30 November 2015

HOLIDAY HISTORIES...



Join a selection of eight fabulous authors 
over the next eight days for our 
Holiday Historical Fiction Blowout!
Dec 1st - 8th
A different author every day 
and a chance to buy some e-books for  only 99p / 99c each
(limited offer for the tour only)
That's eight books for under £8/$8

My contribution for December 5th
     let's go somewhere HOT...
         how about...?
            The Caribbean...
               The Early 18th Century...
                   At Sea... With Pirates?




So what was so 'golden' about the Golden Age of Piracy? Apart from the plundered loot - gold, silver and other valuables, not a lot really. It is one of those rather daft sayings like "The Glorious War" or "The Swinging Sixties" (war is never glorious and were the sixties really swinging?)

Piracy, let's face it, was the terrorism of the eighteenth century (still is, come to that - piracy has never gone away!)


Buy Sea Witch - special offer 99c/99p
On the other hand, maybe we only believe that pirates were ruthless killers who tortured and terrorised because these are the only ones we know about? The only ones reported in the newspapers of the day. Similar to modern news on TV or in the papers, it is always the doom and gloom that gets reported. Nice pirates were not newsworthy, nasty ones were. And rich merchants were getting poorer because of pirates, so for the ordinary person, who didn't much like the greed of the rich merchants pirates were very popular. They stole from the rich... so who cared? Don't we feel a little bit the same even now? Sir Mon E Bags gets burgled. No one is hurt but Lady Mon E Bags has had her precious diamonds nicked. Well, so what? She's insured isn't she? 

The eighteenth century is also 'famous' for the start of the African Slave Trade when thousands were transported, against their will, often tortured and murdered; those poor souls who died in appalling conditions in transit across the Atlantic. Many of our huge companies today were founded on the money made by the rich who owned lucrative plantations in the Caribbean and the Colonies - the cotton mill owners, the sugar and its off-shoot, rum, producers; the tobacco industry... Is the way they made their money really any worse than those chaps who found themselves a boat and sailed the Caribbean or the African coast in search of an easy-come fortune?

Not all pirates were as evil as the infamous (mentally deranged I'm sure) Blackbeard. He even shot members of his own crew! Most pirates didn't want a fight. All they wanted was the loot - and the easier they could get it the better. They would cruise the seas, spot a likely-looking vessel and attack with a lot of noise and a lot of threatening behaviour, but often, not much else. The ideal was for their prey to be so frightened the Chase would heave-to and surrender: "take our gold but don't harm us". Which is how most of these robberies took place.

Modern day equivalent would be for a balaclava-wearing guy dashing into a bank waving a toy pistol shouting a lot and running off with a bag full of hastily-grabbed banknotes. (Or maybe bankers swindling us and their banks out of the (we thought) safely stored savings? What's worse, robbery by bravado or robbery by  bankers' stealth and fraud? I say the latter.)

Most pirates did not get rich. Most spent their few gold and silver pieces in the nearest tavern on booze and buxom wenches. The idea of buried treasure, is, sadly, a myth.

So why do we like pirates and pirate stories? Errol Flynn, Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow.. .my own Jesamiah Acorne?


Well, I think the 'Golden Age' was bright and shiny because it was an age of derring-do, of adventure and High Sea drama. Where every day, every hour, could be your last. Where the life aboard a pirate ship was the only freedom these men (and women!) could find for themselves; where a few adventurous souls fought back against the wealthy - the merchants, the East India Company, the politicians and big-wigs of the day. Where ordinary people thought of pirates as brave heroes and where, if you were a pirate and if you were lucky you might be able to make a fortune. And if you didn't, well life was short, but as a pirate it could at least be a merry one!
Buy Sea Witch - special offer 99c/99p
I wrote Sea Witch as a swashbuckling adventure with a dash of believable fantasy thrown in for good measure. I wanted to read a book that had the same fun and action as Errol Flynn and Johnny Depp - a sailor's yarn about pirates. With gold-tinted glamour seen through very rosy-tinted glasses. A charmer of a rogue for the lead, a beautiful woman for his lover - and James Bond / IndianaJone style adventures for the plot; where, for my protagonist, Captain Jesamiah Acorne, trouble follows him like a ship's wake.... You know he'll get out of it (as Bond, Indians Jones et al always do) but the fun is discovering how he gets out of it! Therein lies the adventure!


Here's how the first Voyage of the Series, Sea Witch, begins:

Mermaid was moving fast, the ship bowling along with her sails filled, the canvas billowing, cordage creaking and straining. She climbed over the next wave, her bow lifting to linger a moment before swooping down into another deluge of spray. Completing the see-saw movement her stern soared high as the roller trundled beneath her keel. The wind smelt of hot, dry and dusty land, of jungle and grass savannah. Of Africa.

The look out, clad in an old shirt and sailor's breeches was perched high in the crosstrees, one hundred and thirty feet above the deck. Excited, he pointed to the horizon. "Over there Jesamiah, that's where I saw 'er. I swear I saw a sail!"

With the ease of years of practice, Jesamiah Acorne stepped from the rigging on to the narrow platform that swayed with the lift and plunge of the ship. He hooked his arm through a t'gallant shroud and brought his telescope to his eye, scanned the ocean. Nothing. Nothing except a flat expanse of blue emptiness going on, unbroken, for twenty miles. And beyond that? Another twenty, and another. These were the waters of the Gulf of Guinea, the huge stretch of sea beneath the bulb of land where the trade wealth of West Africa was turned into fat profit: gold, ivory and slaves. The African coast, where merchants found their plentiful supply of human misery and where an entire ship's crew could be wiped out by fever within a week. Where pirates hunted in search of easy prey.

The crew of the Mermaid were not interested in slavers or the foetid coast. Their rough-voiced, ragged-faced Captain, Malachias Taylor, had more lucrative things in mind - the sighting of another ship, preferably a full-laden, poorly manned merchantman with a rich cargo worth plundering. "What can y'see?" he shouted from the deck, squinting upwards at his quartermaster, the relentless sun dazzling his eyes. His second-in-command, Jesamiah, like his father before him, was one of the best seamen Taylor knew.

"Nothing! If young Daniel here did see a sail he has better sight than I 'ave," Jesamiah called down, the frustration clear in his voice. All the same, he studied the sea again with the telescope.

Jesamiah Acorne. Quick to smile, formidable when angered. Tall, tanned, with strong arms and a seaman's tar-stained and callused hands. His black hair fell as an untidy chaos of natural curls to his shoulders, laced into it, lengths of blue ribbon which streamed about his face in the wind, the whipping ends stinging his cheeks. The ladies ashore thought them a wonderful prize when he occasionally offered one as a keepsake.

If there was a ship, Daniel would only have glimpsed her highest sails, the topgallants; the rest of her would still be hull down, unseen below the curve of the horizon. "I think you had too much rum last night, my lad," Jesamiah grinned. "Your eyes are playing tricks on you."

Young Daniel was adamant. "I saw her I say. I'll wager m'next wedge of baccy I did!"

"You know I cannot abide the stuff," Jesamiah chuckled good-natured as he stretched out his arm to ruffle the lad's mop of hair. He had turned his back on anything to do with tobacco - except stealing it - seven years ago when his elder brother had thrown him off their dead father's plantation, with the threat he would hang if ever he returned. But then, Phillipe Mereno was only a half brother and he had always been a cheat and a bully. One day, for the misery of his childhood, Jesamiah would find the opportunity to go back and finish beating the bastard to a pulp.

Out of habit he touched the gold charm dangling from his right earlobe: an acorn, to match the signet ring he had worn since early youth. Presents from his Spanish mother, God rest her soul. She had always thought the acorn, the fruit of the solid and dependable oak tree to be lucky. It had been the first word to come to mind when he had needed a new name in a hurry. Acorne, with an "e" to make the name unique, and his own. About to shut the telescope a flash caught his eye and Jesamiah whisked the bring-it-close upwards again. The sun reflecting on something?

"Wait. Damn it, Daniel - I've got her!" The sudden enthusiasm carried in an eager flurry as he shouted down to the deck, his words greeted by a hollered cheer from the rag-tag of men who made the Mermaid's crew.

Even the usually dour-faced Malachias Taylor managed a smile. "Probably a slaver," he muttered, "but we'll set all sail an' pay her a visit." His gap-toothed smile broadened into a grin. "She might be wantin' company, eh lads?"

Aye she might, but not the sort of company the Mermaid would be offering! 

This week ONLY 
(also available on NOOK and KOBO)

visit my Amazon Author Page here
There are seven other fabulous authors 
taking part in the 
Historical Fiction Blowout
- do visit their blogs!

December 1st : A Similar Taste in Books – Linda Banche
Historical Period: Regency
A sweet, traditional Regency romantic comedy novella, but not a retelling of "Pride and Prejudice". 
Website: http://lindabanche.blogspot.com


December 2nd : Kingdom of Rebels –  Derek Birks
Historical Period: Fifteenth Century – the Wars of the Roses
When all hope is gone, only death lies in wait…
Website: www.derekbirks.com


December 3 : Search for the Golden Serpent (Servant of the Gods, Book 1) – Luciana Cavallaro 
Historical period – 600 BCE Ancient Greece
An unwilling participant finds himself entangled in an epic struggle between the gods and his life.
Website: http://www.luccav.com


December 4 : Children of Apollo (Eagles and Dragons – Book I) –Adam Alexander Haviaras
Historical Period:   The Roman Empire, A.D. 202
At the peak of Rome’s might a dragon is born among eagles, an heir to a line both blessed and cursed by the Gods for ages. 
Website: http://eaglesanddragonspublishing.com/ 



December 5 :  Sea Witch (Voyage One) –  Helen Hollick
Historical Period: The Golden Age of Piracy – 1716
Escaping the bullying of his elder half brother, from the age of fifteen Jesamiah Acorne has been a pirate with only two loves - his ship and his freedom. But his life is to change when he and his crewmates unsuccessfully attack a merchant ship off the coast of South Africa…
Blog: www.ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.com


December 6 : INCEPTIO – by Alison Morton
Historic Period: Modern/Roman (alternate history)
Karen Brown, angry and frightened after surviving a kidnap attempt, has a harsh choice - being eliminated by government enforcer or fleeing to mysterious Roma Nova, founded sixteen centuries ago by Roman exiles and ruled by women…
website: http://alison-morton.com


December 7 : Men of the Cross (Battle Scars I) –  Charlene Newcomb
Historical period: Medieval - 12th century
War, political intrigue and passion… heroes… friends and lovers… and the seeds for a new Robin Hood legend await you…
Blog: http://charlenenewcomb.com/


December 8 : Flavia's Secret – by Lindsay Townsend
Historical Period:    Ancient Roman Britain, 206 AD
As the wild mid-winter festival of Saturnalia approaches, many lives will be changed forever.
Website: www.lindsaytownsend.co.uk


Thank you for supporting us -
have a very Merry Christmas! 


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2 comments:

  1. Very interesting article. I grabbed a copy of your book as it sounds interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thank you - hope you enjoy the read!

      Delete

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