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'Piratologist' Gail Selinger sails into Northeast State

staff report • Mar 30, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Get a crash course on pirates and plunder when noted author and all-out “piratologist” Gail Selinger delivers her lecture “Pirates and Popular Culture” at 7 p.m., April 3 at Northeast State Community College.

Selinger’s lecture, happening in conjunction with Northeast State Theatre’s presentation of “Treasure Island” later in April, will be held at the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts on the college’s main campus in Blountville. Admission is free and open to the public.

Selinger began her writing career at age 7, self-publishing a weekly newspaper highlighting her family’s activities. She credits her big sister Carol Sue, a fan of pirate movies, for sparking her interest in privateers. When Selinger turned 9, she discovered that pirates were real people and thus began her life-long interest in them.

The Selingers grew up two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in Rockaway Beach, Queens, N.Y., where the sight of sailboats and commercial ships helped fuel the Selinger girls’ imagination of the high seas. When riding on the Staten Island ferry, the sisters made believe it was their pirate ship.

After graduating college with a bachelor’s degree in art education and history, she traveled the East Coast of the United States, Great Britain and the Caribbean Islands researching pirates. With her wealth of knowledge, Selinger is considered a pirate historian or, as some have labeled her, a “piratologist.”

She was thrilled when asked to write a non-fiction book on her favorite subject. Selinger penned “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pirates,” which traces real pirates from the ancient Phoenicians to modern day and examines the social, political and economic ramifications of piracy on world history. It is also an eye-opening look at the modern-day pirates who raid oil tankers, cargo ships and even cruise ships.

Her workshop “Real Life on the Rolling Sea: The Golden Age of Piracy 1690-1720” is a highly acclaimed course in which she incorporates authentic items of the period for a unique hands-on experience. Her lectures and workshops are adapted to the age of her audience. She also teaches writing classes in character development and research techniques.

Selinger can be seen on the History Channel programs “Modern Marvels: Pirate Tech” and “True Caribbean Pirates.” She appears in the Special Features section of the Dread Pirate/Buttercup editions of the DVD “The Princess Bride” and provided the historical pop-ups for the Blu-Ray edition of the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.”

Selinger is a member of the privateer historical re-enactment group Port Royal Privateers, having been one of the original founders of the re-enactment group Brethren of the Coast in 1984.

She has written numerous novels, short stories and articles on a variety of subjects, including “Jack Tar,” “With Admiration,” “The Magic Toybox” and “Devil’s Blade.” She is a member of The Authors Guild, Science Fiction Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, The Greater Los Angeles Writers Society, and a Patron Saint of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society.

For more information about her lecture at Northeast State, call (423) 279-7669 or email jpkelly@northeaststate.edu.

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