Here there be Pirates: Q&A with SK Keogh, author of ‘The Alliance’

J.M. Aucoin . Author interviews, Writing about writing 4621 4 Comments

SK Keogh is an amazing author and also one of the seven writers giving away a free copy of their pirate novels for our Here there be Pirates Book Giveaway, in honor and celebration of Talk Like a Pirate Day that’s just around the corner.

SK was nice enough to answer a few questions for me about her writing, her love for pirates and swashbuckling, and a little bit about her novel The Alliance. You can win a copy of her novel at the end of the interview. And be sure to visit SK Keogh’s website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

What made you want to write about pirates in the first place? What is it about them that intrigued you as a writer?

Pirates of the Caribbean piqued my interest in piratical history, so I started to research pirates and that era. As I did, the story idea came to me for The Prodigal. So much nautical fiction is about the Royal Navy, so I jumped at the chance to tell a different kind of sea story. And Jack Mallory, my protagonist, isn’t your typical buccaneer. He has one reason and one reason only for becoming a sea raider, and it’s not wealth. To find James Logan—the pirate responsible for his father’s murder and his mother’s kidnapping—Jack has a single option: to become a pirate.

SK Keogh - THE ALLIANCE coverTell us a little about your book, The Alliance, that you’re giving away for this event.

The Alliance is the second book in the trilogy (and will be followed in October 2014 by the final book, The Fortune). The story picks up right where The Prodigal ended. Originally I hadn’t planned on a trilogy, but when I reached the end of The Prodigal, I wanted to know what happened next to Jack and the other characters (and if you’ve read the first book, you will understand what I mean about the ending). I don’t want to give too much detail here about The Alliance because I don’t want to spoil those who haven’t yet read The Prodigal, but I will say that the new characters who are introduced in the second book are instrumental in ultimately changing Jack’s path. His obsession for revenge, which drives the first book, doesn’t quite end in the results desired, and this leads him in an unforeseen direction in The Alliance, a story that takes place upon both on land and sea where intrigue and unexpected alliances keep the reader (and Jack) wondering who is truly friend and who is foe.

In reality, pirates were awful people that most of us wouldn’t want to run across if we were sailing a ship, but in our culture they’ve been romanticized so often that it’s almost expected by some folk. Do you have trouble balancing reality with the romanticized aura of the pirate, or do you not worry too much about that when crafting your tales?

I don’t believe I romanticize pirates in my stories. While the Hollywood version is erroneous, the view that all pirates were psychotic killers is equally unrealistic. I try to offer a balance. As in life, my individual characters have a blend of light and dark within them. Even the “bad guys” aren’t all bad. In The Alliance, one of those so-called bad guys is a point of view character, along with Jack and Maria.

SK Keogh headshotHow often do you turn to real-life pirates for inspiration in creating your characters or plot?

In my trilogy, the collusive partnership between James Logan and Ezra Archer (a wealthy Carolina planter with political ambitions) was inspired by Blackbeard’s lucrative relationship with the governor of North Carolina. For a plot point in The Fortune, I drew upon an incident in Stede Bonnet’s life.

What makes your series (or book) different from other piratical adventures out there? What’s your main goal with your pirate stories?

I like to think my characters, in particular my main character and his story arc, make my trilogy unique. The trilogy is very much character-driven and delves deeply not only into what is happening at the moment to the characters but what happened in their pasts that influences their present. The heart of the trilogy isn’t about sea battles or swashbuckling; it’s about one young man’s tragic journey from light to darkness and his struggle to regain the light. My main goal with the trilogy is to entertain my readers by creating memorable characters.

Bonus Question: If you had to design a pirate flag for yourself, what would it look like?

Hmm, definitely a black field with a red design. I’m such a geek, the red symbol would either be a book or a Batman symbol. LOL.

SK Keogh Flag1

SK Keogh Flag2

Win a copy of The Alliance and six other novels…

…including Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters by myself (J.M. Aucoin), Heart Like an Ocean by Christine Steendam, The Witch from the Sea by Lisa Jensen, The Alliance by SK Keogh, Sea Witch by Helen Hollick, The Pirates of Alnari by Dan Eldredge, and Gentleman of Fortune by Nick Smith.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest begins on Monday, September 8th and runs through September 19th (Talk Like a Pirate Day).

To enter, just sign in above. You can earn additional entries by liking the authors’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. The more of our social media accounts you follow, the more entries you get. The more entries you get, the better your chances are of winning. Simple as that.

More Author Q&As

Each of the seven authors involved  in the giveaway will also take turns posting Q&As on each other’s blogs, so you can learn more about the books you’re trying to win, and the authors that wielded its pen.

Dan Eldredge

SK Keogh

Christine Steendam

Lisa Jensen

Helen Hollick

Nick Smith

J.M. Aucoin

More About SK Keogh

When Susan Keogh won an elementary school writing contest and a trip to a regional young writers conference, she hadn’t realized that experience was the beginning of a love affair with words.

Susan was raised in a large family where reading was encouraged. Through her mother’s interest in history, Susan grew to admire such authors as Michael Shaara and Bruce Catton, a fellow Michigan writer who focused on the American Civil War. So it was no wonder that her first writing credit was a featured article in the magazine America’s Civil War. Susan’s particular interest in the Civil War led her into re-enacting for several years as a field musician.

Her most recent time period of historical interest is early colonial America and the age of piracy. Currently she is crafting a series of novels that center around the adventures of Jack Mallory, a young Englishmen who is both pirate and eventually the patriarch of a large rice plantation in the colonial province of Carolina. Susan is a devoted fan of Patrick O’Brian whose best-selling Aubrey/Maturin series serves as a standard of excellence in the Age of Sail genre.

Outside of her writing life, Susan works in the health care field and enjoys travel (preferably to warm places outside of her native Michigan!), the arts, and equestrian activities.

Be sure to visit SK Keogh’s website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!


J.M. Aucoin

Author. Fencer. Sometimes actor. Full-time nerd. I write swashbucklers & historical adventure novels.

Comments (4)

  • Nan Sampson


    Great interview! Will have to go pick up The Prodigal now, sounds right up my alley – or should I say gangway…


    • SK Keogh


      Thank you, Nan! I hope you enjoy the whole trilogy.


    • J.M. Aucoin


      As a Batman fan myself, I have to agree. 🙂


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