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The Story of The GOLDEN GUINEA

Updated on September 10, 2014

The Golden Guinea Cover

The Golden Guinea

The Golden Guinea is a novel, but there are two sides to every story. With a novel, there is the novel itself. Secondly, there is how this novel came to be, the inspiration, the process of how it came to be. As any writer, I hope that readers buy, read and enjoy the story. What few readers get is a chance to discover the source of the story. It may also help other writers seeking to write their own novel. That is the purpose of this article.

A novel is said to be led either by its main character or by its plot. Of course, the main character also needs a plot to follow and any plot needs characters to carry it forward. The Golden Guinea is character led which raises the question, where did the idea for the character come from?

If you research ‘pirates’ on the infernal net you will come across the name of a female pirate by the name of Charlotte de Berry, sometimes Deberry, presented as if she really existed. However, there are a few problems with this assumption.

According to some accounts she was born in England in 1636, married an English lieutenant who was sentenced to be flogged around the fleet for committing some misdemeanour. He subsequently died. In another account, she was married to a Spanish captain who was killed in a shipwreck. Another variation to this is that he was injured, captured and eaten by cannibals. Yet another has her married to a merchant captain who met yet another fate. Add to this the problem that there is no historical record of her ever existing

Research a little further and you discover that the earliest known reference to Charlotte de Berry comes in 1863, two centuries after her supposed birth. This account appears in Edward Lloyd’s History of Pirates that, unlike the impression given by the title, is what is known as a Penny Dreadful or Penny Blood.

Penny Dreadfuls and Penny Bloods equate to the early American, Dime Novels, sometimes viewed as pulp fiction containing stories of ghosts, vampires, highwaymen, cutthroats of all kind and of course, pirates. These were common and popular stories during Victorian Britain and some were based on real characters, such as Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper, but highly fictionalised, the purpose being to provide a thrill rather and genuine historical content.

Like any writer, Lloyd obviously wanted his readers to take his account seriously, but many incidents in the story parallel those in similar tales of the period and combine this with the total lack of evidence that she really existed, it has to be concluded that she was an entirely fictional character.

So this is the root of the idea for the lead character in the Golden Guinea. I borrowed the name, but not Charlotte de Berry. I changed the name to Charlotte Berry, which is the only thing that can be said to have been borrowed from Lloyd’s account. Everything else in the story, the location, the characterisation, the reason she became a pirate and subsequent motive, is completely original.

Lloyd had another aspect of his story right. The reader has to believe that the character could have existed in real life. There has to be a reason for everything she does.

So I take a young lady, born on Jamaica, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, a member of the growing plantocracy of the period and give her a reason to rebel. Part of that is in her character, but a person’s character is formed by the way they are raised. My Charlotte turns out to be a rebellious young woman who has no wish to submit to the norms of society. She doesn’t like being told she can’t do something just because she is a woman. Call her a feminist if you want, in time before feminism took hold, when women were expected to do as they were told.

The plot of any story involves conflict and I now have a root cause for the coming conflict. Of course this has to develop in a way that leads her to being abandoned into the hands of pirates, which provides a means for the story line to place her in command of those pirates, becoming one herself. And there has to be a villain to the story, who plays his role in putting her in that position.

Any good story has to follow the scientific principle of cause and affect. There has to be a reason for things to happen the way they do and there has to be a reason the hero can do the things they have to do. But she is the hero of the story and now I’ve turned her into a pirate, a normally villainous character who does do some bad things, I need a way to turn this around, to get her out of the threat of being hanged as a pirate.

On top of this there needs to be a romantic interest, not some bronzed adonis who comes galloping to her rescue every time she gets into trouble, Charlotte Berry certainly doesn’t need that, but a romantic interest adds another angle to character creation. What real person does not have a romanic interest?

As in any story, there has to be a final showdown, hero against villain. And it has to be logical and reasoned and in tune with the history of the time. So this is the Golden Guinea, a novel about a female pirate who might, at some time in the future, be listed along other pirates of old as having really existed.

Available on Amazon and Kindle. Soon to be on Smashwords and soon to be released under the Portal imprint.


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