Anniversary reviews and posts are typically a time when I review or spotlight something I have a personal connection with. This particular year, in light of recent events, that holds especially true.
A little over a month ago, I finally self-published my first novel, The Brotherhood of the Black Flag, a swashbuckling adventure story set during the Golden Age of Piracy. It was a long road turning a half-baked idea for a pirate story into something complete and purchasable - we're talking at least twelve years. A lot of people have gotten my back on this project throughout that time, and even before I had the idea itself was born. Family and friends throughout my life have not only encouraged my interest in writing, but also enabled my passion for swashbuckling fiction, as well as the "factual" history they take place in, in all sorts of ways. Sometimes that influence was very direct (parents springing for fencing lessons and steering me toward a stage combat group), and other times it was more of a chain reaction. Regardless of how it happened, though, The Brotherhood of the Black Flag never would have come about without all of this encouragement, and I will always be grateful for that.
What I especially want to spotlight today is some of these works that helped make my literary debut possible. Some of them directly inspired ideas, while others kept me focused on writing when I needed to be. To maintain my momentum, when I wasn't writing, I was reading pirate books, watching pirate movies, and playing pirate video games - especially when my work was closed for four days straight due to a snowstorm, and I was able to spend my unexpected free time working on The Brotherhood of the Black Flag, and this was when it really started shaping up into something I could be satisfied with. Long after the snowstorm was over, I was able to maintain said that writing streak for months afterward, thanks to the works on this list. Naturally the spark would fade after a while, but sometimes a healthy dose of swashbuckling fiction would be enough to reignite it again. And after many, many, many such doses - fueling countless hours of writing, editing, querying, and learning about self-publishing - The Brotherhood of the Black Flag was finally complete.
So without further ado, and with much gratitude, here are the Top 10 Works That Inspired The Brotherhood of the Black Flag.
Highlander, both the original movie and the television series, is an engaging blend of various elements that came together to make something truly special. Not flawless, but engaging and inspiring all the same. The television series in particular sparked all sorts of ideas for historical novels set in various locations and locales, not to mention tons of sword fights to study. Given how many sword fighting scenes there are in Black Flag - including training scenes - getting to see such a variety of fighting styles, as well as commentary from the fight choreographers really helped me try and make each one unique. I also liked some of the show's recurring themes, such as the line between honor and pride, or all the different ways it looked at the possibility of redemption and forgiveness for past deeds. These are themes I toyed with a bit in Black Flag, and I plan to revisit them in other stories. One of the guest actors made such a strong impression that I modeled a supporting character on him, and even named him after David Tynan, one of the recurring writers on the show (including the episode said actor turned up in).
And speaking of which, coming in at number one...
The now-former reviewers of Channel Awesome
On a more somber note, my respect for and gratitude to this genuinely talented group of people is what prompted me to stop blogging on Channel Awesome in March 2018, when I learned the full scope of what many of them had been forced to endure by Channel Awesome management. It was a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, as I was never a paid contributor and the INCspotlight never generated any income for the site (and I don't think any of the contributors I'm referencing even knew my blog existed). However, it was an act of solidarity I was in a position to perform, and conscience demanded I do so.
And so ends my fourth year here of the INCspotlight! Like the previous year, it's been a slower one than when I first started out, but I am still committed to keeping this blog going for as long as possible, now on my own site. There are so many works out there I want to share with my readers, and I'm discovering new ones all the time. In the meantime, I want to thank all of you for your giving this little indulgence of a blog your time and attention, and I hope it's encouraged you to read, watch, or play something you might not have checked out otherwise. And to those who have read and reviewed The Brotherhood of the Black Flag since its publication, I can't tell you how much your support means to me. Last but not least, I owe a special thank you to my Trusty Research Assistant for all his hard work!