If you missed Elliott's review of The Captain's Daughters click here.
ELLIOTT: What inspired you to write The Captain’s Daughters?
DOREEN: The Captain’s Daughters was inspired by my life-long friendship with my best friend Robin. As kids, we were always getting into some kind of mischief. We met in the third grade and we both loved science-fiction and dreamed about living on a starship and how cool that would be. That became the basis for the book.
ELLIOTT: I didn’t know The Captain’s Daughters had such a fascinating origin story. This novel must have been in the brainstorming phase for quite some time!
ELLIOTT: Is William Marsh, Diane and Robin’s father, based on a person you know? For that matter, are any of the rest of the characters?
DOREEN: Since the book was inspired by my friendship with Robin, and a few of Diane and Robin’s escapades actually came from some of the trouble we got into, it only seemed natural to base some of the other characters in the book on people we know. Captain Marsh is based on my dad, who was my hero, with a lot of other influences thrown in! He was a fun character to write.
ELLIOTT: How long did it take you to write The Captain’s Daughters, and how has the book changed during the writing and publishing process?
DOREEN: The Captain’s Daughters took about six months to write.
ELLIOTT: What inspired you to name the Polaris—The ship that Robin and Diane’s father pilots—after the north star?
DOREEN: Polaris can be found almost directly above the North Pole and is nicknamed the North Star. It is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor (the Little Bear). As the Earth turns, Polaris appears to remain stationary and all the stars appear to rotate around it. It is the only star in the sky to have this unique characteristic, and since its stationary position points due north, Polaris can be used for navigation in the Northern Hemisphere. As it says in the introduction
to the book, “For centuries, explorers need only look to the heavens and to Polaris, to find their way safely home.” It seemed appropriate to name the starship Polaris, as Captain Marsh will always bring his crew, and his daughters, safely home.
ELLIOTT: How would you describe The Captain’s Daughters in one sentence?
DOREEN: A fun romp through the cosmos with two mischievous sisters!
ELLIOTT: What scenes were the most fun to write? Do you have a favorite scene out of the whole book?
DOREEN: Without a doubt, the scenes when the girls get themselves into trouble were so much fun to write! I especially like the one where the girls sneak into the secondary control room and send out emergency orders for pizza. It always makes me giggle.
ELLIOTT: What does your writing process look like, from start to end?
DOREEN: I am an undisciplined writer! I only write when the mood strikes, but when the story starts to fit into place, I can’t stop and will sometimes write from morning to bedtime.
ELLIOTT: Robin and Diane don’t get to spend much time with their father because of his responsibilities as captain of the Polaris. What does a typical day look like for Marsh, and what are his responsibilities as captain?
DOREEN: The second book, Beyond the Stars, describes more of Captain Marsh’s routine. He is an early riser, spends at least an hour every morning in the gym and then meets his daughters and senior staff in his private dining room for breakfast. His day is spent navigating his ship and overseeing the 2000+ crew members on the Polaris. He is renowned for his negotiating skills and the planets he has brought into the LUP (League of Universal Planets). If all is calm on the Polaris, he has dinner with his daughters and senior staff. Before his last shift on the bridge, he stops in to say goodnight to his daughters and chat about their day.
ELLIOTT: There are mentions of a third world war, the League of Universal Planets, and a war with a species called the Frazons who take over other planets. These events aren’t explained but seem to be important. Could you give us a brief history of the universe in which your book takes place?
DOREEN: In my imagination, there is a third World War sometime in the twenty-second century. Almost 900 million people die in that war and there is hardly a family on Earth that does not lose a loved one. Society finally realizes the need for global peace, and though it takes a while, the goal is realized and war on Earth ceases to exist. This peace brings global cooperation and through joint efforts, space exploration is finally realized. Other planets and alien races are contacted and the LUP (League of Universal Planets) is formed. But, there has to be an enemy to make life interesting (at least for a book!), and that is where the Frazons come in.
ELLIOTT: Could you give us a summary of the sequel to The Captain’s Daughters?
DOREEN: The sequel is Beyond the Stars. Mischievous sisters Diane and Robin are already in trouble with their father for a stunt they just pulled. Their punishment (grounded…again!) is cut short with the arrival of Jannel, a soft-spoken, shy girl roughly their age, and the future ruler of the planet Lasusia. Jannel has been sent to the Polaris for safekeeping from a deadly virus running rampant on her home world. As Diane and Robin learn about their new friend and the problems she faces on her war-torn planet, they vow to help her, even though they understand it means getting deeper into trouble with their father. But they are soon in over their heads, stricken by the virus, and trapped by their father’s mortal enemy. They must use all their instincts and resources to escape before they perish from the virus, along with all hopes of planetary peace.
ELLIOTT: Who designed the cover for The Captain’s Daughters? How much of a role did you play in the design process?
DOREEN: The cover for The Captain’s Daughters was designed by a company in New Zealand called Damonza. In my mind I knew basically what I wanted (the Santa Fe landscape fading into a night sky, horses that resemble Pepper and Cloud, the different planets, and the space station). I gave them this info and they ran with it. I think they did a fabulous job…I love the cover! And the cover for Beyond the Stars is just as nice!