The Shell and the Octopus

This week’s other featured books, “In Love With Spring,” by Robin Stratton, “Askew,” by Robert Vaughan, and “The High Price of Freeways,” by Judy Juanita, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.


The Shell and the Octopus.


THE AUTHOR:  Rebecca Stirling

: Jill Angel

: She Writes Press

SUMMARY: A young girl circumnavigates the world on a thirty-foot sailboat with her father who loves adventure, woman and extremes. This is the story of my childhood: A young girl raised by the sea, by men and by literature. They spend weeks at a time on the open ocean surviving storms and also visiting uncharted Islands and villages. They get arrested in Cuba. She befriends ‘working girls’ as they are often the only other females present in the bars that they end up in. On the boat she falls in love with her crewmate and learns to live like the men around her. But through reading literature and her driven spirit, she is determined to be a lady, continue her education, begin a career, live in a real home, and begin a family of her own that is not dysfunctional. Once she finally gets away from the boat and her dad, and embarks upon her own dream, she begins to realize life is not what she thought it would be. But then her father dies in a tragic accident and she must return to her old life, without him, to sift through the mess and magic he has left behind.

THE BACK STORY: Rebecca Stirling was comissioned by a family friend to write his book, about sailing from Hong Kong, through the Sulu sea and on to Singapore. They were attacked by pirates, purchased weapons and were thrown in Changi prison, amongst other adventures. Rebecca was a young child on the boat with this family friend. When she brought the story to agents and publishers, they asked, ‘why are you writing this book.’ And with the answer, they wanted to know more about the little girls that was brought up by these men on the boat. She went back through her journals, photos and memories, some of them painful, and the current story emerged. 

WHY THIS TITLE?: Someone gave me a shell that had a perfect circle drilled into it, by an octopus beak. The small, fragile spindle iside the shell was still intact. It reminded me that we all form ‘shells,’ or protective veils, and they are still vulnerable. And, the octopus is a fascinating creature to me: a shapeshifter, very intelligent, morphing into shapes and fluidly fitting into small crevices as well as flying through the water at incredible scpeeds. The octopus is mesmerizing, and powerful with its ability to strangle with its legs and suctions cups, as well as the drilling power of its beak.

This book is unique in that it is a sailiing adventure story told from the perspective of a young girl and woman. Niche: Travel adventure, sailing, father daughter.

: “The Shell and the Octopus is an insightful coming-of-age memoir about a strong and compassionate woman. Raised by her unstable father aboard a thirty-foot sailboat, Rebecca Stirling’s haphazard adventures allow her to make peace with herself in a dangerous and gorgeous world. She is everywoman and yet not like anyone else you’ve ever met.” —Leslie Johansen Nack, author of The Blue Butterfly

“(Stirling’s) recollections from later years, culled from her journals, are viscerally and eloquently detailed descriptions of the beauty, loneliness, and rowdiness of the extraordinary world of her formative years.  A poignant and lyrical read that will ring true with sailors and interest landlubbers.” – Kirkus Reviews

The Shell and the Octopus is an extraordinary coming-of-age story of a girl on a sailboat, learning to navigate not only the high seas and an unpredictable father, but also the secrets of her own heart and desire. With courage and sensitivity, Rebecca Stirling reveals and unravels the events and people which have both shaped her and empowered her, in order to make a life and a home, all her own. A riveting read, at once heartbreaking and heartwarming.” —Lone Morch, author of Seeing Red and Embody 

AUTHOR PROFILE: Rebecca Stirling lives between Colorado and Kauai with her two children. She teaches creative art and writing classes to help spread the knowledge and ingenuity of world cultures. She continues to sail and travel, read and write, and has a love for the stories individuals, cultures, and our earth, have to tell. She has published in ‘Outdoor Magazine,’ and ‘Mountain Outlaw Magazine,’ among others.

 AUTHOR COMMENTS: Rebecca Stirling would like people to see an up close perspective of a world they may not otherwise experience, and bring this perception into the bigger picture of wisdom and compassion. She continues to work on stories which emphasize culture, arts, medicine, nature, gobalization and global warming.


LOCAL OUTLETS: Explore Booksellers, Aspen Colorado. Bookbinders, Basalt Colorado.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble. 

PRICE: $17.95


Tabitha Bailey

Senior Publicist | Critter Caretaker (kid included) | 805.217.1905

Web: | | | | |

Social: @GoSparkPoint | @BookSparks | @SheReadsDotCom | @SheWritesDotCom | @SheWritesPress | @GoSparkPress



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rebecca stirling

Kauai Specialtea, Tropicals and Spice



Published by


Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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