Interview with Bev Stout, Author of Secrets of the Realm

Bev contacted me a couple of weeks ago asking me if I was interesting in reading her Young Adult historical fiction debut, Secrets of the Realm. I jumped at the chance to read a novel about a 15 year old girl who has to pose as a boy and ends up as a cabin boy on a merchant’s ship. Bev was awesome to work with and I was very excited to get the chance to interview her and get her take on Secrets of the Realm.

Amanda: Tell us a little bit about yourself? Who is Bev Stout?
Bev: I am a wife, mother and grandmother.  While I have worked at IBM and also in a dental office, my favorite jobs always involved 61791_401394223313936_1715457053_nworking with children.  I taught piano for thirty-five years, have been a Girl Scout Leader, a Den Mother, and I now volunteer at a children’s outreach program.  I love feeding the ducks on the lake, taking our dog, Milly, for walks and spoiling our crazy cat, Jasmine.  I enjoy vacationing in Cambria on the California coast and anything that has to do with nature and family.  Almost forgot, I play tennis at least twice a week even if the temperature is in the triple digits.

Amanda: How would you describe Annie, the main character in Secrets of the Realm to someone who has not read the book yet?
Bev: She is a fifteen year-old English girl who is spirited, highly intelligent, and often talks and acts on impulse, which gets her into trouble.  Annie knows what she wants, and nothing will stop her—not her small stature and not society’s norms. She is a survivor who sets out to overcome the cruel hand fate has dealt her.

Amanda:  Where did you get the inspiration to write this novel?
Bev: My motivation for writing Secrets of the Realm was to hand down something to my family . My inspiration was simply Annie. Her story was always a part of me.  I knew her birthplace. I knew her love for family. But when I actually sat down to write her story, I realized there was so much more to her.  The people from her past and her present were all a big part of who Annie is.

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Review: Secrets of the Realm is a wonderful sea-faring voyage

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Synopsis:

Blamed for her uncle’s death, fifteen-year-old Annie is on the run. Knowing the perils she will face on the streets of 18th century London, Annie disguises herself as a boy.

Her life changes course when she becomes Captain Hawke’s cabin boy. Not only must Annie work alongside the Realm’s motley crew of outcasts and gentlemen, she must also keep her superstitious shipmates from discovering she is a girl.Annie vows she will never leave the Realm, where dreams are chased, shattered lives can mend, and secrets are stowed like keepsakes in an old desk drawer.

But, when Annie’s past catches up with her, can she stay on the Realm? More importantly, will she have a choice?

Review:

It’s been a long time since a Middle Grade (MG) historical fiction has caught my interest. Secrets of the Realm by Bev Stout drew me in hook, line, and sinker and kept me interested and wanting more throughout the whole book. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect right off the bat with this one, I knew that it was historical fiction, but the title of the novel sounded somewhat mystical to me. While I was slightly surprised to see that it wasn’t, I wasn’t the least bit disappointed in the story. Secrets of the Realm is a gem of a book!

Anne/Andres is a wonderful character who you are rooting for from the beginning to the end.  I was constantly wondering if her crew mates were going to discover her secret— that the captain’s cabin boy is really a female in disguise. Annie was everything you could want in a young female protagonist. She was extremely independent and brave in an environment where many people thought women did not belong. It is easy for children and adults alike to connect with such a strong character.

The supporting characters in this book were equally as intriguing. I found Doc to be one of my favorites. While he had a sad story, he was kind to Annie and took on such a wonderful fatherly role. Captain Hawke was an interesting man of many secrets, some of which I would still like to find out. The rest of the crew ranged from hilarious and endearing to unpredictable and somewhat frightening. I couldn’t help but fall in love with them all as well as the story.

Secrets of the Realm was not only a wonderful, sea-faring voyage, but it was a rare look at a coming-of-age story.

5/5 Stars

Check out my interview with Bev Stout here

 

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