Mysterious Adventures on the High Seas

An interview for the Mysterious Goings On podcast

In this podcast fellow indie author, J. Alexander Greenwood, discusses extensive historic research that forms the basis of Revenge of the Siren Song and the other books that will make up the Rogues of Sea and Sky series.

Alex: What motivates you to write?

Michelle: I am a writer, a communicator, and an extrovert. I’ve been telling stories all my life. On top of that, I’m also a history geek and love research. Well, after living several years in south Florida I came across several threads of history that I couldn’t resist.

There is a reason a part of the Atlantic coast of Florida is known as the Treasure Coast. It’s called so because in 1715 the entire Spanish treasure fleet for that year encountered a hurricane just as they were ready to take the jet stream back to Spain that year, and sank en masse off the Sebastian River Inlet. 1715 was also when the “Golden Age of Piracy” was at its peak in the Caribbean.

That spot in Florida became the nexus for several notable incidents in history. In 1715 it was of course a draw to the pirates based in Nassau in the Bahamas. It was also the reason that Samuel Bellamy became a pirate ( the love story is detailed in the audio interview). In the 20th century, that same spot drew the first modern day treasure hunters. Melvin Fisher, the well known Key West treasure hunter, came from California with his newly developed SCUBA in the 1960s to work the 1715 wreck with Kip Wagner’s group. That work became the seed money Mel used to begin his work on the wrecks of the Margarita and Atocha in the waters off Key West.

That convergence of several interesting stories was what inspired several of the story arches for both Revenge of the Siren Song and as yet unpublished work in progress about treasure recovery titled Where Redemption Lies.

The lead character in Revenge of the Siren Song is named after and loosely based on an Elizabethan Era Irish sailor known as Grace O’Malley. She was the leader of several Irish clans and eventually earned an audience with Queen Elizabeth I.

Alex: The antagonist of your book is also female?

Michelle: Yes, there’s a lot of historical foundation to having so many female pirates in this story. Captain Cutlass Lizzy represents shades of Anne Bonnie and Mary Read. There are some interesting takes on the life of women in this era in Revenge of the Siren Song, but I don’t wan to spoil any plot twists.

Alex: What I love is that as well researched as it is, it doesn’t get bogged down in the need to be 100% historically accurate.

Michelle: For me this is a work of fiction. I am creating my own world. It is a world that is very well informed by the history and culture of the time it’s set in, but I don’t mind playing with timelines and putting characters from other times in history together just because I find these people interesting and I think that the interplay between them could be compelling.

Alex: How do you classify this book?

Michelle: It became more than one genre. Technically it is historical fiction. It is a sea-based adventure with quite a bit of romance. We aren’t beholden to just the romance. I’ve read far too many adventure romances where the chick in the book just gets swept along with everything out of her control, except for attracting the guy. I definitely wanted the female characters in this book to be strong and compelling and every bit in control of their own lives. That element would qualify the book as women’s fiction. The women in the Golden Age of Piracy were after freedom, and autonomy, and some control of their destinies.