Why I Don’t Write About Pirates

Not sure why, but I am suddenly surrounded by pirates. My Kindle is loaded with a bunch of pirate-themed books and my husband and I just spent a couple of hours in the car listening to an NPR podcast about pirates.

Of course, as I write stories about the sea, I am sometimes asked whether Jane will ever encounter pirates. The answer is “no.” Let me tell you why.

First of all, there just weren’t that many pirates in 1820 in the waters where Jane sails. The British Navy had pretty much put an end to the lawlessness in places like the Caribbean by the end of the 18th century, so Jane would be unlikely to come across any marauding bands aboard a hijacked ship. Now smugglers are a different story…

Secondly, I think there is plenty of drama and suspense in the world of trade to keep Jane and her crew occupied! While it might make a good story to see Captain Jane, sword in hand, leading the charge at the head of a boarding party, it wouldn’t be very realistic. Just like today, the REAL pirates wear business suits and have offices on Wall Street.

And finally, I don’t think I could write a very believable pirate story! I don’t resonate with the blood and gore which are vital to the genre. I would be way too squeamish to do it justice. I think that’s why I have enjoyed Steven Becker’s Tides of Fortune books so much. Yes, they are about a band of pirates, and the intrepid hero seems hell-bent on getting himself and his crew into every scrape imaginable, but they generally escape without resorting to full-on combat.

Of course, you never know, I could change my mind…

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