A Couple of Florida Authors Resurrect A Gruesome Pirate Legend
in Their Debut Middle-Grade Novel
In the stifling heat of August 14, 1791, the drums beat rhythmically. The only thing louder was the squeal of a young sacrificial pig being brought to slaughter. By the time this voodoo ceremony was over, the slaves of Saint-Domingue had set out on a violent spree. They burned down sugar, coffee and indigo plantations. They mutilated and killed their former masters. These slaves had taken their freedom by force.
One man made a break for it! Swimming offshore, he boarded a merchant ship, killed most of the crew and took command over the others. Henri Caesar became Black Caesar, a notorious pirate. Years later he ended up on the west coast of Florida, near Sanibel Island, where he buried a treasure and seemingly vanished.
The 3-part Tullybeth series weaves the history of Black Caesar with the modern-day story of a 9-year-old girl named Tullybeth who moves to a sleepy town on the west coast of Florida, Turnberry Swamp. Book 1 starts by remembering the tragedy that desolated this town, a tornado 50 years prior, from which it never fully recovered. Present day, Tullybeth finds Turnberry Swamp to be both hostile and fascinating. Strangers are unwelcome, and she soon learns there is a dark secret all its residents are hiding.
Tullybeth Book 1 starts to unravel the history of Henri Caesar, starting with his birth. In Saint-Domingue, now known as Haiti, tension was running high among the slaves. Their overseers were cruel, and their living conditions were appalling. Hiding in the mountains, marooned slaves planned a revolt, but first they needed an army. They decided to build this army with the next generation of boys born to them. But even as the slave village was desperate for a boy child to be born, it would seem Henri Caesar’s arrival was a cursed one.
This story is told by different characters, traveling through time to give insight into the events shaping this novel. Blurring the lines of historical fact and good ol’ story-telling, this book leaves the reader wondering which parts are real and which parts are fiction. If readers were to do some research themselves, they’d soon realize that sometimes life is stranger than fiction…
You've been snooping around the swamp looking for the lost children. Well, now's your chance. Go find them...