My interviews with Darlene Marshall and Jennifer Ashley about pirates continues…
LD: So, what attracted you as an author to pirates?
JA: “The bad-boy factor and the independence mentioned above. I wanted to write a Regency but without the rules. Well, a pirate wouldn’t be very good at following Regency rules! It was fun to put him in that social background and see what he’d do. Also, I’d always wanted to write a pirate tale, but there were so many pirate romances in the 80s and 90s that I knew I needed to do something a little bit different. I’ve always loved pirates, so I went for it.”
DM: “I’m a mostly-native Floridian, and like many in my state I had a vague knowledge of Florida’s pirate history–Jose Gaspar sailing the Gulf coast and inspiring Tampa’s Gasparilla Festival, Fernandina Beach’s Pirate Days, that sort of thing. But like a lot of other folks, when I thought of pirates, I thought of Johnson’s pirates from the so-called “Golden Age of Piracy”–Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Captain Morgan, etc. I even had a running gag through the first draft of my novel Pirate’s Price, along the lines of “Don’t be silly, there haven’t been pirates in these waters in generations!”
Boy, was I wrong!
Pirate’s Price is set in the 1820’s, and when I started researching my specific period, I was amazed at how much piracy was happening off of Florida’s coast! But as soon as I saw the reason, it made perfect sense. There were a whole bunch of privateers who’d been thrown out of work by the end of the Napoleonic wars, and you no longer had the British navy patrolling as heavily in the Caribbean, looking for French and American ships. In addition, many South American countries were inspired by the United States’ success, and by the weakness of Spain, to throw off their colonial status and declare their independence. This prompted the fledgling revolutionary nations to issue letters of marque to all kinds of people, who were then supposed to harass Spanish shipping and bring the money home to Colombia or Venezuela or at times, Mexico. Of course, sometimes the privateers weren’t careful about whose ship they stopped and robbed.
So, when I started writing a tale of a woman who wants to rob her husband’s ships in 1821 Florida, and saw how much material was out there, it just sort of grew. While researching Pirate’s Price I ran across some information about Commodore David Porter putting together a joint US-British task force to flush pirates out of the Caribbean, and it was too good not to use. That information grew into part of the plot of Captain Sinister’s Lady. Then later, when I was setting Smuggler’s Bride a generation after Pirate’s Price, I began to wonder what the pirates were up to post-Porter. They’d turned their attentions more to smuggling, an activity that persists along Florida’s 3-sided watery border to this day.
It was a no brainer. People like the fiction of pirates more than the reality (think of the pirates harassing shipping off the African coast today), and pirates allow for instant conflict, especially in a romance. Plus, I have a soft spot myself for these nautical bad boys and girls. They get a good ship, a fair wind, a loyal crew, get to dress cool, carry a parrot, wear funky jewelry and thumb their noses at authority. Who wouldn’t want to be a pirate?[g]”