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Hello Hello! How are you all today?

I’m going to be posting two posts today, and the first is the long-awaited Q&A with Maria Kuzniar! I read The Ship of Shadows at the start of the month for the tour hosted by Dave from The Write Reads and I absolutely adored this book and gave it 5 stars! You can read my gushing review of it here!

Today, I’m going to be doing a post, which is actually going to be in 4 parts, one part on my blog, one on Fiona’s blog, one on Sabrina’s blog and finally one on Noly’s blog as we are going to be interviewing Maria for the Middle Grade Marvels book club that we are all members of. If you’ve not heard of MGM before, head over to my announcement post here, we have a bunch of amazing members (big hugs to everyone) and have read some really fun books so far, so we were all quite excited when Noly told us we could interview Maria about her book as part of the tour – massive shoutout to Dave for organising our spot!

Keep reading to find out what questions I asked Maria, and what her answers were, and don’t forget to check out Fiona, Sabrina and Noly’s posts too as we all asked really different questions! And if you fancy reading some middle grade, why don’t you consider joining our book club?


What is the inspiration behind the pirates and the Ship of Shadows?

“Honestly, I’ve always loved pirates! I actually met my husband for the first time when we were both dressed up as pirates at a themed party. I knew that at some point I really wanted to write a book about pirates, but it wasn’t until I went to Morocco that I had the sudden urge to actually write it and set it there. It was during my trip to Marrakesh that I dreamt up Aleja, Frances, Captain Quint and Malika. Those were the first four characters that strolled, fully formed, into my head. Once I had them, I knew I wanted to create a magical environment for them. As I planned the ship I pictured it as dark and shadowy with shadows that stalked the pirate’s footfalls and shifted shapes.”

Aleja loves stories of adventures and explorers, did you base the book on a favourite adventure story? And who is your favourite character?

“I’ve always loved adventure stories and films from a very young age. I didn’t base the book on one in particular but I did set out wanting it to have that classic adventure feel—like Indiana Jones meets Pirates of the Caribbean with a side of The Mummy.

Ooh favourite character is a hard question! I have to say Aleja as we see and experience everything through her eyes but I do have a lot of fondness for Frances as well!”

What was your favourite place to write about?

“Writing scenes on the magical Ship of Shadows will always be my favourite! But in terms of real locations, then definitely Marrakesh. It was where Aleja first popped into my head so actually getting to write these scenes with her there felt natural and right to me. I also loved being about to write about why I wanted to set a book in Morocco—all the colours, textures and patterns of such a vivid city!”

Did you have to do a lot of research for the ship and the pirates, and what was the best thing you found out?

“The Ship of Shadows is set during the Golden Age of Piracy, in 1716, and although the book has some very small but specific historical details dotted here and there, I wanted it to feel accessible and relatable to children reading it now. I investigated the most famous pirates sailing around that time—like ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham and Edward Teach (Blackbeard)—and female pirates, of course. Cheng I Sao is my favourite female pirate, though she sailed almost a hundred years after Aleja’s time. But my pirates aren’t based on any historical pirates, they came purely from my own imagination!

What I did spend more time researching was the ship. Books and films would have us believe that pirates sailed massive ships, and while some did, most preferred smaller models like the sloop that the Ship of Shadows is based on, which were smaller and easier to dart around in!”

Thank you so much to Maria for answering my questions, I loved them and it was great to hear your thoughts on some really interesting elements from your book!

To find out what questions everyone else asked Maria and what her answers were, head over to Fiona’s post here, Sabrina’s post here, and Noly’s post here!

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post, see you soon, stay safe,

Ellie xx


  1. Great interview! Always great to hear the authors thoughts that inspired their work!

    1. Thank you, definitely, it really helps to get a feel for both the book and the author and explain some really interesting elements from the plot!

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