I think it’s safe to say that most people who read this blog knows that I’m not usually big on non-fiction or “true stories”. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just that true stories typically have to do with someone overcoming something. Or coming to terms with something. Or basically, just dealing with some uber depressing obstacle we all face. You know…real life stuff. But when I read, I want to escape “real life”. I want to go where the impossible happens. I want to explore undiscovered countries, battle terrific beasts, and hear someone shout, “Here, there be monsters!” That’s what I look for in a good book. So when I heard that an author in my own home town of St. Augustine, Florida had written a novel based on a true story, I was just a tad skeptical that I’d be interested. After all, true stories are boring right?
Well, after reading about Jack Scott and his novel “Cayman Cross”, I realized that I just couldn’t be more wrong! This story, based on actual events that took place in the Caribbean in 1922 has just about everything I look for in a good novel: swashbuckling adventure, murder on the high seas, and…PIRATES!!! That’s right, I said pirates. So, I ask you…how in the world could I NOT love a book that has pirates in it? Especially pirates that existed in a time when we typically don’t expect pirates to exist…the early 20th century. Needless to say, this book is now on my “To Be Read” list and I couldn’t wait to tell you guys about it so you could experience this great story right along with me.
Here’s the product description for the book:
On October 30, 1922, the Cuban Trading Schooner Juana Mercedes embarked on a journey that would lead her into treachery, piracy and multiple murders.
CAYMAN CROSS is a novel based on the true story of the piracy of the Cuban trading schooner “Juana Mercedes” off the coast of the Cayman Islands. It is a story of conspiracy, multiple murders, mystery and adventure on and in the islands of the Caribbean Sea.
Sounds awesome, right?! A true story, yes…but with action and adventure. And, like I said, pirates. How could you go wrong?
|Photo taken from www.caymancross.com
Here’s a brief bio on the author:
The author of CAYMAN CROSS, Allen “Jack” Scott, is a Caymanian-American who claims his heritage from a long line of Cayman Islands sea captains. He is an attorney and legal mediator by profession, but is also an avid sailor and hunter with a lifelong love of adventure and writing. He is a graduate of Jacksonville University (B.A.) and the University of Florida (J.D.) and resides with his wife and family in St. Augustine, Florida.
Recently, I had an opportunity to talk to Jack about the real pirates of the Caribbean (ca. 1922 anyway), writing in general, and a few things in between. Here’s what he had to say:
1) I’ve already posted the book’s back cover copy on my blog, but one thing I always like to ask authors is to describe their book in their own words. What’s it about? Who are some of the characters we’ll get to know when we read it?
It is easy enough to say that Cayman Cross is a historical novel about the actual piracy of a Cuban trading schooner that took place in 1922. But that doesn’t begin to tell the story. This is one of those unusual instances where the true story is more interesting than just fiction. Cayman Cross is not just another hacknied, swaggering, sword swinging parrot of pirate legend. It is essentially the story of a handful of sailors and two young deck boys who fell into a tragedy of conspiracy and multiple murders on the high seas. The players in this drama are more or less ordinary people who encounter extraordinary circumstances through which only a few survived. Almost as interesting as the story itself, I believe, is the spectacularly beautiful turn of the century Caribbean islands of Cuba, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, where the story played out. You can get a really good picture of the life and times that I portray by going to my website, http://www.caymancross.com/
2) This book is based on a true story. What inspired you to write a book about this relatively modern day pirate attack?
My entire Scott family line dates back several centuries in the Cayman Islands. My father was born in Cayman Brac and I have dual citizenship. One day a number of years ago I was reading a Cayman Islands history book and happened upon just a few lines about “the last piracy” in the Cayman Islands. Right then and there I knew I had to research the incident and write about it–the story was just that captivating. Countless hours of historical research and a fair dash of imagination later, the Cayman Cross piracy turned into a historical novel. It became my personal contribution to my Cayman heritage
3) Sounds like a great adventure story. Any adventure on the high seas highlights you might want to share with my readers? Something to whet their appetites?
How about this:
The deafening explosion of gunshots in the small cabin had so shocked and surprised Evans Rivers that he stumbled backwards and dropped the old Navy Colt from his hand. It clattered loudly on the cabin sole, adding to the noise and confusion.
Eyes wide, Rivers shouted out at the Spaniard: “Pablo! Mother of God, Pablo! You have killed him! What are you doing!”
The Spaniard turned slowly then toward Rivers, his pistol still in his right hand.
“Shut up Rivers! Shut up!” he shouted back, raising his pistol as if he intended to shoot Rivers as well.
Evans Rivers cowered back into the corner, and then slumped down into a sitting position on the bunk behind him. He lowered his eyes again to see a pool of dark blood now forming under the body before him, some mixing with the seawater sloshing around on the cabin sole. He sunk his face in his hands and slowly shook his head.
4) Now, you’re from the Cayman Islands yourself, right? How has growing up in the Caribbean prepared you to write this book?
No, I’m actually the first born American son in a long line of Caymanians. I actually grew up in northeast Florida and now reside with my wife and family in St. Augustine. But believe me, I grew up the son of a sea captain in a long line of sea captains, so my youth was steeped in great old stories and legends of seafaring and adventure on the sea. My Grandfather obviously enjoyed many hours of my wide-eyed attention as he related stories of our pirate ancestors when I was a boy. Now I almost regret that my family geneology work has proven that although Grandaddy was a great storyteller, he wasn’t much burdened by truth, God rest his salty soul. Also, I should add that I have family in the Caymans and I have spent a great deal of time there and in many places around the Caribbean. I love it there, and I think you’ll see that in my novel.
5) I know you just recently released Cayman Cross, but any plans for new books in the future? What projects might you be considering for the future?
I’ve recently developed a real interest in the practice of piracy during American Prohibition. Most people don’t know it (I didn’t), but piracy off the American coast was rampant during Prohibition. You could almost liken it to the modern day Mexican drug wars. Since liquor was illegal during Prohibition, smuggling and rumrunning became instantly popular occupations. At the same time, a lot of folks figured out that there were lots of ships full of liquor and money off our coasts that were ripe for picking. Even better–American law enforcement didn’t care if pirates were robbing and killing rumrunners–after all, the rumrunners were criminals too. Anyway, my research is now moving me in that direction.
6) Besides writing, what else do you do? Interests? Hobbies?
You probably noticed from my book cover that I’m an attorney. Actually I have been a lawyer for many years, but I’m also now a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator. That long handle simply means that I work as a court designated “neutral” to conduct pretrial meetings (mediations) with the parties to a lawsuit and their attorneys in an effort to help achieve a mutually acceptable settlement without the necessity of trial. I have to say that after years of being an advocate, fighting for my clients, it has been a really rewarding change to serve as a neutral mediator trying to bring all the parties and their attorneys to a voluntary settlement short of trial. As for other interests and hobbies, I’ve always been an outdoorsman. I love hunting, fishing and watersports of all kinds. But most of all, as you will see when you read Cayman Cross, I love sailing.
7) One question I ask of every author who is featured on my blog is this: If you could only offer one piece of advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
As you know, Cayman Cross is my first novel, so I hardly feel qualified to give reliable advice to aspiring writers. What I can say is that I never could have completed Cayman Cross had I not been completely enthralled by the subject matter. At times, I actually enjoyed the historical research more than the task of writing. Personally, I have to believe that absolute dedication to and interest in your subject matter is the key.
Thank you, Jack, for an amazing interview! We wish you the very best. And friends and readers, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book. You can do so by going to Jack Scott’s website: http://www.caymancross.com/
or by clicking on the link below.