How I became “The Pirate Guy”
Last year while attending PaizoCon, Paizo’s gaming convention in Seattle, a fellow pointed at me and said, “You’re the pirate guy!” I made a quip about not being an actual pirate, but I knew what he meant. I was the guy who wrote pirate stories. I had acquired a reputation that I still wasn’t quite sure I wanted.
With decades of experience on the ocean, and a life-long love of fantasy and science fiction, why would I not embrace that moniker? First, it’s like an actor being typecast into a specific type of role. I feared that from that point forward publishers would expect me to write only pirate stories. Second, I initially balked at writing “pirate stories” because I didn’t want to get labeled as someone trying to rip-off the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Eventually, when I decided to try nautical fantasy, I vowed to make my story as far from those movies as I could. This yielded Scimitar Moon, which was picked up by Dragon Moon Press. The novel won a gold medal from Foreword Reviews Magazine for best fantasy novel of the year. Feeling somewhat vindicated, I followed that up with three more novels in the series. When the second, Scimitar Sun, won another gold medal, I was convinced; I had accomplished what I set out to do. When the third, Scimitar’s Heir, also won a gold medal from Foreword, something that had never been done before, my jaw dropped. I had to admit that I had found my niche.
With those successes under my belt, and having played and loved the Pathfinder role-playing game for years, I approached Paizo’s fiction editor, James Sutter, and pitched myself as the guy who could write nautical Pathfinder Tales. The publisher had just released the pirate-oriented “Skull and Shackles” adventure path, but no other writer was telling sea stories. James asked me for some web fiction, which I was elated to provide. He liked it, but before it was even published, one of his contracts went south, and he had a hole in his novel publishing schedule. If I could get him a manuscript in five months, he would publish it. I was elated, and said yes. There were some tense moments when I submitted a romantic story line (not something you see much in an RPG tie-in novel), and not a conventional one at all (verging on paranormal), but he liked the story. Pirate’s Honor got great reviews, and fans loved the romance. Vindication again! The second novel, Pirate’s Promise, had even more romance, and got even better reviews. My third, Pirate’s Prophecy, released in February, and there are two more novels in the works. I’ve since been approached by other publishers to write other pirate-related tales, and as any writer knows, it’s hard to turn down work.
So, yeah, I’m the pirate guy, but with this caveat: My pirates do not say “Arrr” or “Matey.” They have emotions, fall in love (quite often with the wrong person), and do things they later regret (even when sober) as real people do. There will be more pirate stories on the horizon, but I’ll write non-nautical stories, too. Who knows where the future will take me? All I need is a tall ship…and a laptop.
Anyone interested in my true-life sailing adventures—Yes, I really do sail the Caribbean—can drop by our sailing blog at www.sailmrmac.blogspot.com. You can follow my writing adventures at jaxbooks.com.
CHRIS A. JACKSON is the author of the Pathfinder Tales novels Pirate's Honor and Pirate's Promise. His self-published and small-press work includes the Scimitar Seas and Weapon of Flesh series, which have won three consecutive gold medals in the Foreword Reviews Book of the Year awards, as well as becoming Kindle best sellers. Jackson has also written a novella set in Privateer Press's RPG fiction line. He lives on a sailboat in the Caribbean.
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