Friday 31 May 2024

Pirate Anthology: Karen Bayly

The Black Beacon Book of Pirates is sure to shiver your timbers when it's published on Friday the 21st of June. The Kindle version is already available for pre-order at just $1.99 instead of $3.99 and you can add the anthology to your Goodreads "want to read" list today. In the meantime, to get you in the mood for a spot of swashbuckling, we’re interviewing the contributing authors.

Hi Karen,

Why pirates?

They’re a varied bunch, aren’t they? We find everyone from poor sailors to ex-Naval officers and wealthy landowners, male, female, English, Welsh, French, Dutch, Chinese, etc. There were privateers such as Francis Drake, who, although not noted as a pirate by English folk, was seen as one by the Spanish whose American settlements he plundered. There were buccaneers like William Dampier, who later explored parts of the coasts of Australia and New Guinea for the British Admiralty.

While rebellious, pirates were also skilled and disciplined, at least on the high seas. You can’t sail a brigantine or the like without either skill or discipline and taking other ships requires some level of organisation and guts.

Plus, there are so many legends about pirates. Much is written about Jacquotte Delahaye, the red-headed pirate in my story, “Les Femmes Sauvages”, but there is no proof she ever existed. Some stories agree (such as on her nickname, “Back from the Dead Red”), but others don’t (such as whether she continued to wear men’s clothing after she realised she was too feminine-looking to get away with pretending to be a man). These shadowy ‘facts’ give an author a lot to play with. And we writers love playing.

Are there any pirate legends set where you live?

No legends set where I live, but we had pirates in NSW. Two hours by car up the coast from Sydney is Stockton, whose original name was Pirate Point. In November 1800, a gang of 15 convicts seized the 25-ton sloop “Norfolk” in Broken Bay. They planned to sail the ship, laden with wheat, to Indonesia but ran aground in bad weather at what would become Pirate Point. They seized another smaller boat and set off again, this time with only nine crew. The Governor of NSW, Phillip King, sent an armed boat after the convict pirates. The authorities eventually captured them, declared them all guilty and handed down the death sentence. They hung the two ring leaders but gave the other seven offenders a last-minute reprieve. The penal settlement on Norfolk Island (ironically, the building place of the stolen ship “Norfolk”) became their home for seven years. The other six lived with Aboriginal people around Newcastle for the rest of their days.

If you were a pirate, what’s the first thing you’d do?

Steal a ship and find a crew who knows what they’re doing. I have some sailing experience, but not enough to handle an ocean-going vessel. And then I’d enact Bayly’s law (what I say goes or bear the brunt of my displeasure) to keep the motley crew in line.

Have you ever found treasure?

Does finding a $50 note on the pavement count? That happened in February this year. Also, the $100 in rolled-up $20 notes I found lying on a path through the bush twenty-five years ago must count.

What do you do when you’re not dreaming up tall tales?

I work in IT (for money, not love). I go for walks and birdwatch. I read and stream. I snuggle with my cats (or vice versa). I photograph with a DSLR camera and participate in groups on Flickr and Meetup. I plunk around on classical guitar and ukulele, sometimes murdering perfectly good songs by singing as well as playing. I used to dance a lot, but all my dance groups have disbanded, and I’ve yet to find new ones. When I get the chance, I love to go out on boats.

Where can we find you online?

My website (including blog):
Other links:

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