Today’s post by author Lisa Jensen
It’s no secret that I loved ALIAS HOOK by Lisa Jensen. (You can read my review here) So I was thrilled when she agreed to share the visual inspiration behind her re-telling of the classic story of Peter Pan. And I’m even more thrilled that we’re able to give away two copies of ALIAS HOOK today thanks to the generous publishers at Thomas Dunne Books. See the entry form below.
What could this photo possibly have to do with Captain Hook? Yes, my novel, Alias Hook, is set in the Neverland, and views that magical children’s Paradise from the caustic perspective of James Hook, its prisoner. Much of the book concerns who James was before he became the villain of the Neverland, but the main story is about the possibility of breaking the curse that binds him there and earning his release. And I knew pretty early on there would have to be a woman involved.
In real life, this is my Aunt Jeannie, ca. 1943. When I was trying to imagine what sort of woman to send to the Neverland, I kept coming back to this image. Hook comes from early in the 18th Century (James M. Barrie tells us that he sailed with Blackbeard), but in my book, he’s been frozen in time—at age 43—for a couple of centuries. Time has continued to march on in the outside world, however. My heroine, Stella Parrish, has survived World War II, but she’s still reeling from her losses. Disgusted at the mess the grown-ups have made of the world, she longs to take refuge in a place of perfect childhood innocence—although that’s not exactly what she finds in the Neverland, a chaotic world run by little boys.
In addition to the strangeness of a grown woman tumbling into the Neverland at all (Peter Pan has very strict rules against grown-ups, especially “ladies”), imagine how odd a 20th Century woman like this would seem. What on earth would James Hook make of her?
I love Jeannie’s plaid jacket so much, I had to give it to Stella to wear in the Neverland. (Along with the trousers, which Hook finds completely baffling!) As you can see, Jeannie was quite the fashion plate in her day. And while this jacket might be a little out-of-date by 1950, when Stella comes to the Neverland, postwar Britain was a time of austerity and rationing, so Stella probably was not buying a lot of new clothes. Also, in Jeannie’s era, women used bobby pins to set their wet hair in pin curls for that bouncy look, which I also made part of Stella’s signature look.
When James and Stella meet, everything changes in the Neverland. In James Hook, she finds someone far more sympathetic and complex than the storybook villain. And with Stella’s help, he finally has a chance to rewrite his story.
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“Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile who drags him down to a watery grave. But it was not yet my time to die. It’s my fate to be trapped here forever, in a nightmare of childhood fancy, with that infernal, eternal boy.”
Meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a witty, educated Restoration-era privateer cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. But everything changes when Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan’s rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes, to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain.
With Stella’s knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook’s last chance for redemption and release if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt her down and drag Hook back to their neverending game. Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen is a beautifully and romantically written adult fairy tale.