There have been a myriad of pirate novels and films over the years. Writers and actors as diverse as J.M. Barrie, Robert Newton, Geena Davis, and Johnny Depp, have entertained us with their depictions and portrayals of these scurrilous rogues.
Typically these stories involve familiar plots—Buried treasure, long forgotten maps, parrots, and yes, you guessed it, salty seadogs. However, it’s rare that a book in the pirate genre comes along that forges new territory. The Mysterious Case of Doctor Octavius Plum’s Incredible Ever After Machine may be just that.
Set on the isle of St. Mary’s, (just off the south west coast of England), in 1937, it is the tale of two children who go to visit their grandfather in his remote, cliff-top manor. Upon their arrival, the children discover that he is missing—replaced instead by a pirate captain. During the course of the story, the children (Warning: Plot spoilers ahead) discover a mysterious machine in the overgrown back garden, that makes dead things live again, and this machine provides the plot device that is one of the books most interesting ideas – the introduction of pirates into the world of 1930’s.
I’ve always liked the idea of blending characters from two different worlds. It’s a concept that’s very common in children’s fiction; everyone from Lewis Carrol to JRR Tolkien have written novels about protagonists who find themselves in very unusual circumstances, but I had never read anything that juxtaposed eighteenth century pirates with children from 1930’s England. That seemed an interesting idea to me, and was a concept that gave life and energy to the story.
Clearly the integration of these two time periods requires an element of science fiction or fantasy, and in this story, that comes from ‘The Ever After Machine’ – A Machine that makes dead things, (including pirates) live again.
I was working in an office and a co-worker who was celebrating her anniversary, gave me a rose, which, over time, became dry and wilted. Sometime later, I put it in a jar of water and the rose became revitalized. This made me think about mortality, and the idea occurred to me: What if there was some kind of elixir that could make dead things live again? Thus, The Mysterious Case of Doctor Octavius Plum’s Incredible Ever After Machine was born.