Black Hearts, White Bones

Black Hearts White Bones by [Furney, William Charles]

THE BOOK: “Black Hearts, White Bones.”

PUBLISHED IN: April 2017.

THE AUTHOR: William Charles Furney.

THE PUBLISHER:  Black Hearts Publishing.

SUMMARY:  Black Hearts White Bones is a “what if” novel about Anne Bonny and Mary Read, two very real pirates who lived in the early 18th Century.  The story begins where the sketchy historic records leave off.  Instead of being hanged along with Calico Jack Rackham (one of the best names in pirate history) and the rest of his crew, Anne and Mary both “pleaded their bellies,” delaying their executions until their babies were born.  The record shows that Mary died of “the fever” while still in prison but tells us nothing of Anne’s fate.  A prevalent and plausible theory is that her father – a plantation owner in Charles Town – paid a ransom to have her released from prison.

Author William Charles Furney with his Westies Duncan and Clair.The prologue of the story begins with Mary Read faking her death (reminiscent of The Count of Monte Cristo) and pledging to one day kill Anne Bonny for leaving her in prison.  The story resumes nine years later when Mary stumbles upon Anne who is living a life of obscurity in colonial Bath.  But instead of killing Anne, Mary Read decides to execute a more sinister plan before leaving Bath forever.  The story that follows is one of obsession, vengeance, betrayal, and self-realization.

Although Black Hearts White Bones abounds in history and suspense, it is always about Anne and Mary.  The tension between them is present throughout and little is what it appears to be.

THE BACK STORY:  Having been born and raised in the “Down East” region of coastal North Carolina, I grew up where local legends about pirates and their folklore live on to this day.  Many of my vacations growing up were spent in places like Nags Head, Cape Hatteras, Ocracoke, and Charleston.  The sports teams at East Carolina University – the closest college to where I lived – are called ECU Pirates and feature pirate logos and mascot.

About eight years ago I began coming across references to Anne Bonny and Mary Read in my reading and it struck me as odd that so little had been written about them.  How could two notorious women pirates be so unknown?  And what little information I could find in my research was either woefully unbelievable, dismissive, or condescending.  As someone who was raised by a strong woman and a man who respects them, I knew I had to write a story that would do them justice and in a serious way.  With Black Hearts White Bones, I think I achieved that goal.  If my efforts help them gain a more prominent place in history, then I will consider my story to be a very satisfying success.

WHY THIS TITLE?   The title is pure pirate imagery, meant to convey the darkness of the story and capture the reader’s imagination.  It also has a place in the story, but you’ll have to read it to find out what it is.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT?  Because it’s a damn good story that has something for almost everyone.  It lives outside the box compared to almost everything else that is out there and it skewers clichés with a rapier – unless it is to make fun of them.  These are not the buccaneers your father told you about.


“Bill Furney’s Black Hearts White Bones crafted a great pirate tale filled with adventure, treachery, and great twists.  Vivid, exciting and filled with colorful characters, this was an excellent yarn that gave substance to the ghostly figures of female pirates who are so poorly documented.  Though it is said in the history books, Mary Read did indeed die in prison soon after giving birth, this was an interesting case of “what if.” — Award winning author Carole P. Roman.

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Shortly after being born, I served in the U.S. Army as a tank commander where I learned how to blow junk up, eliminate bad guys with economy, and lead good men through chemical, biological, and radioactive environments.

Life was weird.

Whereas these skills prepared me for civilian life in metropolitan arcadias such as Chicago, L.A., and Philadelphia, I instead decided to go to a university of higher learning.  After arming myself with a BS degree from the University of Colorado’s School of Journalism in Boulder, I ventured out into the world as a reporter where I proceeded to hone my skills at pissing people off with the written word.

Life was better.

But as fate would have it, I finally grew up and took a real job working for state government as a public information officer, at first for the governor and later with public health.  Despite not being a metrosexual bureaucrat and developing a reputation for telling overly self-important, political appointees they were full of beans, I did pretty good.

Regrets?  A few, but I never punched anybody.  Not once.

Along the way, I actually did accomplish stuff.  I earned degrees in public relations and advertising.  I became one of the first five people in the country to become a Certified Communicator in Public Health.

I had my own column in the Jacksonville Daily News.  I was a director of public relations for private industry and the director of communication for several government agencies.  I established two public affairs offices where none previously existed; one for the State Health Director’s Office and the other in the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response – the state agency created in 2001 to oversee preparedness efforts associated with biological attacks and pandemic outbreaks.  (Truly weird that I actually did end up using some of my military training.)

As a public health communication expert I coordinated or participated in the media/public information responses to health crises involving AIDS, anthrax, SARS, E-coli, Pfiesteria, Brucelosis, Legionnaires’ disease, SIDS, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Small Pox, West Nile Virus and numerous hurricanes.  I also collaborated with the CDC Office of Communication on several health issues and was a certified trainer of their Emergency Risk Communication Program.  I was a member and president of the National Public Health Information Coalition – twice.  (Woot!)

I also once yelled “Arnold!  Over here!” to make sure Arnold Schwarzenegger got in the right car on his national fitness campaign tour and I once saw Pink at the airport.  I think.  It was a woman with pink hair, for sure.

AUTHOR COMMENTS:  Black Hearts White Bones is a wild ride that took me more than five years to write.  I conducted at least three hours of research for every hour of writing, and I believe it is part of what makes this a superior read.  My biggest wish is that people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing.

SAMPLE CHAPTER:   Amazon Kindle shows the first three chapters.  Click on the book’s cover for the sample pages if it does not open automatically:

WHERE TO BUY IT:  Amazon:  Soon to be available on
PRICE:  Kindle  $2.99    Paperback  $19.99.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: eMail:  Website:

Published by


Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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