What’s with the pirate thing?

Here’s the point: I’ve written three books (don’t ask me why they always come in threes) for readers 9 to 12 years of age, called Swashbuckler!
The first is Ocean Without End, out early next year. I’m sending off the final manuscript for the third book next week. It’s a bit like having triplets: they all need attention at once; but on the other hand, endless proofreading can get very tedious when you actually want to leave pirates behind and go off onto researching World War 2 or the Restoration or Hadrian’s Wall.
But Swashbuckler! it is, for the present time. The story is simple enough: Lily, aged 12, gets kidnapped by pirates and turns into one herself. Maybe.
It’s set in the Mediterranean in 1798, just as Napoleon Bonaparte’s great army was setting off in 400 ships to conquer Egypt, with Admiral Nelson crossing their wake, in the lead-up to the Battle of the Nile. Slaves were still the common currency; the navies of Christian and Islamic states were battling each other as if Saladin were still alive; the grand era of Empire was about to begin, but the fabric of Europe was beginning to unravel.
They have been described as pirate adventure books for girls, but I hope it’s not that simple. For a start, I know boys supposedly don’t read books with a girl as the main protagonist, but maybe there are enough swordfights and a bit of swearing to ensure there’s fun for all the family.
I wanted to pay tribute to the great adventure stories of my childhood, and to the classic elements of the pirate genre (swordfights, evil captains, wild storms, the quest for long-lost parents, treasure hunts, mysterious strangers, maps, sea battles). And a little maritime slapstick never goes astray. But I also had to decide what to do about the standard pirate job description: capturing slaves; murdering innocents; robbing the rich, and then just getting drunk; sailing about looking evil.
Does a 12 year-old girl suddenly turn into a swaggering, lyin’, cheatin’, murdering rascal? The real-life women pirates of history certainly did.
Or should I take the Rafael Sabatini/Errol Flynn approach?
Wait and see…

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