Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Today we brought blog friend Mark Keating, author of the Pirate Devlin series to give his take on Pirates and why he created something different with the Patrick Devlin character:
It's been four years since I first started writing about Patrick Devlin, and it's been four years since I first started writing.
Let me explain.
I hadn't read a lot of naval fiction, just the same fair share that everyone gets round to eventually, and I began to notice something. Every time pirates entered into these stories they were portrayed in the same manner. They were violent, yes, they were raucous rumbustions, yes, but were always singularly rather dumb and easily thwarted. The RN officers would raise a false flag, or just change their hats, smuggle out the female prisoners dressed as boys, or pretend to be ghosts or something. The pirates demonstrated an inferior knowledge of sailing, gunnery, swordsmanship and an inability to see, hear or think coherently. And I got a bit riled.
I realised why the pirates were shown thus. Most of the authors of these novels held an inextinguishable candle to the oaken hearts of the British Navy, and rightly so, and, as such, they considered pirates the enemy of everything that such a breed stood for, and rightly so, and obviously their hero has to triumph. But couldn't you have painted the pirates just a little bit better?
So I went looking for pirate fiction. Modern pirate fiction.
A few that seemed to fit. They often had the word 'pirate' in the title at least. But once inside you discover that the pirate isn't really a pirate at all. He's either an ex-pirate who has seen the error of his ways and is forced to return to awful piracy to rescue an old friend's daughter/son/father/dog, just one more time, or a good Naval captain pretending to be a pirate to rescue an old friend's daughter/son/father/dog, after which he will return to the good path.
I decided to write my own. In my book the protagonist would see that the only error of his ways was in the thought that why hadn't he done this sooner.
Over the passage of the books I got a greater understanding of piracy, its motivations and factors and I had that startling revelation that we all get from time to time that history just repeats itself just as the turning of the earth repeats itself. The two are tied I'm sure.
Today we have more slaves in the world than were ever transported in the whole history of the Atlantic trade. That's a roiling thought for our children to deal with. And we have more pirates than we ever had in the Golden Age of piracy. What I find most interesting is that the nations and Navies of the world made exactly the same mistakes as of old. The slavery thing is never going to end. It never left. We just got better at counting.
Let's jolly up a bit with a comparison of the pirate's we know and love and those we disparage because we watch from afar.
The reasons for the explosion of piracy in late 17th and early 18th century were unemployment and poverty amid a period of globalisation.
The explosion of piracy around the African and Arabian coasts has come about due to mass poverty and the destruction of their native industries due to oil exploration and illegal fishing by other countries and globalisation which favours favours.
Legal and illegal slave-traders and merchants would slip from protected shipping lanes to save time or hide their trade. Thus becoming prime targets.
Cruise ships and containment ships skirt the coastlines outside their shipping lanes to save time and fuel. Thus becoming prime targets.
The Georgian Navy's solution was to send out warships believing a show of force would be enough to put off hungry men. Ignoring the fact that the pirates used smaller ships to evade and attack.
The Navies of today also sent out warships believing a show of force would be enough to put off hungry men. Ignoring the fact that the pirates used smaller ships to evade and attack.
Pirates traded with the colonies in black-market goods because of the high prices set by England which was the only country the colonies were allowed to trade with. They provided a need not available conventionally.
African pirates plunder ships to sell goods on the black-market often to other countries or nations that would not normally get hold of these goods due to embargoes or higher prices due to exchange rates and import taxes. They provide a need not available conventionally.
Pirates discovered that the ransoming of prisoners and ships was quick easy money with less work involved.
And pirates discovered that the ransoming of prisoners and ships was quick easy money with less work involved.
Individuals and provinces began to hire private captains to protect their waterways and ships with smaller vessels.
Today companies and governments have begun to hire private organisations to protect their ships. With smaller ships.
There is a solution. But it takes time. Decades.
Piracy virtually vanished from the Americas after revolution. America now free to trade with other countries thereby having no need for buying black-market pirated goods. With the world trading with each other piracy almost disappeared from the Atlantic.
If you make a world map of where piracy still flourishes
you'll see that it can be overlaid by a map of the most
depressed and oppressed nations of the world. The UN's initial
response to piracy was to agree with the requests of those
nation's harangued by it and throw warships at the matter.
That hasn't worked because, you know, history and stuff.
current plan, and solution, is to change the nations
themselves. If you invest in them and allow them to trade
legally, stop other countries exploiting their resources, the
problem will recede. You know the saying. Give a man a fish
and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll eat
for the rest of his life. Take away his fish or pollute
his waters and he'll pick up an AK47 and take your Nikon