Friend Friday

Heidi Schulz is one busy lady. When she’s not homeschooling her daughter or organizing festivals like Portland’s Wordstock, she is making spreadsheets and other shenanigans. She is also a wonderful writer of middle grade novels, including her debut novel, Hook’s Revenge, and the brand-new sequel, Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code which is why I’m delighted to host her here today.

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Heidi Schulz ( photo credit Stefani Chabot)

Conflict, while uncomfortable in life, makes for excellent reading. Without it, books would be dry and dull. Perhaps that’s one reason I enjoy writing for a middle grade audience. Children of that age are in flux. Everything is changing: their school settings, the world around them, family relationships, friendships, and even their own bodies. The potential for conflict is at threat level orange or above nearly all the time.

Middle grade friendships can be a particular minefield. All at once they can be wonderful, exciting, comforting, frightful, anxiety inducing, and complicated things, especially, dare I say, for tween and young teen girls. I remember desperately needing my friends for acceptance and approval, to help me find my way in the world, and to help me understand my place in it. But just as desperately, I remember wanting to be known for doing interesting, unusual, or great things. I wanted to shine. It was such a delicate balancing act, trying to fit in, but still stand out. The push and pull of young adolescence is as constant as the tide.

Though none of my characters are based on me, they all share some of my traits. The craving for, and struggle with, female friendships is for Jocelyn, Captain Hook’s daughter and the thirteen-year-old heroine of both Hook’s Revenge and next week’s new release, Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code, as difficult as it was for middle school me.

In the beginning of Hook’s Revenge, Jocelyn is exiled to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies and forced to endure lessons on manners, embroidery, and dance when she would vastly prefer lessons on prowling, pillaging, and plundering. She doesn’t quite fit the mold and, as a result, her relationships with the other girls at school are adversarial, to say the least.

Like Jocelyn, I often felt like I was under a microscope—that everyone was looking at me, but no one could really see me. I struggled with finding and keeping friendships, especially with other girls.

For Jocelyn, It isn’t until the next book, The Pirate Code, that she meets a girl with the same thirst for adventure. Evie takes naturally to the pirate life, meeting every challenge with a grin on her face and a sword in her fist. You would think that might make the two the best of friends, but as I mentioned before, friendships can be complicated. One of the difficulties Jocelyn encounters is the jealousy that can come when someone else excels at the very thing that once felt like it was only yours.

Stand out.

Fit in.



Jocelyn eventually figures out what she wants and what she needs. It took some time, but I did too. I found my people, girlfriends that supported me and encouraged me, as I did for them. For the most part, I was able to put relationship conflicts to rest—at least until I started paying more attention to boys. Dating came with its own set of conflicts. Maybe one day I’ll try my hand at writing YA…


Heidi Schulz lies to children for fun and profit. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, Hook’s Revenge, published by Disney•Hyperion, was a Bank Street Best book, among the New York Public Library’s Top 100 Titles for Children in 2014, and an OCTE Oregon Spirit Honor Book. A sequel, Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code, was just released. Bloomsbury Kids will publish her picture book debut, Giraffes Ruin Everything, in Spring 2016. Heidi likes pie more than you do. 

No Responses to “Friend Friday”

  1. Rosi Hollinbeck

    Oh, my. Some of this resonates so deeply with me. “It was such a delicate balancing act, trying to fit in, but still stand out.” and “everyone was looking at me, but no one could really see me.” I think that describes the age so very well. I am going to have to get these books and read them with my granddaughter who is ten and feeling these feelings. Heck. I still have those feelings! Thanks for a wonderful post.