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Character Spotlight: Wahanui Huatare

There are actually two characters with this name in my historical adventure novel, Chains of Freedom, so we’ll talk about both of them.

They both belong to the same tribe in New Zealand which is where they get their surname. Huatare is the name of the tribe and would have been the second name of every tribe member, although to them it was less like a surname and more like a tribal identifier.

Wahanui Huatare Sr. Is Kaihaitu’s father and the father of Wahanui Huatare Jr. Sr is already dead before the beginning of the book and forms the backstory but that doesn’t make him less important. The consequences of this man’s actions, teachings and death are felt throughout this story.

He’s a patient man with a thirst for knowledge that he tries to pass onto both his children. He spends a lot of time with Kaihaitu when she’s younger trying to teach her the many responsibilities of his role as tribal leader. He also hopes that by teaching her to learn and think that she’ll carry the tribe through to success in the future. On top of this he spends time teaching his son as well, although this isn’t really mentioned in the book.

There’s plenty of love between Wahanui and his partner in life so his kids grow up in a loving atmosphere and this gives both children a confidence as adults. He obviously dotes on his children, acquiring the two capuchin monkeys for Kai as her coming of age present and making an effort to spend time with them despite how busy he’d have been.

And this brings me to Wahanui Jr. He’s much more like his father than Kai is but with her being the eldest and the only one fully trained when her father dies Kai is allowed to take over the leadership if the tribe. Through her mistakes and the things she learns her younger brother goes on to be a great leader. With her as an advocate of the peace that can exist between the English and Maori cultures.

This is one of those moments where I get to point out some of the research I did. Wahanui Jr is based upon a real person of the same name (pictured to the left), who led a great tribe of Maori and helped bring peace between the natives and the Red coat soldiers that flooded the land. He even sailed to England and spoke to Queen Victoria about the matter.

We don’t really see much of this character in the book as it’s his younger years but it does make it easier to get an idea of what happens next. It melds nicely into the history of the time, where more and more English settlers came and the Maori culture had to suddenly share their land.

Location Spotlight: Catalpa

This is the name of Captain Alexander Hayes’ first ship and is loosely based on the ship, HMS Surprise in the series by Patrick O’Brian.

This is the floor plan for the HMS Surprise as put together by the lovely people here which I studied about six years ago to help me get a feel for the ship and where everything would be.

As you can see from the plans it’s triple masted and officially she was classified as a 6th rate ship of the line with 28 guns but in this version there’s actually room for 24 standard 32-pound cannonades and 8 18-pound cannonades, giving her four extra guns than normal. She housed a crew of 200+ and was a pretty nippy little ship.

While on board this ship, Marie ventured down into the main hold where Black Vane was held and spent a lot of her time in the Great Cabin, trying to avoid the ship’s Captain. She alludes to going to the lower deck and playing poker with some of the crew, something that would have been frowned upon had this been a ship of the line at the time, but thankfully Hayes was a privateer and the rules were a little different.

Although, I’ve based Catalpa on a real ship I’ve bent the history a little, obviously. Hayes bought Catalpa in a port in England and sailed her to the Caribbean himself, taking passangers who wanted to head over to the new colonies and any goods they desperately needed over there to ensure his crew were well paid and provisioned for.

Catalpa doesn’t actually feature much after the first third of the novel but that doesn’t make this gorgeous ship any less important. This was Hayes’ first and will always have a special place in the Captain’s heart.

Character Spotlight: Alexander Hayes

Also known as Captain Hayes, this is the male counterpart character in With Proud Humility. As I said with the last one of these I did. If you haven’t read the book already it might be worth checking it out at the above link. I will try to keep spoilers at a minimum but the point of these blogs is that they are extras to compliment the books I write.

With Proud Humility is the first of my published novels and the basic idea popped into my head while I was in the shower one day. The initial section that came to me was the meeting between Hayes and Marie and then the bit, a couple of months down the line when they are on the island and there’s that big decision moment for Hayes that he’s forced to make by the villian. The story and characters sort of grew out of there really but I think I owe the inspiration to a couple of people.

I’d decided that I wasn’t really going to write any more not long after I got to Uni and it wasn’t until a friend called Dan asked why I stopped that I realised I didn’t really know why. I’d always loved writing and nothing had changed.

Captain Hayes

Hayes was soon making himself known and sharing space in my head and while I was getting to know him I realised he was a bit of a cross between Jack Sparrow and another friend of mine called Dylan (who happened to be pretty good friends with Dan). Although, he ended up a lot more like Dylan and a bit like Sean Bean by the time I’d finished and less like Jack Sparrow.

Dylan, Dan and me played and MMO called Puzzle pirates (featured right) and Dylan was our Captain, which is, I suppose, where the resemblance came from. But Sean Bean is definitely who I’d want to play him if Hollywood ever decided to turn my swashbuckling epic into a film.

When I first had Hayes in my head I thought he was going to be my antagonist and Vane would be a very minor character but as I explored the characters further I realised he would have this major turning point where he would choose something good over something evil and I couldn’t condemn him to the depths of evilness.

Despite this book being almost completely written from Marie’s POV I always seemed to know what Hayes was thinking, even when Marie didn’t. I probably knew him and his ambitions and goals better than I did her. Something about this character just spoke to me.

He had seen a lot of life before ever meeting Marie and seemed quite happy doing his own thing and being his own boss. His crew adore him and know they’ll fare well, get paid well, and have plenty of adventure along the way. Like Marie he wasn’t entirely happy with the way his social class worked and didn’t respond well to the expectations of his parents. This led to him leaving home and buying his first ship at an early age.

I don’t think Hayes and Marie really realised it themselves, but this probably led to him falling in love with her. She was everything his mother wasn’t. She bucked the trend, did what she wanted and although she infuriated him for not just falling in with his plans, she also proved she wanted similar things to him. To be free to be herself in a social class full of rules and regulations.

Hayes is one of those sorts of people that’s able to adapt to anything. He thinks fast and nothing much fazes him, except being disobeyed, so he’ll be pretty calm and collected no matter what happens.

He’s got boundaries (evidenced by how un-harshly he treats Marie about half way through the book) but he is willing to sacrifice a few things to reach his goals. Probably because he understands the rules are different in 19th century Caribbean compared to 19th Century England. The Caribbean is cuthroat and only the strong survive.

Oh and on top of that he’s an excellent sword-fighter. Well, you’d kinda have to be wouldn’t you? With all those ship to ship battles and the boarding that would be required. Thankfully sword-fighting was something any respectable gentleman could learn when growing up and it was considered to be the height of fashion to wear the cutlass when going about England. One of the few useful things about being in the first class. Although, he takes this a step further when he teaches Marie but he did it as much for himself as her. It was his way of saying he also didn’t agree with society and it’s ridiculous rules, which was the one major thing Marie and him have in common.