Careful what you wish for…
Sarah Schilling’s twelve year-old brother is wicked smart. But this? Pure genius. Brian snagged an invitation to spend the summer with their favorite aunt and uncle on St. Croix. Uncle Jack tells them, “There will probably be some swimming, some diving. We like to run. There’s a range, so maybe you’ll learn to shoot. Cooking. Your Aunt Helen is a classically trained chef. You knew that, right? There’s the Mallard seaplane, so maybe you’ll learn something about flying. That sort of thing.”
That sort of thing sounds like too much work for Sarah Schilling’s summer on the beach. Until Brian’s scuba regulator mysteriously fails sixty feet underwater. Her training snaps into laser focus. During Brian’s rescue they unearth the 250 year-old secret of Black Bart—the pirate and his ghost. The discovery launches them into a hurricane of peril at the hands of modern-day pirates. The Schilling family will not survive unless Brian and Sarah discover the most powerful weapon that is within themselves.
A Pirate’s Time Served is a YA thriller of a ghost story. It shows how two teens can dig deeper than they thought possible, discovering what it means to lead, to follow, and to never ever give up—especially on family.
A Pirate’s Time Served is my third novel. I wrote it while attending Stanford’s Writers School, Continuing Education. My second novel, God’s Banker, reached number eight on Amazon’s suspense list. I have also written eleven business books published by Simon & Schuster, Putnam, McGraw-Hill, Wiley, and Adams.
Q&A With The Author
Question #1: Tell us a bit about your background? How did your background
influence the genre you write in?
I’m currently studying at Standford’s writers school. Doing a YA/MG book is
part of that study. For me this was a challenging undertaking—I have no children
and don’t know very much about kids. What a joyful learning experience. I’ve
written three adult novels and certainly found doing a book for middle grades and
young adults more difficult. You’re writing for two audiences with very different
agendas. First are the parents. They’re the gatekeepers. There are a number of
rules the author cannot break if he wants to get his book past the gatekeepers.
Then there are the young readers I’m attracting. I want to keep them engaged,
interested, and entertained on a level that they can truly enjoy and remember the
Question #2: Where and when did your writing journey begin?
I began writing when I was a young CPA fresh out of graduate school. The
writing I did was purely professional and heavy on financial analysis. As my
career blossomed I became an investment banker. There I honed my writing skills
to combine the factual analytical with the persuasive.
I’m not a born writer. But my professional experience has
certainly helped my books—such as the use of multinational
corporations as the weapons of mass destruction depicted in
Deadly Acceleration and God’s Banker. I’ve dived all around
the world. That’s where the underwater scenes in A Pirate’s Time
Served came from. I’m happily married, live on the coast in
Southern California, and am an endurance athlete—a long
distance cyclist. My hobby is raising service dogs for the disabled. In fact, all
three of my novels feature these two beautiful, intelligent Labrador retrievers,
Carrie (left) and Dove. Both are former service dogs.
Question #3: Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your
Masters of action/adventure and suspense have shown me the way. Each provides
a unique perspective that I’ve managed to incorporate into my own style. There’s
Clive Cussler for a swaggering, cliché hero. There’s Lee Child for the incredibly
resourceful Jack Reacher. There’s the late Vince Flynn for the disciplined, but
outrageously irreverent Mitch Rapp. All have affected the way I’ve crafted my
Question #4: What does a typical day in your life look like? And how does your
writing routine fit into your day?
This is my business. Like any other business person, I have a definite schedule.
My day usually begins at 4:15 am. We’re up and out the door by 6:00 am. Both
my wife and I have clients on the east coast so we’re both in the office working
very early. My most creative time is right when I walk into the office. I usually
have a new book project in the works. From 6:30 am. To about 9:30 I work on the
From then until noon I work on client projects. My company, Writers Resource
Group, Inc. provides outsource financial literary services to large corporations.
During this time I write earnings releases, annual reports, speeches, magazine
articles, I ghost entire books for CEOs and the like. Lunch is short and very
healthy. I take our dogs on a half-mile walk, then back to the office.
Early afternoon is spent on the marketing of my current books. Blog tours, talking
with agents and publishers, writing my own blog entries, tweeting and
facebooking. Late afternoon, I’ll usually return to the new book under
construction and complete what I wanted to for that day. At 5:00 pm I leave the
office and go to the gym or take a 15-mile bike ride through the hills overlooking
the Pacific Ocean where we live. We’re usually in bed by 9:00 pm and asleep by
9:30. Four in the morning comes awfully soon.
Question #5: How did you come up with the idea for your book , “A Pirate’s
I was having some surgery. During recovery one of the nurses suggested I create a
place in my mind where the pain couldn’t find me. “Make it as detailed as you
possibly can,” she said, “that concentration will take your mind off of what you’re
going through.” I created Bart’s Cove featured in A Pirate’s Time Served. Readers
remark on how detailed both it and the island are. Truth is, the more detail I put
into Bart’s Cove—like the wreck of the Merryweather—the more pain there was.
Then at Stanford writers school, I needed to write a YA book. That need and by
then the living, breathing Bart’s Cove and the two main characters who lived
there was a perfect match.
Question #6: What do you think sets your book apart from others current on the
In the case of A Priate’s Time Served it’s definitely the research I did for the
book. The pirates who sailed the Caribbean and their ghosts are subjects that
many have attempted to understand. I’m satisfied with how this book blends fact
with fiction and speculation in an entertaining venue. Then there’s the universal
interest in finding buried treasure. Who wouldn’t like to find an ancient pirate’s
treasure chest filled to overflowing with golden ropes, solid gold chalices, bags of
gold coins and precious gems all sitting on top of gold and silver bars that line the
bottom and sides?
Readers tell me how different the epiphanies of the two lead characters—the
teens—are from other books. I mean what teenager could survive being plucked
from their comfy New York City apartment and thrown onto a Caribbean island
where they are supervised by a former Navy SEAL and his ex-party girl wife with
the objective of returning them to their parents as polite, respectful,
knowledgeable, and competent young adults? Except, these two not only
survived, they took over and saved the day.
Question #7: Which character in your book is your favorite and how much of
yourself is reflected in that character?
Each of my characters is my favorite. From Deadly Acceleration and God’s
Banker Jackson Schilling and Helen Taiko are back as the teen’s aunt and uncle.
The ghost of Black Bart is new and a wonderful addition to the crew. The two
lead teens—Brian and Sarah Schilling—are smart, complicated and very
resourceful. Each of the characters has a layering and growth they undergo
throughout the book. No one ends the same as they began the story. These
epiphanies resonate with my young adult and middle grade audience. They’re
interested in finding their own way and want to see how others do it. This book
accomplishes that in a very entertaining and thought provoking way.
Question #8: Which scenes in your book did you have the most fun writing?
Without a doubt the first fun scene came in Chapter 3 where Helen confronts
Sarah. It illustrates a teen’s death grip on her cell phone. It is also the start of the
two teen’s epiphany. Here’s an excerpt:
Sugarland’s Stuck Like Glue—Sarah’s latest cell phone ring tone. “Took you
long enough, Ashley—”
“May I have that cell phone, Sarah,” demands Aunt Helen.
“No,” says Sarah and turns her back. “…Nobody. So, did you and Danny
“Now,” insists Aunt Helen. She steps toward Sarah and snatches her cell phone
from her hand. Sarah lunges, raising her hand to grab it. Faster than I’ve ever
seen Aunt Helen sticks a straight arm right into her chest, knocking her back two
steps. Then Aunt Helen says, “Hi Ashley? Yeah, it’s Helen, Sarah’s aunt—”
“Oh my God,” screeches Ashley. “Aunt Helen? It’s really you? Sarah has told us
all about you. The New York party scene. The Clubs. The art shows and openings.
Getting arrested for being drunk and disorderly. That is so cool.”
“Yeah Ashley, it’s me alright. And that is not something I am especially proud of.
I’ve since matured. Listen, sweetie, Sarah is really busy at the moment. I’m afraid
she won’t be returning your call. At least not for the rest of the summer—”
Once I understood how Sarah thought, the book really started rolling. This
wonderful scene was as much an epiphany for me as for my characters.
Question #9: What do you hope for your readers to take away after reading your
First and foremost, my intent is to entertain my readers. But if they stay with the
book, they just may learn some things they didn’t know. For example, there’s
instruction on navigation—land, sea and air. There’s the history of the Caribbean
and its ghost pirates. Jack and Helen Schilling have a beautiful Mallard Seaplane
so there’s some instruction on how to fly and read the cockpit instrumentation.
These are fun, entertaining little teaching moments that are well researched,
factual and raise the book above the normal mindless YA/MG fare.
Question #10: What are your hopes for this book?
My wish for A Pirate’s Time Served is that parents and their teens both enjoy it.
My hope is that both will read it and each get something different out of it. Then,
they’ll discuss those different takeaways. I want this communication to set a new
basis for their relationship. Because, now there’s a book that both audiences
enjoyed and drew something unique from.
My other hope is rather silly. It won’t happen, but here goes. In writers school
they teach us to write cinematically—for the film industry. A Pirate’s Time
Served succeeds in creating a cinematic story that will be even better on the big
screen. My hope is that a feature film is made from this book. But…as I say, I am
not naïve about the prospects of getting the green light.
Question #11: What do you have in store next for your readers?
Classes begin at Stanford in September. I’m busily trying to get as much done on
my next adult book—an airport disaster book—as I can. This one is the fourth
installment of the Enforcement Division, again featuring Jackson and Helen
Schilling. This time they’re working with the FAA and NTSB to figure out the
cause of two airline disasters and to keep it from happening a third time. The
research I did for this book took me into the classes at USC’s Aircraft Incident
Investigation school—where the FAA and NTSB send their people for training.
About The Author
Chris Malburg is a widely published author, with work spread over 11 popular business books–including How to Fire Your Boss (Berkley) and Surviving the Bond Bear Market (Wiley, March 2011). In his other life, Chris is a CPA/MBA, a former investment banker and now the CEO of Writers Resource Group, Inc., providers of professional financial literary content to corporations (www.WritersResourceGroup.com). That’s the professional side of Chris’ career. The fun side began when UCLA’s Writers’ school taught him to transition from biz-speak to fiction. GOD’S BANKER and the first installment in the Enforcement Division series, DEADLY ACCELERATION, both combine Chris’ natural talent for story telling with his professional command of the high-stakes investment world and what money and power do to some people.
GOD’S BANKER came to fruition from Chris’ hospital bed while recuperating from an athletic injury. As a long-time endurance athlete, Chris is no stranger to the surgeon’scalpal. Over 130,000 words later, GOD’S BANKERwas complete. “It just poured out me,” says the author. “I carried my note pad to physical therapy; made plot notes during the hours in the gym doing rehab; even while on my long bicycle rides through the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean where we live. Slowly endurance returned and with it, GOD’S BANKER.”
Chris Malburg lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Marilyn. Their hobby is raising service dogs for Guide Dogs for the Blind. As of this writing, they have raised eight Labrador retrievers and have had three make the cut for placement with their disabled partners.