The book relays the story of Rachel, who finds herself rescued and captured by pirates. She applies lessons she’s learned from her five brothers to earn the pirates’ trust. Her tale is filled with adventure and weaves a web on the importance of family.
Anna said she came up with the idea on a family hike. The original story featured a girl en route to the Bahamas who falls through a hole in the plane and into the ocean, where she is found by pirates.
“She wasn’t inhibited by structure,” said Ryan McKinley, Anna’s father. “I really like the idea of the unexpected journey and the fact that she was saved and kidnapped at the same time by these pirates.”
“The Pirate Bride” remained untouched for two years until 2008, when the father-daughter duo found illustrator Jerry Bennett. Both members of Jedi OKC, a local “Star Wars” fan club, Bennett brought McKinley some illustrations fit for Anna’s vision.
“I illustrated some ideas from the original story, and they were fun,” Bennett said. “But, Ryan ended up looking at it and realized the mechanics of trying to bring that story to life.”
McKinley didn’t know how they were going to explain a sudden hole in a plane. After school, from 3:40 to 4:30 p.m., he and Anna sat side-by-side working on homework and “The Pirate Bride.”
“I’d be, ‘OK, this is happening, what do you think should happen next?’” McKinley said. “‘What do you think this character’s name should be? How do you think Rachel would react to this?’” Anna has been involved with more than 80 percent of writing the book and its sequel, to be released this fall. She said she’s in no way disappointed about the change of plot.
“Now that I’m older and I use reason on everything, I’m not like, ‘Oh, there’s a hole in the middle of the airplane and she walked out,’” she said. “But I think it’s better that we have the story … that none of the parents would agree with a hole in the middle of the airplane.”
Reading is a common family tie, but writing a book — that’s a different story. Anna said she suspects her brother is a little jealous of her new-found fame.
“He’s very proud of his sister and the hard work she put into it,” McKinley said.
The two have father-son time, too, making catapults and launching watermelons.
“It doesn’t matter that it was a story about pirates … it’s just whatever the kids are interested in,” McKinley said. “It’s not like that’s my philosophy on parenting, but that just seemed the best way to be a parent: Just follow your kids’ lead and then they can’t be bitter when they get older and blame you for ruining their life. But we’re not ruining it, are we?” Anna shook her head “no.” “One of the best parts was when I was speaking at a school,” Anna said. “A child that goes to the school came up to me and said, ‘Now hearing that you’ve written a book, I’d like to try to write my own book.’”