Stolen came about after two trips: one to Devon, England, and one to Morocco. The book is dedicated to my husband, who traveled with me. He died suddenly in 2012, before the book was published, but I wanted to include him somehow, because he loved the story and, without him, I would not have visited the places I did.
In Morocco, we saw the underground dungeons where Christian slaves were once kept chained to the walls, until they were brought outdoors into the blazing heat to work on the palaces and temples of Meknes. In Devon, a friend showed us the caves and coves where British pirates operated in the 17th century.
When I discovered that the white slave trade and the Golden Age of Piracy were of the same era, I was intrigued; even more so when I read that the Barbary Corsairs made their raids along the British coast, including Devon, during that age. Soon a character – Lizbet Warren – came into my head — a young woman who loses her parents to the corsairs, who carry them off to the Moroccan slave markets.
I began to wonder what it would be like to be a sheltered young person coming face to face with cruelty both at home and at sea. Britain in the 17th century had incredibly stringent vagrancy laws that meant a homeless person or beggar could be arrested and sent overseas as an indentured servant – in effect, a slave. An indentured servant received no wages, was not free to leave, and often died because of ill treatment. As soon as Lizbet is left on her own, she is in danger of ending up disenfranchised in ‘the colonies’.
Lizbet is a complex young woman, but I suspect no more so than many of us today. She is faced with hard choices, and is troubled by them. She encounters dominant men in her quest to help her parents, and is simultaneously attracted to, and repelled by them. She herself is kept under lock and key for a time, at the mercy of a French privateer and her own emotions.
As I was writing her story, I thought how I wanted readers to enjoy the narrative, despite its darker aspects. To that end, I tried to concoct a plot full of suspense and adventure and triumph over adversity, as well as hard truths. I hope I have succeeded.