Alex Wheatle on Kemosha of the Caribbean and historical fiction for kids

Kemosha of the Caribbean by Alex Wheatle. Book cover and author photo.


This month our Macaw subscribers are heading into the wild waters around Jamaica with Kemosha of the Caribbean, a swashbuckling historical adventure with a gripping storyline and a kickass lead character. It's also a vivid and extremely powerful depiction of slavery on a 17th-century plantation, and particularly the brutal reality of life for girls and young women fighting for their freedom. We couldn't put this book down and can't wait to share it with our subscribers! In our Q&A author Alex Wheatle tells us more about what inspired the book and which historical books for teens and tweens he thinks you should read next.

What inspired you to write Kemosha of the Caribbean?

The seed for Kemosha of the Caribbean was first planted when my father, Alfred, took me on a trip to Port Royal.  They had a museum there that was rich with pirate history and folklore.

Are any of the characters or their experiences inspired by real people or events?

The main characters are fictional apart from Captain Morgan – I thought it would be cool if I brought him back to life.

What research did you do while you were writing the book and did you discover anything that surprised you?

My research was conducted in archive sources in Jamaica and visiting the museum in Port Royal, Jamaica.

In what ways do you think young people today will be able to relate to Kemosha’s story?

I think with the MeToo movement, young people today can read Kemosha and understand that the fight for women’s rights have been going on for centuries.

Can you tell us anything about what the future holds for Kemosha and her friends?

I need to visit Jamaica again, shut out the world for a short while, and meditate on what becomes of Kemosha and her friends.

Why did you choose to write books for this age group?

As a writer, it’s exciting for me to introduce narratives that many young people haven’t come across before.  Hopefully, it will build empathy.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

I usually write at home at my desk or if the weather is fair, I may take my laptop to a park bench.

What other historical books for young people would you recommend our subscribers read next?

I would recommend Liz Kessler’s When the World Was Ours and Catherine Johnson’s Queen of Freedom.

Copies of our Kemosha of the Caribbean pack, including a copy of the book and loads of fun activities to go with it, are now available for individual purchase. Grab a copy while stocks last!

This post includes affiliate links to our page, meaning we receive a small percentage of the sale should you purchase through them. Additionally, a percentage from all sales on the platform goes directly to local UK bookshops which is an initiative we're delighted to support!


Children's book news straight to your inbox

Sign-up now