Tag Archives: The Ice Sea Pirates

Interview with Frida Nilsson, author of The Ice Sea Pirates

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Photograph by Ellinor Collin

One of my recent favourite books has been The Ice Sea Pirates, written by Swedish author, Frida Nilsson and published in English for the first time by the wonderful Gecko Press.  The Ice Sea Pirates is an adventure story full of pirates, wolves, mermaids, frozen landscapes and a whole lot of heart.  You can read my review here on the blog.

The Ice Sea Pirates was still on my mind several days after finishing the story and I was lucky enough to be able to ask Frida Nilsson some questions.  Read on to find out what inspired Frida to write The Ice Sea Pirates, which story she would jump in to, and how she comes up with the names for her characters.

  • What inspired you to write The Ice Sea Pirates?

The inspiration mainly came to me shortly after my first child was born. Until then, my books featured another character, they had much more humour in them and were not classic sagas. When I became a mother it was suddenly more important to me to try and make some sort of change with my books. A lot of us are worried, I think, about the conditions in our world, with poverty and pollution, the death of many species, the plastic in all the oceans. My story about Siri is my way of questioning how we live our lives. We constantly take more than we need and in the long term, that’s not going to work.

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  • The Ice Sea Pirates is one of those books that I felt I wanted to jump in to.  If you could jump in to one book and be part of the story which one would you choose?

I think I would choose Charlie and the chocolate factory (and if possible I would bring my kids along since they are absolutely crazy about chocolate)

Siri is incredibly brave and determined and I’m sure children will wish that they could be like her.  Which book characters did you wish you could have been when you were growing up?

I hope that the children that read the book will NOT want to be as brave as her. Children characters in sagas like this are often “thrown out” on adventures that are far too dangerous for a real child – and this is how it should be I think. I hope that Siri’s journey can inspire children in another way.  I hope they find the courage to question the things that are wrong with how we “overuse” our planet and how the stronger use the weaker.

But, to answer the question: One character that I envied a lot was Lisa in Astrid Lindgren’s books about the Bullerby children (The children of Noisy Village). I grew up far out in the “dark woods” with no neighbourhood children or siblings at all, and sometimes I would miss the company of people of my own age. I envied Lisa simply because she lived in a village with a lot of children that she could play with all day. And best of all: Lisa did NOT go on any dangerous journeys. Her everyday life and play were adventure enough.

  • Captain Whitehead is the terrifying pirate captain in The Ice Sea Pirates.  Who is your favourite pirate from history or fiction?

Well since I’m a big fan of the Aardman films I must answer the Pirate Captain in the movie ‘The Pirates! In an adventure with scientists’ (released as Pirates! Band of misfits in some parts of the world). If I’m not mistaken this film is based on a book with the same title, although I haven’t read it.

  • The crew of The Sea Raven have some fantastic names.  How did you come up with their names?

I found a list on the internet of old French soldiers names and I used a lot of them, but translated them into Swedish first of course. Then I just used my imagination for the rest.

  • Peter Graves has translated your story into English.  How do you work with translators to ensure they capture the essence of your stories?

In this particular case I could actually read the translation before it went to print. It’s not quite as easy when it comes to a Czech or a Russian text. It was a true pleasure to read Peter Graves translation. I think he did a fantastic job. When a foreign publisher takes on one of my books I must put my trust in the whole “crew” that works with the title (translator, editor, illustrator etc) because they all know their country and their readers much better than I do.

Make sure you grab a copy of The Ice Sea Pirates from your library or bookshop now.

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The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson

I love reading translated fiction, especially for children.  Some of my favourite stories were not originally published in English – Inkheart by Cornelia Funke was originally published in German and The Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafon was originally published in Spanish.  Thank goodness for publishers like the wonderful Gecko Press who translate the best books in to English for children to enjoy here in New Zealand.  Gecko Press’ latest translated gem is The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson.  This wonderful story brought back memories of the first time I read my favourite book, Inkheart, as it took me on an adventure that swept me away.

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Siri lives on a small island with her younger sister, Miki, and her old, tired father.  An outing on a nearby island to collect berries ends in tragedy as Miki is taken by pirates.  These are not just any pirates, but those from the Snow Raven, a ship from the stories that Siri tells her sister.  The Snow Raven is captained by the most wicked pirate in all the seas, Captain Whitehead, a pirate with hair white as snow and a heart as empty as an ice cave.  Children who are taken by Whitehead are never seen again as they get sent to work in his mines until their bodies and minds are broken.  Siri knows that she is the only person who can save her sister and so sets out to get her back by any means.

The Ice Sea Pirates is an adventure story full of pirates, wolves, mermaids, frozen landscapes and a whole lot of heart.  It is a story about an incredibly brave girl who never gives up on her search for her sister.  Frida Nilsson, and her skilled translator, Robert Graves, transport the reader to the unforgiving Ice Sea and make you feel that you are right there beside Siri the whole way.  You feel the biting,  icy wind, feel Siri’s gnawing hunger and her heartache for the friends she makes along the way, and hear the creaking and groaning of the frozen sea.  The writing is beautiful.  Some of the descriptions of the characters and places were so perfect that I had to reread them several times.

Siri is one of those characters that becomes your best friend.  You are right there beside her and get inside her head.  She goes through so much on her journey to find her sister – she leaves home by herself to rescue her sister, faces down white wolves, stows away on boats with angry men, and stands up to vicious pirates – but she never gives up.  She is determined to find her sister, rescue her friend and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

I loved The Ice Sea Pirates and I know that Siri and her story will stay with me for a long time.  It is the perfect read aloud for ages 9 and up and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves adventure stories with a touch of magic and wonder.

 

 

 

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