Bringing Pirates to Life

January 6, 2020 – January 31, 2020 all-day
Online workshop Coordinator

Description:  Peter Blood in Captain Blood, Long John Silver in Treasure Island, and Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean conjure up images of buried treasure, black schooners, wooden legs, eye patches, vibrant parrots, walking the plank, and swashbuckling swordsmen. Are these accurate portrayals of pirates? Some are, some aren’t.
This workshop explores the differences between the reality and mythology of Caribbean piracy during the mid-seventeenth through the early eighteenth centuries, and how writers can create believable characters that fit within historical parameters. We look at why individuals became pirates, who’s who on a pirate ship, the rules governing pirates, individuals who interacted with or encountered pirates, and other aspects of maritime life an author needs to know to write a pirate tale. Cindy enhances the workshop with writing assignments, a timeline, and resource bibliographies. At the end of the workshop, Cindy offers to provide a free edit of a chapter from participants’ manuscripts involving pirates.

About the Instructor: A retired librarian, Cindy Vallar began researching pirates in college while working on The Rebel and the Spy, a historical novel involving Jean Laffite and the Battle of New Orleans. She is the Editor of Pirates and Privateers, a monthly column on the history of maritime piracy that is now in its eighteenth year. She also reviews piratical and maritime fiction and non-fiction books, and maintains an annotated list of the best piracy and maritime sites on the web. For fourteen years, she wrote “The Red Pencil,” an editing column profiling authors and comparing pieces from their published novels with early drafts of those works, for Historical Novels Review. She is also a freelance editor and historical novelist. She belongs to the Historical Novel Society, Historical Writers of America, the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, the Laffite Society, the Louisiana Historical Society, and the National Maritime Historical Society. She invites you to visit her award-winning web site, Thistles & Pirates (, to learn more.