Clement: The Green Ship | YA Hist Fic Adventure | Craig Hipkins

Growing up in Narnia and Wonderland, and then exploring so many YA books with my daughter, I have such a special spot in my heart for these kind of adventures. I have to admit it’s my “go-to” comfort reading. Today, I’m excited to welcome Craig Hipkins to Author Chats to tell us about his own series of YA stories. First, a little about his newest release:
Clement: The Green Ship
(Clement, Book 2)
By Craig R. Hipkins
Normandy. The year 1161. King Henry ll sends the 14-year-old Clement, Count of la Haye on a secret mission. The young count and his friends travel in the wake of the mysterious mariner known as Sir Humphrey Rochford. Their destination? The legendary land of Vinland, known only from the Norse sagas. The journey is full of adventure and intrigue. Clement battles with a tyrannical Irish king and then finds his vessel attacked by a massive monster from the deep. The Green Ship sails to the sparse and barren land of Greenland where more trouble awaits.
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 Welcome, Craig, I’ve been looking forward to hearing about your work. Tell us a little more about yourself. Does writing energize or exhaust you and how do you wind down / recharge?
Writing is more of a hobby. I would like for it to be my sole profession but I would starve if I suddenly quit my day job and started writing full time. Writing energizes me. It takes me away from the monotony of the 21st century with all its politics and drama. Instead, I find myself immersed in the characters that I am writing about. It might sound strange but, in my mind, I can actually find myself transported back to the 12th century. It is sort of like a method actor who lives the part that they are acting out. It is the same with writing. I write at night, before bed. This is how I wind down. The next day the process starts all over.
If you could go anywhere for a year to be inspired for your next book, what setting would you choose and what would you write?
That is a great question! My next book will take me into the realm of fantasy and steampunk. Since it will be set in a parallel universe with a Victorian theme, my setting would obviously be somewhere in England. If I had to choose a location, I would pick a lighthouse overlooking the English Channel.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal and why?
Another great question. I have a great interest in cryptozoology which can be seen in the Green Ship. I have always been interested in mysterious and elusive creatures that may or may not exist on our planet. Therefore, I would choose the kraken as my spirit animal. It is an enigmatic monster that lurks in the North Atlantic. This world would be a bore without a good mystery!
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I am an unorthodox writer. I do not write down any notes, nor do I do any of the things that I was taught in college to do. I guess you might say that I wing it! I have a general idea on how the story will proceed and how it will end. The fun of writing is creating the adventure as I go along. Sometimes I will look up information that will make the story flow better. For instance, navigational equipment in the 12th century. The Green Ship is a cog but one that is unlike any cog that came out of that century. I use a little bit of license that would cause most purists to cringe!
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I do believe in writer’s block but I rarely suffer from it. To me, writing is fun and not a chore, therefore if I find myself not having fun, I take a break.

Tell us more about your latest book. What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?
I think that authors should be fairly accurate when it comes to portraying actual historical figures. Most of my characters are fictional, but I have brought in actual historical figures who interact with my characters. Of course, these interactions never actually occurred, but if they did, I want the reader to know that King Henry II enjoyed his lampreys!
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Unfortunately, yes, I read book reviews like most authors. Fortunately, I have received mostly 4- or 5-star reviews for the first Clement book, Clement: Boy Knight of Normandy. Hopefully, this latest book Clement: The Green Ship will get some good reviews. I do know that not everyone will like my book, so to each his own. However, sometimes a critic might point something out that an author can improve on. As long as the criticism is constructive and not personal, or just plain ridiculous. I have heard of authors getting bad reviews because the book was late getting to their residence!
Which scene or chapter in the book is your favourite? Why?
My favorite chapter to write was chapter 14. I am not much on love scenes but the innocent love that Clement and Dagena have for one another, I think, is shown in this chapter. Since the characters are only 14 and this book is written for a YA audience (along with adults) there is of course, no bodice ripping or anything like that. It is merely two teenagers coming of age under the romantic setting of the Northern Lights. I am sure that the girls would enjoy this part of the novel, the boys might like the fight scene between Clement and Tieg in chapter 8, or the kraken attack in chapters 10 and 11.
How long did it take you to research and write this book; were there any “wrong turns” along the way?
Most authors would find my response to this question ludicrous. It took me about two months to write the rough draft of this book. The dreaded editing part took substantially longer. I was writing in a sort of stream of consciousness and was mad every time that I had to stop and perform the necessary act of sleep! As far as wrong turns: I did change the ending to this story. A better one came to me when I was about halfway through the book, so no time was lost when it was time to write it.
Give a shout out to a writing buddy or fellow author; how did they help you with this book?
I would like to give a shout-out to fellow author Vivienne Brereton, author of the ‘Red Duke’ series. We correspond quite frequently about various aspects of writing and the publishing and marketing aspect of it. Her son, Sasha created the cover for my first book, ‘Adalbert.’ Which has gone through a substantial re-edit.
Thanks for stopping by, Craig. It was great to chat!

Craig R. Hipkins grew up in Hubbardston Massachusetts. He is the author of medieval and gothic fiction. His novel, Adalbert is the sequel to Astrolabe written by his late twin brother Jay S. Hipkins (1968-2018)
He is an avid long-distance runner and enjoys astronomy in his spare time.
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