The real pirates of the Caribbean: Guest post & giveaway by Shana Galen

Shana GalenI’m so happy to have historical romance/adventure author Shana Galen here today talking about some of the fascinating research she’s done on pirates. She’s giving away two copies of her upcoming release, The Rogue Pirate’s Bride. I’ve read and LOVED it, so make sure you leave a comment by Tuesday January 31st!

Take it away, Shana!

Hello! I’m thrilled to be on Reader, I Created Him today. This is the first stop on my tour for The Rogue Pirate’s Bride. What a great way to begin! I want to thank Kat for inviting me. I met her in New York over the summer, and if you don’t know her, be assured she is really as nice and smart and talented as this blog would indicate.

English: Johnny Depp at the Pirates of the Car...
Image via Wikipedia

This is my second paragraph, and I already have a confession. My book isn’t actually about Caribbean pirates. The Rogue Pirate’s Bride is set in 1802, which is a little past the heyday of the Carribean pirate. But there were still Barbary pirates operating in the Mediterranean, and they were based primarily in the ports of Tunis, Tripoli, and Algier (aka the Barbary Coast). But that wouldn’t have worked as a title, and the Barbary Corsairs had a lot in common with their Caribbean counterparts.

My pirate hero, actually he prefers to be called a privateer, is Sebastien Harcourt. He’s captain of a ship named Shadow and frequently takes on the British Navy. His men are loyal and tough. They have to be. Pirates slept in the smelly lower deck, all packed together in hammocks along with the extra supplies. Bastien, of course, has his own cabin, but his ship is small (and subsequently fast), and he’s the only one with the luxury of privacy.

I read quite a few books about pirates when I was researching for this book, and I learned some interesting facts. Bastien’s enemy, Jourdain, has a shaved head. Pirates often shaved their heads to keep their hair free of lice and bugs. Jourdain also wears gold earrings as does Ridley, Bastien’s bosun, shorthand for boatswain. A bosun is sort of like the deck supervisor. But the interesting thing about Ridley and the other pirates who wear gold earrings is that they wore the earrings so that if they were thrown from a ship during a battle or storm, and their bodies washed up on shore, the earrings would be valuable enough to provide them with a burial. Some pirates wore earrings to symbolize survival from a shipwreck. If I were a hiring captain, I might be wary of hiring any pirate with more than one earring. He could be bad luck, and pirates are very superstitious.

The life of a pirate was one of equality. For a lowborn man, it might be the only way he’d ever get to vote. Pirates divided their captured booty equally and operated on democratic principles. The crew voted on their captain and quartermaster. There are also records that indicate pirates often put aside a share of their booty to compensate men injured in battles. This “disability insurance” was truly revolutionary.

English: Purchase_of_Christian_captives_from_t...
Image via Wikipedia

The Barbary Corsairs differ from the Caribbean pirates in several crucial ways. First of all, they were far less democratic. Secondly, their primary aim was not to plunder treasure but to capture Christian slaves to sell in the slave markets in North Africa. Some men were also enslaved on the galleys, where they spent the remainder of their lives shackled to a bench. One historian estimated that between 1530 and 1780 1-1.25 million Europeans were captured and enslaved by these pirates. So when Bastien and his men fight Jourdain in The Rogue Pirate’s Bride, it’s a fight to the death. Surrender is not an option. No one wants to live the rest of their life as a slave.

Oh, and there’s the small matter of Raeven Russell, the heroine. I imagine women had quite a different and horrifying experience in slavery. Since Bastien falls half in love with Raeven upon first meeting her, when she challenges him to a duel by her, he’s not about to lose her.


Rogue Pirates BrideThe Rogue Pirate’s Bride will be available February 7, and I’m offering two copies to followers of Reader, I Created Him. The giveaway is open internationally, but be patient as I don’t have my author copies yet. I’ll send the prizes as soon as I receive them.

What do you have to do to win? Tell me what comes to your mind when you hear the word pirate. Johnny Depp? A ship? Gold dubloons? I’ll check back later to read your comments.

About Shana

Shana Galen is the author of numerous fast-paced adventurous Regency historical romances, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne’s Bride. Her books have been sold worldwide, including Japan, Brazil, Russia, Spain, Turkey, and the Netherlands, and have been featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs.

A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She’s a wife, a mother, and an expert multi-tasker. She loves to hear from readers: visit her website at or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and twitter.


  1. Hi Shana, very interesting post … I love learning a little something new. I love pirates so when I think of them, yes, I think of Captain Jack Sparrow but I also think of Errol Flynn in SEA HAWK and CAPTAIN BLOOD. I’ve been in love with swashbucklers for as long as I can remember. I guess it comes from loving the sea, too! Anyway, thanks for a most interesting start to a Monday morn and thanks for the giveaway – luck be with me, mateys! Arrrrgh! : )

  2. hi shana,
    thanks for making international,i love reading about pirate,a wild,rogue,handsome with yummy body,lol 🙂

  3. Errol Flynn in film…he was the epitome of pirate heroes in film. In books, there’s Valerie Sherwood and Kathleen E Woodiwiss. Both ladies wrote some outstanding pirate themed books. Rosemary Rogers, while not necessarily pirate themed, some of her books (Morgan/Challenger Series) spent a lot of time on the high seas.

    1. Oh, yes, rum! Pirates really did drink it. They had a certain amount rationed to them each day. Hopefully,THE ROGUE PIRATE’S BRIDE brings back the pirate magic. There’s no Captain Jack and very little rum.

  4. Hi Shana, great post,

    The first thing that comes to mind when I think of pirates is Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom and an image of Fabio standing on a deck with his hair blowing in the wind and his shirt open, every single time, I very much prefer the image of Johnny and Orlando. *g* Can’t wait to read Rogue Pirate’s Bride.

  5. The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the word “pirate” is risk-taking, sword fighting, men on ships, attacking and robbing other ships, while wearing tight pants and flowing white shirts that show off thier chests! Congrats on the upcoming release!!

  6. I do love me some pirates and I would love to read your book. I aways thing of treasure when I think of pirates and maybe bad boys.

  7. Tall, dark, handsome charmer with a devil may care attitude and the biggest ship in the Pacific Ocean ;o)

    Thanks for opening this contest internationally! Yay

  8. Until Johnny Depp, the thought of pirate images were not pleasant, sexy ones. Growing up, pirates were taught to us as being cruel, bad men, irredeemable. So will be fascinated to read your book, as I know your heroes are always redeemable. And to be challenged to a duel by a woman,; how delicious! As for my thoughts on winning, it usually involves knowledge and strategy. Thanks, Shana for the insights, teases and giveaways.

  9. Hi everyone! I wanted to let you know that, strangely, some comments are going into the spam folder. If it looks like your comment is taking a long time to appear, don’t worry (and don’t feel like you need to re-submit the comment). I’m checking regularly and liberating them from the spam tin!

  10. Actually, I’ve read a bit on pirates ever since I took the ride ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ at Disneyland. I think of some of the things you mentioned ‘equality’, ‘shared booty’, etc, but I also think of how diverse the crews were with men from around the world.

    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity. I’ve read the first two brothers’ stories and cant wait to read this one.

    1. Thanks, Sophia! Very good point about the diverse crews. I did try to show that in the book and probably should have mentioned it in the blog. Thanks for bringing it up.

  11. Great post, and I can’t wait to read your book! I do think of Johnny Depp when I think “pirate”!


  12. hI Shana, me trying to waving to you:). Well it might be sounds stupid but everytime I heard pirate, this pirate word kinda remind me of captain hook in the peter pan. I always kept imagining pirate must wear and eye patch , coll and funny hat like him . So, when Johhny deep became pirate in the caribean stories I feel quite shocked that they choose handsome actor to become pirate, that’s why I feel like I like captain babaroosa more than captain Jack Sparrow. Cheers to you

    1. Hey Aretha, that isn’t stupid at all. Pirates really aren’t good guys, historically speaking. They’re probably much more like Captain Hook than Jack Sparrow, but in fiction we like to take the bad boy and make him good. Thanks for your comment!

  13. Hi Shana,

    the first things that come to my mind when I hear the word pirate are the flag, the wide open sea, Erol Flynn and definitely Johnny Depp.

    1. Hey Danny, I think of the flag too. In fact, one of my friends sent me some great pirate stickers with the flag, maps, etc., and I’ve been sticking them on all the envelopes of the books I send out. Great comment!

  14. Hi Shana, I love your books ,but I must say that your answer to Aretha Zhen is not entirely accurate. If you look into American history, you’ll notice that The Battle of New Orleans fought at the end of The War of 1812 was won with the assistance of the pirate Jean Laffite. He and his buccaneers were and still are heroes in and around New Orleans. So to answer your question, when you mention pirates the first person I think of is Jean Laffite, a true American hero. Thanks for listening.

    1. Jodie, I don’t know if you’re following Suzanne Johnson (my critique partner, friend, and a damn talented writer), but her first novel, Royal Street, will be released in April and it features an undead Jean Lafitte.

      And it’s such a fantastic story.

  15. Jodie, good point! i was in Key West recently, and I remember quite a few people there talking fondly of pirates and their pirate heritage. Some pirates do get a good rap historically.

  16. I am soo excited about Shana Galen’s new book…look forward to reading this exciting novel…keep writing and I well keep reading em…..

  17. The first thing I think about when I hear the word pirate is eye patch and hook. Still remind about captain hook from the peter pan, because that my first pirate i know. But then, i will imagine pirate in novel johanna lindsey from Malory Family series, James ‘Captain Hawke’ Mallory. So if i hear about pirate, Captain hook and James Mallory will coming in my mind. LOL!!
    Thank you for giveaway and make international.

  18. Hi Shana! Thanks for the history lesson. When I think of pirates, I think about Errol Flynn and Johnny Depp and liberating prisoners. I also think of gold, rum, taking prisoners, and bloody battles.

  19. Johnny Depp isn’t the first thing I think of; I guess I should be ashamed that I never watched that franchise. I think I started watching the first….

    Nevertheless, when I think pirate, I think of Errol Flynn. I don’t know why, but if we’re going with word association here, then this is the honest response.

  20. Definitely Johnny Depp!:P ..Yummy!
    And yes, it has to come with a ship 🙂
    Loved Shana’s Lord & Lady Spy and can’t wait to read this one 🙂
    Thanks for the post :*

  21. When I hear the word pirate my mind immediately goes to Blackbeard. I watched an excellent PBS documentary about this notorious pirate years ago and it really made an impression, I guess!

  22. To me Errol Flynn is the ultimate pirate. He was a born pirate–unconventional, rebellious, against status quo, manly, and certainly beyond charming.

  23. To me, Errol Flynn is the ultimate pirate. Even in real life, he was a pirate–rebellious, unconventional against status quo, and beyond charming.

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