Pirates are in the news with the Australian Navy heading off a planned pirate attack off the coast of Africa. So, I thought I’d catch up with children’s author and pirate expert, Sherryl Clark. She’s the author of eight pirate books including four Littlest Pirate ‘Nibbles’ (two turned into picture books), Pirates of Quentaris, and her big, bloodthirsty, upcoming novel, Pirate X.
Why pirates? Why are you so interested?
I started with one pirate – Stede Bonnet – who was the most hopeless pirate in history! I got hooked on his story, and then I got hooked on the research! Pirate X is the story of a boy who ends up on Bonnet’s ship.
It’s not so much the pirate myths that I like, it’s the real history behind pirates. For example, everyone thinks they buried their treasure, but nearly all of them spent it while on land, having big parties and blowing the lot! And then they’d have to go back to sea and steal more. Obviously, the shop owners and tavern keepers in the towns they berthed in weren’t averse to their money either!
What’s your coolest pirate fact?
Too many to choose from! One would be the ship’s articles. The captain and crew on a ship would draw up their own set of rules, and if you broke any of them, you were in big trouble. A common rule was no gambling with money, because it caused too many fights. So although they appeared lawless and dangerous, they still had their own codes of honour.
What kind of pirate memorabilia do you have at home?
Way too many plastic cutlasses and pistols people have given me, for a start! I have a great flag, and a pair of sunglasses with hologram skulls and crossbones on them. Lots of books, a little treasure chest, and a huge pair of gold earrings (pirate bling).
If you were a pirate what would your name be?
Some witty people might say Captain Clarrrrrrrrrk! I kind of like the idea of being Captain Blood. Something suitably dark.
Do you think modern-day pirates use terms like ‘Ahoy me hearties’ and ‘Arrrrrrrr’? Do they keep parrots on their shoulders?
No, modern pirates seem to use rocket launchers, from what I read in the news. I guess that overcomes the problem of damp gunpowder.
What are the top five pirate books around?
Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jake Carpenter by Richard Platt and Chris Riddell
Pirates by John Matthews (has a skull and crossbones on the black cover)
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
and if you’re a good reader, the C.S. Forester Hornblower books have lots of historical ship action from the Navy side. And I’d like to add Pirate X to the list, but it’s not published just yet. I’ll let you know!
Catch more pirate and Sherryl Clarrrrrrrk action at: