Inspiration, Writing

Fictional and Real Pirate Women that Inspired my Character

Meriden Cummings, the main character from Death Island, is living her life during the Golden Age of Piracy (1650 to 1730). It’s during this age that women made their mark at sea. Some you might have heard of while others you might have not, such as Mary Read, Rachel Wall, and Cheng I Sao. Many of those real women inspired similar fictional characters in books and movies ever since. There are three pirate women who inspired me to write Meriden. A couple are childhood idols, while one I discovered/rediscovered recently.

Morgan Adams

Morgan Adams is a fictional character from the 1995 movie, Cutthroat Island, and the first pirate woman I ever knew. My father and I would watch this movie together, starting when I was seven years old until he passed away when I was nine—and I have continued the tradition of watching this movie. Morgan’s adventure begins when her uncle kills her father for his piece of her grandfather’s map. It was this event that then leads her into an incredible treasure hunt and a vengeful quest, much like how Meriden’s father’s disappearance and the discovery of his murderer leads her down a similar path. In addition, I admire Morgan’s sharp wit and cunning. Traits I wanted Meriden to share.

Grace O’Malley

For me, Grace O’Malley started off as a fictional character from the novel Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas by Morgan Llywelyn, which sadly, I never finished. Not when I discovered the fictional tale was based on a real historical person. From that day on, I was more interested in the non-fiction version than the fictional version. However, one scene from Grania has stuck with me for nearly twenty years. The one where Grace’s ships catches on fire and she attempts to save a young boy, whose lungs were already scared from the smoke. Unfortunately, unable to swim, he never had a chance as the ship sucked him under the waves. But it was that kind of courage and caring Grace displayed I wanted Meriden to have in my own novel.

Anne Bonny

There is some debate over the historical records of Anne Bonny, mostly likely due to the fact the majority come from a single source that might contain fictional aspects. However, from what we know, the real Anne was very much a tom-boy. She dressed and acted much like the boys, and was known for picking fights. This influenced a little of Meriden’s background; however, Anne faded from my mind until I rediscovered inspiration from the Anne Bonny character in Black Sails. Now, the Anne from Black Sails has a completely different background than that of the Anne in history, but it was her struggles and loyalty that won me over throughout the T.V. series. She’s become my most recent idol.

These women, and many more (both real and fictional), have captured the heart and imagination of many people throughout time. And though Meriden isn’t a historical icon, I hope readers see some of the famous (and even infamous) women that inspired my story as well as other marvelous fictional characters.

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