The Captain and the Queen
The Captain & the Queen is a young adult coming of age book written by author Phillip Vega about two high school students who are about to have a year of high school that could forever change their lives. The question is if this change will be for better or for worse?
Mateo Nelson was a senior in high school who was ready to just skate through his last year stuck in high school before he could head off to college. Yet, those plans went out the window the moment he laid eyes on the beautiful daughter of a Greek tycoon called Calista.
I personally found this book to be something of a new take on the whole Romeo and Juliet story without all the same boring themes. Instead of a doomed love story with two families more or less at war this book focuses on the two teenage characters and their lives.
The author does touch on some difficult topics life abuse and bullying, yet the author does this without making the book into a rallying cry or a call for action. Instead, the author creates a very realist scenario that two young people could find themselves in. In fact, the author did such a great job with this that there were times where I wondered if this book might have been inspired by real people.
Overall, I found that I greatly enjoyed reading this book and I personally found Calista to be my favorite character as I could not help, but sympathize with her and her situation.
Behind the Scenes with Phillip Vega
- What inspired you to write The Captain & the Queen after writing Last Exit to Montauk?
- That’s simple. One word. Love. That one word changed the world and continues to do so. In my case, it’s the love of sharing a story. Sharing what I see in my mind’s eye and translating it to the page. I love the whole process, from creating the content to working with my editor to continue the transformation to working with my publishing team on delivering the final product to the masses.
- For me, after I began writing Last Exit to Montauk, the floodgates opened. Writing books was never part of my life plan. It wasn’t even on the bucket list. It just happened on a rainy Saturday afternoon in August 2015. I found myself sitting on my couch with my iPad, with nothing to watch on television. Suddenly images began filling my mind’s eye, and I found myself transported to the world of Last Exit to Montauk.
- Six weeks later, I completed my first manuscript, and ideas continued to flow. I found myself returning to the same “world” of Last Exit to Montauk, but visiting with different characters. That visit birthed The Captain & the Queen. The new story is set in the same universe, but focused on different characters.
- In what ways is The Captain & the Queen different from Last Exit to Montauk?
- From a macro perspective, I’d like to think my writing continues to improve with this new release. Even though they take place in the same universe, time period, location, etc. the main characters are different. In Last Exit to Montauk, although the main characters are from different backgrounds, there is parity between the two, economically. That’s not the case in The Captain & the Queen. In The Captain & the Queen, the male protagonist is from a middle-class background, while the female protagonist is a worldly daughter of a wealthy Greek global industrialist. The love stories and journeys are definitively different, just like life.
- Think about your time in high school. Now think about all your various classmates, including the ones who fell in and out of love. Everyone has his/her own journey. Their own story, even though it happened at the same time. That’s the universe I’m creating.
- In what ways is the The Captain & the Queen similar to Last Exit to Montauk?
- Both are coming-of-age love stories, set in Long Island in the mid-’80s. Also, both stories, as well as the rest of my books, will have a few common threads. The first being that they’re set in the same universe. At least one of the protagonists will have stopped, lived and/or attended the prep school in Stony Brook, New York, showcased in both Last Exit to Montauk and The Captain & the Queen.
- The love in both is palpable and relatable, even though the journeys are different. Also, both are told from the male protagonist’s perspective.
- The last thread is not as obvious, yet equally important to me, which is showcasing Hispanic-Americans as white-collar professionals. I’m interested in turning the current narrative we’re seeing in the media on its ear.
- I grew up in an upper-middle-class Hispanic household, the immigrant son to a physician mother from the Dominican Republic, who came to this country legally, and proudly became a citizen. My Puerto-Rican father, born in New York, worked for the federal government. In their honor, and in honor of my children and others like me, these are the types of characters I’m going to portray in my novels: white-collar, hard-working Hispanics.
- Which parts were the hardest and easiest for you to write and why?
- The hardest parts were finding the time. Writing is a part-time job for me at the moment. I have a full-time job. Also, I’ve been married for over 25 years and have four sons, although my youngest is now a sophomore in college. As I mentioned, this wasn’t on the bucket list, or part of the life plan. So, managing my day job, selling software across the country, spending time with my wife and family, and finding time to write is challenging.
- The easiest part, once I made the time, was letting the words flow out from my mind’s eye, through the fingertips, and onto the page. It took me six weeks to write each manuscript because the stories were all there. I just needed to get them onto the page. That’s the same for all my manuscripts so far. All are started and in various stages. I just need to make the time and finish them.
- Lastly, the easiest part was working with my editor and publisher, Janet Fix of thewordverve. She and I have created a rhythm, or shortcuts of sorts. I love the editing process. I think it helps that I come from a business background. I’m used to negotiating contracts and content. When she makes recommendations, I don’t take it personally. I review them, and if I agree, which 99.87% of the time I do; I smile and move on.
- I know she has our best interests in mind and wants to deliver the best story possible, so how can I argue with someone like that? The great news is, when I disagree, she’s okay with it too, because again, she only wants the best for both of us. I love working with her!
- Were there any characters that you had to struggle to write and were there any characters that just seemed to come together naturally?
- Really, the only two characters I had a challenge with were the antagonists from both stories: Kyle in Last Exit to Montauk and Callie’s father in The Captain & the Queen. I’ve known people like this in real life, and based on the feedback I’ve received, I’m not alone. My goal for both is not to make them likeable, but relatable. That’s the goal for all my characters, actually.
- Having said that, all my characters do seem to come naturally. It may have to do with my process and how the manuscripts come together. I don’t know how it works for others, like JK Rowling, Nicholas Sparks or Stephen King, but my stories come to me almost like videos or movies in my mind’s eye.
- I’ll be sitting on the couch, mowing the lawn, sitting in an airport, or simply driving my car, and it’s like a switch goes off in my head. Suddenly, I’m transported somewhere, and I’m “standing there” in the midst of a video or movie. Imagine suddenly being transported to Hogwarts or Castle Rock, Maine, and the events of a story begin taking place around you.
- That is what it’s like for me. I’m suddenly there as a silent witness, and I see the entire story play out in my head. From there, I transfer what I’ve witnessed, almost like a reporter, from my mind’s eye to the page.
- Who was your favorite and least character and why?
- The female protagonists in both stories: “B” in Last Exit to Montauk, and Callie, in The Captain & the Queen, are my favorites. Maybe it’s because I’m a romantic at heart, as someone told me the other day, but I simply fell in love with both characters. It’s not just their beauty, but also their independence, strength of character, and personal drive they both have, that, frankly, turns me on. They’re both self-assured, know who they are and what they want, and I simply love that.
- My least favorite character is the antagonist’s father in Last Exit to Montauk, Gus Fergusen. I’ve known men like this too. He’s successful, goes through wives like they’re bottles of water, and even hits on teenage girls. Nothing is off limits for this guy. He’s slime, and it has an impact on his children.
- Do you have any plan to continue to write more books? If yes, do you have any ideas or plans for them, and could you give us a sneak peek or preview about what you will be publishing next?
- Yes, and yes. As I mentioned, since sitting on the couch in August 2015, the dam burst, and the ideas have flooded my senses. I currently have over 20 manuscripts in various stages, which excites my publisher.
- My next book is called Searching for Sara. Similar to the previous books, this too is set in the same universe, but focused on different Hispanic characters. Also, unlike the previous stories, this is not a coming-of-age love story, although we do witness the protagonist’s journey from adolescence to adulthood.
- This is more of an LBGTQ discovery piece, mixed with a familial love story, between a brother and older sister. The younger brother discovers after his older sister passes away—a woman whom he adored—that she had been a lesbian. This revelation occurs at the beginning of the book, so no spoiler alert needed.
- The reader takes the journey along with the brother as he learns about the secret life his sister had kept from him, starting in the tumultuous mid-’80s to today’s world, where everyone can get married, at least in the US.
- His sister, Nina, turns out to be more complex than he thought, and we witness his struggles regarding her death and coming to terms with who she was in life.
- Is there anything you would like to share with your readers or fans about being an author?
- Yes, I love feedback, even if it’s negative. Also, I love the whole creative aspect, which I preciously share.
- Were there any aspects of writing you struggled with (dialogue, character creation, setting description, and/or plot creation)? If you did struggle, how did you overcome it and what advice would you give to new author on how to overcome the hurdles that come with being an author?
- Sure I struggle. Struggling is natural, I think. I want my characters to come across as authentic and realistic. I also want to stay true to the characters, so when I’m creating dialogue or circumstances, I think to myself, “Is this authentic? Would she or he say this?”
- I overcome it by relaxing. I’ll listen to music and let it transport me for a while. Take me out of my head, ya know? Step away and come back with fresh eyes. If I could give advice on this, it’s to find your way to relax and allow the words to flow from you naturally.What/who inspired you to write this book?
- What inspired me to write The Captain & the Queen was a real circumstance. Someone from my former high school had tagged me in an old photo. As I stared at the black-and-white picture, the story of this novel began playing in my mind’s eye. As with the other transcripts that I’ve started, the story stayed with me, compelling me to sit down and write it. Six weeks later, The Captain & the Queen was born.