The Author

James Ryan has been a working writer for some time, though more often “writing” than “working.” He started this page in 2008 to share the novel Raging Gail, which is still up on this site. He also published the novel Red Jenny and The Pirates of Buffalo, the collection of stories from Rooftop Sessions entitled Alt Together Now, and the monograph The Pirates of New York. He has also appeared in the publications Pyramid Online, Dragon, The Urbanite, The Dream Zone, Rational Magic, and REBEAT Magazine which ran his classic genre film column “Fantasia Obscura.”

He lives in New York (home port for both Thomas Tew and William Kidd, among other freebooters) with his wife Susan; when he goes on the account himself, it’s usually a choice between Visa and American Express…

All content Copyright © 2008-2021 James Ryan

39 thoughts on “The Author

  1. James,

    This is Mark McCrary of the Wannabe Thanks for you comment. I’m looking forward to reading over your novel. Keep it up.



  2. I hope you don’t see this as damning with faint praise but, there was a review site (web fiction guide) that wasn’t terribly complementary but definitely not condemning so I came and took a look and stayed. Sometimes yes the chapters are weak but, I love your commentary about modern-day pirates. I think that you could benefit from a longer chapter length and don’t always try to end on a point of suspense but leave the incomplete story as the motivation to go to the next chapter.


  3. Thanks for the comments, cm. I did get pretty well drubbed over at Web Fiction Guide, which I think may be the result of the shorter chapters; compared with the usual lengths of chapter postings for other works reviewed by the site, I wonder if I would have fared better if the reviewer’s “first 10 chapters” policy might have been waived to allow for a “first 30 or so” exception…

    I appreciate the observation concerning the chapter breaks and length. The format for each part was decided on in the beginning as the best model for doing a two-a-week posting that would encourage the reader to return every few days; thus, the effort to keep readers coming back drives the need to hang off all those cliffs.

    As for the length, there was an effort to make each chapter more easily digested for all readers, especially those reading on the go with personal devices. As I noted in another post, though, I’m sure there are better ways to make those coming aboard through their iPhones and other mobile devices more welcome; anyone who can suggest tools to help with this, please sing out.

    As we’re discussing formats, I am looking at the possibility of a physical edition of the novel via POD. One likely difference with the online edition may be that the original parts will be combined into bigger chapters. That will probably be one of the main differences between that and the current version; well, that and some VAM…


  4. Thanks, Breanna! And let me say, I’m enjoying the first of the Lifey Rivers books. She’s a great character, an Irish dance competitor who finds herself in situations that would test Nancy Drew; I recommend these books highly to anyone reading this.



    pirate story found on foreign policy.

    “””LESS THAN A DECADE AGO, the world was congratulating itself on a job well done. The most treacherous international shipping lanes through the Strait of Malacca and the Singapore Strait had finally been tamed after years of brazen pirate attacks. But a far more dangerous threat soon emerged, with more spectacular seizures of cargo and skyrocketing ransoms: Somalia’s pirates. With a long coastline, lawless shores, and a steady stream of vulnerable targets, the quintessential failed state is a buccaneer’s dream. Attacks there went from 16 percent of the global total in 2007 to more than half last year with no end in sight, despite intensive international efforts to protect the seas. “””


  6. Mr. Ryan:

    Haven’t had the chance to mention it (it’s been kind of a busy couple of days for me), but I wanted to say how much I appreciate your support for the Empress of the Moon livecast, both here and over at io9. It means a lot to me and the cast.


  7. nyt via Foreign Policy.

    Somalia’s pirates find new allies: The war-torn country’s powerful pirate clans have recently begun to ally themselves with both government forces and al-Shabaab, and appear poised to play a more significant role in the country’s political battles.



    even the Harvard business review is getting into the act…

    “””Consider a relevant, if rather dark, chapter in the history of leadership: the 17th-century heyday of Captain Morgan and Captain Kidd. If you had to design the job of a pirate ship captain in that era, how would you do it? When I ask MBA students and executives to design the job, they invariably lump together two areas of responsibility…”””

    I then tried searching the site for pirate information figuring that what better place to find modern-day pirate training but in the business school. and I found…

    “””The Real Pirate Bay
    6:23 PM Saturday April 18, 2009 | Comments (47)

    Set up a torrent tracker, get fined, go to jail.

    Join a bank, destroy the economy, profit.

    Let’s draw out the distinction.

    The Pirate Bay guys were criminally prosecuted for….violating (largely obsolete) copyright. Almost no one in finance has been held even civilly liable for vastly more economically damaging actions.

    On the one hand, we have damages worth maybe (maybe) a few million. On the other, a few trillion.

    On the one hand, innovation and better music is stifled — benefits are foregone. On the other, reform of a broken banking system is stifled — losses are incurred.

    That’s everything that’s wrong with the economy in two sentences: the ongoing inability of today’s leaders to deal with 21st century economics.”””

    there are some entries in the search that are worth looking at. Some require money to buy the PDF but any case, it’s amusing reading



    Pirates abduct 43 sailors off Kenyan coast! Somali pirates have commandeered a South Korean fishing boat off the Kenyan coast, Korean officials said Sunday.

    The South Korea Foreign Ministry told Yonhap News 43 crew members aboard the 241-ton trawler Keummi 305 were captured by the pirates on Oct. 9 about 10 miles off Lamu, Kenya.

    The crew included two South Koreans, two Chinese and 39 Kenyans, the South Korean news agency said.

    A South Korean citizen living in Mombasa, Kenya, told Yonhap the pirates took the boat to Harardhere, north of Mogadishu.

    Officials had not yet heard from the pirates with any demands.

    “Given past instances, it would put the hostages in even more danger if the government tried to negotiate directly with the pirates,” a ministry official said. “We’re trying to find out more about the incident using all possible channels.”

    On September 30, UPI reported Somalian pirates off the coast of Tanzania hijacked an empty cargo ship with 15 Indian crew members, officials said.

    Pirates attacked the MT Asphalt Venture after it unloaded bitumen at Mombasa, Kenya, the BBC reported. The ship belongs to the United Arab Emirates company Bitumen Invest.

    Xinhua News Agency said the ship was hijacked Wednesday as it was sailing to the South African port of Durban.

    “The MT Asphalt Venture was hijacked in Tanzanian waters while under way to Durban from Mombasa. The vessel is empty and has 15 Indian crew,” Andrew Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone from Mombasa. Mwangura is the East Africa coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Program. (c) UPI



    From The New York Review of Books, an overview of the bleak Somali pirate situation.

    There’s no doubt that in Somalia, crime pays-it’s about the only industry that does. There is even a functioning pirate stock exchange in Xarardheere, where locals buy “shares” in seventy-two individual pirate “companies” and get a respectable return if the company is successful. Most of the money, though, is frittered away. Boyah, who personally has made hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions, asked me for cigarettes when I met him. When I asked what happened to all his cash, he explained: “When someone who never had money suddenly gets money, it just goes.” He also said that because of the extended network of relatives and clansmen, “it’s not like three people split a million bucks. It’s more like three hundred.”

    The pirates used to be fisherman who moved from defending their fishing territory by boarding foreign ships to collect “fines” to more lucrative full-blown piracy. (thx, tom)


  11. Thanks for the link to the “Legend of Bill” sketchbook. If either of them were to say to me, “Prepare to be boarded!” I’m not sure how much resistance I’d offer…


  12. resistance to boarding? Well, I would decide based on if they are carrying anything sharper than their own tongues and wit. A slice across the abdomen is a real mood killer.


  13. Thanks for the link, esj! I remember meeting the folks responsible for this back at the ’09 NYCC; nice bunch of people. At the time their site was offline, so I wasn’t able to send a hail their way. I’m glad they’re on the net now.

    Yes, it’s a bit different than what others may be used to, and a large part of whether you jibe well with it depends on how you feel about high fantasy. Yes, fantasy pirates can work, as anyone who read Conan the Buccaneer can attest, or if you didn’t mind how far over the edge of the world the last two PotC films went. And you could probably make a good argument in favor of considering the crew of the Dawn Treader to be privateers…

    It’s not an easy sell, mind you; the big issue is finding balance between your piratical and fantastic elements. If the magic starts to feel too much like something out of a very munchkin-fueled D&D game, the first question is going to be, “So why am I on a ship again?” at which point the whole thing falls apart.

    Which is why I can promise you all, the next work is going to have pirates, but not magic users…


  14. searching for Pirates

    This is the kind of heat that sucks the breath from bodies. We are in the Bab al Mandeb Strait, a narrow opening that marks the beginning of the Gulf of Aden. It is July, now, and almost monsoon season. Monsoon weather is bad for nausea, but good for anyone scared of pirates, because these modern sea-jackers travel in small boats that are upset by the Force 6 waves that our ship slices through with ease. There may be frigates around, but much of our protection is weather.
    We have been on pirate watch for one day now. The ship has changed: The portholes in the doors on each of the six decks in the accommodation house have been blocked with circular pieces of cardboard, cut—I see on closer inspection—from chocolate boxes and cigarette cartons from the bond store. All windows must be covered by sundown with blackout blinds that are fastened into place with snaps, the better to defeat chinks.


  15. but pirates are pirates. 🙂

    As I get into, yes it did look a lot like Tintin. In fact, it was frighteningly similar to Tintin down to characters that look like Capt. haddock. I loved it and I hope the author picks it back up again.



    “””(CNN) — Two U.S. Navy warships patrolling the Gulf of Oman disrupted an attack Friday by pirates on an oil tanker, the military said Friday.

    The USS Momsen and the USS Bunker Hill responded to a call from the merchant vessel Duqm, whose crew reported pirates were attempting to board their ship.
    The U.S. warships arrived to find two pirate skiffs pulled up to the tanker with ladders out to board the ship. The Navy vessels chased off the pirates and tracked their movements back to a larger ship from which they were operating in the Arabian Sea, the Navy said.”””

    (only half tongue-in-cheek) figures, we only get involved when there is oil at risk…



    NEW YORK — Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse has admitted he’s a modern-day pirate. The U.S. government says he also had a sadistic streak.
    While terrorizing merchant ships on the Indian Ocean, Muse regularly aimed “his gun at the head of a hostage and pulled the trigger, laughing when the gun did not fire,” federal prosecutors wrote in court papers. “Muse derived joy from the suffering of victims.”
    The prosecutors argued Muse’s ruthlessness is one reason he should get nearly 34 years at sentencing Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom.



    As of last week, the EU’s anti-piracy naval force said pirates were holding a total of 31 vessels, and 688 hostages.

    Many of the vessels they target are commercial tankers.

    If confirmed, the Danes would be the second group of non-commercial sailors hijacked by pirates in recent weeks.

    scary stuff.



    “””The maritime security company Shipboard Defense Systems has partnered with the makers of Mace to offer an industrial strength version of the hand-held pepper spray can for merchant vessels. The system, Rainstorm, gives boarding pirates a pressured shower of up to 300 gallons worth of tingly, piquant Mace. The chemical’s effects last for about 45 minutes and include “paralysis of the larynx,” “intense eye irritation” and an “acute burning sensation,” among others.”””
    more interesting is what they said at the end of the article.

    But can the less-than-lethal aspects of these systems really best pirates armed with RPGs and Kalashnikovs? It’s important to remember that though pirates often outgun shippers, their arms don’t always translate into successful hijackings. The International Maritime Bureau’s 2010 report on piracy recored 219 attacks by Somali pirates, 49 of which — less than a quarter — resulted in hijackings. Many of the ships who get away do so with the help of nothing more sophisticated than a vigilant lookout, increased speed and the use of fire hoses


    OK, so it’s not exactly Call of Duty: Somali Coast. Your avatar won’t get its SEAL Team Six on and shoot pirates in the head. But the Navy still wants you — yes, you, gamer — to join in its online gaming effort to figure out what to do about the scourge of piracy.

    Starting on Monday, the Navy will host one of the least likely online games ever: MMOWGLI, its Massive Multiplayer Online War Game Leveraging the Internet, something it’s been building since 2009. In a literal sense, the game is about counterpiracy, as the game encourages players to offer their best suggestions for clearing the seas of the resurgent maritime scourge. But the real point of MMOWGLI — pronounced like the Jungle Book protagonist — is a social experiment.


  21. Seafaring Women: Adventures of Pirate Queens, Female Stowaways, and Sailors’ Wives

    From Publishers Weekly
    The shipwrecked sailor is a familiar figure, but what of the woman lighthouse keeper who rescued him? Readers of sea lore know the pirate Calico Jack, but what about his mistress Anne Bonny and her lover, Mary Read? An Oxford-trained maritime museum curator, Cordingly (Under the Black Flag) writes back into naval history these and other women who went to sea with their lovers, either as wives or as cross-dressing “cabin boys.” Although he sometimes wanders away from his primary subject to describe great moments in maritime history only distantly connected to women, his tales are so compelling it’s hard to begrudge him the digressions. And while many of his anecdotes are quite titillating, his understated British voice keeps readers from feeling embarrassed for keyhole peeping. For instance, his sangfroid account of how a cross-dressing woman sailor’s testimony led to a male sailor’s execution for the crime of sodomy allows readers to draw their own conclusions. The only shortcoming to this delightful volume is its lack of illustrations. (Mar. 2)Forecast: Published in conjunction with a companion exhibit in Newport News, Va., and the author’s tour of maritime museums, this book will find solid sales among female adventure fans and the many devoted readers of Patrick O’Brian’s seafaring sagas.

    Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.



    The 10 Best Pirate Comic Books – Ever!
    Posted 5/18/11 1:33 pm ET by Alex Zalben in Comic Books
    Argh! Shiver me timbers! And other pirate clichés! Before you head off on Stranger Tides this weekend, you may want to snag a good book to read along the way. So might we suggest one of these great pirate comic books? From superheroes, to space pirates, these are the ten best pirate stories in comics:


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