Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Pirate's Life For Me

The new Pirates of the Caribbean movie released last weekend and at the same time new archeological endeavors are taking place on the (probable) Queen Anne's Revenge, located in the waters off Atlantic Beach, NC. Swarthy scalawags are having a good week, and I have to admit that I'm happy about that. My head tells me that pirates were bad, smelly, diseased, murdering criminals that you wouldn't even want to have a drink with. But my heart says that pirates equal adventure, freedom and just the right amount of danger to keep any kid happy. Frankly, my heart has the bigger cojones.

One of the first things that drew me to steampunk was its incorporation of piratical characters as airship captains and subversive instigators. My favorite book as a child was Treasure Island, followed closely by the virtually unknown title by Fran Martin, Pirate Island. I wouldn't call myself a fanatic; I don't even have a costume, just plenty of books, movies and my own Jolly Roger. I love Peter Pan, Errol Flynn, The Goonies, the Dread Pirate Roberts and even Captain Jack Sparrow. There's a perfectly good reason for all of this.

My mother's family is from Beaufort, NC, and my grandparents lived in the area their entire lives. The Inner and Outer Banks of Carteret County is where I spent many childhood holidays and vacations. It's got beaches, boating, fishing, and swimming, and best of all, it's saturated with pirate lore and history. I grew up hearing the stories, reading the books and imagining the deadly escapades of all those detestable rogues, especially Blackbeard. It really is the kind of place where you think you might come across a treasure map or long-buried loot at every turn. Beaufort has its ghost stories, too, but that's for a different post.

The North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort will open the Queen Anne's Revenge exhibit next month, and they're even throwing a soiree to celebrate on June 10th. It likely won't be the grandest pirate celebration around, but I must salute their efforts and the local heritage that goes along with it. I have yet to write my own marauder's tale, but there's no doubt that when the right idea hits, I'll be off on the high aetheric seas for fame and fortune. As long as the word 'island' is in the title I should be set.

Here's a few pirate reads you might want to check out:

Polly and the Pirates by Ted Naifeh - Super fun graphic novel by one of my favorite artist/creators.

On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers - Whether you're into the Disney movies or not (and the similarities are limited anyway), this one is a barking- good tale.

The Noble Pirates by Rima L. Jean - This title releases on June 13th and I can't wait to check it out.

Here is Maureen O. Betita's post from earlier this month. Her Piratepunk novel, The Kraken's Mirror is not to be missed.

Have a treasured pirate story or favored picaroon? I'd love to hear about them!
And I made it through the entire post without using the word booty. Nuts.


Karl said...

Heh,She said booty

Kathryn Scannell said...

The Tim Powers book predates the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie by several years, and like most Tim Powers is well worth reading. Disney did buy the rights to it, but I suspect that was mostly so that they could use the title, and not be at risk of a law suit for a few common elements. Don't expect it to have anything to do with the movie plot...

Another recent title, if you're looking for more pirates, is a collection called Rum and Runestones edited by Valerie Griswold-Ford. The stories in it share a common theme of magic and pirates. (I'll confess ulterior motive here - I've sold her a story for inclusion in a second collection with the same theme, due out in November, tentatively titled Spells and Swashbucklers).

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting post, Elizabeth,

I always had a love/hate relationship with pirates as a child. Part of me loved the daring and plain rudeness of the pirate. The other part realized that it was not a good thing to be on the bad side of a pirate. I do have fond memories of playing pirate in the apple orchard behind our house. The best part was when you turned on your comrade and grabbed the booty. lol. There was always a race between the kids to see who could turn traitor first.

Ella Gray said...

Karl - You are such a goof, LOL

Kathryn - Those sound really great - I will definitely check them out. Thanks!

Ella Gray said...

Anonymous - Playing pirates was one of our favorite games, too. It helps when you have an actual boat, even though ours wasn't exactly a traditional pirate ship. Thanks for more booty talk, LOL

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Enjoyed your post, Ella. For a non-fiction read check out, The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard. It gave me the initial inspiration for my recently completed ms. Sea Panther

Ella Gray said...

Good suggestion, Dawn, I've been meaning to find that one. I also enjoyed Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly, though it has been years since I read it. Gratz on Sea Panther!

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