A funny thing happened on the way to getting published. I wrote the book long before it was published, but before it came out a group of men conducted what they called "Expedition Whydah." After all those years, they were successful in actually locating the pirate ship, which sank off the coast of Cape Cod in 1716. It is the largest pirate treasure that has ever been recovered. It brought a great deal of attention to the story of Maria and Black Sam, resulting in several articles in National Geographic, a documentary by Discovery TV, and a movie produced by Arts & Entertainment.
Eventually, the treasure was put on display at the Whydah Museum in Provincetown, Massachusetts. (See more on the museum at http://www.whydah.com/.) I have spoken to Ken Kinkor, one of the members of the crew that found the ship, several times. He has been wonderfully supportive of my books about the couple, as well as sharing information with me on what is held at the museum, as well as swapping tales about Maria and Black Sam.
Since the first book went back in time, there was no need to ask them for permission to include anything in the book. However, since the second book brings Black Sam to today's world, I wanted to find out what their reaction would be if I were to have Black Sam make a few visits to the museum. That resulted in my calling Ken today. He was, as always, gracious. He said that the museum is a public place, so I can pretty much do anything I wanted to as far as including it in the book. He gave sort of a half-groan and half-laugh when he added, "But I hope you won't do anything too sinister to those of us who work here." I promised him that I would be kind to the crew. He then explained that some fellow wrote a book (fictional) about them and he killed Ken off in a very gruesome way. I asked him for the name of the book, and he couldn't remember it. (I think that's what they call "selective memory"!) He then related that the author had since died, so apparently they got the last laugh after all.
This whole exchange with Ken made me wonder, is it really worthwhile to contact somebody to get their permission to include them in a book, even if it is a work of fiction, if it is not necessary? My answer came in the co-operation I got from Ken (and by extension, the museum). I have a new enthusiasm for completing the book after talking to him. It is not only good publicity (for both the museum and for my book), but I'd a whole lot rather have the backing of the people involved than to have them upset because somebody bumped them off.
I hope to put the 1st chapter of the new book up in the next few days. I'll be back to let you know where to find it as soon as I do. In the meantime, don't be afraid to make that phone call or send that e-mail. Happiness is contagious. I'm happy I made that call, and I hope the Whydah Museum is too.