By Shana Galen
First of all, I want to thank Eliza for inviting me back. It’s great to visit with History Undressed again. And I’m especially excited because today is the official release of The Rogue Pirate’s Bride. This is the third in my Sons of the Revolution series and my favorite. I knew from the beginning of the series I wanted to write a book about a pirate. Actually, I’ve been wanting to write a book with a pirate hero for years. I was thrilled to finally get my chance and sat at my computer to begin this story with gusto.
And then I ran into one small problem. I realized I didn’t know anything about ships, sailing, or pirates during the Regency. I knew a little bit about pirates in the Caribbean. I’ve seen the movies with Johnny Depp and read the odd book here and there. But by the Regency the heyday of the pirate was all but over in the Caribbean, and I didn’t want to set my book there anyway. I knew my hero, Bastien, would have to return to England eventually, and I didn’t want to dedicate weeks of the book to the travel time between the Caribbean and the UK.
This is how my research usually starts. I wish I were the kind of writer who foresaw knowledge gaps, but I’m not. I research as it becomes necessary, and I usually start with the library. I can always look up a quick fact on the internet, but if I need to know anything in depth, I get a few research books and start there. So I ordered the books that sounded useful from the library’s online catalogue and then picked them up a few days later. The children’s books were the most helpful. It might surprise readers to know that children’s books are often the most valuable resources a writer can find when beginning research on a topic. They give a great overview and often have really interesting tidbits.
One thing I discovered during my research was that there were still pirates in the Regency era, but the piracy was concentrated more in the Mediterranean, and the pirates operated from the coast of North Africa. These pirates were called Barbary Corsairs. Unlike the Caribbean pirates, their main goal was not to plunder ships laden with riches. They were after slaves to sell on the slave markets in Tripoli, Tunis, and other North African locales. In my research, I read historians estimate that over a million Europeans were enslaved in about a two hundred year period by the Barbary Corsairs, and this period included the Regency.
Armed with this knowledge, I knew my hero Bastien would be operating in the Mediterranean and possibly working with some of these Barbary Corsairs. He wouldn’t be looking for slaves, though. He’d be looking for revenge. And he wouldn’t be a pirate. Bastien is French, and although there are a few accounts of Europeans acting as Barbary pirates, it was rare. I made Bastien a privateer. It’s an important distinction to him, but privateers were really little more than pirates with a letter of legitimacy from a country’s government.
I did know a bit about privateers and did some cursory research to fill in the gaps. Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind was a privateer during the Civil War. Margaret Mitchell doesn’t go into detail, but Scarlett mentions several times she knows this is how he made his post-war fortune.
So I knew quite a lot about my hero, but not my heroine, Raeven. She’s the daughter of a British admiral, and she wants Bastien dead because he killed her fiancé. Raeven has lived all of her life on ships, and she knows every aspect of sailing. Unfortunately, I didn’t know every aspect of sailing, and as I wrote in Raeven’s point of view, I realized the book was never going to work if I didn’t also do some research on ships.
I made another trek to the library, checked out another armload of books, and discovered those weren’t going to help me all that much. There was too much information, and I didn’t really know what in was looking for. After all, there are many types of ships and many different ranks in the British Navy. Pirates have a different system of ranking and preferred different sorts of ships than did the Navy. Clearly, I had to go to an expert.
And that expert was my dad.
I’m fortunate in that my father has had a lifelong love of sailing and has sailed and competed in sailing races for years. He was gracious enough to read through scenes with me and help me to add necessary details. We even brainstormed together. My dad does not read romance. I don’t think he even reads my books (they have sex in them!), but it was really fun to work with him on this book and to see his excitement when I showed him the advance copies with my acknowledgement to him in the back.
What’s your process when you start a new project at home or work? Do you dive right in or do you plan it out first?
THE ROGUE PIRATE’S BRIDE BY SHANA GALEN – IN STORES FEBRUARY 2012
Revenge should be sweet, but it may cost him everything…
Out to avenge the death of his mentor, Bastien discovers himself astonishingly out of his depth when confronted with a beautiful, daring young woman who is out for his blood…
Forgiveness is unthinkable, but may be her only hope…
British Admiral’s daughter Raeven Russell believes Bastien responsible for her fiancé’s death. But once the fiery beauty crosses swords with Bastien, she’s not so sure she really wants him to change his wicked ways…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shana Galen is the author of five Regency historicals, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne’s Bride. Her books have been sold in Brazil, Russia, and the Netherlands and featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She is a happily married wife and mother of a daughter and a spoiled cat and lives in Houston, Texas, where she is working on her next regency romance series! For more information please visit www.shanagalen.com, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.