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An Interview with Stacy Alderman, author of Ocracoke’s Daughter

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Stacy Alderman’s short story, Steel Valley, won the Children of Steel Fiction Award and will be published by Anaphora Literary in 2024. Her other writing has been featured by local newspaper, The Valley Mirror, as well as Rune Magazine, Defuncted Journal, Macro Magazine, Capsule Stories, and several more. She lives near Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two defiant rescue dogs. If she’s not writing or reading, she’s probably watching hockey or (dreaming about) traveling.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I grew up being read to and have been devouring books for as long as I can remember. I think it was only natural that I eventually gravitated towards writing. I remember being in elementary school feeling a little thrill of excitement when my teachers praised my use of vocabulary words in creative sentences we had to write. As I got older, those sentences grew into short stories and books. The Baby-Sitters Club series and later Jennifer Weiner’s early books really made me feel like I could do this writing thing too.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I love the Outer Banks of North Carolina, especially its varied and fascinating history. I was brainstorming a way to weave Blackbeard’s connection to Ocracoke Island into a modern-day woman’s quest for self-rediscovery and those ideas blended together to form the bare bones of my manuscript.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

I think Ocracoke’s Daughter came to me pretty quickly and organically, which is rare. I usually struggle with titles!

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

As much as I love music, this is a tough one for me as I usually only listen to instrumental (Mozart) when I write. But Miley Cyrus’s “Malibu” comes to mind as does the oldie “Brandy” by Looking Glass.

Describe your dream book cover.

If/when Ocracoke’s Daughter gets published, I would love to work with a local Outer Banks artist on the cover. Springer’s Point, which is a nature trail on Ocracoke Island and theorized to be Blackbeard’s final resting place, is a stunning location. I picture the pristine beach and maybe the ghostly outline of a pirate ship on the horizon.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

For most of my life, I’ve worked customer service and office jobs. For the last 10 years I’ve been in an administrative role at a company that is in the auto insurance-adjacent industry.

I’ve also written several articles for a small newspaper, The Valley Mirror, which focuses on stories about the Mon Valley region of Pittsburgh.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

Fun Fact: a vast majority of my research took place during the early days of the pandemic when I had to rely on contactless books checked out of the library and free online resources. Books I read included Blackbeard by Angus Konstam and Blackbeard the Pirate by Robert E. Lee. I also got a lot information from message boards and Facebook groups frequented by locals who have pirate lore ingrained in their culture.

For the modern aspects of the novel addressing religious oppression I read Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Shameless.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

On a serious note, I hope readers connect with the modern-day main character, a woman in her mid-thirties who is searching for her identify and independence for the first time in her life. I think it’s important that women know it’s never too late to discover your true self and that life isn’t always black and white.

On a lighter note, I hope I make Blackbeard and his supposed fourteenth wife come alive and give readers something fascinating and fun to think about.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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