I think this is going to be one of those weeks where I will be saying repeatedly “I wish I could have read this one”. But just look – doesn’t Whales and Strange Stars by Kathy Sharp look thoroughly lovely? Published by Crooked Cat Books and the first in her historical Wych Ferry series, this book is available via Amazon in the UK (the kindle version available for pre-order, released 16th January) and US.
A world beyond her own.
A sea captain passes through the forgotten port of Wych Ferry, and whiles away an hour relating his traveller’s tales to young Rosamund Euden. He tells her that the stars are different, if you sail far enough, that the horizon isn’t quite real, not when you get there; he speaks of sea serpents and whales, and mysterious islands. To an impressionable girl who has never left her home, the whales and strange stars of his stories come to symbolise the great outside world she longs to see. The sea captain moves on, unaware of the dramatic events he has set in action as Rosamund’s search for adventure leads her into a world of dangerous secrets in the marshlands of eighteenth century Kent.
Torn between loyalty to her uncles, and her desire to discover what lies beyond the marshes, Rosamund seeks help from an unexpected source. But who can she really trust?
I’m delighted to welcome Kathy Sharp to Being Anne to tell us more about that gorgeous cover and how the book got its name…
Whales and Strange Stars. Now then, people say to me, that’s an intriguing title. What on earth does it mean? Is it about whales? Or, Heaven forfend, whaling? The short answer is no. Allow me to explain…
The story begins with a sea captain passing through a sleepy riverside ferry crossing. While he waits to continue his journey, he fills the time by telling his traveller’s tales to the young girl who lives there. He tells her that the stars are different, if you sail far enough; he tells her about great oceans and the creatures that live in them. For the girl, who has never travelled away from home, the whales and stars come to symbolise adventure – the wide world she longs to explore. And that is how the book got its name. So you see, absolutely no whales were harmed, or stars displaced, in the writing of this story.
For all that, it isn’t an easy title to illustrate, being a metaphor. We have taken the literal approach, as you see, with actual whale and stars in a woodcut style that suits the 18th century setting of the story. It’s a tale of secrets and betrayal, and the stark contrast of colours suits that, too.
My thanks go to Crooked Cat Books for such original and striking artwork. I hope readers like it as much as we do.
About the author
Kathy Sharp was born and brought up by the sea in Kent. Life took her inland, and she worked for many years as a desktop publisher for Surrey County Council, and as a tutor in adult education.
And then, one day, she visited a friend who had just moved to the Isle of Portland, Dorset, and fell in love with the place. She has now lived by the sea in the Weymouth and Portland area for more than ten years, and still loves it. The wonderful Jurassic Coast, and Portland in particular, were the inspiration for her Larus Trilogy of novels.
Kathy also sings with, and writes lyrics for, the Island Voices Choir on Portland, and is a keen member of local writing groups, as well as enjoying studying the local flora.