Delighted to feature Helen Hollick today with the latest addition to her Piratical adventures. Helen is a massive supporter of other historical fiction authors and their books and is an ardent reader and reviewer. Here’s  Helen to tell us more about GALLOWS WAKE.


Back in 2005/6 I thoroughly enjoyed the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie – it was pure, entertaining fun. But I wanted more. I wanted the same sort of thing to read. Swashbuckling adventure-fantasy with characters to fall in love with. (I mean, who didn’t fall for Jack Sparrow?) I found plenty of ‘straight’ nautical fiction, quite a few good Young Adult piratical adventures, but nothing with that frisson of believable fantasy/supernatural entertainment for adults. So I wrote something myself. I hadn’t intended that first Voyage, Sea Witch, to expand into an entire series, but my pirate – Captain Jesamiah Acorne – became so real to me, and far,
far more intriguing than that Sparrow Fellow! I found myself wanting to delve into more adventures with him and his crew. Now, here in 2022, I have recently published the sixth Voyage, with an additional novella prequel tale as a bonus to the series. And more planned for the future.

That’s what is fascinating about a good, well-written series: the characters develop as they become your friends, and you not only want to know ‘what happens next’ but also ‘what happened previously’. I write each story to be a standalone adventure with its own plot, its own action, romance, misunderstandings, trials, tribulations and dangers, but incorporated into each story a gradual uncovering of what makes the lead characters ‘tick’ – where they came from and where they are going to. The same with a good TV series, there is the main, different plot to each episode featuring familiar and new characters, but there is also that unravelling of an ongoing, continuous thread of discovery. There is the echo of reality, of life, the new and unexpected interwoven with the familiar – but also, the unexpected. I saw the Sea Witch Voyages and Jesamiah as a compilation of fictional characters all rolled into one: Jack Sparrow, Jack Aubrey and Hornblower amalgamated with Richard Sharpe, James Bond and Indiana Jones. The sailing detail I wanted to get as spot-on accurate as I could. The touches of historical fact, maybe slightly adapted where necessary, but suitably used as a background to the plots. And I added in a believable, acceptable narrative of fantasy. Tiola, a white witch, Tethys, the spirit of the sea. Glimpses of a past life. Superstition and the supernatural. A sailor’s yarn of tales of mermaids, spirits and ghosts.

And I discovered, as the Sea Witch Voyages developed, that Jesamiah had a very interesting background to explore. [Alert: no spoilers included!] He ran away from his Virginia home at the age of almost fifteen in 1708. His mother and father were dead and he’d finally had enough of being bullied by his half-brother. He arrived at Port Royal, Jamaica, and met up with a good friend of his father’s – ostensibly a privateer aboard Mermaid. Here, Jesamiah learnt to sail, how to fight – and how to become an efficient and effective pirate. (When The Mermaid Sings). In Sea Witch (Voyage 1) we live his life as a pirate, with all its dangers and excitements. We also meet the young lady who is to become the love of his life, Tiola Oldstagh. Who is not all she seems… Their relationship is to be a tad upsy-downsy, after all, what is stronger – the love of a woman, or the love of the sea? (I’ll not say more, I promised ‘no spoilers’!) In #2 Pirate Code, Jesamiah, now an ex-pirate having accepted the King’s Amnesty, is coerced into a role he does not want – during which he is to meet the second love of his life, the spy, Francesca Escudero, and has to come to terms with the events of the past and the potentials of the future. By #3 Bring It Close, he is still in trouble – trouble follows him like a ship’s wake – but this time in trouble with Tiola and Governor Spotswood of Virginia. Against Jesamiah’s better judgement he finds himself embroiled in plans to rid the seas of the most notorious pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy – Blackbeard! There are complications, though. (1) How to placate his irate wife. (2) How to stay alive long enough to achieve 1, and (3) What to do about, and ignore, his dead father? Ghosts do not exist. Or do they? If they don’t, then who is the chap hanging around the Virginia plantation where Jesamiah grew up? The chap who seems to be keeping a close eye on
what Jesamiah is up to? And it just so happens, that much of Bring It Close is set in October – at Hallowe’en!


SEA WITCH Voyage one
PIRATE CODE Voyage two
BRING IT CLOSE Voyage three
ON THE ACCOUNT Voyage five

WHEN THE MERMAID SINGS A prequel to the series

GALLOWS WAKE    The Sixth Voyage of Captain Jesamiah Acorne

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)
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…

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Twitter: @HelenHollick

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