Not only must Annie work alongside the Realm’s motley crew of outcasts and gentlemen, she must also keep her superstitious shipmates from discovering she is a girl.
Annie vows she will never leave the Realm, where dreams are chased, shattered lives can mend, and secrets are stowed like keepsakes in an old desk drawer. But when her past catches up with her, can she return to the Realm? More importantly, will she have a choice?
Barnes and Noble
JW: In one hundred and forty characters or less, how would you describe Secrets of the Realm?
BS: Annie faces life’s adversities with unfailing spirit both on land and out at sea.
JW: How did you get the idea to write Secrets of the Realm? Have you always held an interest in the topics of sailing and pirating?
BS: I have always loved the sea and non-fiction books about ships, including books about the ghost ship, the Mary Celeste, and the Titanic. I never had an interest in pirates except after the movie Pirates of the Caribbean came out. Oddly enough, my first Halloween costume was that of a pirate. And I did read Treasure Island as a child. I remember little of my school projects, except for one. It was on sailing ships, which I also illustrated. The actual character of Annie sort of popped into my head, and after looking at a map of England, I knew where she was born.
JW: Secrets of the Realm has plenty of interesting and entertaining characters. Which was your favorite to write? The one that held the most difficulty?
BS: Besides Annie, Symington was the most fun to write. He is such a nasty fellow and his cockney accent was a challenge to tackle. I think bad guys are always fun to write. Captain Hawke was the most difficult being he was one of the more complex characters in the book. Even he doesn’t know his whole story, but I do.
JW: If you made a playlist for the novel, what would be one song that you would have to include?
BS: Actually, I have two very different pieces that would have to be on my playlist: Violin Concerto No. 3 K.216, 3rd Movement by Mozart and Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men.
JW: Annie is strong, spirited, and not afraid to take chances or speak her mind. Would you say that you relate to Annie? If not, is there any character that you see a little of yourself in?
BS: Except for always having been small for my age, I am nothing like Annie, although, I wish I could be. I have to say the character who is most like me is Mr. Montgomery. As much as he wants to be a rebel, he can never quite lose all of the trappings of a fine gentleman.
JW: If any one character from Secrets of the Realm could come alive in person, and you could have a conversation with them, which character would you choose?
BS: I know all there is to know about Annie, so I think it would have to be Captain Hawke. I am certain he still has a few more surprises up his sleeve, even for me. For being only in his twenties, he has had quite a colorful life.
JW: If you joined the crew of a ship like the Realm, what would you see yourself doing? What would be the first place you’d like to travel to?
BS: I would want to be the cabin boy, because he gets to try out different jobs on the ship. Plus, he (or she) gets to visit with the captain in his quarters in a more relaxed atmosphere.
JW: Although these types of questions seem to be over asked, I will ask it anyway, since it seems to be one of the first things that people think of: how would you feel about a film adaptation of Secrets of the Realm? If given the opportunity, is that something you would consider?
BS: Given the opportunity, I would say yes in a heartbeat. A number of people have told me that they can see Secrets of the Realm made into a movie. I have also been asked who I would have play the various characters in the book.
JW: Have you considered writing more using these characters? If not, are there any other projects you are currently working on?
BS: I am writing a sequel to Secrets of the Realm. Most of the main characters will return. I am also working on a contemporary paranormal story, My Name is Nissa.
JW: Are there any authors or particular novels that inspire you, or have inspired your own writing? BS: William Saroyan and Harper Lee both have written novels about young people in compelling circumstances.
JW: When not writing or reading, what do you enjoy doing?
BS: I enjoy time spent with family, friends and working with children. I like train trips and sailing on the ocean. I love nature, whether it is watching ducks on the lake, otters playing in the ocean or dolphins racing alongside our boat. I also play tennis at least twice a week, even if the temperature is soaring to triple digits here in Arizona.
JW: Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, when did you realize that writing is what you want to do?
BS: I always enjoyed the arts, but I did not think about writing until about seven years ago.
JW: Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring writers or those who are considering publishing a novel of their own?
Write for the pure love of writing. Being published is a bonus. However, if you want to be published, join a writer’s organization and a critique group. Honest criticism can be quite helpful.
Bev Stout's love of the sea began while growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and continues today with visits and vacations to Cambria on the California coast.
While she has been an avid reader since early childhood, she didn't start writing seriously until later in life. Bev Stout lives in Arizona with her husband, a thankful rescue dog, and an insane but lovable cat.