Fantasy author Rob J. Hayes is commandeering the blog today! He's known for his fantasy on the dark side, and his latest book is a swashbuckling tale of pirates. Only, his pirates aren't the Hollywood or Disney kind. His "Best Laid Plans" series looks at pirates in all their good, bad, and ugly glory. Welcome, Rob!
Have you ever noticed that books/TV shows/films about pirates contain very little actual pirating? They're always about the romance of piracy (not the kissy kind, but a quick search informs me there are more than enough piratical books about with that as a theme), and very rarely about the chasing down of ships and stealing what ain't theirs.
Let's take Pirates of the Caribbean as an example. It is a very well known (possibly the most well known these days) example of piratical fiction. While watching the first film we are informed time and time again that Jack Sparrow is a pirate. We are told this by the characters (including Jack himself). We can see it with our own eyes obviously. I mean he looks like a pirate, sounds like a pirate, most likely smells like a pirate. And he pretty much starts the film being captured as a prelude to hanging for all this supposed piracy he has committed.
Jack Sparrow never does any pirating. He sails the seas, gets into and out of scrapes (many of which are brought about by his apparent pirating), and saves the world a bit. In fact, in the first film the only actual piracy is committed by Barbossa and his crew, who are the villains of the story. Thinking about it now, that scene where they storm the town and kidnap Elizabeth is the only act of piracy in the entire franchise. We are told in no uncertain terms that being a pirate is bad, and any pirates we do see pirating are villains, yet we are also told to root for characters who are also pirates, but it's OK because they are pirates who don't actually pirate.
And it's not just the mighty Disney doing this. In preparation for writing "Best Laid Plans" I picked up a number of fantasy books that supposedly contained pirates. They contained a distinct lack of piracy. Sure there were hijinks and ships, maybe a nautical battle or two, and definitely a bit of buried treasure in one of them. But over the course of reading 3 different piratical books I counted just 2 acts of piracy.
I'll take a quick break right here to point out that Black Sails is actually one of the few more recent examples of piratical fiction that breaks the mould. It's a quality bit of television programming that shows pirates in all their vulgar glory. Apart from Blackbeard... they dropped the ball on that one.
Anyway, this lack of piracy is something I wanted to avoid when writing "Best Laid Plans." You see, I love pirates. I love them for the romance of it. But I also love them for the brutality and the arseholery (which is apparently not a real word, yet really should be). So my pirates pirate. They chase down ships, kill the crew (sometimes), and take what's not theirs. They also get drunk, whore around, fight between themselves... and save the world a bit.
So what can you expect to find in "Best Laid Plans?" Well you can still expect the romantic view of freedom and the whimsical dialogue, and rumbustious hats, that you might find in Pirates of the Caribbean. But you can also expect to find the hard, brutal truth of piracy. Ships sinking, people dying, pirates stealing from others, pirates stealing from each other, the odd hanging or two, and at least one epic nautical battle. Oh, and there's also an immortal gunslinger with a wonderful moustache.
Rob J. Hayes is a Derbyshire, UK based fantasy author. His publications include "The Ties That Bind" trilogy, "The Best Laid Plans" duology, and the "It Takes A Thief..." series. His most recent book, The Fifth Empire of Man, is now available. You can learn more about him at his website, http://www.robjhayes.co.uk