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  • Writer's pictureS.K. Keogh

The Real-Life Inspiration Behind James Logan

In the earlier drafts of my novel The Prodigal, the entire story was told only from the point of view of the two main characters--Jack Mallory and Maria Cordero. It wasn't until later that I decided to broaden the story's horizon a bit by adding the point of view of the antagonist, James Logan. By doing so, I needed to know more about him and his background. I didn't need to look too far to find a real-life piratical inspiration--one of history's most famous pirates, Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.

Blackbeard's persona is made up of a blend of reality and legend. Even his name is shrouded in mystery. Perhaps it was Teach. Others say Thatch, still others Drummond. But certain things about him and his reign of terror on the American coast are without question, including the existence of his famous ship, Queen Anne's Revenge, whose wreckage was discovered near Beaufort Inlet in North Carolina, in 1996.

Public domain image of Blackbeard

One of Blackbeard's connections with my Jack Mallory stories was his blockading of Charleston (Charles Town) Harbor in 1718. (An interesting aside, when it comes to Blackbeard's origin: history has always said he came from English roots, but one North Carolina researcher, Kevin Duffus, believes he actually came from Carolina's lowcountry.) He took hostages from the harbor shipping and demanded in return for their release medicine, which some speculated was to treat a crew rampant with sexually-transmitted diseases, something not too difficult to believe, considering the brief, carefree lifestyle of buccaneers.

But it wasn't Blackbeard's Charleston foray that drew my attention. Instead, it was his time spent ashore in North Carolina. There, it is said, he reached an agreement with Governor Charles Eden. In exchange for a pardon, Blackbeard entered into a partnership with Eden wherein Blackbeard shared his plunder with the politician. The governor is even said to have officiated a marriage between Blackbeard and a planter's daughter.

It was Blackbeard and Eden's quid pro quo that inspired the nefarious partnership between my antagonist, James Logan, and Charles Town planter, Ezra Archer. Like the real-life cohorts, Logan and Archer greased each other's palms--while Logan pillaged Charles Town shipping and shared his spoils with Archer, Archer in turn (like Eden with Blackbeard) protected Logan from the law. An uneasy partnership, however, as the readers of my Jack Mallory trilogy know.

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