9 September 2014

Let's Talk of Pirates...

Listen up you scurvy knaves - 
Why ain't ye be joinin' our  Pirate Plunder Blog Hop?

Here there be Pirates!
Giveaway and Q&A Bloghop

 Today I've been boarded by that notorious pirate-writer 
(and Blog Hop organiser) 
Justin Aucoin and his pirate companion 
Jake Hawking

Justin, what made you want to write about pirates in the first place? What is it about them that intrigued you as a writer?
I’ve been a huge fan of swashbucklers and historical adventure tales since I was a like eight or ten years old. I used to watch reruns of Guy William’s Zorro and even went dressed up as Zorro for Halloween about five years in a row (and sometimes I still do!), and I also fell in love with The Three Musketeers thanks to Disney’s 1993 adaption…
…so maybe we can really just blame Disney for my love of swashbucklers…
So, yea, it wasn’t a far leap from those stories and characters to pirates. With Zorro and the Musketeers, I fell in love with the idea of fighting for justice with just a sword at one’s side. It really spoke to me, as a young kid.
As for pirates, you still have that sense of adventure and swordplay, but now you have folks that are living on the edge at best, and at worst, they’re living outside the law. It’s a whole new dynamic. Throw the addition of a ship and now you have a base for exciting adventures and a whole new world of possibilities.

Tell us a little about your book, JAKE HAWKING & THE BOUNTY HUNTERS,  that you’re giving away for this event.
Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters is a collection of three short-stories about Jake Hawking and his pirate crew of the Broad-Wing. I published each short story as solo-adventures in the summer of 2013 as eBooks, and then this past spring I compiled them together as an omnibus collection as a paperback and eBook. The collection also includes some bonus material, including the first short-story I ever got published, a flash-fiction piratical tale, and two swashbuckling poems.
But getting back to the plot of the three Hawking stories: Jake Hawking is known for his quick blade and cunning wit. It’s earned him some friends in the Caribbean, but it’s also earned him his fair share of enemies, too. The governor of Havana has hired three of the most dangerous bounty hunters in the West Indies to track and capture Hawking and his crew. So life is already dangerous for Hawking, Little Queen, and the rest of the Broad-Wing crew as soon as we meet them.

In reality, pirates were awful people that most of us wouldn’t want to run across if we were sailing a ship, but in our culture they’ve been romanticized so often that it’s almost expected by some folk. Do you have trouble balancing reality with the romanticized aura of the pirate, or do you not worry too much about that when crafting your tales?
Yes and no. I don’t think too much about it when writing stories. I fell in love with the classic swashbuckler tales of Rafael Sabatini and Alexandre Dumas, and that sense of high adventure is what I aim for when working on the Jake Hawking Adventures. But at the same time, I do like the realism of stories like Captain Alatriste, so I go for a balance between the romanticized aura of the pirate with the gritty realism of what their life is like.
So with the Hawking stories, you’ll still get that sense of high adventure that you’d find in a classic swashbuckler, but with real-world outcomes. Everything these characters do have consequences. There’s no reset button like in a lot of those classic stories. No fairy tale happy endings all the time. But expect to have fun reading the stories!

How often do you turn to real-life pirates for inspiration in creating your characters or plot?
In other stories, I turn to real-life events to help mold plots (a la Dumas/Musketeers), but with my Hawking stories I don’t (or haven’t anyways). I want the Hawking Adventures to be happening in its own world and version of the 18th Century Caribbean.  It’s very much like the real Caribbean, but don’t expect Hawking and Little Queen to interact with the likes of Blackbeard, Anne Bonny & Mary Read, and William Kidd.
I will say that Jake Hawking is influenced a bit by Rafael Sabatini’s pirate, Captain Blood. Blood was an able swordsman, but he greatest weapon was his brain. He would try to out-think his way out of problems before drawing his sword. I wanted to write a character like that — a cerebral pirate. So that’s what Hawking is. He’s an able swordsman but a man who prefers to use his wit above his sword if he can. That plays a lot into the Hawking adventures.
As for Little Queen, Hawking’s right hand woman, she’s also not based on a real-life character. But after inventing her and writing Little Queen’s Gambit, I came across a real-life black, woman pirate who’s life and demeanor is pretty similar to Little Queen. I wrote all about “William Brown” on my blog. If I ever get stuck, I can always refer back to her!
And for those who really like stories that mix fictional characters with historical people, they might enjoy Ye Be Oak; True as Oak. It’s one of the bonus short stories in the collection and has a lot to do with Blackbeard. It’s actually the first fiction piece I ever got published.

What makes your series (or book) different from other piratical adventures out there? What’s your main goal with your pirate stories?
A lot of it goes back to Hawking. He’s a thinking man’s pirate. There’s still plenty of swordplay, but for readers who want more than that, I think they’ll get a kick out of Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters. It’s not all hack and slash.
But fight scenes that the genre is known for are still present in my Hawking stories. Hawking’s right hand woman, Little Queen, is very much a shoot first, as questions later type character. One reader described her as being Xena-esque, and another reader described her as having a “wild card nature”, so her and Hawking have an interesting dynamic. It plays out in Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters and I know I’m just scratching the surface of their relationship, too.

Bonus Question: If you had to design a pirate flag for yourself, what would it look like?
Ooooh, good question. I’ve been trying to think of what Hawking’s flag could be, but haven’t come up with anything concrete yet. Maybe something with a hawk?

As for myself, it might be a fleur-de-lis with crossed swords. It’s sort of my unofficial logo as it is, so I think it’d work as a flag, too.

Short Bio: Author. Fencer. Sometimes actor. Full-time nerd. J.M. AUCOIN is the product of when a ten-year-old boy who fell in love with reruns of Guy William’s Zorro grows into a mostly functional adult. He now spends his time writing swashbucklers and historical adventure stories, and has an (un)healthy obsession with The Three Musketeers. To learn more, visit his website: http://www.JMAucoin.com.

Now take yer chances t'win some prizes!
The contest began on Monday, September 8th 
and runs through to September 19th 
(Talk Like a Pirate Day)
Visit these Blogs and make yer claim!
(and don't forget t'enter below an' all!)

September 8th: Christine Steendam posted Dan Eldredge's Q&A 
September 9th :  Lisa Jensen posted Christine Steendam's Q&A
September 9th : J.M. Aucoin posted SK Keogh's Q&A
September 10th : Nick Smith posted Lisa Jensen's Q&A
September 11th : Dan Eldredge posted Nick Smith's Q&A
September 11th : SK Keogh posted Helen Hollick's Q&A
September 12th : Helen Hollick posted J.M. Aucoin's Q&A above

To celebrate this fun annual event, myself and six other historical fiction authors are giving away seven pirate novels. Sea Witch will be one of them, along with S.K. Keogh's The Alliance,  Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters by J.M. Aucoin, Heart Like an Ocean by Christine Steendam, The Witch from the Sea by Lisa Jensen, The Pirates of Alnari by Dan Eldredge, 
and Gentleman of Fortune by Nick Smith.
To enter, just sign in below. 
You can earn additional entries by
 liking the authors’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. 
The more of our social media accounts you follow, the more entries you get. 
The more entries you get, the better your chances are of winning. 
Simple as that.
enter here:

Fancy some more pirate fun?
Step aboard the MH Pirate Pleasure
for a few quizzes and games
click HERE 


  1. Great interview with Justin AuCoin. Love his Jake Hawking adventures - they're a ton of fun and I love that he's the thinking man's pirate. Thanks for hosting him, Helen. Now I'm off to buy Sea Witch. I can see how following this blog hop is going to get expensive (but in a good way)! :)

    1. Thanks Nan Sampson - I like our Mr Hawking as well - though obviously my first love is my own Jesamiah! LOL
      I hope you enjoy meeting Jesamiah - do let me know.
      (what do you write?)


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