Monday, 4 July 2011

Helen Hollick's Sea Witch Blog Voyage!

This week Helen Hollick sets sail on an amazing adventurer with her Sea Witch Blog Voyage. I am delighted that just four days after setting sail, Jesamiah, her famous pirate, insisted they drop anchor and fill the barrels with more rum. So whilst Jesamiah plunders for his favourite tipple, Helen has kindly taken time out of her frantic schedule to stop by and talk about her Sea Witch series.

 About Helen Hollick

Helen was born in North East London, England, and started writing pony stories as a young teenager. She moved onto science fiction and fantasy and then discovered the delight of writing historical fiction.

Published in the UK and the US with her books about King Arthur and the 1066 Battle of Hastings, Helen also writes a series of historical adventure seafaring books inspired by her love of the Golden Age of Piracy.

Helen still lives on the outskirts of London with her husband, Ron, adult daughter Kathy and a variety of pets, including a dog, a cat, and three horses.

Helen your pirate books have stunning covers, can you tell us more about them?

I so love the covers for my books! Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics designed them - I believe she also did Sometimes It Happens... your own book cover as well, Pauline? Her work is stunning.

I did not want my pirate, Jesamiah’s face showing as everyone has their own idea of what a character looks like – so for Sea Witch Cathy came up with the idea of showing him from the back – and then she added the ship into the cover. I love that ship!

For Pirate Code the idea was to show Jesamiah in trouble, a prisoner…. Note what he is holding in his hand – one of his blue ribbons (they are very significant to the character!)

We have slightly changed the cover for the new edition of Bring It Close. Originally we had Tiola on the far bank of the river, a ship coming into view, and just a pirate hat in the near left corner. Helen Hart of SilverWood Books suggested it didn’t quite convey what the story was about though. Despite the old saying ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ the cover image is important to attract people to pick the book up. We had one of the characters on the back cover – Charles Mereno, Jesamiah’s father, who appears in this story as a ghost trying to put right the things he did wrong while he was alive. We moved him to the front – instant interest and a glimpse of the story at a glance. Now on the back is a wonderful image of Tiola. Cathy’s friend, Anne from Long Island New York, posed for Tiola and Charles is “played” by Cathy’s husband, Ray, (those are his hands on Pirate Code as well) I am very grateful to them both for their enthusiastic help.
Ripples In The Sand (Voyage four, not yet published) has the most stunning sunset photograph of the beach at Appledore, Devon, where the story is set, taken by my editor’s son Simon Murgatroyd – and Anne again as Tiola.

You are well known for your historical novels, but you also have 3 books in your pirate series, with a 4th book being written, what made you write these swashbuckling adventures?

Jack Sparrow! Like so many others I fell for Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, the Curse of the Black Pearl. I hadn’t seen it at the cinema but my daughter, Kathy, bought the DVD. It laid around for ages, then one day I had a bad cold so decided to pamper myself and watch a DVD – I chose this one. I thought the opening scenes were alright, but nothing special and then we had that first view of Jack astride the masthead… ‘Ooh what’s this?’ said I. The scene where he dives in to rescue Elizabeth from drowning – that was it, I was hooked!

The trouble was, as an avid reader I wanted more pirates, something similar to read. A lovable rogue of a pirate novel with a touch of fantasy – a sailor’s yarn of adventure. And I couldn’t find anything. There was Daphne du Maurier, C.S. Forrester, Patrick O’Brian…. Celia Rees, James L. Nelson…. But nothing that remotely came near the “sexy” character of Jack Sparrow. So I did the obvious thing. Wrote the book I wanted to read!

Sea Witch is the first voyage of Captain Jesamiah Acorne, tell us a little about him and what makes him such an interesting character

Let me see… he’s a charmer, sexy, handsome, a delightful rogue….  He’s the sort of guy who you can count on if you are in a fix – as long as he isn’t too busy plundering treasure, eying up a beautiful woman or enjoying a bottle of rum.

Seriously, I describe Jesamiah Acorne as a blend of Sharpe, Jack Aubrey, Hornblower and Indiana Jones – with a touch of James Bond and a dash of Jack Sparrow. He’s a hero character, capable, strong, intelligent – but he can and does get things wrong. Quick to laugh, formidable when angry.

I wanted to create a character who was a dramatic/romantic hero, but with flaws. He meets the young woman he falls in love with – Tiola Oldstagh (pronounced Teo-la Oldstaff) but when tempted by the possibility of obtaining a beautiful ship he Is lured back to the sea. Assuming Tiola will follow he realises he has made a mistake when she doesn’t.

There are two dimensions to the Sea Witch Voyages; the main plot, where Jesamiah finds himself in some sort of difficult situation – trouble follows him like a ship’s wake – and an ongoing plot which runs through the series, of Jesamiah and Tiola’s relationship and their past life (or in Tiola’s case, lives).

There is an element of fantasy in the stories, Tiola is a healer and a midwife, but she is also a White Witch, one of the Old Wising Women who has the gift of Craft passed down from grandmother to granddaughter. She is Jesamiah’s soul mate – but the course of love does not run smooth, not when Tethys, the spirit goddess of the sea also wants Jesamiah for herself…. As the stories progress we will discover why (in Ripples In The Sand) and more of Jesamiah’s background - his bullying half brother, the father who apparently had no care for his youngest son…. a conundrum that Jesamiah must unravel in Bring It Close, when he is haunted by the ghost of his father, while pursuing the black-hearted pirate Blackbeard.

Away from writing what can you be found doing?

My writing takes up most of my time – I have Facebook and my blogs to run, and e-mails tend to pile up.
My daughter has three horses, Ace, Lexie and Rosie, so I often go to horse shows with her. She competes side-saddle usually in the historical costume classes. I enjoy gardening, growing our own veg and such, and we have three hens, a dog and a cat – so my days are often full!

When can we expect RIPPLES IN THE SAND to be published?

I feel so guilty about Ripples…. I know I have a boatload of Jesamiah fans waiting for this next instalment in his adventures. The story is about half finished, but I had to set it aside while editing my serious historical fiction for publication in the US – and then, just as I was about to pick it up again, my UK publisher went broke. Rather than allow my books to fall out of print here in the UK I decided to transfer to an assisted publishing house – SilverWood Books. Unfortunately, my ex-publisher did not return any of my files and I only had unedited versions – so the mammoth re-editing had to start all over again. Editing several books in a couple of months is no easy task! However that is now completed and I am back with Jesamiah finishing his fourth voyage. I would like it to be published in the late autumn, but just before Christmas is probably the more viable option.

In this story we are in Devon, England. Jesamiah is trying to sell a cargo of tobacco and Tiola must see into the past to discover why Tethys is so determined to have him for her own. Jesamiah gets involved in smuggling, jailbreaks and a Jacobean rebellion! Look out for some guest characters as well – the Doone Family from the classic novel, Lorna Doone.

When researching Ripples in the Sand I knew I wanted to set the story at Appledore, near Bideford in Devon, because I know the place well (my UK editor, Jo Field, lives there) what I did not know, until I started researching the historical elements was that in the early 18th Century Bideford was one of the largest tobacco trade towns in England. I also discovered – after I’d started writing - that on the headland opposite Appledore is a ruined chapel. Nothing unusual in that…. except it is dedicated to St Anne, who comes from the Celtic goddess Anu – the goddess of fertility, birth and midwifery!

And the co-incidences don’t end there! Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics who designs my book covers used her friend Anne again, (Anne – another co-incidence) for Tiola. She is kneeling in the sand holding a baby, and is wearing a red gown and a green cloak. It was one of those hair stand up at the back of the neck moments when I discovered that the goddess Anu is usually depicted wearing….. you guessed it. A red gown and green cloak.

Where can we find Helen Hollick, apart from being in the top ten bookseller!?

The top ten bestseller list would be nice, but I doubt that will happen as there are many writers far better than I.
I have several blogs, I am often on Twitter but you will find me on Facebook every day - so see you there, I hope!

Main Website:
Muse and Views Blog:
Monthly Journal:
Blog profile:
Picture Diary Blog:

Now we've wetted you appetite for a swashbuckling adventure, please come on aboard and watch The Sea Witch YouTube Trailer:


If you would like to win a copy of Helen's Sea Witch book, the first in the series of the voyages of Captain Jesamiah Acorne, please leave a comment below telling me why Jesamiah Acorne should pick you.
The prize, a copy of Sea Witch can either be in paperback or Kindle format, the winner can choose!

The Sea Witch Series are available from:

Helen Hollick
Sea Witch
Being the First Voyage of Cpt Jesamiah Acorne & his ship, Sea Witch

Isbn 9781906236601
Published by: SilverWood Books
Price £ 10.99 $18.50 (US)
Availability: Kindle (& other e-book sources i.e. NookBook)
or direct from publisher:
Front cover designed by

Helen Hollick
Pirate CodeBeing the Second Voyage of Cpt Jesamiah Acorne & his ship, Sea Witch
Isbn 9781906236632
Published by: SilverWood Books
Price £ 10.99 $18.50 (US)
Availability: Kindle (& other e-book sources i.e. NookBook)
or direct from publisher:
Front cover designed by

Helen Hollick
Bring It Close
Being the Third Voyage of Cpt. Jesamiah Acorne & his ship, Sea Witch
Isbn 9781906236625
Published by: SilverWood Books
Price £ 10.99 $18.50 (US)
Availability: Kindle (& other e-book sources i.e. NookBook)
or direct from publisher:
Front cover designed by


To chart Helen's amazing sea voyage and to see which ports she drops anchor in during this exciting adventure, click here


Helen said...

I so love that picture of the beach Pauline.... I assume Sea Witch is at anchor just out of sight around the headland? Jesamiah, of course, is enjoying himself in one of the tavernas...
Thank you so much for such a fabulous write-up Pauline... and I'll drop a big hint here on your behalf. After completing the Sea Witch series, Pauline's own 'Sometimes it Happens' is a giggle of a read!
And if you happen to live near Bristol UK - I'll be at the Bristol Pirate Party on the 10th July!
Thanks again Pauline! Fabby!

shazjera said...

Jesamiah sounds just my type of 'hero' to follow - who doesn't love a delightful rogue! I love anything to do with the sea, myths/magic and it sounds like there's plenty of that in this series. Would love to win the first book in the series so I could lose myself in the adventure!

shaz (dot) goodwin (at) sky (dot) com

Liz Fichera said...

This sounds like a wonderful series! Very colorful and exciting. Thanks for sharing.

Pauline Barclay said...

Hi Helen, it is a great pleasure to have you here and of course that naughty pirate, Jesamiah! Have fantstic Blog tour!

Hello Shazjera, thanks for taking a tot of rum! I'll pass on your compliments to Captain Jesamiah.

Hi Liz, always fab to see you here and wishing you a great 4th July celebration! x

Pauline Barclay said...
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Rosalind Adam said...

Great interview. The books sound wonderful and Appledore is a bonus. It's a fabulous place to visit... although it possibly can't quite compete with Lanzarote!

Pauline Barclay said...

Hello Ros, Maybe not, but when a pirate is involved who knows. Lovely to see you here. Hugs x

Pauline Barclay said...

Hello Ros, when a pirate is involves, who can say. Thanks for stopping by. Hugs x

Pauline Barclay said...
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Pauline Barclay said...
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Na said...

Captain Jesamiah Acorne sounds like a very fascinating man and I am sure his adventures will bring a lot of his traits (good and bad) to centerstage. I may not be Tiola, a healer and witch but Jesamiah Acorne should pick me, because when it comes to adventures at sea he can count me in to be right by his side. I am an explorer at heart, perhaps not the bravest or strongest but I like trying and learning new things and pirates, ships and the sea would be quite a voyage for me.

Really enjoyed the interview. Happy Holiday!

Pauline Barclay said...

Hello Na, Jesamiah is smiling as he downs another rum, thanks for stopping by you've certainly made the pirate smile!

To everyone, sorry there are so many deleted comments from me, it is to do with our internet connection, it is terrible and drops out about every 10 seconds...grrr! Then comes back and re posts my comments....sigh!

Flowerpot said...

Books definitely to be added to my TBR list. I should be picked because I'm Cornish and live by the sea so can provide excellent research!

Pauline Barclay said...

Hello Flowerpot, thanks for coming aboard, I love your reason...laugh!Good luck! x

Pauline Barclay said...

Hello Flowerpot, thanks for coming aboard, I love your reason...laugh!Good luck! x

marybelle said...

I will resort to begging, or swabbing decks or serving ales like a saucy wench to gain a copy of SEA WITCH. I need the adventure in my life.


Helen said...

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments - and for your support and enthusiasm!
There's still time to enter the competition to win a book. One winner will be picked at random from the above comments on Monday 11th July
Good Luck!

Helen said...

..... and the winner is....

I've e-mailed you. Get back to me so we can sort out your prize



shazjera said...

Congrats to Flowerpot :)

Pauline Barclay said...

Fantastic Flower Pot, I am certain you will love all of Helen's book, a brilliant author! Enjoy! x

Helen said...

I haven't had a reply from you Flowerpot - please e-mail me so we can sort out your prize! author AT helenhollick DOT net

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