Look, it’s my ship

This is a detail from a painting from 1697: Rough Sea With Ships by Ludolf Bakhuysen. The flags were probably originally the Dutch flag, but – time and the devil have done for the rest, so now it’s the pan pride flag! Thus, I’m deciding this is a painting of my own proud ship, The Incorrigible.

rough sea with ships

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Summer Pirate Reading 2: Pirate Utopias

Before the well-known pirates of the Caribbean, there were the ”Barbary Coast” (Maghreb coast) pirates of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Pirate Utopias: Moorish Corsairs & European Renegadoes by Peter Lamborn Wilson tells a story of these Muslim pirates, and of the several thousand Europeans (primarily captives) who converted to Islam and joined them.

pirate utopieasWilson focuses especially on the European converts, ”Renegadoes”, hoping to find their motivations, their tale. He therefore focuses on the port of Salé in Morocco, which for several decades was independent, multicultural, and governed by pirates as a more or less functioning republic: possibly, one of the eponymous ”pirate utopias”.

I exaggerate when I say ”focuses”, however. This is not a history book, but rather a sprawling historical essay. There are few first-hand sources to draw from, and none from the Renegadoes themselves, and Wilson goes from there to (he freely admits) pure wishful thinking and several instances of ”we can’t prove this is how they thought, so it’s not impossible!” This is ameliorated by the fact that these flights of fancy are so hopeful. They might have converted because 16th century Islam was far more democratic, pleasure-loving and wisdom-seeking than 16th century Christendom (for men). They might have become pirates as an act of proto-Marxist social resistance. They might be the original fathers of modern democracy already.

There are a lot of sources very properly quoted and a very proper bibliography, and I do feel I know quite a lot more about Maghreb history and pirate history. The rest of the story is wildly tendentious and very romanticising, but most of it is quite seductive to those of us who romanticise pirates – though there are some problematic romanticisings in the book as well, let it not be unsaid. In conclusion, I do recommend to fellow amateur piratologists, but take it with bushels of salt, if also hope.

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Summer Pirate Reading

It wasn’t planned, but this seems to be a summer of pirate reading. (As every summer should be, but it’s not always supply meets demand.) In this post: John Silver x 2, and James Hook.

mary jones historiaI started out with Mary Jones historia by Elin Boardy, which has waited patiently for me for a couple of years, and I immediately regretted letting it wait, because I fell in love with it.
Before Treasure Island, Long John Silver ran a tavern in Bristol with his wife. This book is the story as told by their kitchen girl, Mary Jones, and additionally the story of Silver’s creole wife Dolores. There’s one timeline before the treasure hunt, and one starting with Silver’s death on Hispaniola, years later. It is the women’s story, but significantly, though Silver, alive or dead, is always a powerful presence, Mary and Dolores are not merely women the story happens to: the stories about their lives are the important ones. Women’s history (with a wlw love story) well balanced with metaliterary pirate history.

treasure islandThen I had to reread Stevenson’s original Treasure Island, since the first time was easily 30 years ago, and then probably abridged and certainly in Swedish. It was very fun to read literally all the pirate tropes and staples – eye patches, parrots, treasure maps, rum, ”By the powers”, Fifteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest &c &c – from the very source that’s made them last to this day (though apparently we have Robert Newton to thank for ”Arrr, matey!”). And I think the pirates were crueller and more devious than in the version I read as a kid.

flintFunnily enough, while reading these I was also catching up on Black Sails, and I did think that Silver in both these books would have been played by Toby Stephens rather than by Luke Arnold – but then, quite a few years and hardships will have passed. Jessica Parker Kennedy would make a good Dolores.

After these and after some space opera (but Captain Uisine of Ann Leckie’s upcoming Provenance could easily be classified as a space pirate) –

lost boyLost Boy: The true story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry. ”Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever. Peter lies.” This is the story of Neverland as told by Jamie, the very first boy Peter fetched over from The Other Place, his right hand, his best friend … and the first boy who starts to question Peter. The island is really a very dangerous place to be, not only because of pirates and monsters, but because if Peter’s happy, everyone is happy, but if Peter’s not … It’s a gruesome tale, and probably not one for someone who idolises the character of Peter Pan.

Currently: Pirate Utopias: Moorish Corsairs & European Renegadoes by Peter Lamborn Wilson, and season 4 of Black Sails.

queen of swordsUpcoming: The Queen of Swords by R. S. Belcher, and Magic of Blood and Sea by Cassandra Rose Clarke. And perhaps someone has more suggestions?

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My Worldcon schedule!

In just a few short weeks I’ll be setting sail for Helsinki (well, I’ll fly, but I wish I was sailing) and Worldcon 75! So far I’ll be on two panels (programme details are preliminary), one very me and one very nervous but for all the right and important reasons:

Wednesday, August 9, 21.00: Queer pirate smut fantasy !

The panelists discuss queer smut fantasy, its appeal to the readers and writers as well as how to add more pirates to it!

Saturday, August 12, 13.00: Feminist and Queer Readings of Fantasy Tropes – with me as moderator!

How do we read fantasy literature in terms of class, sexuality, disability and gender politics?

The programme over all looks entirely amazing and I’m going to need half a dozen time-turners to visit every item I want. Can you use several time-turners at once? I can’t use the TARDIS because I’d cross my own timeline – perhaps a DeLorean?

worldcon banner

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What do my heroes smell like?

Nope, not just sea water and rum. Tumblr stumbled me onto this generator bot: What does your romance hero smell like, and it’s accurate to the point where I’m sure it’s read my book. I hope you enjoyed it, generator bot, and that it made you want to be a pirate!

My lovely, sweet, happy Jean smells like ”peaches and literature”. Captain Crow smells like ”boots and control”.

Lucy Fire smells like ”goose down and thunder”. Mister Rotten smells like ”whisky and the desert”. Misha smells like ”peppercorns and authority”. Naughty Nathalee smells like ”boulders and efficiency”. Mister Herod smells like ”wolves and tension”. White Betty smells like ”cinnamon and damage”. Philippe Kingfisher smells like ”knives and Paris”. I am here for all of this.

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Being Harriet in Barcelona

As I’ve mentioned before, ”Harriet” and I have very different personalities. For one thing, Harriet is a cosmopolitan globetrotter, whereas I prefer to travel in my armchair. But when I was in Barcelona for Eurocon, I took some time to do the things Harriet would do.

barri-goticLike strolling around the Barri Gótic with no particular goal in mind, looking at architecture and art exhibitions and tourist traps, stopping for paella and a glass of wine when hungry … The difference is that Harriet would be able to speak Spanish and would pick up Catalan quickly, and she’d talk to people and make new friends.

(I did make new friends, but at the con, where I knew I was going to meet people.)

And like going on a Gaudí safari, thinking I knew sort of what to expect, seeing sort of what I expected in Casa Batlló, La Pedrera and the facade of Sagrada Família (all of which were certainly spectacular and inspiring), but then being utterly blown away by the interior of Sagrada Família.

Both Harriet and I enjoyed this in solitude, in awe of what humans can create.

Then ”we” went down to the Mediterranean. It was the very first time I’ve seen it in person; Harriet has of course seen it uncountable times, swam in it, sailed on it, but we both stood for quite a while with our feet in the sand letting the waves wash our legs. That really never gets old.

Harriet’s favourite after-dinner drink is an espresso and a grappa – in Barcelona we had orujo instead of grappa, and it was very nice. Thanks to new friends we also found the restaurants Flax & Kale and Teresa Carles and had excellent vegetarian food.

Harriet would have:
– Brought proper tea and not have had to settle for teabags; she knows the perils of travel.
– Brought her swimming suit and not have been intimidated by the huge waves, being used to swimming in all kinds of oceans.
– Known all the food words in Spanish and Catalan and not have had to wonder what was vegetarian and what was not.
– Taken at least one extra day to go walking in the hills and mountains outside of town.

Maybe next time. We have to go back when Sagrada Família is finished in 2026, after all.

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The pirates have boarded Amazon!

front cover finalThe Incorrigible is now available (nearly) worldwide! Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Amazon Netherlands, Amazon Japan, Amazon Brazil, Amazon Canada, Amazon Mexico, Amazon Australia and Amazon India! That’s a lot of Amazons. A proper Themyscira. Excellent.

And the journey to get there was a quest indeed …

According to Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing, ”Publishing takes less than 5 minutes.” I’m afraid this is a tiny fib. It’s true in a way, but here’s how it’s not:

First you have to complete your IRS Interview. Do everything you can to figure out how your Swedish information corresponds to the information the IRS wants. Have some anxiety about accounting for income from outside the EU the next time you do your taxes. Hope a little that no one buys the book so you won’t have to worry about it.

Fill in your bank account information. Take a break until the next morning so you can call your bank to ask where you find your ”IBAN number” and ”BIC code”.

Now it’s time to upload your book and its metadata. OK, this I know how to do! I have the title, the description – ”On the night the dragons burned Port Vert to the ground …” et cetera. Oh look, you can add other contributors, so I’ll give the credit they deserve to my amazing cover artist Myra Sjöberg and my amazing editor Anna Vintersvärd! A maximum of seven keywords, sure, I can do that, especially as they can even be multiple word keywords! ”Pansexual polyamorous pirate smut fantasy”, ”HBTQ”, ”Queer pirates”, ”Pirate fantasy”, ”Pirate smut”, ”Smut with consent” – that’s even just six, but I think they say it all, great!

The next step is when you realise you don’t have a cover image that’s high-resolution enough. Email your editor: help! Since your amazing editor is a superhero, she swoops in and finds a high-res cover image and sends it over. It gets accepted by Amazon. Another success!

Then there’s the thing with DRM. Enable or do not enable? Amazon: ”You will NOT be able to change this once you’ve chosen.” (Blue. No! Yellow!) Google stuff, ask editor, dither, wonder, worry, choose.

Now THIS is where it takes five minutes: Upload your text file. Preview how it will look on a Kindle. Worry about font. Assume readers can manipulate font in their Kindle. Click Save and continue.

Ask editor: ”Parts of the world or everywhere?” Editor answers: ”Everywhere!!!” Click Save and Publish! Hey presto, in five minutes. Or thereabouts.

”Your book will go live on Amazon within 12 to 24 hours. Usually.”

Wait. Sleep, breakfast, play with cat.

Realise that hey wait, ”HBTQ” is the Swedish initialism, in English it should be ”LGBTQ”. Aha, I’m not allowed to make changes while Amazon is reviewing my book. No sweat, I’ll just do that tomorrow.

Receive email: ”Your book is available in the Kindle Store!” Do a little dance. Conjure a little dragon mirage to fly around spreading rainbow sprinkles making everyone happy. Hurry in to change the key word before you shout it from the rooftops. Change that one key word.

”We are reviewing your changes. This will take 12 to 72 hours.”

Wait. Work. Wait. Work.

While waiting, look again at the preliminary Amazon page and realise: Hey, wouldn’t it be nice if that line just beneath the title of the book actually said ”Harriet Dumont (author)”? Harriet, did you perchance assume that the person running the account would automatically be listed as author? This is not the case. Instead it now looks as if Anna has edited a collection of Myra’s illustrations, which would be awesome, but which is unfortunately not the case.

Also while waiting, get anxious about Amazon saying the list price is $6.24, when you’ve put $4.99. It’s the right price on Amazon UK, so what’s strange? What, I ask? Whaat, I wonder? An hour or two and some maths later: Ah. It’s the VAT if I, in Sweden, were to buy it from Amazon US. Calm down. Have some tea.

[waiting] [waiting] Then! ”Updates being published.” Oh! [Refreshing page] [Refreshing page] ”Updates being published.” [Refreshing page] &c &c. And then! Once more, dear friends, my updated book is available in the Kindle store – and thus available for me to edit! And so I edit again and put to print that Harriet Dumont is the author of pansexual polyamorous pirate smut fantasy novel The Incorrigible. Setting the worlds right. Cutting the moorings with an axe, hoisting the sails, steering into the wind and heading out to sea!

”It may take X hours” etcetera. And then, the final time (I hope), in the middle of the afternoon: ”Your book is available in the Kindle Store!” The Incorrigible pirates are ready to conquer the world!

In the immortal words of Monty Python’s Flying Circus: That was never five minutes just now.

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