Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Why Pirates? by Helen Hollick


I am always delighted to have the wonderful Helen Hollick on my Blog. An international award winning author, Helen likes nothing better than to talk pirates… from time to time! Please help yourself to a glass of bubbly and settle down with my special guest….

Today you can read this post and also listen to it on my podcast! Scroll to the end for the link to the podcast... enjoy!

So Why Pirates?

By Helen Hollick


Hello Pauline, thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog.

I suppose the simple answer to the question above is: ‘why not?’ but there’s more to it than that.

I started as a ‘serious’ author way back in the early 1990s when my Arthurian Trilogy (The Kingmaking, Pendragon’s Banner and Shadow of the King) was accepted for publication by William Heinemann (part of Random House UK). Two novels set in the 11th Century followed. By the mid-2000s the movie Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl had taken everyone by storm. Including me (but excluding my then agent – read on...) I wanted to read an adult novel that was along a similar theme to the film: swashbuckling adventure with a touch of romance and a splash of fantasy. Beyond ‘straight’ nautical fiction (mostly written for men by men) and Young Adult fiction, I could find nothing. So I wrote Sea Witch – the book I wanted to read.

What I hadn’t expected was a) my (now ex) agent hated it b) I would enjoy writing it so much that the intended one book would morph into an entire, ongoing series. I parted company with the agent, and went ‘indie’ with my Sea Witch Voyages. I have just published the sixth in the series, with a seventh When The Mermaid Sings as a short read prequel story– with more planned.

The agent had said, back in 2005 that the book was ‘not suitable for teenage boys’. Hardly surprising as I hadn’t written it for teenage boys. I’d written it for adults. To which the agent responded with: ‘Adults are not interested in pirate stories.’

‘Er?’ I queried, ‘are you not aware of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow?’  Turned out (I kid ye not) that no, said agent wasn’t.

For the record, there were very few ‘teenage boys’  there in London for the premiere of the second film in the franchise, Dead Man’s Chest. I was there with quite a few hundred adults. (Front row outside the cinema. Yes J.D. was as good looking in the flesh as he was on screen. I was as close to him as you are to the screen where you’re reading this...) (And by the way, Bill Nighy was also lovely, as was Orlando Bloom and most of the main cast. I had the huge pleasure of meeting Lee Arenberg and Marty Klebba socially a few years later in the USA.) 

I admit, not everyone likes pirates – fair enough. In reality they were ... are ... nothing short of violent terrorists, but in the world of fiction pirates tend to be loveable Jack Sparrow/Errol Flynn-type rogues, nowhere near true to life but darn good entertainment. I wanted my Voyages to be fun to write and fun to read, with, yes, darker bits in between, there is violence, there is adult language – but they are written for adults and are about adults. Ok, so one of them is a pirate captain with a tagline of ‘Trouble follows Jesamiah Acorne like a ship’s wake’ and the love of his life  is Tiola, a white witch who seems to spend most of her time getting said Jesamiah out of trouble, but such is the nature of adventure tales isn’t it?

And I guess that is the whole point of my question ‘Why pirates?’. The Sea Witch Voyages are not merely ‘pirates’, they are adventure novels set around a theme of the sea with a big dash of romance and a dollop of fantasy thrown in for good measure.

I see my Jesamiah as a mixture of Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe, O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey and Forrester’s Hornblower, all combined with James Bond and Indiana Jones. Yes, Jesamiah Acorne starts out as a pirate in Sea Witch but he soon gets coerced into spying against the Spanish, meets with a beautiful blonde, manipulative ex-lover, falls for a female undercover spy and tangles with the next generation of R.D. Blackmore’s dastardly lot, the Doones of Exmoor – oh, and a chap who looks human but isn’t quite...No spoilers, so I’ll say no more...

These are tales that are not meant to be taken seriously (does anyone ever take a Sailor’s Yarn seriously?) but they are meant to entertain and be enjoyed.

Hopefully by readers who enjoy reading them as much as this writer enjoys writing them!



SEA WITCH Voyage one

PIRATE CODE  Voyage two


BRING IT CLOSE  Voyage three



 ON THE ACCOUNT  Voyage five

WHENTHE MERMAID SINGS A prequel to the series

(short-read novella)


And just published...

The Sixth Voyage of Captain Jesamiah Acorne

By Helen Hollick

Where the Past haunts the future...

Damage to her mast means Sea Witch has to be repaired, but the nearest shipyard is at Gibraltar. Unfortunately for Captain Jesamiah Acorne, several men he does not want to meet are also there, among them, Captain Edward Vernon of the Royal Navy, who would rather see Jesamiah hang.

Then there is the spy, Richie Tearle, and manipulative Ascham Doone who has dubious plans of his own. Plans that involve Jesamiah, who, beyond unravelling the puzzle of a dead person who may not be dead, has a priority concern regarding the wellbeing of his pregnant wife, the white witch, Tiola.

Forced to sail to England without Jesamiah, Tiola must keep herself and others close to her safe, but memories of the past, and the shadow of the gallows haunt her. Dreams disturb her, like a discordant lament at a wake.

But is this the past calling, or the future?

From the first review of Gallows Wake:

“Hollick’s writing is crisp and clear, and her ear for dialogue and ability to reveal character in a few brief sentences is enviable. While several of the characters in Gallows Wake have returned from previous books, I felt no need to have read those books to understand them. The paranormal side of the story—Tiola is a white witch, with powers of precognition and more, and one of the characters is not quite human—blends with the story beautifully, handled so matter-of-factly. This is simply Jesamiah’s reality, and he accepts it, as does the reader.”

Author Marian L. Thorpe.



Amazon Author Page (Universal link) https://viewauthor.at/HelenHollick

Where you will find the entire series waiting at anchor in your nearest Amazon harbour – do come aboard and share Jesamiah’s derring-do nautical adventures!

(available Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and in paperback)

Or order a paperback copy from your local bookstore!


First accepted for traditional publication in 1993, Helen became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she writes a nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages. She is now also branching out into the quick read novella, 'Cosy Mystery' genre with her Jan Christopher Murder Mysteries, set in the 1970s, with the first in the series, A Mirror Murder incorporating her, often hilarious, memories of working as a library assistant.

Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales and Life of A Smuggler. She lives with her family in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in North Devon and occasionally gets time to write...


Website: www.helenhollick.net

Newsletter Subscription: http://tinyletter.com/HelenHollick

Blog: www.ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/HelenHollick

Twitter: @HelenHollick https://twitter.com/HelenHollick


You can also listen to this post on my podcast. Here is the link…


Wednesday, 23 November 2022

My Latest Poster...

 I have just spent a few hours designing a new poster for my cosy mystery, Past Secrets & Lies.

 I am no designer, but I do love playing with my Photoshop.

Past Secrets & Lies is the 2nd in my cosy mystery series. Whilst it includes a few mysteries to solve, it is also a feel good read.

 Private Investigator, Craig Gardner and his young assistant Roo Chattaway, along with cocker-poo, Barney take on unsolved issues that often lead to unexpected results.

 Book 1 Serendipty


Book 2 Past Secrets & Lies

Are available in

Kindle & paperback


You can find out about all my books and purchase links at


Friday, 18 November 2022

Podcast - Elizabeth St John Ancestors & Writing


Today, on Celebrating Success, I am heading over to San Diego in the States to talk my wonderful guest, Elizabeth St John. Elizabeth is better known  as an international, award winning author, but what you might not know is that, Elizabeth’s family seat is Lydiard Park in Swindon. One of her distant relations, Sir John St John goes back to the 17th Century. Throughout the centuries, Elizabeth’s ancestors have brushed shoulders with monarchs and the titled, please welcome the lovely, Elizabeth St John.

You can listen to all my podcast at https://paulinebarclay.podbean.com and you are more than welcome to share my podcasts with all your family and friends. Why not sign up on for my podcasts so you never miss an episode.

Thursday, 3 November 2022

Win a Signed Copy of Number 1 Bestseller


A chance to win a signed copy of  The Godmother’s Secret from international best selling author, Elizabeth St John. Details on how to enter are at the bottom of this post... 

The Godmother’s Secret is  #1 on Amazon in Renaissance Historical Fiction – as I write this post.



Edward IV has vanquished Henry VI and taken back control of the throne. He has released the queen from Sanctuary and commanded Lancastrian Elysabeth Scrope, the godmother of his child Prince Edward, to the Tower of London.

Spring 1471 | The Tower of London

I stare dry-eyed and parch-mouthed across the slate-grey waters of the Thames. Gripping the leather strap nailed to the barge to steady against the chop, I am being rowed along the fast-flowing river to the Tower of London, as ordered by the king. Will he honour me now as his blood relative, as the church decrees? Or will he imprison me as his enemy, as politics dictate?

The queen’s words roll over and over in my mind, keeping time with the dipping oars pulling me closer to my destiny.

Peace, she said. But whose peace?

Henry VI, the last true king of the Lancastrian dynasty, is insensible under lock and key in the Tower, his queen fled in exile, his heir slaughtered by his own countrymen.

Peace? At what cost?

Destruction. Carnage. Annihilation. This is war’s legacy.

I shudder away from a vision of my husband bleeding into the tender grass of spring on Tewkesbury’s fields. I have yet to hear of Jack’s fate, and I cannot think of my own destiny without agonising about his. I am a soldier’s wife, and with that comes the deep and constant fear that gnaws every time he leads his army for the king.

“What will happen today, Belle-maman?” Meg’s voice is fractured by the shrieks of gulls squabbling over rubbish on the riverbank. Her green eyes reflect my concern, and I wish I could give her more than cold comfort.

“I stand before the king as his child’s godmother. And as his Lancastrian enemy.”

“But surely he knows you had no choice.”

“In my oath? Or in saving his son’s life?” And there lies the heart of the matter. If King Edward refutes my appointment, labels me King Henry’s spy, I do have a choice.

“You would not tell of the witchcraft of that night?”

“To save you and me from being imprisoned as Yorkest traitors?” I pull my cloak closer, brace myself against a gust that cuts like jagged glass against my throat. “I will know when I stand before the king. And my God.”

On the north bank, just an arrow’s flight away, York Palace slides by, immutable and blank-faced. As we turn the great bend that slings the river east to the cold German Sea, the spiteful headwind whips whitecaps across its broad stretch and the oarsmen strain against the tide. Fickle April has hidden its sunshine behind a shroud of clouds, and the cold creeps into my marrow and settles in my bones.

We travel by barge, for the streets are impassable with the crowds pouring from every home and merchant’s shop to celebrate the return of King Edward. London turns its back on King Henry and all those who follow him. This is a hostile world, and my time in sanctuary seems safe and sacred, for what does life hold for me now? Uncertainty churns my thoughts sour, and I find no comfort in freedom’s wide horizons.

The Lancastrian royal line is no more.

Except for Margaret. And her Tudor son.

I clutch the strap until it chafes my palm red. God’s wounds, Margaret carries the last of the royal Lancastrian blood in her veins. But as a mere woman, she cannot muster men to support her claim to the throne. England will not tolerate a warrior queen.

But Henry Tudor as a warrior prince? She would think so.

“We are here, Belle-maman.” Meg’s soft voice carries over the slopping of water against the side of the barge. “We are at the Tower.”

To enter the draw to win a signed copy of The Godmother’s Secret, please send your name and email via the contact form in the left hand column. Elizabeth will draw the winner. The winner will be contacted directly by Elizabeth for details to send your signed copy.

Good luck!

PS The Godmother’s Secret will be on special offer in Kindle from 13th – 20th November for 99p / 99c

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Podcast - Mark Honeyman Swimming Island to Island

Today, on Celebrating Success, I am more than delighted to have Mark Honeyman back. As you remember, Mark  joined me last month to talk about how he successfully completed 2 London Marathons, 2 Ironmans, 4 70/30 Ironmans and countless triathlons and other marathons and if that wasn’t enough, Mark has just completed an island to island swim – Lanzarote to Fuertoventure – a staggering 15k. 

 You can listen to all my podcast at https://paulinebarclay.podbean.com and you are more than welcome to share my podcasts with all your family and friends. Why not sign up for my podcasts so you never miss an episode.

Monday, 24 October 2022

I Did It!


I completed the Norwich 10k on Sunday. It couldn't have been wetter. The rain hammered down, but it was great and I would do it again.

I have made a podcast talking about the event from my perspective...


So far I have managed to raise £355 for 

My Just Giving Page is


Friday, 21 October 2022

Number and Shirt ready for Run Norwich 10km


Now with my top and number I am set for Norwich 10km race on Sunday.

It had been originally set for July, but due to the extreme heat it was postponed until this weekend. However, I have just checked the forecast and whilst it will not be steaming hot, it will be a lovely 17c, but it will be raining with a chance of thunder!

I just hope the forecast is wrong! 

I have, so far, raised £340 for

 Please wish me luck for Sunday…. Thank you x

Thursday, 6 October 2022

Podcast - Crime Thriller Author, Harry Fisher

Today, on Celebrating Success, I am delighted to be talking to award winning, author, Harry Fisher. Harry writes, page turning thrillers.


You can listen to all my podcast by clicking on the link below


Sunday, 2 October 2022

Your Story!

 I am looking to do a number of podcasts that are inspirational and uplifting. I want to do a podcast about your story or someone you know who has a  story. Your story can be about anything that brings hope and encouragement to others. Maybe it is a story about how you faced difficulties and how you overcame them. It can be a story of courage or a story about raising funds for a special charity or club. It can be a story about how someone you know copes despite adversities. It can be a story about how you helped others, animals, wildlife etc. It can be about how you or someone you know or love copes with stress. If you have a story that it is uplifting and inspirational, then please share and I will do a podcast on your story. If we share we help others cope better.


If you would like to join me in these special podcasts, please contact me via the contact form. You don’t have to take part in a podcast.


If you are supporting a charity, of course, we need to promote your work and the charity.


If you are interested, please let me know.


Thank you and I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.




Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Podcast - Two Times Holder of the Grueling Ironman Challenge - Mark Honeyman

On this week's Podcast I am talking to two times holder of the grueling Ironman challenge, Mark Honeyman.

Over the last few years Mark has successfully completed 2 London Marathons, 2 Ironmans, 4 x 70/30 Ironmans and countless triathlons and marathons.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Promotion: The Godmother's Secret by Elizabeth St John


I am delighted to be sharing the details of award-winning author, Elizabeth St John’s latest book, The Godmother’s Secret


If you knew the fate of the Princes in the Tower, would you tell? Or forever keep the secret?

May 1483: The Tower of London. When King Edward IV dies and Lady Elysabeth Scrope delivers her young godson, Edward V, into the Tower of London to prepare for his coronation, she is engulfed in political turmoil. Within months, the prince and his brother have disappeared, Richard III is declared king, and Elysabeth’s sister Margaret Beaufort conspires with her son Henry Tudor to invade England and claim the throne.

Desperate to protect her godson, Elysabeth battles the intrigue, betrayal, and power of the last medieval court, defying her Yorkist husband and her Lancastrian sister under her godmother’s sacred oath to keep Prince Edward safe. Bound by blood and rent by honour, Elysabeth is torn between King Richard and Margaret Beaufort, knowing that if her loyalty is questioned, she is in peril of losing everything—including her life.

Were the princes murdered by their uncle, Richard III? Did Margaret Beaufort mastermind their disappearance to usher in the Tudor dynasty? Or did the young boys vanish for their own safety? Of anyone at the royal court, Elysabeth has the most to lose–and the most to gain–by keeping secret the fate of the Princes in the Tower.

Inspired by England’s most enduring historical mystery, Elizabeth St.John blends her family history with known facts and centuries of speculation to create an intriguing story about what happened to the Princes in the Tower.

The Godmother’s Secret will be published on 4th October, however, you can pre-order your copy now. I do hope you will.

Buy Links:

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link: https://geni.us/GodmothersSecret

Amazon UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0B9YM4JF5

Amazon US:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B9YM4JF5

Amazon CA:  https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0B9YM4JF5

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0B9YM4JF5


Author Bio:

Elizabeth St.John’s critically acclaimed novels tell the true stories of her ancestors: extraordinary women whose kinship and friendship with historical figures such as Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII, and the Stuart kings and queens bring a unique perspective to Medieval, Tudor and Stuart England.

Inspired by family archives and residences from Lydiard Park to the Tower of London, Elizabeth spends much of her time exploring ancestral portraits, diaries, and lost gardens. And encountering the occasional ghost. But that’s another story.

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://www.elizabethjstjohn.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ElizStJohn

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethJStJohn

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethjstjohn/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elizabethjstjohn/

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/elizabeth-st-john

Amazon Author Page: https://geni.us/AmazonElizabethStJohn

Goodreads: https://geni.us/GoodreadsElizStJohn

Friday, 16 September 2022

Podcast - Chantelle Atkins

 On this week’s podcast I am talking to Chantelle Atkins.

 Chantelle is an award winning author with over 12 published books and is also the force behind Chasing Driftwood Writing Group, which offers

Creative writing workshops and clubs for children and adults.

You can listen to all my podcast at https://paulinebarclay.podbean.com