Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The black ship


As I mentioned a while ago, The Black Ship was originally written as part of Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror, but I took it out when I realised that it might make the basis of a set of nautical creepy stories.

I wrote the story long before Pirates of the Caribbean came out. Publishing is still, even in this digital age, a long-winded affair. But although I knew that, it was still disturbing to see that my Black Ship seemed a bit too similar to The Black Pearl of that movie. It was actually Death's rotten and tattered ship in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner I had in mind. . .

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
How fast she nears and nears!
Are those her sails that glance in the sun,
Like restless gossameres?

Are those her ribs through which the sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?

Is that a Death? and are there two?

Is Death that Woman’s mate?


I first read The Black Ship at an event for teachers in Norfolk, long before it actually appeared in a book. In many ways it is a perfect story to read, because it is a story about storytelling. Consequently I have read it many times.

The first time I read it to a group of - admittedly quite young - children, I looked up from the book to see the front rows staring back at me like Macaulay Culkin in the Home Alone poster. Very satisfying.

The strange thing is, though - every time I read it, I find myself getting a lump in my throat towards the end. I know what's coming and yet it gets me every time.

It is odd when you get ambushed by your own work.

1 comment:

  1. Terrifically terrified in our tent24 October 2010 08:05

    I went on a roadtrip this summer with a friend and her daughter. A couple days before we hit the road my friend picked up a copy of Tales From The Black Ship because the illustrations reminded her of Edward Gorey whose works I absolutely adore. Each night when we hunkered down in the tent she would read another chapter to her daughter (and me). We LOVE your book and can't wait to get our hands on your other Tales of Terror. Thank you thank you!

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