Pirate’s Prophecy by Chris A. Jackson Guest Post
Today I’m excited to welcome Chris A. Jackson to the blog to discuss using his nautical knowledge to write the latest Pathfinder Tales addition, Pirate’s Prophecy, which is out now! I’ve become addicted to nautical fantasy, so I’m quite excited to share this with you all. Don’t miss the giveaway at the bottom!
My career as a writer has grown and changed substantially since I finally got around to writing nautical fantasy. You would think that it would be a no brainer, considering my life-long love of fantasy and fantasy role-playing games, and about forty years of sea-experience, from commercial fishing to sailing the Caribbean (Yes, really!). The fact is, I did consider it, but when I first began writing seriously, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies had just been released, and I didn’t want to be cast as just a PotC wannabe. When I finally did convince myself to tackle nautical fantasy, I was determined to do it right, which proved harder than you might think. Here are a few tidbits I picked up along the way.
- As with anything, a writer needs to do research. Even with my nautical experience, this meant reading a lot of nautical fiction and non-fiction to get it right. Thank you, Patrick O’Brian.
- You can’t make some of this stuff up. Seriously, I could tell you stories that I have actually lived, and you’d think I was insane. These are the stories that did NOT make it into the novels for the same reason.
- Salty sailors have a language of their own. Avoid full-blown “pirate speak” at all costs, but authentic nautical quips are priceless. Unfortunately, it’s hard to come by real ones without hanging around salty sailors, but that can be fun, too, as long as you’re not buying the drinks.
- I would not recommend sailing into a storm to experience the gut-clenching power of heavy weather. Been there, done that, and don’t like it. Read up on it, and check out some first-hand video, it’s safer.
- If you delve beneath the waves in your story, at the very least, go snorkeling first. I’ve spent thousands of hours in the water in the Bahamas and Caribbean, and I see something new almost every time. The diversity of life in the sea is mind-boggling.
- On that note, if you write mer-folk, read up on marine biology. Fish behavior, coloration, reproduction, and predation are fascinating, and translate well into an underwater sentient species if you pay attention and use your imagination. Clue: fish don’t have mammary glands.
- Sharks are not bloodthirsty monsters. They are “neutral-hungry” predators. If you want a sea monster, make one up.
- Nautical jargon is a nigh undecipherable to the uninitiated, but not using it at all destroys authenticity. Be careful not to lose your reader in the details, but use enough for spice.
- On wind and sailing: there are scenes in movies at which I will throw popcorn. Two square-rigged ships cannot sail directly at one another when both have their sails set for downwind. Do a bit of research, and use it.
- Naval combat under sail is an exercise in patience, planning, and maneuvering that can take days from first sighting until the first shot is fired. I’d suggest reading Patrick O’Brian for a taste of pacing.
- Tales of sailors drinking are not exaggerated. There are two reasons for this: morale and scurvy.
- Sailing requires wind, wind makes waves, and waves jostle ships around. This may seem a simple detail, but I don’t know how many times I’ve seen or read about ships at sea sailing along with a perfectly steady or level deck. That’s no ship I’ve ever been on…
- Salty sailors are salty because fresh water on old-time sailing ships was for drinking only. To be authentic, have your sailors use fresh water sparingly.
So, those are a few tidbits of advice. As you can see, writing pirate stories involves a lot of hardship. If you want to see the lighter side of sailing the Caribbean, drop by our sailing blog at www.sailmrmac.blogspot.com. If you want a taste of my salty sailor tales, visit jaxbooks.com, but bring your own grog! Here there be pirates!
CHRIS A. JACKSON is the author of the Pathfinder Tales novels Pirate’s Honor and Pirate’s Promise. His self-published and small-press work includes the Scimitar Seas and Weapon of Flesh series, which have won three consecutive gold medals in the Foreword Reviews Book of the Year awards, as well as becoming Kindle best sellers. Jackson has also written a novella set in Privateer Press’s RPG fiction line. He lives on a sailboat in the Caribbean.
I’m excited to offer a copy of Pirate’s Prophecy courtesy of Tor! This giveaway will be available to US and Canadian addresses, the winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email, and I’ll be checking entries.
© 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.