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article-2420767-15A9308B000005DC-446_306x423Captain Jack Sparrow knows the importance of honing swashbucklin’ skills. Livin’ off the seas isn’t easy after all. There ARR plenty of obstacles in a pirate’s path. Marooning, keelhauling, undead monkeys, curses, the Kraken, Davy Jones’ Locker, and greedy pirates pillagin’ and plunderin’ their weasely guts out ARR problematic. So if more swashbuckle be needed, who you gonna call?

Katherine: “There be one with the knack — Captain Jake Hawking.”

Jake HawkingJack: Grins. “Aye. I recollect you readin’ Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters. Since I be a loyal pirate, I’ve acquired Hawking’s master for your entertainment.”

Katherine “You acquired J.M. AUCOIN? How?”

HonorAmongThievesfrontJack “Aye.” Winks then studies his fingernails. “He plies the same trade you do, luv. Figured you’d appreciate an interview, especially since his new book Honor Among Thieves, Hope and Steel Book #1 releases TODAY.”

Katherine “Well done, Jack!” Searches ship. “Where is he?”

Jack: Craftily waves hands, spins on heels then saunters to the mizzen where J.M. has been tied. At Katherine’s disapproving stare, Jack clears his throat. “Ahem. Lady Katherine has agreed to me interview, Master Aucoin.” Helps J.M. to a barrel, making sure to keep the man’s sword out of reach. “Let’s begin, shall we?” 

J.M. Nods.

Jack “You’ve written about pirates and thieves, Jake Hawking and his companion Queen in particular. Commendable characters I presume could only be modeled after me.” Preens. “I quite enjoyed your short stories but now you’ve written a full-length book set in 1609 France. What does your compass point to next?”

J.M.: “Action and adventure. To right wrongs at the edge of a blade and tip of a pen.”

Jack: “The tip, when arrowed correctly, leads to the promised land.” Winks. “I must admit I’d be surprised if you desired anything less.” Takes a swig of rum. “Your characters Jake, Queen, and Darion know the true value of pieces of eight. If you carried eight pieces with you at all times, what would they be?”

J.M.: “My rapier to fight injustice. My pocket watch to tell the time and look classy. My iPhone and my tablet to read and write. Some cash might be handy, too, I think, if I had any (*shakes fist at Sallie Mae*).”

Captain Jack in TortugaJack: “Sallie Mae, eh? Tried shakin’ a fist’ at that wench. Won’t work. Got a slap in me face for the trouble.” Grumbles. “Had to leave Tortuga hidden in a cutter because of that saucy wench. Speaking of ships.” Clears throat again. “When did the wind take hold of your sails?”

J.M.: “When I was a wee lad in eighth grade. My (class)mates and I had to read The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. For a post-reading project we had to write a scene that filled in the gap at the end of the story (folks familiar with the novella will know what I mean; I won’t ruin it here). It was the first fight/action-scene I ever wrote. It’s been a journey of action and adventure ever since.”

Jack: “Action and adventure is me middle name. Were there times the Kraken tried to pull ye down to Davy Jones Locker? If so, how’d ye escape?”

J.M.: “Of course! I think every captain faces the Kraken at least a few times during their writing ventures. Fortunately for me I have a good crew. My first-mate Kate and our quartermaster canine Rex make sure the ship stays righted and sailing straight when the seas are rough and skies are grey.”

Jack: “A good doggie, he be. But I wonder. Would he happen to carry a key in his mouth? I’m missing one.” Stares long and hard. “No? Well then.” Drinks another dram. “Your first-mate sounds quite skilled. It’s no easy thing stayin’ afloat in perilous waters. Which brings me to my next question. During a broadside, what do you do to mend your sails?”

J.M.: “Nothing clears my head like walking with my first-mate and quartermaster. Good ol’ fresh air and exercise is good like that, eh?”

Jack: “Kate and Rex again.” Scratches head. “You’ve got a dedicated crew. Make sure you don’t forget Pirate Kate’s name. I don’t recommend it.” Rubs face and frowns. “What else helps fill your sails?”

J.M.: “I also usually have a few stories brewing, so if one gets troublesome I’ll put it aside and work on something else.”

Jack: “An acceptable plan.”

J.M.: “I also study and practice historical swordsmanship and make my own period clothing. It helps get in the right mindset. If you ever need a cavalier doublet made, let me know.”

Jack: Stands upright and examines his effects. “You’re good with thread?” Mumbles. “I’ve a mind to press you into my crew. But I don’t think Katherine would approve.” Flips open compass and taps to see if it’s working. “Hmmm… Once your course had been charted to that coveted horizon, how long did it take ye to make port?”

J.M.: “Depends on how you measure it, I suppose. I had a poem published in my local paper when I was in high school.”

Captain Jack with Jar of dirtJack: Holds up prize. “I’ve got a jar of dirt.”

J.M.: “In college I got a short pirate tale published in an anthology (it’s also available as a bonus story in my Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters collection), and another poem in Renaissance Magazine.”

Jack: “Poetry, eh?” Looks around, but finds nothing to compare. “Have you charted your course for anything else?”

J.M.: “Honor Among Thieves will be my first full-length novel, however. It’s a project that’s been years in the making. I learned a lot about writing a novel (and re-writing the damn thing). I’ve had to delay publication a few times, but quality is paramount.”

captain jack sparrow w compassJack: Nods. “But do you have a compass that points to what you want most?”

J.M.: “I put my spyglass toward self-publishing early on. I’ve seen so many good writers go decades without a sniff from agents. It can be depressing and demoralizing.”

Captain Jack Sparrow Undead MonkeyJack: “Try having your ship stolen.” Shivers. “Having to undergo Barbosa’s curse to get back the Pearl was nothing compared to being chased by an undead monkey and swallowed whole by a slimy-mouthed beastie. Katherine’s been sorely tested.”

J.M.: “I give props to the writers who land good trad-pub deals, but for me the self-publishing seas were the way to go. After college there was a bit of a publishing drought for me. Damn publishing winds didn’t seem keen on swashbuckling adventures for some reason, so I got into the galley with the rest of the crew and started rowing toward our destination. I’m a captain who likes to be in full command of his destiny.

Jack_finds_his_headdingJack: Opens compass. Taps. Grimaces. “Give me that horizon. Pirates have a code, more like guidelines anyway. What’s your code?”

J.M.: – Come up with an idea. Any idea. A character. An action-sequence. An exchange of dialogue. A dramatic and historical event to make berth. Usually happens right before falling asleep or first thing in the shower.
– Build out the idea. Research. Create a world and a personality for the character. Figure out a full plot (or most of one).
– Start writing the story.
– Cry in the corner when you hit a mental blockade.
– Celebrate like a pirate when you ram through the blockade. Rum is good. So is hard cider.
– Edit the story.
– Weep some more. Get dragged into your cabin by your crew before you scuttle the ship.
– Send to test-readers.
– Weep and/or celebrate based on beta reader notes.
– Finalize the tale.
– Publish the tale.
– Pray to Poseidon that Davey Jones and the Kraken don’t drag it to the briny deep.

Kraken RumJack: “Rum is always good. Poseidon? The briny deep? You ARR a true pirate! Be that as it may, who’s your all-time favorite pirate?” Winks. “I brought Kraken.”

J.M.: “Jake Hawking.”

Jack: Eyes bug out. “Hawking?”

J.M.: “What? Choosing my own pirate captain is against the rules. Fine. Captain Blood. Sorry, Jack!”

Jack: “Now that’s below the belt. Though I can’t say Hawking is a blow to me ego. A capable pirate, he is. I can also not argue against Errol Flynn’s Blood. He strikes a handsome pose. According to one of Katherine’s research books, By the Sword, A History of Gladiators, Musketeers, Samurai, Swashbucklers, and Olympic Champions by Richard Cohen, the great British national fencing coach, Bob Anderson said “Flynn had an athletic, ultaromantic style of fencing.” Romance is never a bad thing, eh? I’m sure you’re first-mate Kate would agree.”

JMAucoin-Headshot-ReservoirGuest pirate: J.M. AUCOIN

Author. Fencer. Sometimes actor. Full-time nerd. J.M. AUCOIN is the product of when a five-year-old boy who fell in love with reruns of Guy William’s Zorro grows into a mostly functional adult. He now spends his time writing swashbucklers and historical adventure stories, and has an (un)healthy obsession with The Three Musketeers.

When not writing, he practices historical fencing, crafts historical outfits, and covers the Boston Bruins for the award-winning blog Days of Y’Orr. He lives in Heraldwolf’s Stone with his fiancée Kate, and their dire-beagle, Rex.

Jack: Every tar what sets foot on a ship has a story. What story will readers discover in Honor Among Thieves?

HonorAmongThievesfrontFrance, March 1609. The French Wars of Religion are over, but forces still conspire against the crown…

Darion Delerue, former soldier turned highwayman, has only two things of value—the hope in his heart and the steel at his side. After a heist on a royal ambassador goes wrong, Darion finds himself locked away in the Bastille and facing the noose, until a mysterious woman appears with a proposal. He is unknowingly thrown into a political plot to undermine the crown, pitting his old life as an honorable soldier against his new life as a thief and bandit. Darion’s actions could send France back into civil war.

Honor Among Thieves is a gripping tale of daring sword-play and political intrigue, with superb historical detail of 17th Century France that’ll have readers wanting to draw their rapiers and fight for glory!

J.M. AUCOIN’s Ports of Call:

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Thank you for joinin’ Katherine today, J.M.! Wishin’ ye fair sails via sea and literary charts. Huzzah and Hoorah!!!