthday with Ned is a joy Diana.  It’s a fun read aloud.  I highly recommend those of you that read this blog track it down and read it.  Especially if you love pirates with their own unique sense of style.  ;)

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