Book: Vagrant Prince by Jacob Kilgorecategories: Book, England, Renaissance, Pirate, Sword Fight, Ship Battle, Metafiction, Action-Adventure, Cannon, Hispaniola, France, Paris, Historical Fiction
Jacob Kilgoreabout this book: Vagrant Prince changed me.
I want Thomas' struggle to overcome to inspire you to push through all obstacles and use your skills to leave the world a better place.
What environment led me to write this chaotic and passion-filled book?
I found myself in my late teens and early 20s with a great void in that almost nothing was gained in high school, and because of my class I was barred from receiving college financial aid for 6 years.
I found myself on a tightrope, living a life of austerity so as to not fall into the chasm. Within that pit is settling with menial labor or being lured into accepting the bittersweet comforts of starting a family with insufficient resources or becoming addicted to something as so many around us do.
What else was there to do but to educate myself with books from the library and work those low paying jobs? With fear I looked at each paycheck, hoping it would be enough to cover rent if I subsisted on Top Ramen or rice.
This is what birthed Vagrant Prince.
If you like adventure, complex and unconventional psyches in your heroes and villains, then this is for you. I placed this story in the Renaissance because I wanted to show the universal nature of humans throughout time, and also because this was a very climactic period with great historical events to make use of.
Through all of these struggles Thomas goes through there is a lot of action, including sword fights, pistols blasting, ships trading cannon fire, and plenty of chaos and heroism.
There are also numerous touching moments that show the tenderness and love of the characters. We see them grow older and face a hard world. We see their triumphs and tragedies and they encounter truly unique situations.
I realized the pandering narrative of the poor overcoming the rich is common today as a way to appeal to the masses. I chose instead to divert from that paradigm and have Thomas, the "hero", brain damaged and traumatized at an early age from nearly being burned alive in a church by the troops of the English admiral Constantyne. Constantyne, likewise, has a great amount of warmness about him, along with the willingness to do as he is ordered and brutalize others. We see this play out in our society: many of the richest and most powerful people make the climb to success almost impossible to achieve. As a result, our societies produce criminals, drug addicts, terrorists, and those who wither in depression and starve.
In this story we see Thomas' great refusal to be crushed by the system of his day. Out of revenge he kidnaps Constantyne's daughter and sets to the sea with his companions. Along the way we are treated with numerous adventures and also experiments--attempts to find a place where peace may be had in this life. Those include trying to be an honest fisherman, trying to unite the Catholics and Protestants in France and stop the civil wars, voyaging across the Atlantic to Hispaniola in hearing it described as an unblemished Eden, and finally settling back in Scotland, the place of his birth, and being a family.
Both Thomas and Constantyne are in this world, living roles contrary to reason. The actions each of them make cause the other to want nothing but to slash the life out of their most hated enemy. It is this passion that carries desire and tension throughout the book.
I began writing longer works after taking screenwriting courses in community college. My second screenplay was the rough draft of what this historical fiction novel developed from.
I never suspected my negative reaction to a certain pirate-themed movie franchise would lead me to be an almost decade long (so far) devotee to this story and to improving my use of the written word.
The idea originated from two main things that later became massively bigger. Those two things were: 1. Why does the system not work? And 2. Why does this pirate movie have so many unneeded scenes and nothing besides the superficial appearance of these supposed marauders?
I wanted to make something more real and meaningful. I would push myself to pack the story full of unique moments and side stories, so as to make the story more exciting and stimulating for the readers. Too often, just like in that movie, I can tell writers elude writer's block by filibustering their way through. Their tactics include rambling on and on about things we have already sufficiently explored, piling details straight from their research to the page (being educated by the characters about unnecessary and superfluous trivia that doesn't improve the story), and so on.
I know why they do this. It's so much more work to invent new material for each page, but ripping off the readers by using this lazy approach is sickening and it makes the story boring.
So as to improve my writing skill, studied creative writing at UCR. I improved a great deal in learning from my professors as well as giving and receiving story critiques with fellow students.
In my four years teaching English in Korea I have a great increase in my abilities. Every week, having to design lessons from scratch, scanning students' papers and showing clear ways how they may improve their writing, and so many more writing and psychology (we're making these lessons and stories for people, after all) related responsibilities has surely benefited me greatly.
Details about the cover: I designed this cover in Photoshop from the Renaissance painting titled Fire by Guissepe Archimboldo.
Anyway, I invite you on this great adventure. Pick it up on Kindle or in paperback today (the print quality of these, made by IngramSpark, is fantastic).
Writing Vagrant Prince has been a significant experience in my life and I know it will have a worthwhile effect on you as well.
preview: read a sample from this book
what to read next: if you read and liked this book...
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