Pirate Moon & Other Stories new release!

This book collects previously published fiction and essays between its covers.

This is my first collection of previously published stories and essays (along with a few new pieces) mostly focused around the Chesapeake Bay region.

The essays here touch on everything from the origins of the unique dialect known as Delmarvese to running a trapline. In the fiction pages, ride along with Confederate cavalry gone astray on the way to Gettysburg and root for a widowed lightkeeper who makes a desperate stand against a German U-boat attack. Encounter Captain Kidd during a confrontation with pirates on the Delaware shore. In “The Wheatfield War,” discover the tragic fate of Lord Byron’s cousin-in-law during the War of 1812.

In the Chesapeake Bay region, there is no shortage of stories wherever the past meets the present.

Featuring 15 stories and 12 essays, the book is now available as an ebook and print book.

What others are saying about Pirate Moon …

David Healey is a storyteller extraordinaire. His writing entices readers into David’s world.  Pirate Moon: Collected Stories and Essays is a perfect way to escape to the wonderful Chesapeake.”  

— Bruce E. Mowday, author of Stealing Wyeth and Jailing the Johnston Gang: Bringing Serial Murderers to Justice.

This is not a book, it’s a tiara. A crowning achievement. Each story with its unique setting highlights the facets, glitter and beauty of prose dusted with poesy.”

— Walter F. Curran, author of the Young Mariner trilogy.

Pirate Moon & Other Stories is a true gift. Open it, and you’ll enjoy hours of delightful and thoughtful reading. The stories vary from historical to contemporary, and you’ll feel as if the characters are people you know or want to know. The essays bring a tear or a smile and always give more to ponder.

— Gail Priest, author of Eastern Shore Shorts and the Annie Crow Knoll trilogy

David Healey is lucky to make his home in a one-of-a-kind place steeped in character and thick with culture. That place is blessed, too—to have a storyteller with the gifts and gumption to capture its magic.

— Jim Duffy, author of Secrets of the Eastern Shore

Read the Preface for Pirate Moon & Other Stories

We are all storytellers in some way, aren’t we? Some of us just happen to write them down as we go along. Compiling this book has made me realize how lucky I am to have grown up in a family that liked to tell stories and to have been around a lot of natural storytellers. 

My father still spins a good story and my mother was a keen observer who also came from a long line of storytellers. Sometimes, I don’t know whether to blame them or thank them for passing that along. Some more practical skills in, say, mechanical engineering, might have led to a more lucrative career. Mostly, though, I think I’d thank them for sharing that love for a good story.

The great writing coach James N. Frey has said that kids who grow up to be writers are usually the ones who had their imagination prodded in some way. He gives the example of a kid who comes across a banana peel on the ground and asks where it came from. An adult from a no-nonsense kind of family would respond that someone dropped it there, obviously. End of story. But in a storytelling family, one of the adults will point up at the trees and say, “The monkey who lives in that tree must have dropped it.”

Naturally, the next question is, “What monkey?”

And thus begins a spontaneous story of one kind or another. Frey says those kids who are invited to imagine are the ones who grow up to write novels because they’re always trying to tell the story of the monkey in the tree. 

You won’t find a monkey in any of these stories, although there are pirates, German commandos, killer lawyers, and even a wily fox. Along with that monkey business, I’ve also been fortunate to live my life in an area rich with stories—if you know where to look for them and if you are willing to listen. 

I can still remember some of the old-timers telling me about how their grandparents hid the horses in the woods when the Union troops marched by. For them, the Civil War was still within living memory. It was something that had touched the lives of their families in very real ways. Again and again, if you’re willing to listen, you will hear stories like that across the region. I also have a theory that old places and old houses soak up history and radiate it back in the same way that a stone wall gives off warmth at night after absorbing sunshine all day. You just have to be willing to open your senses and feel it.

These stories and essays go back nearly forty years, to a short story called “The Fox Went Out On A Chilly Night,” published in a local magazine. Back then I was in my full-blown teenage Hemingway mode, working my way through everything—and I mean everything—that the author had ever written. That is definitely the oldest story here and I have tried not to change a word of what my sixteen-year-old self wrote. The most recent story is “The House That Brewed Up Trouble,” completed just a few weeks before publication. Some stories, like “Bullet Baby,” are based on actual events or legends.

Most of the published stories and essays have appeared in regional publications across Maryland and Delaware, which I now realize places me firmly in the category of being a regional writer. Sadly, some of these print publications have fallen by the wayside over the years, notably the wonderful Delmarva Quarterly in which I was lucky to have several essays published. 

It’s a strange journey, going back and revisiting these old stories and essays. It’s a bit like looking at old pictures of yourself and wondering why you ever thought that wearing terrycloth wristbands and those tube socks that went up to your knees was a good idea. Revising these stories has also been a lot like time traveling. Almost all of the stories and a few of the essays have been revised in some way, sometimes substantially. The notes at the ends of the pieces recognize that fact. Just to be clear on the difference, a “story” by my definition is pure fiction while an “essay” is more of a commentary or observation on some slice of life, from meeting author William Styron to growing tomatoes to running a trapline. For the purposes of this book, I have tried to include only those essays with some regional focus. There is no narrative order here … feel free to dip in at random and skip around.

These stories and essays have been enjoyable to write over the years and then to revisit here. Most of them have been a labor of love in that unlike most of my newspaper articles or even some of my books, they weren’t written on deadline or for a paycheck. I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading them—just keep an eye out for that monkey in the tree! 

Finally, I want to thank the many individuals who have been so supportive in my own journey as a writer. This includes  many colleagues and co-workers over the years, as well as understanding family and friends. I also want to thank the editors of the publications named here. I would be remiss not to express appreciation to the region’s many wonderful bookstores for their amazing support of local authors. 

It’s hard to single out any one person, but you will notice that the book is dedicated to Don Herring, longtime editor of The Cecil Whig newspaper. Don was a gifted writer and a natural teacher who helped dozens of young reporters over the years realize the importance of accuracy as well as the beauty in a clear and concise sentence.

Again, thank you for reading and please be sure to stay in touch at www.davidhealeyauthor.com


Chesapeake City, Maryland


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Jeffery Hess interview in the June issue of The Big Thrill

John Sandford on the cover of The Big Thrill

Writing for The Big Thrill is always a pleasure because it gives me an opportunity to a lot of wonderful authors and discuss writing with them. My latest interview was with Jeffrey Hess, a Florida-based writer. This was actually the second time that I have interviewed Jeff  and I really enjoyed his novel, NO SALVATION. If you enjoy good military fiction focused on leadership with great plotting and suspense mixed in, this may be for you. Also, the novel portrays something a bit different, which is the Vietnam-era Navy.

His novel was inspired by actual riot that took place on the USS Kitty Hawk in 1972. The incident prompted new Congressional oversight and many reforms.

This cover also features one of my favorite authors, John Sandford. I’ve been reading his Lucas Davenport novels for years and his newest novel is Neon Prey. He is the guest of honor at Thrillerfest this year.

Read on!

NO SALVATION by Jeffery Hess

by David Healey

If there’s such a thing as navy noir, navy veteran and author Jeffery Hess has created just that atmosphere in his taught thriller NO SALVATION, set aboard an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War.

When Commander Robert Porter arrives aboard the USS Salvation, it is clearly a troubled ship. As the executive officer (XO) or second in command of the US Navy aircraft carrier, Porter soon encounters many challenges. First, he must juggle his own racial identity as an African-American officer against a white captain with antiquated ideas about black and white relations.

Read the full article here.

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Life lessons from your local library

by David Healey

The recently released film, “The Public,” dramatizes an imagined standoff between altruistic staff and patrons of the Cincinnati Public Library on one side and self-interested government officials on the other. The film brings some positive attention to libraries at a time when some might wonder why we need them at all in the age of the internet.

You won’t find Emilio Estevez or Alec Baldwin, two stars of that recent film, stamping due dates at the Cecil County Public Library system. However, you will find a few stories worth sharing. For me, working at the library has been an eye-opener about the way that libraries provide front-line public service to a population that is often vulnerable or unempowered — the unemployed or impoverished, the not-so-tech savvy, the very young or very old, and the homeless.

Landing a job at the library was serendipitous for me as a local author because I had already spent many hours researching there. Even so, there was a learning curve in stamping those due dates, finding the location of the nearest AA meeting, looking up the title of the third book in Laurell K. Hamilton’s new series, or cutting out paper fish for a children’s program — all at the same time. For a librarian, even a part-time one, juggling lots of tasks comes with the territory.

Read the entire Op-Ed piece in The Baltimore Sun

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Watch the C&D Canal Documentary on MPT

Chesapeake City’s connection with Showboat and the canal’s role in the Civil War

It was a pleasure to have a small part in this amazing documentary on the C&D Canal and Chesapeake City! I was able to talk about the canal’s interesting role in the Civil War. But for me, I really enjoyed the historical overview of the canal as well as learning more about the role it still plays today in commercial shipping as a vital link between Baltimore and points north (particularly Philadelphia and New York).

My own little part involved being filmed while chatting with author Karen Morgan on a waterfront bench in Chesapeake City. Karen is the co-author of Chesapeake City: The Canal Town Through the Years, a book that stands out for being not just an enjoyable read but also so visually engaging.

The skies threatened rain that day, but held out long enough for the film crew, Tim and David, to do their job. Director John Paulson put us through our paces. The sight of a small film crew downtown drew a knot of curious onlookers.

John did a great job of coaxing and coaching what we needed to say out of us and was also quite kind about it. Clearly, these guys love their jobs and are very skilled at documenting the people and places of Maryland. Their other recent effort was a documentary about the Conowingo Dam.

Something that stood out about this film was how the producers sped up the film of ships going through the canal, as well as the loading and unloading of cargo. Some of those massive ships are moving like Donzi speedboats! This technique actually adds some excitement and motion to the film.

Several people have pointed out that my name is misspelled in the film, but hey, I know who I am!

Click here to watch the MPT video online.

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Meet the Legendary Writers of the Chesapeake

Chesapeake Writers: Literary legends from around the bay

Please join us for a Chesapeake Writers talk on May 7 at 6:30 pm at the North East branch library. Local author David Healey will introduce you to our own literary legends such as George Alfred Townsend, “Chesapeake” author James Michener, “Blue Max” author Jack D. Hunter, and Chesapeake City’s “Showboat” connection. Bring a notebook and pen because you will have an opportunity to explore your own voice as a Chesapeake writer as well as learn some tips and opportunities for local writers. Call 410-996-6269 to reserve your seat!


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Spanish flu epidemic raged 100 years ago

This video comes courtesy of the Cecil County Public Library, where the talk was given.


More than 100 years ago, the Spanish flu epidemic struck worldwide, leaving millions dead. Even the small towns of Maryland and Delaware were impacted by deaths and quarantine efforts. This talk provides an overview of the fight against the flu on the homefront during World War I.

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