Kate Mosse launches swashbuckling new novel at Festival of Chichester

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As Kate Mosse says, her natural domains are woodlands and mountains, but for the first time she goes sea-faring for her latest novel.

Kate, who is festival president, is launching The Ghost Ship at this year’s Festival of Chichester, a swashbuckling tale full of murder, revenge, family secrets, a love story and courageous women fighting to survive in a man’s world amid the highest imaginable stakes. Kate will be at The Novium Museum on Monday, July 3 at 7pm. Tickets through the Festival of Chichester/The Novium as Kate takes us all into a tale inspired by the real-life story of pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

The book comes as the third of Kate's four Joubert Family Chronicles: “But I have written it in such a way that it is a stand-alone novel. If you've read the earlier two, you will pick up on a number of characters that you will remember but with this I have jumped forward a couple of generations. The lead character Louise was a child at the end of the previous book and I just became really interested in her. I wanted to know how she would she grow up and what she would be like as a woman. I did a huge amount of research and I knew that this was going to be a pirate novel with lots of piracy and I also knew it would be set at a big moment in history.”

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It starts in 1610, the year of the assassination of Henry IV of France: “And if he hadn't been assassinated many things that happened would not have happened going right to the French Revolution. I always like to put my characters in a moment of crisis and change.”

Kate MosseKate Mosse
Kate Mosse

Also the point is that piracy is just so exciting: “We know that the real piracy that is happening now is awful and violent and terrible but there is still a little boy or girl in all of us that likes dressing up and pretending to be a pirate. I know I used to when I was little.

“And also this is the story of strong powerful women. They're not wispy pretty creatures. They had to be strong. Women at that time were living in quite a contained way but if you disguised yourself and went to sea then obviously you had much more freedom. The central characters in The Ghost Ship are inspired by these two notorious pirates of the 18th century who marauded around the Caribbean and were the inspiration for the Pirates of the Caribbean but I have put them in the 17th century and the 17th century was absolutely the century of piracy. It was the century of exploration of the seas and unfortunately also this century at the beginning of colonial expansion.

“The sea is a different landscape for me. It's not something that I usually bring to life so it was a great challenge. And I was very pleased when someone who had read the proof said to me ‘I didn't know that you sailed.’ I don't! But it's just totally thrilling to be able to use your imagination to conjure it all, and also I did a huge amount of research. And I was very lucky to speak to retired Rear Admiral John Lippiett. I threw myself at his mercy and he gave me lots and lots of books and talked me through what life is like at sea, but also the romance of the ship. He said that you've got to get the song of the ship, the creaking, the rocking, the moaning, the sound of the wind in the rigging, the keel going through the water... that's what he meant by the song of the ship. It's never silent.”

The Festival of Chichester event has sold out, but Kate will be doing a signing at Waterstones Chichester from 12-1.30pm on Tuesday, July 4.

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