I’m always on the look out for books that are not my usual genre and today I think I’ve found the perfect example. I’m delighted to welcome Julia Maiola to Linda’s Book Bag to tell us a bit about the attraction for pirates, as her book The Red Flag features a pirate who might just call into question our preconceived ideas!
The Red Flag was published on 27th August 2018 and is available for purchase here.
The Red Flag
Captain Stephen Boswell sails under the red flag, a symbol of no mercy. It’s the only reason he has lived this long. The only reason the navy has not found him yet. But they are closing in. And if they catch him, they will execute him for piracy.
Ten-year-old Alice Bradford doesn’t know why she is alive. When Captain Boswell found her hiding on his ship, she expected him to kill her, and it seemed his own crew had expected likewise. But now she is his prisoner and she fears that she will be forever. Somehow, though, it seems that the captain might be more afraid of the navy than she is of him. Something from his past has him ill at ease, Alice realizes. Even if the navy cannot bring him to his knees, his own paranoia will.
A gripping, fast-paced story about one of the last pirates of the Golden Age of Piracy and his fight for survival.
A Guest Post by Julia Maiola
Ask any historian who the worst people in history were, there’s a good chance they’ll answer pirates. The Golden Age of Piracy from 1650 to 1730 saw men commit some of the most heinous crimes imaginable, well beyond the simple plundering for which they’re known. They were the terrorists of those decades. Yet some three hundred years after its end, pirates are celebrated like heroes. Today, we hold pirate festivals, participate in International Talk like a Pirate Day, and wear pirate Halloween costumes. If pirates were so terrible, then why are we so attracted to them?
A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson, written in 1724, was the first book to give the public a sense of who pirates were. It presented pirates as a cast of characters, giving their biographies and explaining their fates. Captain Johnson did not specifically denounce or condone piracy in his book, but he did use words of awe and praise in describing the men themselves, as though they had been great war generals. This approach gave rise to the wonder surrounding pirates that we still experience today. 158 years later, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Treasure Island, a book with a story whose evil pirate characters created an exciting adventure for the boy hero, rather than a dangerous and traumatizing experience which would have been more realistic. The book also included details about pirates that were not true, and its popularity at the time gave rise to the myths we know and love today, such as talking parrots and treasure maps. The phrase “yo-ho-ho” was first used in the novel, later turned into the refrain of a song, and used in many pirate book and movies to come. There’s a version of it in Pirates of the Caribbean, a film series which put the pirates in the heroes’ roles, thereby cementing the place of pirates in modern popular culture.
But why are we drawn to such stories in the first place? Pirates were lawless and reckless, but it’s that lawlessness and recklessness which draws us to them. To be able to do anything, to answer to no one, without consequences, is an attractive lifestyle to many people. In reality, pirates didn’t get off so easily, often meeting horrible ends, but it is the idea of freedom and escape from menial lives which we admire. It’s why we love stories about outlaws in the Wild West and gangsters in the 1920s. These characters have achieved escape, and escape is what we yearn for.
We as humans love the underdog, love the idea of building from nothing and becoming great. It’s the American dream for many. We like to see the little guy succeed against all odds. Pirates exemplified this ideal. They were the lowest of society, banding together and swearing oaths to each other, to conquer the seas and become more powerful than those who had once stepped on them. Despite becoming the most violent, feared, and hated people in history, they show us that it’s possible to rise and dominate.
So while it may not be realistic to sing yo-ho-ho and to praise pirates for giving us an unparalleled sense of heroic adventure, we can certainly admire their ability to rise from nothing. They were villains, but they were humans, humans who embodied our own desire to escape.
(What a fabulous guest post Julia. Thank you so much. I need to read The Red Flag now to find out more about your own pirates!)
About Julia Maiola
Julia Maiola is the author of The Red Flag, a fictional pirate novel with a focus on historical accuracies. Shea professional ice cream scooper from Rochester, New York. Julia will receive her Bachelor’s in English at the end of 2018 and will continue to develop her writing. The Red Flag is her first novel, the first of many to come. A science fiction title is currently in the works and will be followed by more in the fantasy and historical fiction genres. When Julia is not writing, she is gaming and skateboarding, but most of her spare time is spent reading adventure novels.