Welcome to Day 5 – today we welcome Rob Hinkle and Bartholomew Roberts
*Who are/were you? Tell us about your life before you came here, and after. My name is Bartholomew Roberts, although in your time you would be more likely to know me as ‘Black Bart’, a name which, I should point out, was attributed to me after my death. I was third mate on a slaver ship in 1719 when we were captured by pirates while anchored off the Gold Coast. I and two others were pressed into pirate service, and once the Captain discovered my skill as a navigator I became quite useful to him. At first I was reluctant to fall in with such a lot, but it took very little time for me to realize the advantages of such a life far outweighed the disadvantages of being a British sailor, and I took to it, deciding that a life of low wages and harsh treatment were far less preferable to a short life and a merry one.
A few weeks later, when our Captain was ambushed and murdered by the governor of the island of Principe, where we were harboured, I found myself in the surprising position of being named new Captain. My first decree was that we should return to Principe and avenge the death of our former leader, which we did with rousing success. It turned out to be the beginning of a new life for me, and over the next three years we took more than 400 vessels.
I met my end in 1722 with a blast of grapeshot to the throat by a vessel commanded by Captain Chaloner Olge, who later, I understand, rose to the position of Admiral of the Fleet. I am given to understand that my demise has been heralded by the scholars of your time as the end of the Golden Age of Piracy, though I would – and have – argued against that term with some of them. My body was buried at sea before it could be captured, while my soul was deposited here into this Infernal realm.
* Why do YOU think you’re in Hell? So is it written: Thou Shalt Not Kill. Thou Shalt Not Steal. Thou Shalt Not Covet. I did all, and more besides. The Divine Hands that made me also made Their desires perfectly clear; that I chose to ignore some of them was my decision, and thus is my presence here the height of justice.
Who are your friends/allies here? Friendship is love, and there is no love in hell. Leastwise, not that I have seen. Whatever alliances you may find here shift and roll like desert sands, always changing. They are temporary arrangements, and the more fool he who believes otherwise and so depends on them.
Do you have any enemies here? This is Hell. All souls are the enemy, including my own.
Pirate – is that a word you resent? Indeed, no! Better to be a rascal and pirate and wear it openly than declare yourself an honest man and conceal one’s true face beneath the mask of the hypocrite.
*Name and bio.
My name is Rob Hinkle, and I was born in a small Indiana town right as the second great age of the horror films began, which probably goes a long way toward explaining my love for that particular genre. At the age of nine, a local woman who had written a children’s novel came to give a lecture at my school, and as I sat in the front row listening I realized for the first time on a conscious level that stories were crafted things, like houses or furniture. That was the moment when my wandering compass needle turned toward its own true north, and I discovered that storytelling was my calling. In the years between then and now, I’ve held a wide variety of jobs – radio newsman, short order cook, legal secretary, film actor, retail clerk, psychiatric hospital attendant, among others – and I’ve found that each in their own way has given me ample opportunity to not only observe people but to mine the world for stories. I currently live in Henderson, Nevada.
* Tell us about your story for this edition.
Bartholomew Roberts is propositioned by the very man who killed him in life to join him in a strange quest. Admiral of the Fleet Sir Chaloner Ogle believes that Hell is nothing more than a test of faith, and to prove that he recruits Roberts to help him find something he has seen in his dreams – a mythical bottle of wine placed in Hell by the Creator as a sign that even the damned can be redeemed. Together they set out to recover this fabulous object … with unexpected results.
What inspired you to use the character(s) you’ve chosen?
Conflict is everything. If I can find characters who are not only in conflict with each other but also with themselves, then I know I’m onto something. I was initially intrigued by the idea of Roberts as a man who didn’t want to be a pirate but accepted the role when it was forced upon him, who ran his ship as something of a democracy, who held his crew to a written code of conduct, and who, it is said by some, actually conducted Sunday religious services for his crew. Atypical behaviour for a pirate! It seemed a natural choice, then, to pair Roberts up with the man who had killed him. What better conflict than that? As for Chaloner Ogle … when I thought up the idea of a condemned soul holding on to the idea that Hell is nothing more than a final test of faith, I knew that I had the foundation of a good story, though it would take much more thought and work before the final pieces fit.
Writing for a shared world is challenging, how do you meet that challenge?
All writing is a challenge. For me, the best way to meet it is to remember that a good story comes before everything else. I try not to get bogged down at the outset wondering how I’m going to make this or that tie in with the larger picture. Once I have the bones of the monster laid out on the table, so to speak, I’ve found that those larger connections come naturally as I’m laying flesh onto the beast. Hmmmm. Maybe I *do* watch too many horror films.
Name the last two books you’ve read – tell us about them.
HORROR FILM OF THE 1980s by John Kenneth Muir. Muir is a film critic and blogger with a sharp eye and a genuine appreciation for the genre. The book is essentially an encyclopaedic review of 300+ films released between 1980 and 1989, assessing each on their individual merits or flaws. Each film is also put into its historical context and features fine analysis of its particular subtext, a quality that is sorely missing from a lot of horror films produced by people who think a few scares and some special effects result in good box office. Horror films get under your skin not because of what they show, but rather what they represent. It’s a common belief among genre scholars that if you want to know what anxieties haunted the subconscious of people in a particular time, you don’t have to look any farther than the scary movies which were most popular. Muir understands this, and gives good analysis as a result.
ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY: AN AFTER-HOURS TOUR by Scott Skelton and Jim Benson. Rod Serling has always been one of my genre idols. My first exposure to him came from TWILIGHT ZONE reruns when I was growing up in the seventies. I have vague memories of watching NIGHT GALLERY during its initial run, and this book is a detailed account of the history of that ill-fated program. It examines the genesis of the idea, its troubled production history, and the conflict between creator Serling and producer Jack Laird (who was given run of the program by Universal, much to Serling’s displeasure) over creative control of the show. The book presents the reader with the big-picture view of a show that was occasionally great but very often hamstrung by two conflicting visions. It also includes a detailed episode-by-episode review of the program’s forty-three instalments.
*If you could pick any quote about Hell which would be your favourite?
“Hell is empty, and the devils are here.” – William Shakespeare
EXCERPT from your story.
Bartholomew Roberts thought that all you’d ever need to know about Admiral of the Fleet Sir Chaloner Ogle, Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath, you learned when he introduced himself, titles and all. Very few souls consigned to hell troubled to pack their epithets along with them, let alone trot them out at every available opportunity. Even fewer insisted upon your using them. Roberts snorted. The man enfeebled the word ostentation.
“Feeling all right, Roberts?” Ogle called from the prow of Roberts’ sloop, the Damned Fortune, one foot on the rail and right arm draped across his knee, profile jutting forward into the spray as the craft knifed its way through the waves.
“Salt in my throat,” Roberts said, adjusting the wheel to starboard. The sails over their heads snapped in the wind.
“An old pirate like you? Ha! You’ll have to do better than that.” Ogle looked back over his shoulder. His dark eyes gleamed with amusement.
Roberts shrugged. “Please yourself, Admiral.”
“Oh, don’t give me that, Roberts. Don’t you think I know you think I’m as mad as Nero?”
Roberts shrugged again and said nothing.
“Why don’t you admit it? Go on, admit it. Speak the truth and shame the devil.” A crack of indignant thunder rolled across the infernal vault over the heads; combers reared white heads from the sea and slapped at the Damned Fortune’s bowsprit in twenty-foot swells, but Ogle ignored the warning from the Sea of Sighs.
“All right,” said Roberts. “I think maybe you could show old Nero a thing or two about mad. I do think any man who goes around the underverse claiming damnation is just a test of faith has slipped a little rigging upstairs.”
Ogle smiled. “That’s better.”
“You’ve got a damn funny way of looking at things, is all,” said Roberts.
“No offense taken, my boy,” said Ogle, pleasant enough.
“Of course not. Humanity’s history books are filled with visionaries surrounded and plagued by doubters.” He turned his back to Roberts again. “I’m in a most excellent company.”
You just couldn’t argue with Ogle. Roberts shook his head. The worst kind of lunatic is the one who’s convinced that he’s right, and infernity was filled to overflowing with them.