A swashbuckler set in the West Indies of the early 19th Century, THE WITCH FROM THE SEA is a love story, a coming-of-age adventure and an eccentric comedy of manners about a woman who runs with the pirates to free herself from the conventional "rules" of gender, race and class.

Tory Lightfoot, an orphan of mixed white and Mohawk blood, flees the stifling gentility of 1823 Boston for the freedom of the open sea. But the merchant ship on which she stows away is boarded by pirates off the coast of Cuba, and Tory is forced to join the pirate crew to save her life. Making herself useful as both log-keeper and spy, she begins to earn a measure of the independence she craves. But fate, fever and the relentless U. S. Navy West Indian Squadron close in, and Tory must risk her hard-won freedom to save the man she loves.
"I highly recommend this book to any lover of historical fiction."
— The Historical Novel Society Review
"The Witch From The Sea is that rare creation, an historical romance with guts as well as glamour. Wild-spirited Tory is an irresistible character."
— Nautical historian Joan Druett (She-Captains; Hen Frigates)
"I am in love with this book. A+."
Reading Rocks / YA Fiction Review

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Ahoy there, pirate fans! Feast your ears on my first podcast!

Last month, it was my pleasure to be interviewed by the effervescent Phil Johnson—stand-up comic and pirate aficionado, proprietor of the salty website, "Under the Crossbones." And today, our podcast went live!

It's a swashbuckling half hour or so, where we natter on about my books, pirate movies, and the allure of all things piratical. And I devote a deal of air space talking about The Witch From the Sea, and how she came to be born, first in the stewing cauldron of my imagination, and then on the page.

 So hoist a pot of rum and check it out here!

PS: My interview starts at about the12-minute mark.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Before she runs away to sea, Tory goes to a fortune teller in Boson who reads the cards for her.

They weren't necessarily known as "Tarot" in those days, but copies or variations on the woodblock-printed deck now called the Tarot of Marseilles had been published and were in circulation for a hundred years before Tory has her fateful reading.

Tory's card is The Star, which signifies hope and looking forward. This is a modern version, of course, by the artist calling herself bluefooted, but I really think it captures Tory's yearning spirit.

And it's so beautiful!

Here's the link.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Want to see what Tory's world actually looks like?

Trim your sails for my new board for The Witch From the Sea on Pinterest!

Okay, it's true, Tory, Jack, Captain Hart, Nada, and all the rest are fictional characters. (As far as I know...)

But  the West Indies of the 1820s was, of course, a real place, full of danger, adventure, social ferment, and the siren song of opportunity—legal and otherwise.

On my Pinterest board, you'll find maps, vintage illustrations, and a selection of objects from the period.

Pulp novel, ca. 1930

Also, take a look at some of my favorite female pirates, both historical and fictional.

(Like the 19th Century engraving of the notorious Mary Read, above, who allegedly bared her breast to prove her gender to the surprised opponent she'd just mortally wounded in a duel.)

Also, check out some wild items of female pirate ephemera, from pulp book covers to cigarette cards to fashion, that I've discovered while cruising around the Interwebs.

Every generation has its own ideal vision of a pirate lass!

My mission is to find and post as many as I can! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I'm thrilled today to join the den of thieves over at Rogue's Nest to blather on about the art of writing pirate fiction, as part of our ongoing Here There Be Pirates Blog Hop.

And btw, isn't this a cool thing? It's my own personal pirate flag, designed by J. M. Aucoin, admiral of our buccaneer brigade on the Here There Be Pirated Blog Hop. 

Pirates of old liked to feature the tools of their trade on their flags, so I thought a quill pen would be atmospheric—dripping blood!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Ahoy, me hearties!

September is pirate month. For one thing, International Talk Like A Pirate Day falls on September 19 (so you'll want to brush up on your "Aarrrghs", "Ayes," and "avasts").

And in honor of this year's festivities, you, the Reading Public, have a chance to score some loot just the way we pirates like it—free!

A half dozen other swashbuckling authors have invited me to join them in a voyage of plunder—oops, I mean a Blog Hop and Book Giveaway with the catchy title, Here There Be Pirates. Each of the seven of us will be giving away a copy of one of our pirate novels to seven lucky winners.

Free books—what's not to love?

Me? I'll be giving away a rare copy of The Witch!

Read all the gory details right here!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Har! Look what the tide washed in, me hearties!

Precious booty, indeed—a box of my author's copies of Alias Hook, freshly arrived from my publisher in  the UK. It is, without doubt and irrefutably, a book!

Hard to resist the temptation to let them sift through my fingers like gold doubloons, to dive into them like Scrooge McDuck in his money bin! But in the interest of common sense and physical possibility (those old killjoys), I guess I'll have to content myself with rapt gazing.

This is a hugely exciting moment in the life cycle of an ink-stained wretch (or ink-stained wench, as my friend Vinnie calls us). But it's not THE most exciting moment. That's the one that comes next, and it can only be achieved with audience participation.

Let the Reading begin!

Monday, April 8, 2013


From Tory's Log~

Aunt Fiona left us the following morning. She adjusted her ruffles and ribbons around her and settled onto the seat of the carryall beside the tremulous (and very prompt) driver from Sheffield, whom Fiona knew she could bully with ease. Unlike her impossible brother and his unruly brood.

When she had gone, and my brothers were off about their chores, Papa and Mama walked slowly around to the back of the house, arm-in-arm, with me trailing along behind them.

"I don't know, Molly," I heard my father sigh. "Perhaps it's wrong of me to keep you all isolated out here. Maybe the boys ought to have all the advantages of the merchants' sons. Maybe it wouldn't hurt Victoria to have a petticoat or two," I heard him chuckle as I skipped past them, in pursuit of one of the barn cats who had just come scampering out of the hedge.
19th Century cariole, or "carryall."

"And what of you?" Papa went on, gazing at Mama. "You, who could not imagine me wanting to leave the glamor of Boston for a farm. Wouldn't you like to live in a great city with a fashionable home and a fine carriage?"

"Do not talk nonsense!" Mama laughed. "Don't you remember what you once told me about Boston? You said it was a cold place, as full of folly, prejudice, and greed as any grand European capital. You would be miserable there, Ewan, and how could I ever be happy if you were miserable?

"Look around you," and here, Mama made an arc with her free arm that seemed to take in the blue sky, the corn field, just beginning to sprout with green, the line of birches and hickories leading down to the river, and the purple hills beyond.  "I have everything I could ever want right here. The children safe. And you—in a fairly rational temper most of the time."

Papa smiled and bent down to kiss Mama, right out in the open. I had run off a way with the cat, who was now rolling on her back at my feet, begging to be petted, but I was still near enough to hear my parents' voices.

"What do you think about Victoria?" Papa asked.

"What about her?"

"Perhaps we ought to start sending her to church." My papa sighed. "A child ought to know her catechisms, and all that—"

"Why, Ewan MacKenzie!" Mama was grinning at him. "You mean you would subject your own daughter to the hard-hearted God you used to rant about at such length?"

"Well, perhaps he deserves another chance." Papa shrugged, smiling a bit sheepishly. "After all, he did send me you."

"It is not for us to guess what forces brought us together," said Mama. "It may have been one of the Hotinoshonni gods. It may have been Orenda, the unknown power that guides our lives. It may have been sheer chance that brought you to the market in Stockbridge the day my mama had such fine corn to sell."

"True enough,"Papa agreed, slipping an arm around Mama's shoulders. "Indeed, it does seem a bit out of character for God the Father, now that I think on it."

Mama laughed softly. "Tory has plenty of time for God, for all the gods," she assured Papa. "You've got her reading already, and your family Bible is always there for her to discover, whenever she likes. After that..." Mama grinned mischievously. "Well, if she ever asks for more particulars on the subject, we can always pack her off to her Aunt Fiona!"

My parents' soft chuckles told me they weren't serious. But I felt an uneasy shudder just the same.

(Iroquois Corn Husk mask, date unknown. Ceremonial masks of corn husks or tree bark imbued the shaman wearing them with the power of the natural spirit world.)