I'm lucky today to author Helen Hollick as a guest. Helen is an independent author who writes ficiton with a historical base. So you can check out why she decided to write books about pirates. Make sure you check out her books and her website. You won't be disappointed with what you find.
So why do I write pirate-based adventure stories?
By Helen Hollick
I ‘fell’ for my protagonist, Captain Jesamiah Acorne, the moment I met him on a drizzly October afternoon, on a deserted beach in Dorset, England.
I was deep in thought about an idea I’d had for a pirate-based novel. I had the title, Sea Witch – also the name of my hero’s ship. I had my hero’s ‘girl’; a midwife, healer, and a white witch - Tiola Oldstagh (an anagram of ‘all that is good’). I even had most of my plot. What I didn’t have was my main character.
I looked up, and there he was, standing a few yards away from me his black hair blowing in the wind, dressed in full pirate regalia complete with pistol and cutlass. He had a gold earring shaped like an acorn dangling from his ear. He looked at me, nodded, touched one finger to his hat.
“Hello Jesamiah Acorne,” I said.
Four Voyages later, with the fifth in the series half completed, I am still hooked on him. I describe him as a blend of Jack Sparrow and Indiana Jones, with a touch of Hornblower and Jack Aubrey but with an added dash of James Bond and Sean Bean’s sexy portrayal of Richard Sharpe. Jesamiah is, to use a well-worn phrase, the fictional love of my life.
So why write about pirates?
There is no easy answer, but I think it is because pirate stories, be they novels or movies, are pure escapism. Johnny Depp’s creation of Jack Sparrow (at least for the first movie, the other three were not so good) re-kindled that spark of interest in nautical adventure where belief is suspended in favour of a darn good sailor’s yarn of a tale. I wanted to savour a novel that was like the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. I found many good children’s and young adult stories, but nothing for adults with a more ‘mature’ content. So I wrote my own, wrote the story I wanted to read.
In reality pirates were (are!) the terrorists of their day. There was nothing romantic about a ship being boarded by dozens of drunken cut-throats, all eager to torture, rape, murder, and destroy the evidence by setting the ship on fire.
But fictional pirates are very different. They are rogues, yes; they would as soon cut your throat as cut your money-pouch from your belt, but there is a rugged charm associated with these scallywags. Pirate tales are a grand adventure romp, usually with barely any historical accuracy whatsoever. You know that the hero will dodge the gallows, find the treasure and get the girl in the end. For my Jesamiah, trouble follows him like a ship’s wake; he gets into serious fights and faces death on several occasions – but you know, as in all fictional dramas, that he will survive.
The fun is in finding out how he manages it.
And that is why I love writing my Sea Witch Voyages: because they are fun to write and fun to read.