An interview with Derek Keilty about Flyntlock Bones: The Sceptre of the Pharaohs and his favourite pirate books for kids

Flyntlock Bones The Sceptre of the Pharaohs by Derek Keilty. Book cover and author photograph


Our Parakeet subscribers are kicking off the year with a fantastic, swashbuckling adventure story, brilliantly illustrated by Mark Elvins and combining two of our favourite themes for this age group: pirates and detectives! Here author Derek Keilty tells us what inspired his new series and which other pirate books for kids he would recommend you read next.

What inspired Flyntlock Bones: The Sceptre of the Pharaohs?

I hit on the idea for Flyntlock Bones after noticing a doodle I’d scribbled in the margin of a different children’s story I was working on. The doodle was of a skull and crossbones, only with a magnifying glass over one of the skull eye sockets, and underneath I had written Pirate Investigators. I think I was messing about with ‘Private Investigators’, changing it to Pirate which sounded quite quirky. The story I was working on wasn’t really going anywhere so I decided to park it and write my pirate story instead which, shiver me timbers but right from the very first page seemed to take off.

Who is your favourite character in the book and why?

My fav character is Flyntlock Bones or Flynn for short, who applies for the job of cabin boy on the Black Hound, not knowing he has boarded a pirate ship. But he quickly discovers that these pirates are different from your normal rum-swilling, treasure-looting, swashbuckling, scourge o’ the seas pirates. They are ex-pirates turned detectives. ‘It’s clues we’re after, not treasure!’ the captain explains. And soon Flynn is setting sail for the Seven Seas, on a perilous quest to recover ancient treasure bound by a magical curse.

Mark Elvins’ illustrations bring the Black Hound to life - do they depict it the way you imagined it?

Mark Elvins is a genius. I love every one of the detailed and hilarious illustrations he has done for the books of which I am happy to say there are loads. He absolutely brings the Black Hound and all the characters to life better than I could ever had hoped for.

What role do you think would suit you best on the pirate ship?

It has to be the Captain as I do like the idea of standing at the helm, wind in my face, sailing towards the horizon. Arrrr! I’ve even got a pirate captain costume in my wardrobe for school visits when things get back to normal so I’m all set.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

My favourite place to write is in my living room with my spiral notebook and rub-out pen, oh and with my LED light thingummy clipped on top of my notebook. Then comes the typing into my laptop bit which I hate.

Why did you choose to create books for children?

What I love about writing for children is that anything is possible, the most amazing and incredible things can happen to your characters. It’s just so much fun. I really enjoy the world building in Flyntlock and also merging genres by mixing pirates with detectives.

What was your favourite book as a child?

My favourite book when I was a child was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. My teacher used to read it to the class and I still remember how all the ‘chocolatey’ descriptions just before lunch made my tummy rumble.

What other pirate-themed books would you recommend to our subscribers?

Shiver me timbers but there are barrels full o’ great pirate books out there. Jonny Duddle’s fab Jolley Rogers series for one and How to Train your Dragon: How to Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell, and of course Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is a classic.


Grab your copy of this brilliant book, along with our fun-filled activity pack here.


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