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The Captain’s Daughters and Beyond the Stars are Doreen D. Berger’s books in a series about the adventures of the Marsh sisters, Diane and Robin. Doreen, known to her family and friends as Diane, has based the series on her relationship with her lifelong friend, Robin, and their spirited childhood escapades. Doreen lives on Long Island with her family and pets. Watch for Beyond the Stars, Doreen’s second novel in the series, due to be released May, 2022.

From an article written for PagesandPaws.com

If anyone had told me that someday I would write a book, I would have laughed and let them know, in no uncertain terms, they were crazy. Me, write a book? Are you nuts? I can’t even write a letter (not that anyone writes letters anymore). “Hi! How are you? I’m fine.” That’s my exciting attempt at letter writing.

Then, one day about twenty-five years ago, my best friend, Robin, (who had been the recipient of many of my boring, “Hi. How are you? I am fine,” letters), emailed me a funny “what if” scenario she had written. Something about me dating a real crazy dude. It had me hysterical laughing. I decided to answer with my own “what if” story.

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To give you some background…Robin and I met in the third grade and became fast friends. We both had genius brothers and wished we could dump them and become sisters. We were exactly eight months apart…I was born on April eighth, and she was born December eighth. Reading was our favorite past time. Science fiction was our favorite genre, and we would dream about living an exciting life as sister-explorers on a starship. And, we were always getting into harmless mischief. Visits to the principal’s office were not uncommon.

So, I sent Robin a ten-page scenario based on our childhood dreams. She answered with two words – “keep going.” So, I did. And that is how The Captain’s Daughters was conceived.

Robin and I still laugh about the mischief we got into, but mischief comes with consequences, and that is the one thing I wanted the intended audience (9 to 12-year-old readers) to understand. In The Captain’s Daughters, Captain William Marsh loves his daughters beyond measure, and instills in the them the importance of taking responsibility for their actions, and the consequences that come from those actions.

All writers have experienced writers-block at some time or another. It can be paralyzing. For me, the “spaghetti-on-the-wall” approach has worked best. As they say, if you throw enough spaghetti at a wall, eventually something will stick! When I am at an impasse, I keep writing. Most of it is garbage, but then something miraculous happens…something sticks…an idea I can work with, and I’m off and running (well, writing…I don’t run anywhere anymore!).

The Captain’s Daughters and Beyond the Stars are deeply personal books for me. They were born of a friendship that has lasted sixty years. Those little girls who dreamed of being sister-explorers on a starship are now retired, and I have a grandson almost the same age as when I first met Robin. My wish for him is to forge friendships that last a lifetime. There are few gifts in life better than that.

From an interview on Carol Baldwin’s Blog

  • What inspired you to write The Captain’s Daughters?

The Captain’s Daughters was inspired by my life-long friendship with my best friend Robin.  As kids, we were always getting into some kind of mischief. We met in the third grade and we both loved science-fiction and dreamed about living on a starship and how cool that would be. That became the basis for the book.

  • In the first pages of The Captain’s Daughters, you mention that your book is dedicated to Robin. In the last pages, you also mention that while growing up, your childhood nickname was ‘Diane’. Does this have anything to do with the names of your two main characters, Robin and Diane?

Absolutely!

  • Is William Marsh, Diane and Robin’s father, based on a person you know? For that matter, is any of the rest of the cast?

Since the book was inspired by my friendship with Robin, and a few of Diane and Robin’s escapades actually came from some of the trouble we got into, it only seemed natural to base some of the other characters in the book on people we know. Captain Marsh is based on my dad, who was my hero, with a lot of other influences thrown in! He was a fun character to write.

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  • How long did it take you to write The Captain’s Daughters, and how has the book changed during the writing and publishing process?

The Captain’s Daughters took about six months to write.

  • What inspired you to name the Polaris—The ship that Robin and Diane’s father pilots—after the north star?

Polaris can be found almost directly above the North Pole and is nicknamed the North Star. It is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor (the Little Bear). As the Earth turns, Polaris appears to remain stationary and all the stars appear to rotate around it. It is the only star in the sky to have this unique characteristic, and since its stationary position points due north, Polaris can be used for navigation in the Northern Hemisphere. As it says in the introduction to the book, “For centuries, explorers need only look to the heavens and to Polaris, to find their way safely home.” It seemed appropriate to name the starship Polaris, as Captain Marsh will always bring his crew, and his daughters, safely home.

  • How would you describe The Captain’s Daughters in one sentence?

A fun romp through the cosmos with two mischievous sisters!

  • What scenes did you find were the most fun to write? Do you have a favorite scene out of the whole book?

Without a doubt, the scenes when the girls get themselves into trouble were so much fun to write! I especially like the one where the girls sneak into the secondary control room and send out emergency orders for pizza. It always makes me giggle.

  • What does your writing process look like, from start to end?

I am an undisciplined writer! I only write when the mood strikes, but when the story starts to fit into place, I can’t stop and will sometimes write from morning to bedtime.

  • In The Captain’s Daughters, Robin and Diane, our protagonists, don’t get to spend much time with their father, William Marsh, because of his responsibilities as captain of the Polaris. What does a typical day look like for Marsh, and what are his responsibilities as captain?

The second book, Beyond the Stars, describes more of Captain Marsh’s routine. He is an early riser, spends at least an hour every morning in the gym and then meets his daughters and senior staff in his private dining room for breakfast. His day is spent navigating his ship and overseeing the 2000+ crew members on the Polaris. He is renowned for his negotiating skills and the planets he has brought into the LUP (League of Universal Planets). If all is calm on the Polaris, he has dinner with his daughters and senior staff. Before his last shift on the bridge, he stops in to say goodnight to his daughters and chat about their day.

  • In The Captain’s Daughters, there are mentions of a third world war, the League of Universal Planets, and a war with a species called the Frazons who take over other planets. These events aren’t explained but seem to be important. Could you give us a brief history of the universe in which your book takes place?

In my imagination, there is a third World War sometime in the twenty-second century. Almost 900 million people die in that war and there is hardly a family on Earth that does not lose a loved one. Society finally realizes the need for global peace, and though it takes a while, the goal is realized…war on Earth ceases to exist. This peace brings global cooperation and through joint efforts, space exploration is finally realized…other planets and alien races are contacted and the LUP (League of Universal Planets) is formed. But, there has to be an enemy to make life interesting (at least for a book!), and that is where the Frazons come in.

  • Who designed the cover for The Captain’s Daughters? How much of a role did you play in the design process?

The cover for The Captain’s Daughters was designed by a company in New Zealand called Damonza. In my mind I knew basically what I wanted (the Santa Fe landscape fading into a night sky, horses that resemble Pepper and Cloud, the different planets, and the space station). I gave them this info and they ran with it. I think they did a fabulous job…I love the cover! And the cover for Beyond the Stars is just as nice!

Diane and Robin welcome your comments and questions:

diane@dianeandrobin.com
robin@dianeandrobin.com