In continuing my celebration of Women’s History Month (the first post featuring sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko can be found here) I thought I’d do a little more research on a woman I’d always been intrigued with: the Caribbean pirate, Anne Bonny. My husband and I are fans of Black Sails on HBO, and the writers incorporated a character based on Anne, which made me curious–how much is known about this woman who broke with convention and risked her life to live as a pirate?
Anne Bonny was born in Cork, Ireland in the late seventeenth century to a servant woman by the name of Mary Brennan and her employer, a lawyer named William McCormac. Her father moved her to London where he dressed her like a boy and called her Andy (another article I read mentioned that her mother was the one who dressed her like a boy, but we at least can be fairly certain it happened. Interesting twist, though.) When neighbors found out what he’d done, he moved her and her mother to the Carolinas and eventually became a wealthy merchant.
Anne was known to be “high spirited” and rumor has it she put a boy in the hospital for attempting to sexually assault her. Eventually, she married a small-time pirate named James Bonny and her father disowned her. She ended up in the Bahamas, where she met John “Calico Jack” Rackham and fell in love. She divorced Bonny and, joining forces with Rackham and a woman named Mary Read, absconded with a ship called the William out of Nassau harbor. Apropos, I thought.
The three pirates gathered together a crew and sailed the Caribbean taking smaller ships, racking up a fortune. Both women fought alongside the male crew members, and Anne especially was highly thought of for her ability to wield a cutlass. http://bonney-readkrewe.com/legend.html In October of 1720, an ex-pirate who was now a commander with the British navy attacked Rackham’s ship the “Revenge” and captured all aboard. Apparently, the pirates were drunk from celebrating the capture of a Spanish commercial ship. Go figure. Drunk pirates… Anyway, all were tried as pirates in Port Royal and found guilty, and were sentenced to death by hanging. Anne and Mary “plead their bellies” and were spared. Mary died in prison from fever, but Anne was said to have been sprung from jail by her father. Rumor has it she remarried and lived well into her dotage.
Next week: more female pirates!
Here’s an excellent article by Kristine Kathryn Rusch regarding the blandness of writerly voices from those who ONLY write by the rules. The takeaway: follow all the rules all the time and you may write passable-to-good books–but never great ones.
Quick update: I’m SUPER honored and excited to announce that Kate Jones #7, A ONE WAY TICKET TO DEAD, has been nominated by BigAl’s Books ‘n’ Pals in the thriller category for a Readers’ Choice Award!
BigAl has been a major champion for indies, beginning with indie music back a few *cough* years ago. For Al, it was a natural progression to jump feet first into the independent publishing fray and get the word out about indie authors and small presses (see Al’s awesome interview here). As most of you know, there are very few “Indie Only” venues out there that truly support independent publishers and authors. BigAl’s review site, along with The Indie View, are two of the best. BigAl and his pals don’t charge for reviews, and they certainly don’t hold back on what they really think (although they’re nothing if not fair). Plus, they only review about 10% of submissions–you won’t be inundated by a gazillion non-vetted books.
So, instead of asking for your vote, I’m going to ask instead that you head on over to the site and check out the other fabulous books that have been nominated. Read the reviews, maybe even purchase a couple of the books for your reading pleasure. And yes, vote for the books you love and earn a couple of entries to win some swag. But most of all, I hope that you hang at BigAl’s for a while, check out the blog, join his mailing list to hear about authors you might never have found. It’s a great way to show your support for indie authors. (Voting ends March 28th)
Happy Vernal Equinox!
Botticelli – Primavera
Via WikiMedia Commons
So I just had an interesting conversation with a Facebook friend who is a voracious thriller reader about using a woman as the main protagonist in the genre. He’s been around the block a time or two and has read tons of both traditionally and indie published thrillers, so I generally listen to what he has to say. He’d just been introduced to Leine Basso, the protagonist in my second series, and mentioned in passing that Leine was what he deemed a “tough broad,” and, although the protagonist’s domain in traditional thrillers has typically been a men’s-only club, he thoroughly enjoyed reading about a woman who was as tough and accomplished as any male character.
And that got me thinking.
I write strong female characters because I can’t/couldn’t find that kind of protagonist in the books I like to read. Yes, I’ve read action-adventure novels with strong female protagonists written by both male and female writers, but of those I’ve read I come away with two main complaints: either the character is some guy’s wet dream (sorry, couldn’t think of a more appropriate description) where, for all intents and purposes, she’s a man in a woman’s body and has the emotional depth of a robot (no offense to any AI fans out there), or she’s tough as nails and self-sufficient until a good-looking man comes along. Then she turns into starry-eyed goo, or worse, lets the guy take over the fighting/sleuthing/whatever. To date, I haven’t read many novels that have a strong female action-adventure protag who kicks people’s asses without apology but also acts like a real human being, with all the inherent flaws. And don’t get me started on the air-brushed babes who can run in heels without falling and who are never without their lipstick. Ugh. Who can identify with that?
Obviously, not me 😀 . (Seriously. You do not want to see me try to run in heels. Or maybe you do–it’s pretty hilarious…the things I do for research.)
Maybe I just haven’t read the right authors. And I’m not talking about brainy female characters who use their smarts to solve a mystery but don’t know how to fight or shoot or kill someone with a piano wire, although those definitely have merit.
My question to you is this: have you read an action thriller with a main female protagonist who doesn’t come off as a man in women’s clothing (which could be a fun genre–Transvestite action-thriller?), or who melts at the sight of a good-looking guy? I’d love to read it.