Thursday, 11 August 2016

Sitting Round my Pool: Helen Hollick Accounting for On the Account

Having recently read, On the Account – review at the end of the post – I wanted to know why Helen Hollick, best selling author of historical novels and pirate adventures wrote this fifth book in the Sea Witch series. So with such a great excuse to get this lovely lady down here to talk to me, I invited her to leave her fabulous home in Devon and sit round my pool and talk about Captain Jesamiah Acorne. And, here she is, so please help yourself to a glass of bubbly and settle down on a sun lounger and enjoy meeting my guest.

So why did I decide to write a fifth adventure for my Sea Witch series?
It might sound a little mad but partially it was because my editor’s son, Simon Murgatroyd, had the most gorgeous photograph of a full moon reflected in the sea with evocative rocks in the foreground. When I saw the photo I had two immediate thoughts: there should be a tallship with all sail set, and who would be standing on that big, flat rock? Hmm, someone looking wistfully at the ship, wishing he was aboard, his heart breaking because she was sailing away? Well, those sort of thoughts are what get a good story going. And I just had to use that photograph for one of my covers.

And the title? Going ‘On The Account’ in the early eighteenth century was a term for turning pirate, so it was quite fitting as a title for one of my pirate series of nautical adventures. Except, by book two of the series (Pirate Code) my dashing rogue of a pirate had accepted the King’s Amnesty and become an ex-pirate. I never said anything in the following books three and four, though, about him staying an ex-pirate…

Incidentally the Amnesty was a real event initiated in Nassau, where most pirates congregated, in 1718 by the new Governor, Woodes Rogers. Pirates Benjamin Hornigold and Henry Jennings agreed the terms and retired from piracy, Blackbeard and Charles Vane refused to even think about accepting, while Calico Jack Rackham took the offer then, along with Anne Bonny, broke the agreement and returned to piracy. Blackbeard was killed in battle a short while later while Vane and Rackham were caught and hanged. Anne Bonny had a stay of execution because she was pregnant, but her father probably paid someone to let her go for we do not know what happened to her.

I’ll not give away any spoilers but I wanted an excuse for my (ex) pirate to have a few night-time adventures at sea ─ because of that wonderful photograph, which was turned into a fantastic cover by the very skilled and talented graphics designer Cathy Helms of

‘He’ is Captain Jesamiah Acorne and when I wrote that first Voyage, Sea Witch, I did not expect to write another, but Jesamiah took over and insisted on having more adventures, and well, dare I admit I fell in love with him? I found myself wanting to know more about him, his background, what motivated him, what made him angry, what made him laugh. How he reacted when he realised that he had fallen in love with my co-protagonist, Tiola Oldstagh, how he would react when he discovered that she was not an ordinary human but a white witch. I describe the Voyages as sailor’s yarns with a blend of Jack Sparrow, Hornblower, James Bond, Indiana Jones and Richard Sharpe (Bernard Cornwell’s Napoleonic era hero) oh, and with a little dash of Poldark thrown in for good measure. I base the plot around real historical events, but I do not stick rigidly to accuracy ─ except for my sailing detail which is checked by a real tallship sailor, James L. Nelson (who also writes darn good books.) The fantasy I try to keep within the realm of believable, more like The Force in Star Wars, not as in the wand-waving magic of Harry Potter. One of the secondary ‘characters’ in Sea Witch and the fourth Voyage, Ripple in the Sand is Tethys, the spirit elemental of the sea, who wants Jesamiah’s soul for herself.

The series is adult, it has adult content (some bad language, sex and violence – I mean we are talking pirates here) and my tagline is ‘Trouble follows Jesamiah Acorne like a ship’s wake.’ That trouble can come in various guises; he is coerced into spying, gets into things he doesn’t want to get into, and a few he does (most notably the beds of various pretty women). For which, of course, he then finds himself in trouble with girlfriend Tiola.

In Voyage Three, Bring It Close, Jesamiah has to deal with the ghost of his father while also encountering, somewhat unpleasantly, his old adversary Blackbeard. Oh, and working out a way to apologise to Tiola for not keeping his breeches buttoned.

My original idea for On The Account, once I had decided on a series, was to introduce a sort of vampire-like character for back in 2008 vampire stories were all the rage, but I abandoned the idea. The character I had decided upon, Maha’dun, is a Night-Walker. Tall, dark, handsome and mysterious he is unable to tolerate sunlight and has excellent night vision. He has several anti-social habits, like chain smoking and killing people and he is also at the beck and call of his superiors as a ‘personal entertainer’ (a male prostitute) which means he is beholden to others. All he really wants is his freedom to do as he pleases and love who he wants. And freedom is one of the main traits of a pirate, so when he meets up with Jesamiah out of the blue (or should that be black seeing as we are talking night hours here?) he finds his dream lifestyle.

Just why he is standing there on that rock looking forlornly at Sea Witch I’m not telling, you will have to read the book. (I suggest you start at the first in the series for maximum enjoyment). He has a great adventure with Jesamiah, and there are several secrets, some revealed, some not, in On The Account, but he is not a vampire.

expected publication date late 2017/early 2018’
Exactly what he is I’m not telling, you will have to wait until I’ve written and published the sixth Voyage, Gallows Wake to find that out!


Helen’s  Author Page on an Amazon near you :
Twitter: @HelenHollick

My review for On The Account…

Filled with adventure, suspense and a little supernatural, On The Account is an epic voyage slicing through rough seas on Sea Witch and battling across unfriendly, often wet, bleak countryside. Treachery, treason and murder abound aplenty, and of course, there is love amongst the debris. So if your love swashbuckling, pirate tales, you will love this book and all the others in the series. A great read.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you've enjoyed our little pirate adventure. He's a rascal!
Until next time, I hope the sun is shinning in your face and in your heart.



Helen Hollick said...

thank you Pauline for the invitation to appear on your wonderful blog - much appreciated!

Pauline Barclay said...

Hello Helen, always wonderful having you here, and of course, that rascal pirate!