Guest Blog & Giveaway: Kendall Kulper on the Images That Inspired Salt & Storm & win Salt & Storm

September 16, 2014 Giveaways, Guests 14

A big welcome to Kendall Kulper who is here to telling us about Images That Inspired Salt & Storm and celebrating the release of Salt & Storm,  (published on September 23, 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). Want to win a copy? Enter via the widget below.



The Images That Inspired Salt & Storm


Kendall Kulper

I’m a pretty visual person, and when I started writing SALT & STORM, diving into historical research and hunting down period details, I began collecting photos, drawings, paintings, and cartoons. A lot of these can be found at the semi-official SALT & STORM Tumblr, The Old Whaling Island, and they became a kind of visual dictionary for the atmosphere and world of SALT & STORM. Here are some of my favorites:

New Bedford Captains Wives
White Dress

So! Many! Dresses! Avery is a well-to-do sixteen-year-old living in 1869 with a mother who wants her to be as fashionable as possible, so I pulled a lot of reference photos of beautiful nineteenth century dresses and looked at paintings from the era to get a sense of hairstyles and accessories. The painting of the girl in the white dress actually gets a mention in SALT & STORM:

She sat as carefully as a doll, hands in lap, feet tucked under skirts, buttoned up and sitting still and fragile and soft.
And I wondered: What did she look like with her hair down? What did she look like when something made her laugh? What did she look like running down a hallway or eating something delicious or washing her hair?
Västra Götaland, Lysekil, Lyse, Bohuslän, Miljöer-Fiskeläge
Wharf, Port Chalmers, 1890s

There aren’t a lot of photos taken of whaling towns in the 1860s, but whenever I found a photo of docks or villages, I stuck it in my folder. These proved to be great resources for thinking about the kinds of things Avery would see or hear on her island.


Like a lot of nineteenth century whale men, Tane, a sailor from the Pacific Islands who befriends Avery, keeps a journal to record drawings and thoughts of his travels. These drawings become an important link in Tane and Avery’s friendship, and I based them on real drawings by the artist Rockwell Kent. I’ve always loved these drawings, which come from a 1930s illustrated edition of Moby Dick. They have such a beautiful vibrancy, which Avery describes:

I flipped a page to a drawing of a man, and it was a man like I’d never seen before: the lines cleaner, more exaggerated, the shapes closer to a suggestion than reality. In the picture, the man bent over a plate of some food, his eyes half closed with exhaustion or hunger or relief. His hands, his impossibly long fingers, took up the center of the drawing, larger than they’d be in life, almost another animal altogether.

Minna Katriina

Minna Katriina

Noelle Stevenson

Noelle Stevenson

Eric Scott Pfeiffer

Eric Scott Pfeiffer


Carson Ellis

Sophie Blackall

Sophie Blackall

Kelly Bastow

Kelly Bastow

One of the great things about having a Tumblr was getting to see all the amazing artwork that artists posted. Sometimes I loved them just because they were pretty, sometimes because they were funny, sometimes because they reminded me of something from the book (like the image of the older and younger figure tying knots together—which might as well be an illustration for the first chapter of the book).

Sperm Whale Skin with Sucker Scars
Giant Squid
A lot of the images I found surprised me: I never realized, for example, that sperm whales, who eat great squid, actually carried scars on their skin from the squid’s suckers. Or that squid looked so weird when they weren’t in water.

Ruth St. Denis on the beach. (1915-1916)
Children Paddling 1890s
Some of my favorite photos in my collection are the ones of people, especially photos that show something of their personalities. I think there can be a tendency sometimes to think of people from the past as stodgy, boring, or removed. I love these more casual snapshots because they capture what it is I find so fascinating about history: that the past is full of moments and stories that are intimate, funny, and beautiful.

 Kendall Kulper writes historical fiction with a fantasy twist for teen readers and knows more about nineteenth century whaling than she ever imagined. Her debut YA novel, SALT & STORM will be published by Little, Brown September 23, 2014. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in history and literature in 2008 and spent several years as a journalist before deciding to write full-time. She grew up in the wilds of New Jersey and now lives in Boston with her husband and chronically-anxious Australian Shepherd mix, Abby.

Website  | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr


2 Hardcovers of SALT & STORM

 Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper


Available on September 23, 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers


A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder–and the one boy who can help change her future.
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she’s to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.
Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane–a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

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14 Responses to “Guest Blog & Giveaway: Kendall Kulper on the Images That Inspired Salt & Storm & win Salt & Storm”

  1. Courtney W

    I’ve been looking forward to this book since I first started reading about it 🙂 Thanks for the giveaway!!

  2. Carl

    I could spend all day looking at old photos and images like this so it’s really good that these posts only come up occasionally or I’d never do anything else. Thanks for the beautiful images and insights, and the chance to win Salt and Storm.

  3. erinf1

    congrats to Kendall on the new release! This sounds very intriguing 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  4. Danielle D

    Love this cover and can’t wait to pick up a copy of this book! Thank you for sharing the photos – it’s fun to see where you got some of your inspiration from!

  5. Danya @ Fine Print

    Wow, those photos of the whaling towns look exactly the way I pictured Prince Island. My favourite places on the island were the docks and the Roe cottage, they were so atmospheric (and a bit creepy)! Congrats on your book release – I loved it!

  6. Danielle D

    I love the images that you shared, the visual cues from these are amazing 🙂

  7. Barbara Elness

    I think Salt & Storm sounds like an awesome story and I look forward to reading it.

  8. Kai W.

    Salt & Storm have a very interesting story of whaling history mixed with magic. When I read the blurb, the book that came into my mind is Moby Dick.

  9. Andrea

    The second I read the synopsis for this book a few weeks ago, I added it to my TBR pile. And the images above make me 100% more excited to read the book – if that’s even possible. I love seeing the inspirations and influences of writers!