Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Ghosts of Pirates Past - with Elin Gregory

Where do pirates go when they die? Elin Gregory, my guest today, has been pondering this. Read on to find out more - and how you can win a copy of her exciting new historical romance, On A Lee Shore. Over to you, Elin:

Many thanks, Cat, for so kindly inviting me to your blog to talk about pirates. 

I gave the subject matter for this blog post some thought. What pirate related information would suit best on a paranormal blog? 

Well obviously – ghosts! So I've been googling and searching around for suitably scary stories. There should be plenty of material. Many pirates met miserable ends. 

Blackbeard, for instance, was brought to bay in Okracoke inlet, fought til he dropped, then had his head hacked off to swing from a bowsprit. Apparently his corpse was thrown overboard and it swam three times round the ship before sinking. Now there's a man who would be haunting us if he possibly could. But even though there are tales about a portly black-whiskered gentleman who peers from the top window of an old house it has to be said that the house is USA old rather than European old, having been put up in the 1890s.

Bartholomew Roberts met his end in a crashing thunder storm when a naval vessel was chasing his ship. "A short life but a merry one" he had said and his career was cut short when a marksman shot him through the throat. As he lay dying, his crew in tears, they vowed to ignite the gunpowder they kept near the keel so they could go to the bottom together, but some forced men on the ship held them off.  Roberts' body was wrapped in his black silk flag and slipped overboard still wearing the great gold and diamond cross he had stolen from a Portuguese galleon. You would think that some sailor, keeping watch while the thunder crashed overhead might have seen a tall dark man in red striding the quarterdeck while the lightning drew fire from his diamonds – but no. Apparently not.

One of the saddest stories is of the infamous Captain William Kidd, a fine and honest seaman, who took a letter of marque to sail the Indian Ocean as a legitimate privateer. His crew, unruly and mutinous, gradually took control of the ship until he was little better than a navigator while they boarded and looted ships that should have been allowed to sail unmolested. When they were caught it was Kidd who paid the ultimate price. He was carried in chains to London, tried for acts of piracy on the high seas, convicted and hanged at Execution Dock - twice. The rope broke on the first occasion so they strung him up again! Then his corpse was wrapped in chains, dipped in tar and hung up on Blackwall Point as a terrible warning to young men heading for the sea. Execution Dock was used to put an end to seafaring miscreants for over 400 years, the final executions taking place in 1830. It has long since been built over and a small Underground station stands there now. Despite the hundreds of executions that took place on the site nobody who has been standing on the station platform late at night has reported an eerie chill in the air not anyone whispering a final prayer. 

So if there are no pirate ghosts – why are there no pirate ghosts? 

Perhaps there's a pirate equivalent to Valhalla? Where the naval vessels are slow and easily bamboozled, the prizes are rich, ports friendly, doubloons plentiful and the rum never never runs short.

If you were a pirate, how would you like to spend eternity? Comment below for a chance to win a copy of my novel On A Lee Shore

Blurb: “Give me a reason to let you live…”

Beached after losing his ship and crew, and with England finally at peace, Lt Christopher Penrose will take whatever work he can get. A valet? Why not? Escorting an elderly diplomat to the Leeward Islands seems like an easy job, but when their ship is boarded by pirates, Kit’s world is turned upside down. Forced aboard the pirate ship, Kit finds himself juggling his honor with his desire to stay alive among the crew, not to mention the alarming—yet enticing—captain, known as Le Griffe. 

Kit has always obeyed the rules, but as the pirates plunder their way across the Caribbean, he finds much to admire in their freedom. He deplores their lawlessness but is drawn to their way of life, and begins to think he might just have found a purpose. Dare he dream of finding love too? Or would loving a pirate take him too far down the road to ruin?

Obtainable here or here if you're in the States.


He had just finished fitting the desk together when he felt the first real sign of life from the ship.

“Sir George, would you care to go on deck?”

“Why, what’s happening?” Sir George asked, closing his book.

“The hands are weighing anchor,” Kit said. “Can you feel how the ship moves? She knows she’s free. I thought you might like to come up and wave good-bye to Portsmouth.”

“The last glimpse of England, eh?” Sir George grinned and straightened his wig. “That will be most agreeable.”

Sir George was a little unsteady on his feet, and Kit left him holding onto the railing while he went to pay his respects to the captain and ask if there was a corner where the captain’s paying passenger could stand. The captain expressed delight at the request. He sent men running to find a chair for Sir George and promised to join him shortly, just as soon as they were in more open waters.

Kit had no fault to find with the running of the ship. The men moved willingly and the master seemed deft enough. Sir George held onto his wig with one hand and poured out questions, gesturing with the other.

“So that’s what a stay is.” He peered up at the heavy rope thrumming taut between the two masts. “I always wondered. One might be familiar with the term on paper, but it’s good to have some knowledge of the practical application.”

“Indeed, sir,” Kit said.

Sir George’s good humor lasted until they cleared the harbor and Hypatia heeled over as the wind caught her sails properly for the first time. He was looking up, mouth open, as he watched the men aloft, and the sudden tilt of the deck, exaggerated by the swing of the masts, made him go pale.

“Penrose,” he said, “I do believe I’m feeling seasick. What do you advise?”

“Look at the horizon, sir, and try to ignore the ship, if you can,” Kit suggested. “But if you think you may be ill…”

“May be? I feel it is a certainty,” Sir George muttered.

Kit helped his master below and set about trying to make him comfortable. Once the inevitable had happened, a small glass of brandy and a pinch of ginger under the tongue settled his stomach for the time being. Kit left him with a basin and a towel and went back on deck to wash out the bucket and get some fresh air.

Sir George would be all right. He was calm and cooperative and seemed to be accepting the sickness as a natural hazard of travel rather than a terrifying illness, as did some landsmen. As for Kit, he set his feet firmly and smiled as the deck shifted under him, the wind tugging at the skirts of his coat.

He was at sea—home—and even a bucket of vomit couldn’t take the gloss off that happiness.


Many many thanks, Catherine, for being such a gracious host.

My pleasure, Elin!


  1. Replies
    1. Mina did a super job. She's a real star. :) Thanks for commenting Steve.

  2. I'm shocked there aren't pirate ghosts! Those slackers, probably lounging around on piles of booty drinking when they could be giving us something to talk about.

    That's probably what I'd do, lounge around and drink. None of those nasty health worries if you're already dead! ;)

    I already have my copy & so far am loving it!

    1. Lounging and drinking sounds wonderful. I have a STACK of books to read over Christmas.

      I hope you enjoy the pirates. I've got your Comfort and Joy to read next. :)

  3. No Pirate Ghosts! Amazing. Perhaps they all live under the Bermuda Triangle, consorting with mermaids and luring ships to their doom.

    1. Oh that's a good theory! :) thanks for commenting.

  4. Honestly Elin, your pirate heaven sounds nice. All it needs is this lusty wench running around.

    1. Being pirates I guess that if it wasn't nice enough they'd nip off and steal the materiel to make it luxurious. The Grand Moghal's peacock throne is probably down there and they take turns to sit in it. Room on lap for wenches maybe?

  5. Oh I bet there are pirate ghosts...stealth is their game. They're there, you just can't see them. But next time something of value goes missing, think veeerrrry carefully. Lovely series, Elin. Thanks Cat and Elin for the post.

    1. Maybe - just maybe - when you stop being a pirate you become a ninja?

  6. Thanks for visiting and commenting, Sue, Sheila, Antoinette, Charley and Steve. I maintain an open mind about pirate ghosts...There's something out the fog...

  7. Maybe it's The Flying Dutchman out there in the fog - luring ships to their doom. Not sure if any pirating was involved, although it doesn't seem to be the friendliest of apparitions to encounter: "The crew of this vessel are supposed to have been guilty of some dreadful crime, in the infancy of navigation; and to have been stricken with pestilence ... and are ordained still to traverse the ocean on which they perished, till the period of their penance expire."

    Great post, Elin!

    1. Ooh the Flying Dutchman - cursed to sail the seas until he earns the love of a good woman! Or was that just Wagner's version? In any case I thought it was a bit tough on his crew. Lovely idea though. Thanks for commenting.

  8. What a great post Elin and Cat. Nicely illustrated too. Good luck with the book Elin. It looks fabulous. Maybe pirates are sea creatures like mermaids and have no soul... so they ain't allowed to haunt.

    1. Cat found some super pictures to go with the post. She's a star.

      Aww, poor soulless pirates. But if that's the case the lucky so and so's might get to be in Pet Heaven.

      Thanks for commenting.

  9. Ah, Julia, you may be right! Interesting thought, Shehanne. I wonder...

    1. Their souls are all locked away in Davy Jones locker.....just awaiting rescue

  10. You know guys, with all the wonderful ideas you've aired in your comments, a new plot is forming. Elin, how about it?