It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. - Seneca

Monday, September 27, 2010

Let's get Up Close & Personal with Helen Hollick and learn more about her, and her Pirate!! *CONTEST*

Me and my Pirate ~

Jesamiah Acorne. My pirate. To me he is real. He comes from a place far across the sea, called Imagination. I often hear him, have dreamt scenes about him. I know the details of his birth through to his death (although that I am keeping a very firm secret!) I have plans to write at least six Sea Witch ‘Voyages’ as I call this series of adventure fantasy novels, and probably ten.

Author Sharon Penman has said of Sea Witch: "In the sexiest pirate contest Jesamiah Acorne gives Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow a run for his money."

While Elizabeth Chadwick adds: "A wonderful swash-buckler of a novel. Fans of Pirates of the Caribbean will love this to pieces of eight! A fabulous splash of piratical adventure on the high seas. Prepare to be abducted by a devil-may-care pirate and enchanted by a white witch. Mayhem and magic, splendour and squalor, beautiful ships, dangerous pirates and wild women, Helen Hollick has written a fabulous historical adventure that will have you reading into the small hours!"

Maritime Author James L. Nelson - "Sea Witch gives us everything we want in a grand pirate adventure - swashbuckling action, great villains, lovely women in distress, sea fights and adventures on land, all grounded in solid research that gives the book a real feel of authenticity. This is a terrific read for lovers of pirate tales, lovers of historical fiction, and lovers of great adventure stories."

I self published the initial book, Sea Witch as my ex-agent wanted me to write the story for teenage boys, but Jesamiah Acorne and his scurrilous adventures are very firmly placed in the adult market. While not erotic fiction, they do contain some explicit sexual scenes, and there is swearing and violence (i.e. they are X rated!) To tone the content down for teenagers did not feel right – and anyway, I did not want to write specifically for teenagers. Young Adults can read these stories if they wish, and are of a suitable age.
My ex-agent declared: “But he is a drunken womaniser!” Er, um…. Pirate?

Because I refused to comply with her wishes my agent dumped me. I was left foundering on the rocks, with my career sinking before my eyes, but I picked myself up and decided I was not going to be bullied into writing something I did not want to write.

I self published my simultaneously “dumped” UK backlist with a small UK independent press, and decided to bring Sea Witch out as well – why not? I had nothing to prove, and as long as I got my initial money back and had some fun, what had I got to lose? The company then decided to open a small mainstream imprint, so Sea Witch moved from Self Publish to Indie Mainstream.

I am utterly amazed at how many publishers insist that “pirates are not popular fiction”. I have been told “there are very few pirate novels because there are very few people interested in reading pirate fiction.”

Do these sort of publishers live in the real world? Have they not heard of Jack Sparrow and the huge pirate fan base? Are they unaware of the many, many, pirate festivals that hundreds – thousands – of people attend?

Sea Witch is doing moderately well – and this with just my own, very limited, marketing ability and a rapidly spreading word of mouth recommendation. Which, incidentally, is how Harry Potter started.

The reason why I wrote sea Witch in the first place was because I loved the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and I wanted to read MORE pirate fantasy. There are plenty of “straight” nautical books – Patrick O’Brian, C.S. Forrester, Alexander Kent… but I found nothing that had that intriguing element of the supernatural as well. So I did what any self-respecting writer would do.

I wrote my own.

How I "met" Jesamiah Acorne

The agent sat thoughtfully in her office chair puffing at her cigarette.

"What you need to do, darling, is write a fantasy novel."

"But I don't really do fantasy, do I? I spent ten years writing my Arthurian trilogy without any fantasy whatsoever because I wanted to remove Arthur from the myth and magic."

"Yes but Harry Potter is all the rage. Why not write something for teenagers?"

The author trudged down the four flights of stairs and out into the London rain. She crossed the road opposite the Ritz, wondering if she could afford tea there. Checking her purse, she toddled into Joe's cafe instead. She really didn't want to write fantasy. Nor for teenagers. She liked writing historical fiction, she liked character interaction, the what motivates people, the invention of characters and what makes them tick. She liked writing about rugged heroes that were the sort of men you wouldn't want to get into a drinking contest with, but who would, all the same, be there to fix the fuse... and know where the torch is!

A Holiday. Dorset. A wet, windy October afternoon. The rain had poured all morning, but by early afternoon a weak, apologetic sun was squinting from behind a barricade of grey cloud. The author decided to walk the dogs on the beach. She armed herself with weapons against the weather. A hat, a coat, wellies and her ipod.

All week she had been researching her latest interest; the truth behind pirates. Now the film she had seen (and the character she had fallen hook-line-and-sinker in love with) was all very well, but it was not historically accurate. Tortuga, for instance, was cleared of pirates in the 1600's, Port Royal was no longer a town, just a naval base. Pirates did not turn into skeletons. But they DID wear bright ribbons, wave cutlasses about, get drunk and have an awful lot of fun.

As she was walking down the steep cliff-path, minding the bunny burrows and reminding one of the dogs that it was not a good idea to get stuck down one again, as he had yesterday and the day before, she wondered, "What would happen if a charming rogue, such as Jack Sparrow, met up with a white witch? Not someone like prissy Hermione in the Harry Potty books, someone more like Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars? A good witch, who had the Craft. She can't do magic, has no wand or spells, but she can summon a wind, or talk to her lover via telepathy - if he is not blocking her thoughts.

The author crossed the stream at the bottom of the cliff, that smelt suspiciously of things that were not fishy (or were fishy, in the dodgy sense of the word) and stepped onto the beach. Immediately she was almost knocked over by a blast from the wind and the dogs went haring off after those two seagulls that had been bugging them all week.

The tide was ebbing, the breakers all white-foam and rolling excitement. She walked along the wet sand, listening to the soundtrack of Pirates of the Caribbean, cursing because the earpiece kept falling out of her ear.

She had the beach to more or less herself, even the seagulls had gone, although one of the dogs did find a dead crab.

Sitting on a rock, she gazed out at the ocean. Well, it was the English Channel really, but an author has a vivid imagination. It was not too difficult to picture the hot sun of the Caribbean, waving palm trees, the rich turquoise blue of the sea .... although it would have been easier if it had not rained again. Quickly, she switched to a different scene. The Florida reefs, 1715. Eleven Spanish galleons went down, laden with treasure.

What if... what if.... her mind was racing, her heart beginning to thud with excitement. What if there was a 12th ship that went down? A pirate ship? A ship that a young, handsome rogue had just commandeered? His first captaincy ... he survived the storm, would want to get another ship as soon as possible.... he had a brother, a half brother, who had bullied him as a child... a brother who had burnt his only possession, a boat called ...... called..... Acorn! Yes, boats were made from oak ... yes, Acorn! The Author was getting REALLY excited now! The boy - for he was only a boy then ... fled the Virginia tobacco plantation and became a pirate.

He had a few adventures, got rich on plunder, but was, underneath all the swagger and pretence, lonely. It was alright having whores crumpets and strumpets, but there was also the horror of the hangman's noose dangling over him. Then one day ... one day he meets a girl. He was in deep shit, wounded and being chased by East India Company agents and this girl... no, not a girl ... the white witch ... rescues him. They fall in love, but he misses the sea. Because of ... er, because of (the author decided to think of a because of later) because of dah di dah happening, there is a mix up. The pirate assumed the girl didn't love him any more. And the girl, who was really a white witch, thought the pirate didn't love HER anymore. So they were both very miserable for a few months. The pirate found solace in a rum bottle (as pirates do) and the girl gave in and married the rich creep who had been pestering her all this time.

Then the pirate's brother caught up with him (very annoyed because the pirate had stolen his ship - one that happened to be full of tobacco to be taken to England to be sold)

The author's bum was getting a bit numb, so she moved to a softer rock, but found that the cushioning sea weed was wet, so walked on up the beach instead.

The annoyed bully brother is in league with the creep who married the girl... Tiola! the author thought, her name is Tiola. Tiola what? The author kicked at a piece of drift wood, cursed in true pirate fashion. There was a rock behind the piece of wood that she hadn't seen. Tiola is a good witch, she is all that is good... a.l.l. t.h.a.t. i.s. g.o.o.d ... an anagram! An anagram of ... furious muttering .. an anagram of Tiola Oldstagh. Yes!

The author walked on, she was nearing the far side of the bay now, and the tumble of rocks that were full of fossils and things. Or so the guide books said. She was blowed if she could find one.

The annoyed bully brother is in league with the creep who married the girl Tiola. The two men are plotting to capture the pirate and have him hanged - Captain Woodes Rogers, a real figure in history, has just become Governor of Nassau and is offering a pardon to all pirates. The two creeps arrange to meet at Nassau, guessing that the pirate will turn up, looking for amnesty. Which he does - but the bully brother nabs him & chains him up in the bilge of a ship & heads off back to Virginia where he has promised the other creep that he will hang ... only the bully brother has no intention of hanging the pirate, he wants to have his fun first and punish the pirate for stealing his ship.

Tiola is a witch and she loves her pirate. She tells the creep who is her (forced) husband to go jump in a lake and boarding the pirate's ship (which he has called Sea Witch) sets off in pursuit of her true love - having to conjure up a wind to do so .... meanwhile because the witch is a witch and because the ship is special, the girl and the ship sort of become one and .... and the author could see a small sub-plot coming here, something about Tethys, goddess of the sea who wanted the pirate for herself ....

The author was quite pleased, it seemed a good basic plot. Lots of character interaction, the chance to get to know these two young lovers, the boy meets girl, boy falls in love, boy loses girl then finds her again plot, but if Shakespeare could use it over and over ... not that the author was anywhere as good as Shakespeare, but she had five other books published and loads of people seemed to enjoy her writing style and the way she brought life into her characters and made them real ... and her fans particularly said she was good at creating loveable rogues ... look at her creation Arthur for instance!

So all she needed was her pirate. She couldn't use Jack Sparrow (as much as she would like to use him!) ... she had reached the rocks, turned around. The wide sweep of the beach was deserted. The rain had washed away everyone, who normally came to the beach of an afternoon. She looked at the wet sand where the tide was scurrying in with lace-edged patterns of foam. Saw a man standing there, twenty or thirty yards away. He was tall, rugged. Had an untidy chaos of curled, dark hair, with a few blue ribbons fluttering in the wind tied into it. He wore knee high boots, a faded coat and a three cornered hat. He was looking out to sea but he turned, grinned at her, showing the flash of two gold teeth. With his left hand, he took off his hat and with his right, gave the author a small, acknowledging salute.

An earring dangled from one ear... an earring shaped like an acorn.

"Hello Jesamiah Acorne," said the Author

Purchase Helen's books at Amazon,, Barnes & Noble , Borders and many other online bookstores.

To Learn more about Helen Hollick visit her at her ~ Website ~ Muse and Views Blog ~ Monthly Journal ~ Blog Profile ~ Picture Diary Blog ~ Facebook ~Twitter

Contact Helen

Win a signed copy of BRING IT CLOSE – Featuring Blackbeard! How you ask? Well its real simple, leave the correct answer to the question below on any of the posts featuring Helen Hollick and you will be in the running for a chance to win a signed copy of Bring it Close!

The winner will be picked at random once the SPOTLIGHT wraps up on October 1st!

What is Jesamiah’s lucky charm?

And don't forget to check back with us all week to find our MORE about Helen and her best selling books!!! You don't want to miss a single minute!


Eliza Knight said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE pirates! This book sounds fabulous!!!

Helen Hollick said...

I think you'll enjoy Sea Witch Eliza - I wrote it because I couldn't find any adult pirate novels to read!

Skhye said...


Kelley Heckart said...

I loved the post. And I agree with you about writing the book you want to write even if it means going out on your own. I also love the mix of history and supernatural.

booklover0226 said...


I enjoyed the post and look forward to more.

The answer is Jesamiah’s lucky charm is a gold acorn earring.

Tracey D
booklover0226 at gmail dot com

Sky Purington said...

As I'm a HUGE fan of Helen's, I had to pop in and say "Hi!!!" No need to enter me in the contest as I already own quite a few of Helen's books.



Skhye...I'm with you about the rum! ;)

Helen Hollick said...

thank you for all your lovely comments *blush* :-)

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