Ahoy me hearties, it’s #talklikeapirateday! If you follow me on any social media then you won’t be surprised when I say I’m a little obsessed with pirates. It started with Captain Jack Sparrow at age 6 & has since developed into a lifelong passion that involves bingeing Black Sails every chance I get, singing sea shanties in the shower & drinking a lot of rum… oh & writing about pirates. The Bloody Maiden is a grimdark fantasy about a desperate women yearning for adventure when she crosses paths with a devilish pirate captain. So today we’re talking & celebrating all things pirate!
Despite what you may think some of the images that spring to mind when we speak of pirates now were not as crazy as they may seem, but actually come from a place of truth. Pirates did indeed wear eye patches – not because they’d lost an eye – but because they were frequently moving from the deck to down below & wearing an eye patch enabled their eyes to get used to the gloom inside the ship much quicker. The image of pirates wearing gold earrings that we see so often in cartoons was actually done as a sort of life insurance to pay for their funeral if they died. Pirates also had some funny superstitions – ones you’ve probably heard of if you’ve watched Pirates of the Caribbean – one of the most famous of course is that ‘women are bad luck’. It wasn’t a concept created for pirate movies like walking the plank.
If you’ve been paying attention to my upcoming novel then you’ll know that the main character of The Bloody Maiden is Prudence. A young woman who runs off & becomes a pirate. You may think I’ve taken some liberties writing fiction to make my female MC a pirate but actually despite the common superstition that women were bad luck on a ship, some of the MOST famous pirates in history were women!
- Mary Read & Anne Bonny both dressed as men to live a life of lawlessness & actually according to some witness reports were even more vicious than their male counterparts!
- Cheng I Sao was one of history’s most influential raiders & actually started her ‘career’ in a Chinese brothel [much like a beloved character in Maiden].
- Grace O’Malley led a 20-ship fleet that stood up to the might of the British monarchy in a time when women were denied an education!
It’s safe to say that these incredible women heavily influenced my novel & it’s protagonist, & that’s not the only thing that had an impact! There are a number of little easter eggs for you to look out for when Maiden is released in January…
Certain minor characters have been given their names in honour of pirates & smugglers, both from history & in fiction including: Henry Avery [famous for the largest heist in the 1600s], Charles Vane [known for his cruelty, often beating, torturing and killing sailors], & Joss Merlyn [fearsome wrecker & smuggler in Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn which inspired The Bloody Maiden].