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!
PIRATE CODE Voyage two
BRING IT CLOSE Voyage three
RIPPLES IN THE SAND Voyage four
WHENTHE MERMAID SINGS A prequel to the series
WHENTHE MERMAID SINGS A prequel to the series
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!
ABOUT HELEN HOLLICK
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...
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Twitter: @HelenHollick https://twitter.com/HelenHollick
You can also listen to this post on my podcast. Here is the link…