I didn’t plan to. I wanted to explore a story about two wounded men whose uniqueness brings them together and becomes the foundation of a love that holds the hope of healing them, if it doesn’t destroy them first. I chose a pirate setting based on some naïve notions I had of that period of history. Then I did a lot of research and discovered that the truth was far queerer than any fiction I had planned to concoct. So in the end they became buccaneers and not pirates, so it’s not really a gay pirate novel, more of a buccaneer romance.
A buccaneer isn’t a pirate?
Not exactly. When most people think of pirates today, they think of tricorn hats, cutlasses, peg legs, parrots, buried treasure, and all of those stereotypical trappings. All of that comes from the Golden Age of Piracy: about 1690 to 1720. The buccaneers were the predecessors of the Golden Age pirate. They were mercenaries and privateers in the employ of the European powers, and they were more what we think of as mountain men than our current stereotype of a pirate. From about 1600 to the 1660s, buccaneers lived in all-male societies in the Caribbean. They would spend their spring and summer attacking Spanish settlements and ships, and their fall and winter hunting wild cattle. The term buccaneer was coined because they made boucan, which is a dried meat, kind of like jerky. They called themselves the Brethren of the Coast, and they had their own laws and traditions. The tradition that interested me most was matelotage.
What is matelotage?
Matelot was originally a Dutch and Latin-derived word that means bunkmate. Among the buccaneers in the seventeenth century, matelot meant a man’s partner. The buccaneers paired together for both companionship and survival. They were known to share everything while living, and inherit from one another at death. There are numerous historical inferences made about these pairs being sexual. So matelotage could be thought of as marriage from our current perspective.
So you’re saying the buccaneers lived in gay marriages?
Yes, but not all of them might have been innately homosexual. That was a different time, and homosexual acts between men were not considered as emasculating as they are today. I think, due to the lack of women, and the more liberal views that seemed to be held in Europe during the seventeenth century, that a lot of the buccaneers paired with other men in long term relationships, with or without sex.
So you’re saying that being gay was acceptable in the seventeenth century?
No. It wasn’t, it was just better tolerated, and somewhat expected in situations where men did not have access to women. I think innately gay men had as many problems then as they do now in areas such as family rejection and acceptance by the general society. My main character faces all of that.
So this is a story about a man wrestling with being gay?
Yes and no. This series is about two men falling in love. One of them has had to wrestle with being gay, and the other has had to fight being unloved because he has bouts of insanity. The Raised By Wolves series is about unconditional love, how it can be both a blessing and curse. And it’s about people choosing to be free to love who one wants and live how one wants.