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But Mommy, Why Don’t The Pirates Believe In God?

December 31, 2009

I seldom have any idea where my ideas come from. As dreadfully cliched as it sounds, ideas really do tend to just appear in my head without prompting–not exactly what I’d call beautiful and fully-formed, but definitely with a mind of their own. Try as I may to wrangle them, I often have to simply let them hang out in my brain until they’ve sorted themselves out and are ready to be dealt with on the page.

The idea for this book was no different. It started with a prompt I was given at a NaNoWriMo brainstorming session, but rapidly spiraled away from the original nugget and began not only hanging out in my brain but holding a full-fledged conference in there. I valiantly jotted down every possible character name and plot thread I could grab hold of, and spent ages re-reading my notes, trying to figure out what on earth it all meant. Whenever I tried to impose a storyline upon the jumble, it was promptly rejected, like an mismatched organ transplant.

Finally, blessedly, things started to click. Of course, even when I realized how to answer the much-asked question “So what’s your book about?”, I wasn’t sure how to respond to the follow-up questions. It seemed that “um…well…atheist rebel pirates?” wasn’t a terribly satisfying reply.

It was only a while after the idea had become more than a rabble-rousing cluster of thoughts in my head that I could look back and be a bit more self-analytical. I realized that the fact that I’d received Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the delightful Pirateology as presents within a few days of each other might have had more than a tad to do with my somewhat unusual choice of theme. I’ve yet to finish Atlas Shrugged (it is wicked long!), but it only took me a few pages of it to fall in love with Dagny Taggart. She is independent, determined, self-reliant, and a firm believer in the powers of confidence, courage, and intellect. Although there are many critics of both Rand and her heroine, I instantly wanted to write my own version of Dagny–a strong, brave, self-sufficient woman ready to fight for the success of what she believes in. And so Garrity was born. As for the influence of Pirateology, well…that should be apparent. Besides, I’ve always found books with at least a dash of adventure and/or fantasy to be the most unabashedly entertaining.

And what of the atheism? It just seemed to naturally follow the rest, and Rand would have no doubt approved. I didn’t only want Garrity to be a badass woman, I wanted her to be a badass woman with a cause. (Must…resist…James Dean joke…) Much has been said about the difficulties of declaring yourself an atheist or otherwise speaking out against the potential ill effects of religion, and I thought it would be neat to have a main character who is actively promoting a non-religious view of the world.

Of course, courtesy of Wren’s announcement earlier today, I now not only have atheist rebel pirates, but at least one atheist rebel pirate sorceress…these characters are certainly keeping me on my toes!


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