8 September 2015


Er… No Action.... Cut

Romancing Sept / History, Mystery and Derring-Do/
 Sea Witch Drama / Indie B.R.A.G.
Several years ago now I had an email out of the blue to the effect of “I like your Harold The King novel. I would like to use it as a basis of a script I am writing for a potential 1066 movie. I wonder if I might trouble you for some further information?”
I had two initial reactions. One was to dance round the room in delight – it is every writer’s dream to have their book made into a movie - the other was,‘Yeah right, is this a wind-up?”

I had an agent at the time. I phoned her, forwarded the email. Got the reply:
“He’s after free information. Don’t tell him anything that isn’t in the book.” (good, helpful advice.) Then, “but I wouldn’t bother doing anything, seventy-five percent of these things never go anywhere.” (poor, useless advice.)

My response of “yes but what about the other twenty-five percent?” Fell on deaf ears.
(I now realise said ex-agent was not looking after me and wasn’t interested in me or my books – which explains why she later dumped me.)

I politely answered this stranger – and to cut a long story short RobinJacob  turned out to be 100% genuine and legitimate. I met with him, talked, became friends – realising we both had a huge passion for the English point of view of what is probably the most famous date in English history – 1066 and the Battle of Hastings.

 I was invited to assist with the script and officially became co-scriptwriter. 
 I might get paid for my contribution one day, but to produce movies cost money. To produce BIG movies costs even more money. For quite a few years now Robin has been trying to get the funding to start production – with the caveat of if this movie is to be made it is not going to be a ‘Braveheart Hollywood" version.

Meanwhile if you’d like to know what 1066 the movie is all about, our ideas and anticipations… well, read the novel

We will not give up on this project, not until, every potential funding stone has been upturned, and every brick wall has been reached.

Husband Ron, me, Robin Jacob
So while 1066 was chuntering away in the background I continued writing and getting dumped by said agent – who, incidentally, showed no interest whatsoever in the exciting potential prospects of 1066. I went self-publish with the books that were returned to me by Heinemann of Random House (who very coincidentally dropped me on the same day as did ex-agent.) And also Indie Published Sea Witch, a pirate-based nautical adventure for adults with a touch of fantasy. The one book exploded into a series – Voyage Five On The Account will be ready for publication soon.

And then, a couple of months ago another movie-based excitement. Another company was interested in Sea Witch and my  Pendragon's Banner Arthurian Trilogy. Now this was getting exciting!

But the bubble soon burst. They were a very small company, couldn’t afford any advance fees, and then decided: “Could we turn your Arthurian books into a fantasy cartoon for children?”
Er. No.
So that was the end of that.

Except yet another offer came along! This time for a potential TV drama series.
 I was really excited as I was even told “I’ll send you the contract to look at.” And this time the offer was for my darling Sea Witch Voyages – all four of the already published AND the additional two that I plan to write.

I was over the moon. Not least because - and I don’t want this to sound boasting or egotistical or anything but  Sea Witch and my protagonist, Captain Jesamiah Acorne are ideal for TV drama. (Not a movie – Sea Witch is the stuff of an ongoing TV series)
Think Poldark or Sharpe ... but at sea.
Think Hornblower but with a touch of fantasy a quite a bit more romance involved.
Think Indiana Jones or James Bond – but as pirate-based adventures.
Think Pirates of the Caribbean movies ... my Sea Witch Voyages are much better.
Black Sails? The Sea Witch Voyages are much better.
…. Well you get the drift.

The contract arrived, and my heart sank. It was far too brief and far too much not in my favour. Still, I sent it to the Society of Authors for their opinion. They kicked it out as completely unsuitable, but suggested alternative options. All of which I put to this producer. Sadly for me he did not want to know (I never had a reply to my last e-mail where yet again I asked for a draft of a proper contract.)  And  nor was I prepared to hand over 100% of all rights to him.
So that was the end of that.


I listened to an excellent talk by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander) ... (and yes Sea Witch would be better) while at the Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver. She said that she had been given several not very good options for her books before finally being offered the present deal - and she added that she was glad she waited for ‘the right one’.
Which cheered me up.

To have two different producers contact me to explore possibilities has given me the confidence that I am right about Sea Witch – the books will make a fantastic TV drama series.

And it has also boosted my one, as yet unresolved ambition - to prove  my ex-agent wrong when she  set Sea Witch aside (and said that Jesamiah Acorne was a ridiculous name.)

If Diana Gabaldon can have previous disappointments and let-downs with her Outlander series… and then ‘Make It’....then so can I!

If you are approached by a potential producer interested in your book/s….
 If you have an agent – probably any approach would have been made through him/her, but if, like me, you do not have an agent here are a few tips:

·        Get excited by all means – but remember that most approaches come to nothing
·     Keep the news to yourself (apart from close friends). Don’t go shouting about it on Social Media… save it for when the contract is signed.
·        Respond politely and with interest, but ask for full details and a draft contract.
·        Run the contract past the Society of Authors or the Alliance of Independent Authors (if you are a member.)
·       If it all looks kosher GET A FILM AGENT. Do not even attempt to sort a movie / TV deal on your own.

·        Never sign away 100% of your rights in any area.

Sailing through the September Blogs:

Sept 2nd  'Romancing September' … Jesamiah Acorne and I join a Romantic Romp

Sept 4th-6th 'History, Mystery and Derring-do' an exciting Blog Tour via Alison Morton #histmystderringdo
Sept 8th My blog post – on the excitement of movie and TV deals! (this page)
Sept 21st-26th Indie B.R.A.G Book Blitz. On Tuesday the 22nd I will be interviewing Anna Belfrage on my blog about her timeslip Graham Series and sea travel in the seventeenth century. (VERY exciting post!)


  1. Just my thought... I would love to see your Pendragon series on television and I would love even more to see Chosen King on the big screen as 1066!

    1. Thanks Judy - we're working on the 1066 side, and yes I think my Arthurian trilogy would also be great as a TV drama series.... just need a producer to realise it! :-)

  2. Yes, that first rush of excitement...and then, a puff of smoke most of the time.
    But - wouldn't it be great to see your name on the marquee and Jesamiah's. I think it's a great name for a lusty pirate! (I read the Hornblower series and he was a rather wooden, uninspiring man-speaking from a woman's point of view.
    Keep following up on those leads, Helen. You never know ...

    1. I so agree about Hornblower! Which is why I was so determined to write Sea Witch for adults (with adult content) and portray my Jesamiah as the 'man' he is!

  3. But wasn't Ioan Gruffud scrumptious :) Seriously though Helen, I'd love to see you making it to the big screen - that would be fab, especially 1066. (Haven't we had enough of the Tudors now…)

    1. Yes he was - another reason why its a pity there wasn't more 'adult content'!

  4. How exciting! And what excellent advice regarding contracts (so says the daughter of a very fine attorney). Any contract should be referred to experts, up to and including an 'Intellectual Property' attorney.

    Meanwhile, I am hoping for all the best for the Seawitch. If by some chance it is chosen for a series (may it be so!) then those of us over here in the States can, perhaps, hope to see it the next year. I do hope that comes to pass.

    1. Fingers crossed Diana - but I'm not getting over excited! Thanks for dropping by!


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