THE CRYPTO-CAPERS REVIEW GUEST POST
MIXING HISTORY, FICTION, AND THE SUPERNATURAL
Pirates, blockade runners, and cats. What on earth do they have in common? A lot, as it turns out. You see, they’re all ghosts in my latest tween novel A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. The pirates are also historical figures that actually lived. Anytime a writer uses real people and real events they must be accurate, especially when written for children and teens. Otherwise, the author loses his or her credibility and the reader will stop reading. So, let’s take a look at my novel and see if the story is true to history and also to the present, since my main characters are fictional, modern day teens.
Most people have heard of Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard the Pirate. According to legend Blackbeard was one of the most frightening pirates that ever lived. Another pirate, perhaps not as well known as Blackbeard, is Major Stede Bonnet, AKA the Gentleman Pirate. Since these men, though not the major characters, play a huge role in the novel, I needed to make sure my portrayal of them was accurate. To learn the facts about the pirates, I went to the library, where they ordered books on interlibrary loan for me. Next, I searched the Internet for additional information and found interesting facts to include in my novel.
Then there’s the ghost James, former navigator on The Hattie, a blockade runner. James is a fictional character, but the ship really existed. Blockade runners were light, fast ships that snuck past the blockades set up by Union ships during the American Civil War. Since they usually carried much needed supplies for the Southern states the ships played an important role in the war. I attempted to show both the blockade runner and the pirates as realistically as possible, allowing for the fact they were ghosts, instead of live beings, which brought me to the next bit of research for my story.
Can a human see a ghost? Can a human touch a ghost? Can the living talk to ghosts? Can ghosts communicate with the living? Why are they still roaming the earth, instead of resting in peace? These were questions I needed to answer to make the story believable. Articles and books I read about ghosts, along with ideas my teen characters kept planting in my brain, helped me bring Bonnet, Blackbeard, and James to life (well, as ghosts anyway) and the reasons they were wandering as spirits in the between worlds. Thanks, Erik, Star, and Storm.
“What about the cat?” you ask. Okay, you didn’t; I’ll tell you anyway. Many ships in the 1800s and perhaps in other times, too, carried cats onboard. Dixie is James’ cat, yes another ghost. She has unfinished business in her life, the same as Blackbeard, Bonnet, and James do.
Research helped me establish the credibility of the historical characters and facts. Mixing history, fiction, and the supernatural wasn’t always easy. It sure was fun, though, and made for an exciting story. Just ask Erik, Star, and Storm. And don’t forget Dixie.