One Virtue And A Thousand Crimes: The Ocean's Calling

The Ocean's Calling

A young woman caught in the claws of the 1813 New Orleans red light district decides she wants more: the ocean.

Cosma Wolfe is an adventuress of the Moulin Rouge on Gallatin Street—at the time, the most dangerous place in the world. Having made a comfortable life for herself despite the horrors of the underground sex market, she wants to get out—to become a pirate, like her deceased father. There is no way around working with the Laffites—who are already established in the piracy and smuggling scene of New Orleans. she has to get their blessing. But can she—a woman—manage what is hard enough for a man? And at what cost?


The Ocean’s Calling is the second book in the historical fiction series One Virtue and a Thousand Crimes that features the compelling Cosma Wolfe and Jean Laffite. They meet their New Orleans rivals in the sizzling smaller Golden Age of Piracy and a deeply personal adventure.


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Unveiling the Shadows of Gallatin Street: The Laffite Pirates in The Ocean's Calling

In the vivid tapestry of historical fiction, The Ocean's Calling, part of the captivating series One Virtue And A Thousand Crimes, unfurls the gripping tale of Cosma Wolfe's journey from the red-light district of Gallatin Street in 1812 in her quest to the mysterious world of piracy. At the heart of her transformation are the notorious Laffite pirates, whose intriguing lives and enthralling escapades shape the narrative, blending elements of romance, adventure, and the complex realities of the time.


The Ocean’s Calling is a unique, deeply personal, LGTB+ pirate story. As I placed myself into this character to write from her perspective, I had to assume her willpower and courage to even find words for what she told me. I’m straight, at least that’s what I believe (if you read The Ocean’s Calling you might think otherwise), and writing about things I didn’t experience and that are so personal, and then to publish them for everyone to see, took me a lot of courage.


For the longest time, when people asked me about the story and how the writing was going, I just left out the LGTB+ stuff. There are so many layers to this story that no one noticed, and it would probably make sense without it as well. But it was there and whenever I connected with this character, she told me it must be there. So here I am, sharing with you things I didn’t even dare share with my closest friends and family.

The Laffite pirates, mysterious saviors of New Orleans

The Laffite pirates, led by the charismatic Jean Laffite, were a formidable force in the bustling city of New Orleans in 1812. Known for their prowess in smuggling and privateering, the Laffite brothers, Pierre and Jean, commanded pirate ships, or privateer ships as they preferred to say, that navigated the treacherous waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Their exploits were as daring as they were enigmatic, capturing the imagination of those who dared to dream beyond the confines of societal norms.


The Laffites probably originated in the mountains between France and Spain, a pretty lawless and abandoned area at the time. Its inhabitants showed a strong spirit of independence, and felt loyalty neither to France nor to Spain (though officially French), and instead looked to the world as a whole for their fortune. The lush vineyards of the province made wine one of their homely drinks, and the nearby sea laid seafaring into their cradles; together, the perfect ground for a strong corsair’s career.


People weren’t big on writing back then, and both Jean and Pierre, partly because of their playful spirits, didn’t receive a comprehensive school education. The spelling of their last name, Laffite, was not uniform among its wearers, but both Jean and Pierre spelled it Laffite, the orthodox version being ‘Lafitte’. Their name aptly means ‘song’.


When Napoleon ruined the merchant jobs for the Laffite brothers, they left their French home for San Domingue (Haiti), which in turn they left after a mob in the upheavals killed a friend. This is how they ended up in Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans). 

Old New Orleans and the Laffite Blacksmith

The crescent city was founded in 1717, and its first citizen was probably Jaques Barbazon de Pailloux, who had been summoned from a fort he had already established at Natchez. There were some disagreements which ended with Adrien de Pauger laying off the squares of the original town, the Vieux Carré (Old Square) of today, on March 5, 1721. The citizens that followed were eighty illicit salt makers who had been convicted and banished to the New World by the French for evading their tax on salt.


Until 1770, the houses the New Orleaneans built consisted of a low frame structure, bricked between posts (briqueté entre poteaux) and roofed with cypress shingles, cypress being abundant. Then they began building wholly of bricks, added a first floor (une maison brique et à étage), and wooden shingles or flat tiles from Nantes and Havre, verdant. Everyone had a courtyard (‘cour’ if you were French, ‘patio’ if you were Spanish), and a porte cochère, a wide gate with thick planks which led family carriages through an arch tall enough to not let the coachman (usually a male slave) lose his towering beaver hat.


A mixture of both kinds of houses were present in 1812 New Orleans when the Laffite pirates and Cosma walked the banquettes (as New Orleaneans called sidewalks). In between one of these houses was erected a building first mentioned in 1772 and which was later called the Laffite Blacksmith, or the Laffite’s Blacksmith Shop, which still stands at 941 Bourbon St. today. It is said that the Laffite brothers used the famed smithy as cover for smuggling “black ivory” (slaves) into New Orleans. Despite its iron plaque, there are no records that the so-called Laffite blacksmith ever belonged to either of the Laffite brothers. This might have been deliberate, or the Laffite blacksmith may have just been one of many rumors about the Laffite pirates.


The Adventuress begins with a scene in which Jean heaves contraband into the attic above this smithy. However, it is their private lives which are so captivating, and have spawned the many Laffite pirate tales.

Intertwined lives, Pierre, his wife, and the sister's intrigue

Within the labyrinth of intrigue, the personal lives of the Laffite brothers added another layer of complexity. Pierre Laffite, with his mysterious demeanor, and his wife, brought an unexpected domesticity to the ruthless world of piracy. Meanwhile, the subplot involving the sister of Pierre's wife, who harbors feelings for Jean Laffite, adds a dash of romantic tension, with Cosma Wolfe inadvertently becoming a player in this intricate dance of emotions.


By fellow citizens, Pierre was described as robust, strongly built, looking down on middle height men, with a light complexion and light brown hair which covered his forehead. His black eyes, slightly crossed, pierced when he spoke with a heavy French accent and revealed, like his brother, very white teeth.


Jean was tall, too, and well proportioned except for his small hands and narrow feet. He, too, had dark hair. He was pale and wore side whiskers under his dark hazel eyes, one of which he closed when speaking, reportedly to the irritation of his listeners. Other than this, he was easy going and a fun anecdotist.


While Pierre arrived in New Orleans married, with an infant son, and remained a family man despite his dealings, Jean was and stayed a womanizer and dressed much more stylishly than his homey brother.


By 1809, Pierre had at least three children and had taken up his wife’s sister ‘Catiche’ in the household. Catiche had eyes for Jean, and in The Ocean’s Calling, she’s all but happy about Coma’s appearance on the scene.

Explore female pirate stories in historical fiction for adults

In the vast sea of pirate tales that have dominated literature and popular culture, female pirate stories often stand as hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Historical fiction about pirates and pirate stories for adults have traditionally centered around male protagonists, but the narrative tide is slowly turning, unveiling the captivating stories of women who defied societal norms to sail the high seas.


The scarcity of female pirate stories can be attributed to the historical erasure of women in maritime narratives. During the Golden Age of Piracy, which spanned the late 17th to early 18th centuries, piracy was a male-dominated realm, and women were often marginalized or omitted from historical records. As a result, the prevailing perception of pirates as swashbuckling men has persisted through the ages.


However, contemporary authors and storytellers are reclaiming these untold tales, bringing to life the formidable women who dared to challenge the gender norms of their time. One notable example is Sea Queens: Women Pirates Around the World by Jane Yolen, a non-fiction exploration of the lives of historical female pirates that dispels the myths surrounding their exploits.


In the realm of historical fiction about pirates, a few authors have successfully woven female protagonists into the fabric of this adventurous genre. Pirates! by Celia Rees is a compelling novel that follows the exploits of two young women, Nancy and Minerva, who escape their constrained lives in 18th-century England to join a pirate crew. The narrative not only showcases their courage but also provides a refreshing perspective on the challenges faced by women seeking freedom and agency.


Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas by Laura Sook Duncombe is another illuminating work that dives into the lives of female pirates. Duncombe's book offers a fascinating blend of historical research and storytelling, shedding light on the diverse roles women played in piracy, ranging from captains to crew members.


Despite the limited number of female pirate stories, the tide is turning as modern audiences crave more inclusive narratives. The growing interest in pirate stories for adults that feature strong, independent women reflects a broader societal shift towards acknowledging and celebrating the overlooked contributions of women throughout history.


As we set sail into uncharted waters of literary exploration, the call for more diverse and empowering female pirate stories grows louder. Authors, readers, and storytellers alike are invited to uncover these hidden gems, ensuring that the legacy of female pirates takes its rightful place alongside the swashbuckling tales of their male counterparts in the annals of historical fiction.

Gallatin Street, shadows and secrets

Gallatin Street in 1812 was a nexus of both the forbidden and the perilous. As Cosma Wolfe sought to escape the clutches of the red-light district, she encountered a world teeming with illicit activities and clandestine dealings. The conditions faced by sex workers were harsh, and the line between survival and desperation blurred in the shadows of Gallatin Street. Crimes of all kinds thrived, creating an atmosphere where secrets were currency, and alliances were forged in the crucible of necessity.

One Virtue And A Thousand Crimes, historical fiction book series

When I was tasked with finding a proper series name for this historical fiction book series about pirates, I plunged deep into the waters once sailed by renown pirates. I had already decided that Jean Laffite would play a major role, which led me to publications in his time. Nearly exactly a year after Jean Laffite helped the United States fend off the British at the Battle of New Orleans, Lord Byron published The Corsair (1816), which holds the epic lines:


“He left a corsair’s name to other times,

Linked with one virtue and a thousand crimes.”


Which so aptly fits the characters of the Laffite pirates and piracy in general that I could not resist. Also Cosma, the protagonist of this historical fiction book series, though not protagonist in all stories related to the series, commits many crimes, but still has at least one virtue. It was simply a perfect fit.

In The Ocean's Calling, the narrative unfolds like a meticulously crafted map, leading readers through the vibrant New Orleans streets of Gallatin in 1812, the unpredictable world of piracy, and the intricate dance of power and passion, in one of few female pirate stories. The Laffite pirates, with their enigmatic allure, navigate the turbulent waters of history, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of this captivating historical fiction book series. Join Cosma Wolfe as she embarks on a journey that defies societal norms, where the shadows of Gallatin Street conceal secrets waiting to be uncovered.


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Comments: 7
  • #7

    Mira Kanehl (Thursday, 16 November 2023 14:49)

    Thank you, Asia!

  • #6

    asia (Monday, 16 October 2023 04:09)

    Books sound good

  • #5

    Mira Kanehl (Tuesday, 03 October 2023 12:10)

    Dear Carolann,
    Thank you for your message, I've added you to the newsletter.
    Have a lovely day!

  • #4

    Carolann Ondo (Tuesday, 03 October 2023 02:24)

    Please sign me up to join newsletter. Thank you �� (all lower case letters)

  • #3

    Roberta (Sunday, 06 June 2021 19:15)

    Please let me know when it comes available

  • #2

    Mira Kanehl (Thursday, 20 June 2019 14:59)

    Hi Chuck Bailey,
    Thank you for your interest! If you are subscribed to my newsletter, you'll receive a mail once it's available. If not, you can subscribe via this website or send me an email with your email-address so I can let you know directly.
    Have a lovely day! :)

  • #1

    Chuck Bailey (Sunday, 09 June 2019 22:50)

    Keep me posted as to when "Ths Ocean's Calling" is available for purchase. Thanks.