The Story Behind Robert “Doc” Gowdy’s The Cassandra Prophesy

The inspiration behind the novel Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophesy is a result of my interest in three things: mythology, science fiction, and the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean at the turn of the eighteenth-century.  While as a Ph.D. and an academic I have written much in the way of literary analysis and criticism, I have always wanted to write a novel, and I wanted it to be a science fiction novel.  I realize what I’m about to say may sound rather clichéd, but the idea for Captain Bonny Morgan, the character, came to me quite literally out of the blue.

Having read much on the Golden Age of Piracy, the real female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read were of particular interest to me.  I was particularly fascinated that two eighteenth-century women could become such effective, and feared, pirates among a brethren of male pirates who did not (ostensibly) allow women onto their ships, much less allow them to participate as part of the pirate crew.  Then, having seen the rather lamentable movie Cutthroat Island starring Geena Davis as pirate Captain Morgan Adams, I was prompted to ponder the notion of a truly effective, and feared, female pirate captain operating within a futuristic, galactic pirate community.  I then came upon the idea of naming her Captain Bonny Morgan by drawing from the pirates Anne Bonny and Sir Henry Morgan.  As a result, Captain Bonny Morgan came into existence.

Once I had Bonny Morgan in mind, it was quite easy to build a story around her by using mythological archetypes, e.g., the goddess, fairy mythology, and pirate mythology in order to create a recognizable (if, perhaps, somewhat unconsciously for the reader) and effective female pirate captain.  I then placed her into a futuristic galaxy where she operates among the various galactic pirate Brethren aboard her Intimidator-class heavy assault cruiser, the Fancy.  And, once I had a narrative sketched out in my mind, it was easy to write the story and populate it with the various characters that operate in Bonny Morgan’s “world.”  For instance, her first mate, Miss Bernadette Tell, her Bosun, Mr. Quist (a nod to the movie Captain Horatio Hornblower starring Gregory Peck), her second mate, Miss Pearl (rather a subtle nod to Janice Joplin), and her fellow “countryman,” Jon Black (a nod to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Long John Silver).

However, having created Bonny Morgan and her “world,” I needed to create allies for her and, in a way, co-protagonists within the narrative.  While there are a great many wonderful characters (I think) in the novel, the two most important are the Princess Lysette and her slavegirl, Tink.  Princess Lysette was created around the mythological archetype of the goddess, and Tink was created around the mythological archetype of the fairy (as well as a nod to J. M. Barrie’s Tinker Bell in Peter Pan).  I then created additional allies by drawing on both my service in the United States Marine Corps and my love of old western movies.  I created a character named General John Francis Padrick “Gunns” Mannigan, a former Shield Marine (and a nod to John Wayne’s character in the movie Donovan’s Reef) and his trusted companion, Sergeant Major Sean “Buster” O’Malley (a nod to Victor Mclaglen’s character Sergeant Quincannon in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Kevin Conway’s character, Sergeant Buster Kilrain in Gettysburg).

So, on the whole, my inspiration for the novel came from a variety of places and, adding a little humor into the narrative, it was a great deal of fun to write.

Robert “Doc” Gowdy is a graduate of the University of North Texas with a Ph.D. in Literary Criticism and Theory and an emphasis on Nineteenth-Century British literature.  His specialization in literary theory is psychoanalytic criticism and theory, particularly Lacanian psychoanalysis, with further emphases on Milton and Eighteenth-Century British literature.  Doc Gowdy is currently an adjunct assistant professor at Texas Woman’s University where he teaches various literature courses.  His interest in writing is long standing, but aside from academic writing, his first novel, Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophesy is his first foray into fiction. Captain Bonny Morgan is based on archetypal themes and patterns from mythology, such as fairies, goddesses, and the Hero’s Journey, and based loosely on Doc Gowdy’s active duty service in the United States Marine Corps with special emphasis on the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean at the turn of the Eighteenth-Century.

My Facebook page is listed under Robert Gowdy.


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