Ronald Haines, Author

Immerse Yourself in the Adventure and Romance of Historical Fiction

Category: Writing (page 2 of 2)

Posts related to my writing in general

On location, llp chapter 9

It’s fun to be in the location I am writing about, so I made a short video to share with my readers.

I’m now halfway through writing my newest novel, the prequel to Pirates of the Bahamas, and have finished writing a scene where Anne Bonny and Chris Condent escape along a trail to the beach:

….there was an overgrown footpath which led them through the forest of thatch palms and sea grape until they could see the ocean ahead. “Shh,” Chris put his finger to his lips.  “Stay here,” he whispered, then crouched down and made his way into the tall grass which formed a border separating the trees from the beach.  He made a whistling sound….

This is the trail, so you can see what it is really like.  I also show a close-up of the leaf of the sea grape plant, which were used as plates by the indigenous Lucayan Indians of this island.

Also working on the Sequel to Pirates of the Bahamas

It is 1754, almost two years have passed since Pirates of the Bahamas ended.  The resumption of peace between the European nations has meant England now allows Spanish and French ships to use the North West Providence passage, a deep channel through the Bahama Islands, as a short cut from Cuba and the Eastern Caribbean islands to pick up the gulf stream in the Florida straits.  The free use of this passage is key to Rum and Wrecks, the next Historical Novel in the series that I am in the process of writing (in addition to the prequel, mentioned in an earlier post).

Peace brought an end to privateering as a livelihood, but opened up a new source of revenue to the former pirates who had remained in The Bahamas: licensed wrecking, or the salvaging of shipwrecks.  Rum and Wrecks begins with the wreck of a Spanish ship, and I’ve given a short excerpt from it, below the video:

Jack was easy to spot, standing high on the beach looking out to sea.  Mary walked up behind him, wrapped her arms around his waist and snuggled the left side of her face against the soft silk shirt covering his back.  “It’s getting windy out here,” she murmured.

“Indeed it is,” Jack responded without turning around.  “It looks like there’s quite a storm blowing in.”  He focused his spyglass back and forth.

“What do you see?” Mary whispered into his right ear as she peered over his shoulder.  The setting sun was brightly illuminating something on the southern horizon.  Sails?

“It looks like a brig,” Jack answered.  “But if she’s a merchant then she’s way north out of the shipping channel.”  He handed Mary the spyglass.   “Here, take a look.”

“They can’t be more than a couple of miles away from the reef,” Mary gasped. “I’m sure they can see it from there.”  She handed the glass back.  “Why aren’t they turning back?”

“They can’t; if they come about and run with the wind they’ll be facing shallows and reefs.  The only way out of this for them is south, but with this wind that isn’t an option for a square rigger.  Only a sloop can sail that close.  Now that he realizes where he is, that captain’s going to be desperate for a way to get close to shore so he can anchor in shelter and wait the storm out.  They’re pointing as hard west as they can while hoping to come across a cut through the fringe reef before they’re driven onto it.”

“But there are no cuts in that part of the reef.”  Mary’s head vibrated from side to side.

“That’s right.”  Jack folded the spyglass onto itself as the rain began. “And that means we’re looking at a doomed ship; they’ll be a wreck on Dead Man’s Reef before morning.”

When Characters Take Over The Story

I’m up to chapter 6 of my next novel, about 16,000 words written so far, and writing is picking up momentum nicely.  Now that the characters have taken over the story I’m just typing it in, downloading from the brain rather than have to think about what happens next.  Sometimes they add an unexpected twist.  This is the fun part of writing for me; the main story line has been developed and a main character, in this case Anne Bonny, just runs with it.  It’s a historical piece so the significant events of course have stay true to what actually happened, but it’s great to see how the characters handle it once their personality has been well developed.  Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 5:

…Still hugging Anne, James Bonny eased down onto the davenport and slid her sideways on his lap.   “I just had a meeting with the governor,” he said proudly.  “A soldier sought me out while we were loading the boat for tomorrow’s run and told me that Governor Rogers wanted an immediate audience with me.”  He brushed a lock of hair behind Anne’s right ear while smiling obliviously into her expressionless face.  “Imagine that.  The governor, himself, wanted a meeting with me!”

“What did he want?”  Anne’s voice was gruff and she stiffened her body.

“He told me that England has issued a bulletin to all the governors to be alert to growing Jacobite sympathies throughout the colonies and to arrest anyone who might be complicit and send them to London.  He also told me that he’s concerned about rumors of unrest with the former pirates here in New Providence, so he’s hired me as an informant to keep him appraised of the goings on.  As long and I can fill him in on the who’s and the what’s, there’s going to be a lot of money coming our way.”  He looked quizzically at his wife.  “Money, Anne.  For us.” He enunciated slowly, confused by her lack of excitement at his spectacular news.  “Lots of money for all of the things we want.”

Anne placed her hands on James’ shoulders and pushed him away as she rose to her feet.  “You mean to tell me that you’ve agreed to be a spy for the very man who’s responsible for shattering our dreams?”  She was incredulous.  “And that you now want to rat out your friends?”

“It’s my civic responsibility, Anne.”  James stood up.  “Yours too, you could feed me a lot of intelligence from the pub.”

He reached out for her, but Anne swung her right elbow towards him.  “Don’t you ‘civic responsibility’ me,” she snarled.  “We came here to be free of all that.  Damn it, James, we came here to be pirates.  What about that life you promised me, eh?” She dug her trembling fingers into her fiery hair.

“The world has changed, Anne, and those days are no more.”  His voice remained infuriatingly calm. “It’s time for us to be a part of the new way of things and start to enjoy a civilized life.”

“Are you listening to yourself?”  Anne’s Irish ire was up and she released her inner banshee.  “You’re a traitor to everything we ever wanted.”

“You talk like there’s actually a choice to be had.”  James held the palms of his hands out towards his wife and slowly shook his head.  “Nobody’s going to be able to have that life anymore.”

“There’s always going to be adventurers out there, you coward.  Real men who aren’t going to cow to anybody’s rules.” Anne blurted out, then immediately wished she hadn’t.

“That’s right,” James nodded.  “And the governor is going to pay me handsomely for their names.”

“Well you’re not getting any names from me.  Look,” Anne rapier flung her right index finger at him. “You go back and tell your new boss that you don’t want to be his mole.”

“I can’t do that.  What would I say?”

“I don’t care what you tell him. Tell him you had a surge of conscience.  Tell him that your wife threatened to divorce you if you did.”  Anne suddenly bit her lower lip; those were unplanned words, but they felt true.  She looked down, gulped, and fell silent… 

 

That last piece of dialogue certainly wasn’t something I’d planned for, and it has provided a nice additional twist as the story proceeds.

My writing studio

studio view studio desk

I find it necessary to be alone in a quiet environment in order to be productive as a writer. Here are a couple of pictures from my writing studio, which is just a couple of miles from our townhouse.   A bit too far to walk daily, but a pleasant bicycle ride.

I had wondered if the view might be a distraction from writing, but instead I find it helps with inspiration.  I can sit out on the balcony from time to time with a cup of coffee and allow my thoughts to develop into coherent sentences, then enter them into my computer.

Occasionally when out on the balcony, though, I do look down at the docks and realize how it could also be a short boat ride between the two places.   The optimal word there being ‘could’ however, because if I do buy a boat here it will be a sailboat, and the call of the open blue ocean would probably result in my not getting in to work at all.

Conclusion:  I have a perfect set up to generate 2-3 books per year, provided I ride my bike to the studio.

 

Gran Baha

kayaking 01Gran Baha, the location of Jack’s base in Pirates of the Bahamas, is actually Grand Bahama Island where I live and write from.  Gran Baha was the 18th century name of this island, originally named by the Spanish and, roughly translated, means “great shallows” because of the surrounding reefs which made it difficult to land on.  Knowing the passageways through the reefs enabled the pirates to come and go without having to be concerned about the authorities finding them.

In order to be able to effectively describe the island I’m required to do extensive research.  Here is a picture from yesterday where I am diligently researching the ocean swells for my next novel

Cool

Writing from Paradise

After a successful career as a research scientist, corporate manager and 25 years as an entrepreneur in the United States, in 2015 I cut loose and moved to the Bahamas to follow my passion, the life of a full time author.  I have several books already published in non-fiction, contemporary fiction and historical fiction, but I’m concentrating on the historical fiction niche going forward.

I find the study of history to be quite fascinating when contemplating what the motivations were of the people who were making it happen.  I believe that people haven’t changed over the millennia in terms of their desires, prejudices and biases, so we can easily identify with the characters from previous eras.  I perform thorough research to make sure the history is up to snuff, and then create characters that will put the reader inside the heads of the people of the time.  My storylines will then enable my readers to indulge themselves in the adventure and romance of a bygone time.

My previous historical works are Wolf at the Threshold, a historical romance between and Iceni princess and a Roman officer in first century Britain, and Pirates of the Bahamas, set here in The Bahamas in colonial times with a romance between Jack and Mary, the children of the pirates Anne Bonny , Mary Read and Jack Rackham.

My current projects are both the prequel to Pirates of the Bahamas, delving into the lives and times of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, and a sequel where the pirates begin to assist the growing American colonies.  This theme will continue over several books and the reader will learn how instrumental the free living pirates and privateers based in the Bahamas were to the independence of the colonies from Great Britain.

 

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