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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.

Bactine: A review

Bactine was gifted to me by the author Paul Kater shortly after I interviewed him and I added it to my very long TBR pile, hoping to get around to it at some point. Well I finally did and I’m so glad I skipped it ahead of the majority of the pile.

The genre is Steampunk and had, therefore, already set the book as a likeable one in my eyes. I really am in love with all things Steampunk lately.

I must say that it took me a little while to figure out how this book was Steampunk as it starts off set in space but as soon as the man character, Daniel, was on the right planet I knew I was going to love this book and love it I did.

The plot had everything I could have wanted, pirates, action, ships, flying and cool technology. It even had a delightful little romance to finish things off with. I was even pleasantly surprised by a few of the plot twists and could perfectly imagine msot of the characters. I’d really love to have more stories set on the planet too.

And that brings me onto another good point about this book, the planet. It actually felt like a planet. There were cities and islands and forests and places that took days and days worth fo travel to get to. Ofen in sci-fi boks planets are so limited and feel like they can’t be bigger than a country but this one felt much bigger and like the hero had only really explored a tiny part of it.

I’m so glad I picked this one up as I think it’s going to be right at the top of my favourite books this year list. I really really do recommend it so here’s the buy links for it, on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com

Pirates Of The Caribbean, On Stranger Tides: A Review

As I’ve already said on my blog recently, I am a big fan of these types of films and books. There is something I’ve always liked about adventures at sea.

I went to see On Stranger Tides the day it came out here in the UK.

The first thing I was struck by, as I sat watching, was the lack of slapstick gags in comparison to the second or third film. I actually thought this would be a good thing, but I have to admit, it wasn’t. There was something lacking in Jack Sparrow because of it. Like the new writer hadn’t quite managed to get his head around Jack the same way the old writer had. It was almost like they obeyed the many fans of the first, saying the second and the third were too silly and not serious enough. That alone wouldn’t have been too bad.

The first Pirates film got the balance right between a serious plot and Jack’s rather special outlook on everything. Unfortunately they went too far and took out the very essence of Jack. There were no really special Jack Sparrow escape plans or one liners. Not only was the slapstick gone but the special mad Jack moments were as well, at least until right at the end. There was one final line that was quite Jack. Nothing really quotable though, unlike the previous three.

In every other respect the film wasn’t too bad. The plot was pretty good. Typical pirates type plot. One really bad pirate that all the other pirates have to stop and some fun, who’s side are you on anyway, moments. It was a little predictable in places but that’s fairly inevitable with the 4th in a series. You just get to know the characters well enough by that point to predict them.

Ian McShane made a very good Blackbeard and you could hardly tell it was Lovejoy under all that makeup and wig. So this for me was a plus. He’s definitely improving as an actor. Though still not perfect.

With Jack being not quite Jack, however, my favourite character ended up being the missionary that was on Blackbeard’s ship. He was there as the only survivor of a ship and crew Blackbeard had attacked because his first mate wanted Blackbeard to be redeemed and have his soul saved from hell. A rather interesting premise from a pirates first mate. It did mean there were a few really good chances for the Christian aspect to shine through, as they actually did a fairly good job of portraying a Christian’s beliefs.

And without giving spoilers that’s probably all I can say. I have to admit I came out feeling a little unsatisfied. It was better than the 2nd and 3rd pirates but still not quite as good as the first. I’m hoping it’s a film I will like more on a second viewing though. I imagine with it being based on a book there is some more subtle stuff to be gleaned from the plot and characters. I also will still go see any more they make at the cinema as they did set it up for potentially a more Jack mad sequel. Maybe they can get the balance right for the next one. They are obviously trying to.


I’ve always been mildly fascinated with pirates, I love the adventure and romantic aspect of them. Needless to say I also really liked The Pirates of the Caribbean films. It was only natural really that my first novel should have some in (even if they are the badguys in my book).

Last night I, like a lot of other peeps in the Uk, went to see the fourth Pirates film. I’ll do my review here in a few days so watch out for that one as I’ll probably go quite in depth.

In celebration of having a new pirates film(based on the book On Stranger Tides), however, I have lowered the price of my own tale of swashbuckling adventure to only 99 cents or 70p. For 87k words and approx 250+ pages that’s a bargain price. At the end of the month I’ll be raising the price again, so if you’ve not bought it yet now’s the time.