By Peter Vankevich

Ocracoke inspires many writers and West Virginia children’s author Jess Rinker, recently visited Ocracoke, bringing copies of her latest book, “The Dare Sisters.”

This is a story of a family in mourning and three young sisters who take on the task of continuing their dear departed grandfather’s search of Blackbeard’s treasure allegedly buried somewhere on Ocracoke. 

Rinker has received many writing awards and works as a writer’s coach.

Jess Rinker on a recent visit at the Ocracoke Coffee shop. Photo: P. Vankevich

Her books are primarily for children in the 8 to 12 ages include “Out of Time: Lost on the Titanic”  and a picture book illustrated by Daria Peoples-Riley, “Gloria Takes a Stand: How Gloria Steinem Listened, Wrote, and Changed the World.”

Rinker, who grew up in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, has been visiting Ocracoke since she was 14 years old and early developed a fascination with pirates from her summer visits and her early fascination with the natural world in the rural setting where she grew up.

“I was always a very exploring kid,” she said. “I was always barefoot, outside looking for not treasures exactly but, really cool rocks and beautiful feathers, pretty leaves and things like that. I was always collecting treasures from the natural world.”

As a child, she was free to roam about.

“I always joke that I grew up like a free-range chicken, because my parents were totally hands-off,” she said.

So, the Dare sisters’ parents give them the same free rein of Ocracoke, echoing Rinker’s own childhood.

Like many youth and adults here, the girls skateboard around the island and seeing an unusual skateboarding trio along Route One in Key Largo, Florida, five years ago got her thinking.

“It was like little carbon copies of little sisters,” Rinker said. “The oldest was standing on the front skateboard. The second one was sitting on hers and the youngest one was on her belly on her skateboard, and they were tied by a rope, and they were going down route one in Key Largo. “They were amazing, and I thought I’m writing a book about them someday.”

In the story, the grandfather was a long-time serious treasure hunter who left them a map to find Blackbeard’s treasure, causing the girls to make a pirates vow–bloody finger and all–and sneak out at night for a dig.

Rinker’s books are available on Amazon and she has a web page on McMillan Publishers website.

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