February 16, 2017

A fourteen-year-old complained to her parents’ friend that there’s “no girl Indiana Jones,” so he wrote her one


When you’re editing a book, you generally try to temper criticism with praise, exercise some delicacy when it comes to suggestions. Kill the darlings gently. But fourteen-year-old Hailey Keller isn’t having any of that.

When Hailey, an avid reader, complained to her parents’ friend Nick Klett that there weren’t enough action or adventure books for and about girls, Klett got to work writing one — and ran his drafts by Hailey.

“It was a lot of, ‘This sucks,’” Klett told Kate Elizabeth Queram at the Greensboro News & Record. “So then it was just a matter of establishing, ‘OK, what exactly sucks?’ She was brutal. Absolutely brutal. But that’s what I needed, because she’s the target market.”

She also inspired the book’s hero, Hailey Heartstone, and served as a model for the cover. The book is called Pirate Queen: Book of the Navigator, and the design “was drawn from dozens of photos of Keller, clad in a [pirate] costume handmade by her grandmother.”

Pirate Queen was self-published on January 17, presumably without any of the parts that sucked.



Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.