Boy pirate inspires Cloverdale writer’s novel series

An author from Cloverdale has hidden a treasure chest worth $500 in coins as part of her drive to publicize her novel about a young pirate.

Lisa Batstone’s The Pirate Apprentice is inspired by the true story of John King, who at the age of nine became the youngest pirate in history.

King was travelling with his mother on the Bonetta when the ship was captured by Sam Bellamy. King joined Bellamy’s crew. It was common for captured sailors to turn pirate during the golden age of piracy in the early 1700s, but rare for a child so young.

Batstone first encountered the idea while watching a documentary about the discovery and excavation of the pirate ship Whydah.

“The youngest boy in history (at age nine) joined Bellamy’s crew by threatening to kill his mother,” said Batstone. “I became fascinated with John and read everything I could on his life. But the history books only tell a small fraction of his story. So I decided to tell his story using the medium of historical fiction to fill the rest in. The fascination in pirates grew as I wrote.”

She and her son Logan, two and a half years old, like to dress up and play pirates themselves.

Her fascination with buried treasure doesn’t just come from pirate lore.

She was also inspired by the book The Thrill of the Chase by Forest Fenn.

In the non-fiction book, Fenn laid out a poem and other clues to a treasure composed of his own gold nuggets, coins, jewelry and gemstones, which he said was buried on a mountain somewhere in the American Rocky Mountains.

“I read Forest Fenn’s book and became fascinated with finding buried treasure,” said Batstone.

She has an idea of where she thinks the $1-3 million in treasure might be located.

“But alas, going to New Mexico to search [for] the treasure doesn’t make much practical sense for the mother of a two-year-old boy,” she said.

In the meantime, she has set up her own treasure hunt as a bit of publicity for her own book.

The treasure is worth $500, and the treasure map – complete with an X marking the spot – is available as a reward to some of the contributors to Batstone’s Kickstarter project.

The Kickstarter campaign ends April 25, and Batstone hopes to use the crowdfunding campaign to raise $3,000 to hire a professional editor for her manuscript.

Once the editing is done, she will put out the book through self-publishing sites Bookbaby and Amazon for Sept. 30.

Regardless of how things go, Batstone is already working on her second novel in the series. She intends to keep telling her tales about pirates and the high seas.

“In my mind, pirates symbolize freedom and individuality,” said Batstone. “I believe in fostering creativity and individualism in people, especially children. There’s an underlying message in my books that may go unnoticed by most and that is: no matter what happens, kids are who they are and not what others want them to be.”

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