Author Kathryn Sullivan stopped by for an interview.

Kathryn Sullivan is the author of the award-winning young adult fantasies The Crystal Throne, Agents & Adepts, and award-nominated Talking to Trees as well as a children’s picture book, Michael & the Elf. A Chick who has dug Time Lords for many years, she has an essay in the Hugo Award-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords and a review in Outside In. “The Taste of Treasure” is in Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells and “The Theft of the Royal Jewels” is in A Tall Ship, A Star and Plunder. Any birdlike beings in her books only slightly resemble her cockatoo owner. Kathryn lives in Winona, MN, where the river bluffs along the Mississippi River double as cliffsides on alien planets or the deep mysterious forests in a magical world. 

1) Where did you get your start in writing?

I started writing when I was 14. It was raining, I had read everything in the house and I decided I could write a story just as interesting as the one I had just finished. I taught myself to type (this was in pre-computer days) and started finishing stories and sending them out and collecting rejection slips. In high school I worked on the school newspaper and honed my nonfiction writing skills. I had a few short stories published and then finally found a publisher interested in my books.

 2) What, in your humble opinion, is the attraction of pirates in literature?

It depends on the presentation. I read TREASURE ISLAND before I found PETER PAN, so pirates had been presented to me as the bad guys who needed to be defeated. CAPTAIN BLOOD presented reasons why a person might turn to piracy, so when I came across the movies CAPTAIN BLOOD and SEA HAWK, I was willing to see pirates as possible good guys. The current PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN series doesn’t focus on the bad side of piracy.

3) Do you have a favorite literary pirate, if so, who is it and why?

Kylara Vatta in MARQUE AND REPRISAL, by Elizabeth Moon, though Vatta 
is a privateer with a letter of Marque and is avenging her family.

 4) Do you have a favorite movie pirate, if so, who is it and why?

Errol Flynn in CAPTAIN BLOOD and SEA HAWK.  Because, Errol Flynn! Orlando Bloom could come close, but Errol Flynn’s character in both films had more control of his destiny.

 5) Without spoiling the plot, what inspired you to write your story for A Tall Ship, a Star, and Plunder?  

Space pirates were part of science fiction when I was growing up. I enjoy the works of Murray Leinster, Anne McCaffrey, and Elizabeth Moon, so when the call went out for this anthology, I thought more of space pirates than historical. I’m more on the side of the Patrol and how they protect various civilizations.

 6) Do you like to read your own work out loud to an audience?

Readings are a part of conventions.  I make sure to practice beforehand, because I know when I get nervous I tend to read too fast and stumble over words, especially names I’ve created. I like reading my short pieces as part of a Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading, because those are usually humorous ones and people seem to like those.

 7) What is your favorite book?

Only one? My three favorite books from my past, the ones which influenced me, are Tolkien’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS, James Schmitz’s AGENT OF VEGA, and James White’s HOSPITAL STATION. Favorite ones I like to revisit are Janet Kagan’s MIRABILE and Diana Wynne Jones’ HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE and YEAR OF THE GRIFFIN.

 8) How many books do you read at any given time?  What are you reading now?

Usually three. Right now I’ve started CAROUSEL SUN by Sharon Lee, on my Kindle I’m reading SECOND STAR by Dana Stabenow, and I just finished JUPITER’S PIRATES: HUNT FOR THE HYDRA by Jason Fry.

 9) Is there a book you read again and again? 

There are several, and it depends on what mood I’m in. When I was in my teens and twenties I would re-read THE LORD OF THE RINGS once a year. Now I might go on a Janet Kagan binge and re-read all her stories. Or I’ll look at the stack of new books waiting-to-be-read and instead re-read all of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles series or Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liaden universe. Or Diane Duane’s Young Wizard series. Or…

 10) Why do you write?

I started writing when I was 14 because the science fiction and fantasy of that time had very few female main characters. I wanted more stories with characters I could identify with. I continue to write because I keep coming up with characters and stories that demand to be told. When characters start stomping around in your head demanding that you tell their stories, believe me, you tell their stories.

 11) From where do you draw your inspiration?

From everything around me. Newspaper or magazine articles might trigger a story idea. I look at the Astronomy Picture of the Day site ( ) every morning and check a couple of anthropology news sites as those have also been good story triggers. Sometimes just an interesting picture will do it.

 12) How do you deal with your fan base?

I have a Facebook page ( and a webpage ( . I also go to several science fiction conventions and young writers conferences during the year. I enjoy talking with fans; they re-energize me to get back to my next story.

For more about Kathryn Sullivan, visit

Mrs. Sullivan, thank you for stopping by.