Unfortunately, my reviewing time is a little curtailed at the moment, while I look after my parents as they recover from pneumonia – I’m delighted to report that they’re improving daily.
So I’m thrilled to welcome Sally Malcolm to the blog today. Her new book, The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk, the first in the Pirates of Ile Sainte Anne series, was published for Kindle by Choc Lit on 11th February – it really looks just the book into which to escape from real life for a while. Those lovely people at Choc Lit are offering a Kindle copy to a winning reader of Being Anne – more details below.
Sally has been reflecting on taking liberties – welcome Sally!
The recent BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall has garnered a huge amount of praise, but also some criticism for its ‘inaccurate’ portrayal of historical characters. ‘Thomas Cromwell wasn’t that nice’, historians say, ‘Thomas Moore wasn’t that zealous. It’s a distortion of the truth.’
Mantel’s extensive research for Wolf Hall is well known, yet as an author she had to make choices about character, about which facts to include and which to exclude, in order to best serve her story. The question is: does it matter?
I think not. Readers are savvy creatures; we understand the difference between history and novels. We don’t expect our history books to be pulse-racing or our fiction to be 100% accurate; we’d much rather read a gripping story about great characters we care about, than a novel that sticks rigidly to historical fact.
But if that’s true, then why do authors bother with research at all? Why spend hours investigating the style of the heroine’s dress, or looking up the execution schedule for Newgate Gaol? What difference do these details make if we’re happy for an author to take liberties with the basic facts?
The answer for me lies in the importance of detail. When writing The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk I spent months researching piracy, pirate colonies, and early eighteenth century London. I love to get the small things right. For example, there’s a sequence in the book where Zach and Amelia escape across London Bridge. I didn’t intend to write the scene at all, but the geography of London meant that they had to cross the river and at the time London Bridge was the only one available. So I spent hours studying images and accounts of the bridge as it was in 1720. I visited the Museum of London to study a model of the bridge, working out how Zach and Amelia could sneak through the buildings that crowded along its length, or climb across the starlings that supported the structure. I wanted to make their escape feel real and using historical details helped me to craft that scene.
But, having done all that, I wantonly invented an entire island off the west coast of Africa. There is no Ile Sainte Anne, although it and its ideology are based on real pirate colonies that existed in other parts of the world. The Articles of Agreement that Amelia cares about so deeply never existed, but every pirate ship had its own Articles that set down fair terms of service for the crew. While the broad brushstrokes of the story are fictional, the details provide the structure for the world in which the story exists. If we ignore the details the structure begins to crumble and then the whole thing falls apart.
Someone once said ‘Don’t sweat the big stuff’ and they were right; it’s the little stuff you need to sweat.
Come then, and I’ll tell you the tale of the Gypsy Hawk and her wily captain – the infamous Zachary Hazard …’
To Amelia Dauphin, freedom is her most prized possession and she will stop at nothing to keep it. Daughter of a Pirate King and the youngest captain in her father’s fleet, she lives on the island of Ile Saint Anne, where pirates roam free and liberty reigns.
Zachary Hazard, captain of the Gypsy Hawk, hasn’t been seen on Ile Saint Anne for six years but his reputation precedes him. To Zach, liberty is the open water and he has little time for the land-bound pirate island.
But when he hears that Amelia’s people could be in danger, he has no choice but to return. And what begins then is a desperate fight for freedom and a legend in the making … A swashbuckling pirate adventure. Pirates of the Caribbean for adults with a sizzling romance at the heart!
Set among the freebooting pirates of the early eighteenth century, The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk is a tale of romance and adventure, but ultimately it’s a story of love and its power to redeem even the most broken of souls. It moves from the exotic shores of Ile Sainte Anne to the frozen streets of a London winter and at its heart lies one question: how much would you sacrifice for duty? Your life, your freedom – or the one you love?
Giveaway (now closed)
Well, it wasn’t for the want of publicity – thanks to everyone who shared my links – but there was just one entrant to win a Kindle copy of The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk! Congratulations to Jo at Jaffareadstoo, who loves her Choc Lit as much as I do – the publishers will be in touch soon.
About the author:
Sally lives in London, England with her American husband and two children. She is co-founder and commissioning editor of Fandemonium Books, the licensed publisher of novels based on the American TV series Stargate SG1, Atlantis and Universe. Sally is the author of five of the Stargate novels. She has also written four audio Stargate dramas. And recently she completed work on three episodes of the video game Stargate SG-1: Unleashed which were voiced by Stargate SG-1 stars Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping and Chris Judge. Follow Sally on Twitter.