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Interview with Moriah Chavis

Learn how the Pirates Of the Caribbean series of movies inspired Moriah Chavis with Heart of the Sea

When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I was 12, and I had just finished Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Like many people in 2008, I was obsessed and wanted to create my own stories. I didn’t sit down and really commit to it until I was 17, but I wanted to finish a full-length manuscript. It wasn’t good, and it will forever remain on my laptop, but it was finished and my first story.

How did you come up with the idea for Heart of the Sea?
During 2020, my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I were trying to make our way through different movie series. One of the series was Pirates of the Caribbean. I got to thinking about a female pirate on the hunt for her sister, and the story started from there.

How and why did you choose this particular setting for this story?
It was greatly impacted by the Pirates movies. I wanted it to be tropical and a little medieval but also not so stuck in the past that the characters couldn’t talk with a little more freedom than some characters do in medieval fantasy.

Who was your favorite character to write, and why?
I loved writing Cyrus’s cousin, Becci (pronounced Beh-sea). She’s very sassy and no nonsense. She doesn’t give Cyrus or Nerissa an easy time, and I loved that about her.

Can you describe a day in the life of an author? What are your writing must-haves and must-dos?
I work full-time as a school librarian, so my author life usually happens after work. I don’t have a ritual or many must-haves other than my laptop, a place to set it (my lap desk or the standing desk my husband and I sometimes share), and maybe one of my cats nearby.

What message do you hope readers take away from your story?
Even in the darkest times, there is hope. I want to write stories that inspire positivity. Nerissa, my main character, starts out the story very morally gray because of the things she has to do to get to her sister, but she finds her way to the Light in the end. I think that’s an important message to see.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
I like to write in the morning, but I have to be at work pretty early. So, I usually workout before work now to allow time to write in the evenings. Sometimes, the laundry doesn't get folded, and sometimes the chapter doesn’t get finished. I don’t want to spend so much time in my made up world that I forget the one around me, but I like to share those worlds with the people in my real life, too. Because writing is a second job for me, it’s very important to have a strong support system, and I do have that in my family.

What was the hardest scene to write?
I struggle with battle scenes. They are my least favorite things to write. They look great on TV, but I find myself having to constantly map them out in my head to get them right. I commend those who do them well!

Do you have anything in common with your characters?
I had some art made for my characters, and my students ask me all the time if I’m Nerissa. I think I accidentally made her look a little like me, sans glasses. Maybe it was on purpose? :) Either way, she does have some personality traits that I have. She wants everything to be set right, almost perfect, especially after what happened between her and her sister. She likes to be in control, but she has to learn that sometimes it isn’t possible. I think she and I are very similar in that regard.

What is your favorite line from the book?
“‘Stories carry their own magic.’”

How does your faith and spiritual life play into the stories you tell?
I want to write a story of hope, and I think my Christianity will play a part in every story that I tell, no matter the intended audience. In Heart of the Sea, there is a battle against good and evil, and I think people really resonate with it because everyone has seen that battle in one way or another. My stories show that there can be hope even in the darkest of times.

If you could recommend only three books to a friend, which three would you choose?
This is such a difficult question! I’m a big Harry Potter fan, so it would have to be on the list. Harry Potter truly is one of the most magical stories I’ve ever read, and not because of the plot but because of how I’ve seen it work to bring new readers to books. The Words We Lost was my first book by Nicole Deese, and one of the best stories I’ve ever read.

What authors have inspired you on your journey to publication?
So many! I started networking long before my book was out, even before it was written. I’m very much inspired by authors like Jaime Jo Wright and also JK Rowling (her adult novels under Robert Gailbraith are brilliant). Some other authors include: Suzanne Collins, Carmen Schober, Melanie Dickerson, and Erin Beaty. But there are so many, so that list is all but exhaustive.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Keep writing and finish the story. My first drafts are terrible. One of my fellow writers told me recently, “Writers are made in editing.” It’s hard to tell a good story, and it’s also hard to take feedback. But once you get good at the latter, you’ll be better at the first.
Stephanie Rose Finsterbush is an aspiring author who writes historical romances with humor and heart. Wife and homeschool mom of two, Stephanie blogs about her family, their multiple cross-country moves, and her journey to publication at

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