September 10th, 2011


Pirate Names

It's a matter of style with me that a pirate needs a great name: Captain Blade, The Scourge, Asmodel Dire, Captain Kane - a good pirate name is the essence of being piratical.  Some historical pirates had great names, like Blackbeard or Captain Kidd.  Others, while awesome pirates, were lacking in the moniker department: Montbars, L'Onnois, etc.  Of course it has to be remembered that Blackbeard was a nickname, and his real name was the pedestrian Edward Teach.  Some people's real names - like Grace O'Mally and Jack Rackham - were perfectly good pirate names, while I am forced to admit that Anne Bonney needed a nickname in the worst way.  Surprising to me that a people so far beyond the scope of 'normal' society would be averse to awesome nommes du crime.  Part of the fun I've had with Sky Pirates of the Rio Grande has been crossing the pirate ethos with the Old West penchant for really cool nicknames.  You can imagine that the society that produced "Wild Bill", "Grizzly Adams", and (my favorite) "Killer Dick" would have a whole lot of fun with colorful names for pirates.

So spill - what kinds of pirate names do you like?
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Like a Treasure Found

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Of Unfortunate Names, and Other Follies

I don't know if you've read Like a Treasure Found yet, or looked at the segment of my story exerpted at - but I suspect that a number of you might be asking the same question I asked myself when writing the first sex scene:

"Deadbeef? You named the love interest Captain Deadbeef? SRSLY and for reals? What were you thinking?"

Because, as Paul said, using the correct character name is vital to a story. And also, I gotta tell ya, hot sex and "Deadbeef" go together like... like... um. They don't.

Which made for an interesting, if unanticipated, writing challenge. :) I'm good with that. I like challenges.

But back to Captain Deadbeef. Why did I give him that name? Well, see, he hadn't originally intended to be in a porn film. Some improv at the local theatre, maybe, or a walk-on in his college roommate's senior thesis film. But that was a long time ago, before the world turned to shit, and the man who would become the Dread Captain Deadbeef left his job as a computer programmer for a life of adventure on the high desert.

Captain Deadbeef first saw light in a grim little story that has not yet seen press - that story, Facing the Wind, will be coming out later this year in an anthology called Spells and Swashbucklers, and takes place about ten years after On Arid Seas. I loved the world of that story, and the characters who insisted I include them, and when I saw the the call for this anthology, I jumped at the chance to explore it all a bit more.

So who is this Deadbeef fellow, anyway? Well, as the world falls apart and the people with the guns and inclination turn to preying on others, Captain Deadbeef and Ms. Canbrach bind demons to the hull of a mini-golf pirate ship, and set out to prey on the victimizers. A pirate of pirates, so to speak. Which is a somewhat meta and postmodern place to start with, and Deadbeef has the Dali-esque sensibilities and the comic book collection to support his decision to dress the part and try to never take himself seriously.

Also, for people who write code for things like high-end routers and the like, the term DEADBEEF has particular meaning. It's a hexidecimal number that gets written into the parts of memory that, if you end up there, you're seriously fucked. First time I saw it was in the crash log of a cisco router, and when I looked it up in the troubleshooting manual I learned that 1) it was probably cosmic rays, and 2) if it wasn't cosmic rays, get new hardware.

So taking Deadbeef as a name was, for him, both a statement on the state of the world, and an ironic and self-conscious effort to subvert his own ego.

Of course, that can work against you in intimate moments, and against the author. The way I tried to play it was to have him be very aware and very self-conscious of the inadequacy of his name for a sexual/intimate situation, and for Jamie to clue in on that sense of vulnerability, and work it into the game. It plays into the power relation between the two, and figures into the way power is traded back and forth as situations change.

The other challenge this story presented for me was that it was the first explicit sex scene I've written between two (human) men. I guess I did okay, because Ms. Crelin chose to include the tale in her collection. But I'm curious, for those of you who have read it - did it work for you?

Language of the High Seas

For the story "Of Great Renown" I wanted to get right back there to the Golden Age with all those familiar tropes and tricks One of them was language. Pirates of the era spoke very differently than everybody else, even ordinariy sailors. And while they didn't all sound like Robert Newton, it's thanks to him we that Talk Like A Pirate Day is so popular. So it was important to get the language right for this story while still remaining intelligible. Plus language is, y'know, a kink of mine. *shifty eyes*
Long John Silver
One reference I went back to again and again for this project was The Pirate Primer: Mastering the Language of Swashbucklers and Rogues. This book is as carefully researched as many dissertations -- and probably more carefully than most. Author George Choundas made the herculean effort of documenting literally hundreds of pirate novels, films, radio dramas, and anything else he could lay hands on. The result is an authoritative documentary on how we portray pirate language and how that has changed over the years. He leaves no stone unturned. You want syntax -- he'll give it to you. Epithets? All neatly alphabetized and separated from both Orders and Oaths. 

I want to know everything you know about pirate language. Like what's the most porntastic-sounding part of a ship? Is there an order, an oath, that routinely brings any of you sea-dogs or lubbers to your knees? Fellow authors, did you pay extra attention to the dialogue in your stories and if so, how? 
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