Category Archives: pirate week

>Tales of Real Buried Treasure

>While the idea of buried treasure is mostly unrealistic (most pirates squandered what they stole), it’s not entirely mythic either. There are some actual cases of buried treasure – or what is at least thought to be buried treasure. Read on and decide for yourself if it’s real.

Captain Kidd’s Buried Treasure

As mentioned in Monday’s post, Kidd got into a little trouble with the government. Though technically a privateer for England, he had a misunderstanding with the British East India Company, and that coupled with political goings-on contributed to his downfall. Whatever led to his unhappy ending, Kidd discovered he was wanted as a pirate and took off for Boston to get the backing of influential friends in New York (where he lived).
He stopped in various parts of New Jersey first and then headed for Boston, Mass., to meet with the governor, who promptly arrested him when he arrived. Captain Kidd claimed he hid 40,000 British Pounds and he wasn’t lying entirely. British authorities dug up nearly 10,000 Pounds of treasure on Gardiner’s Island off of Long Island. Kidd insisted he had lots more buried where that came from. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a chance to prove it and a quick trial and hanging proceeded.

Despite repeated attempts at finding the rest of Kidd’s buried treasure, nothing but a few coins on Block Island (off of Rhode Island) has ever turned up. Did he bury more loot and we just haven’t found it? Or was Kidd lying to save his own skin? It’s too bad he didn’t leave a map.

Treasure on Oak Island?
While a small island off of Nova Scotia may not seem like the place to find buried treasure, it was a hot spot for pirates in the 18th century. So in 1795 when Daniel McGinnis stumbled on a strange circular depression in the earth covered by some tree branches that looked like someone cut them to work as a pulley, he grabbed two of his friends and they got to work.

They and future treasure hunters dug and dug, unearthing flagstones, oak timbers, charcoal, putty, coconut fiber, inscribed stone, spruce, metal pieces. What does it equal? Basically, a clever safe equipped with booby traps. When the original discoverers returned to dig again eight years later with The Onslow Company, they sprung a trap and water flooded the pit. No matter what methods they tried, the pit always flooded and they couldn’t pump it out fast enough to extract the treasure.

Later, in the 1840s, another company brought in a drill to see what was actually down there, pulling up samples of the items mentioned in the previous paragraph. They decided the wood and metal pieces were chests filled with money. After testing various methods and failing every time, The Truro Company discovered that the booby trap designer had created a drain system. Though this should have solved the problem, the company’s two attempts to block the drain failed and they gave up.

But other treasure hunters followed through the decades, four of them losing their lives in the process. More recently, in the 1970s, treasure hunters discovered a human corpse and treasure chests using modern camera equipment. They tried to dive the site but strong currents and visibility issues inhibited any further searches. Even with modern machinery and technology, no one has unearthed whatever is buried. It’s incredible that the booby trap is just as effective 300 years or so later!

Bonus Treasure
Before hanging for piracy, Olivier le Vasseur apparently told the spectators that he had buried treasure and flung a necklace into the crowd with a cryptogram that led to it. In the 1920s a woman found evidence that le Vasseur buried his treasure in the Seychelles. After decades of work and clue deciphering, nothing of real value was ever unearthed.

Get detailed info about Kidd and Oak Island at these wonderful websites:
The Mysterious & Unexplained
Mysteries of Canada
Kidds Island

Check back tomorrow as we wrap-up Pirate Week!

Photos from Wikimedia Commons

>Interview With Isaac Crewe From Dead Locked!

>Even though Captain Isaac Crewe only makes a cameo in Dead Locked, his story affects Imogen Bell and her colleagues deeply. And because he’s a pirate, I figured he’s the perfect person to interview for Pirate Week!

Thanks for joining us!
My pleasure really.

Let’s start with how you got into piracy in the first place.
Like most good pirates, I started as an innocent sailor on a merchant vessel. Sea life is grueling and harsh with little reward when you’re on the lower rungs. Eventually, pirates attacked our ship and I was taken hostage. After weighing the life aboard a pirate ship versus a merchant ship, or any other kind really, I chose to stay. And within a short time, I became the captain of my own ship.

You must be good at what you do. And what exactly is that?
I overtake ships carrying gold, silver, jewels, or other precious items and plunder them. It’s fun.

And rewarding apparently. Enough to balance out a life at sea?
Oh, a life at sea is still rough and not every person is cut out for it. The difference between sailing on a merchant ship (or for the Royal Navy) and sailing as a pirate is equality. We divide our loot relatively evenly so everyone makes out very well, especially with large takeovers. And we welcome anyone as a pirate regardless of race or ethnicity. The more of an outcast you are, the better.

You’re compensated for losses I understand?
Yes. Life as a pirate comes with plenty of combat and danger. Most of us lose something eventually – a leg, an arm, an eye. But you’re paid equal to the loss, if that’s any consolation.

What types of ships are popular prey?
Ships traveling from the East carry great spoils. But pirates also favor slave ships because of the amount of money they have on board after they’ve finished trading.

So enough of the technical stuff. I hear you scored a giant, shiny rock in one of your escapades and gave it to your girlfriend. Is that true?
If you don’t know than I certainly don’t. Besides, wouldn’t my answer give too much away about the storyline?

Oh, fine. I’ll ask something non-spoilerish. How did you meet Georgiana?
I met her by chance when my ship made port in Newport. I was a young sailor, she was the daughter of a ship captain. I wrote to her after we left and the next time we had a chance to see each other, I had turned pirate.

And Georgiana didn’t mind this or you just didn’t tell her?
No, she knew. I never said it directly in my letters, but I think she guessed at some point. Then when I told her for the first time in person, she looked very serious and said, ‘I suppose it’s too late to worry about it’ and that was that.

You give my heroine, Imogen Bell, a lot of trouble. Do you have anything to say about that?
Give my apologies to Mistress Bell. But since we live 300 years apart from each other, I had little control over what would happen. However, even if I had known, being that I’m a pirate, I doubt I would have changed my course.

Good to know. Any last words for our readers?
Beware of pirate ships disguised as innocent merchant vessels. And when you do face capture, save yourself and your crew, and surrender.

Duly noted, Captain Crewe. Just two more days left of Pirate Week! Stay tuned!

>Pirate Week Day 2: Talk the Talk


There are lots of terms associated with pirates that you may hear, but do you know what they actually mean? Well, find out with this brief list of words and phrases so the next time you say it, you’ll know its origin.
Jolly Roger – The flags pirates flew (or at least some did). Most pirates seemed to design their own special flag so you’d recognize them when they wanted you to. Pretty good branding tactic. The term may come from the French “jolie rouge.”
Maroon – The Hollywood image of a man left to die on a deserted island may not be too far from the truth. Marooning was apparently a prime punishment for naughty pirates (especially for those who stole from fellow thieves).

Piece of Eight – Common currency – and therefore plunder – during the late 16th and 17th centuries (and still in circulation up to the 19th century). The term “piece of eight” comes from the fact that the coins were often cut into pieces to make payments, and because one piece of eight equaled eight reales.

Careen – Routine ship maintenance. A few times a year, ships needed to be beached and the hulls scraped. It prevented rot and made the ship sail faster. Even modern, non-wood vessels need their hulls scraped regularly.

Letters of Marque – Permission given to privateers from various governments, which basically let them steal from opposing governments – as long as they returned the loot to their employers.

Buccaneer – Comes from the word “boucans,” which means smokehouse. These men had an odd start as pig farmers on the island of Hispaniola. At first, they traded their goods to passing ships. But after the Spanish attacked them, many fled to become some of the most vicious pirates of that time.

Galleon – A type of merchant vessel favored by the Spanish who used these ships to haul their loads of gold and silver from the Spanish Main back to Europe. And often got attacked by pirates en route until they smartened up and started traveling in packs.
East Indiaman – Eventually, the Spanish Main dried up and Europe looked East, especially the Dutch and British, and East Indiamen were there merchant ships of choice. And, consequently, became the choice target for pirates.

Bonus Material
Rob Ossian’s Pirate’s Cove is one of the most awesome pirate history sites I’ve found. I used it extensively while researching for Dead Locked. Learn everything you wanted to know and then some at that site.

Stay tuned for a special appearance this week from one of the character’s in Dead Locked!

By User:Fred the Oyster [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

>Pirate Week Begins!

>I blame Disney World for my love of pirate history. I have vague images from when I was three of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and I’m almost positive that ignited my interest. And while movie pirates make better heroes than the real thing, the truth can still be fascinating. To kick off pirate week, let’s explore a little about pirate history and the people who made it.

Not Just in the Caribbean
I imagine many of us think of the Caribbean when you think of pirates (or maybe you think Somalia). But piracy goes back to ancient times and covers pretty much every coastline. The Aegean Sea was a special hot spot for ancient pirates (and today is a hot bed of shipwrecks). The Vikings count as pirates. Corsairs from the Barbary Coast in Africa threatened the Mediterranean once upon a time. Farther east in the South China Sea, pirates were so prevalent that they had their own squadrons!

Booty Galore

When you think of pirates the obvious next leap is treasure. Pirate loot included cold hard cash, but they took almost anything of value, including necessary items like salt. Jewels and amphorae filled with olive oil also made good plunder. Corsairs especially valued the humans on board the ships they attacked – they used slaves as oarsmen for their galleys. (Wealthier captives were ransomed.) Basically anything considered valuable by the people of the time was fair game for pirates.

Famous Pirates
Some pirates are more famous to the general public than others. For instance, Edward “Blackbeard” Teach is infamous for lighting his beard on fire during pirate raids. Mary Read and Anne Bonny are probably more famous than the man they worked under. Henry Morgan may also be a familiar name thanks to a brand of rum.

You may know Captain William Kidd’s name. What you may not know is that he started as a pirate hunter and was accused of piracy by the British East India Company while in this profession. It looks like a misunderstanding from today’s perspective. But whether he was innocent or not, Kidd was promptly tried and hung, and they set his body up in a gibbet as an example to would-be pirates. Poor Kidd may not have been what he seemed to the government at the time. But it’s rather too late to save his reputation now. (We’ll see more of Kidd later in the week.)

“Black Sam” Bellamy is another name you may have heard but know little about. He has a love story attached to his name and supposedly returned to New England to marry his sweetheart after one last successful capture. Unfortunately, the poor guy sunk with his ship in a bad storm just off of Cape Cod, Mass. before that could happen. (Get more of his story in the Behind-the-Book section on my site.)
Not Even the Half of It
I could write pages and pages of info just covering the highlights of pirate history. I have a couple of favorite go-to reference books that are both fun and informative and not at all the dry pages of text often associated with history books. If you’re a history geek like me who prizes an interesting read, check out Piratepedia and Pirateology. I know they seem like they’re for kids, but they’re really just as good for adults.
And thus begins Pirate Week! Stay tuned to get caught up on your pirate lingo, get the scoop on some real buried treasure, and find out how much you know about pirates!
Now it’s your turn. Do you have any interesting tidbits about pirates?
Photos by Simon Carrasco & me

>Go Behind-the-Book With My New Website!


I just launched my website – – and it includes some cool features. Instead of just the basic book info, bio, and contact pages, you can peek behind-the-scenes of Dead Locked and find out who inspired Isaac Crewe and the story of The Freelove, learn how the characters came about, and read trivia tidbits about the story and characters. I plan to add to this section as time goes on so check back for updates!
I think it’s time to shake things up a bit here at amy & the pen so next week is officially Pirate Week! From December 13-17, get the scoop on pirate terms, history, and treasure. Every day will feature something fun and different and there may even be a Dead Locked character appearance. Stay tuned!

>Huzzah for 50 & Pirate Week!

>I completely forgot to mention this last week, but I just reached 50 followers. Huzzah! Thanks to everyone who follows and comments. It’s much appreciated!

We are so, so close to the release of Dead Locked now! I can’t believe how fast summer has gone by. I’m relieved to be in the home stretch, but it’s a little scary too. So in anticipation of its debut, I’m hosting Pirate Week on my blog! Yes, friends, pirates will rule amy & the pen as well as the seven seas. I’m planning for it as we speak and will announce the dates soon. I can tell you there will be fun, prizes, and lots of swashbuckling! Stay tuned!

What exciting things do you have cooking right now?