MORE to BROWSE - Pages that might be of Interest

17 December 2016

... And the Final Best Supporting Character is: Claude de la Rue

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Supporting Role Characters
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We all know the protagonist is the hero (or anti-hero!) of a novel. He or she usually has a companion main character, often the ‘love interest’ or maybe the stalwart side-kick, but what about that next rank down: the supporting role guy or gal? You know, the one who doesn’t get Best Actor, but Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars. I thought it time that some of these supporting cast characters had a chance to step from the shadows of novels and have a turn in the limelight. 

So, a rousing round of applause please for…Claude de la Rue
a Supporting Role Character from the Sea Witch Voyages
by Helen Hollick

Canstockphoto3695931 ©jgroup
Helen: Hello, may I come aboard? You appear in my Sea Witch Voyages don’t you? Would you like to introduce yourself?
Bonjour Madame. Oui, I am with that charmer of a rascal, Jesamiah Acorne. We ‘ave shared many an adventure together. I am from Brittany, my Mama and Papa grew apples in their orchards for cider, the best in all France, but they were taken by the plague, along with my four brothers and three sisters. I only survived because I was with my uncle ‘elping on 'is fishing boat. It was the saddest day of my life when I returned ‘ome to discover them all dead. I went back to my uncle and sailed with ‘im for a while, but then I ‘opped aboard a merchant ship ‘eadin for Africa. We ran into some privateers, and I figured I would earn more money by sailin’ with them, so I joined their crew. The Captain was William Kidd. He was ‘opeless at buccaneering. Claimed, when ‘e was arrested and ‘anged at Wapping in London that ‘e ‘ad not been a pirate. [Laughs] Don’t you believe it – ‘e was as much a pirate as the rest of ‘em who ‘hung around the Red Sea ‘oping to make a fortune from the ‘eavily treasure-laden Moghul ships. 

Helen: what role do you play in the novel/s? I’m Jesamiah’s Quartermaster – in pirate terms, that’s First Mate. ‘E would never admit it, of course, but I keep 'im in check quite often, an eye on ‘im sort of. ‘E’s like a son to me. And like all young sons 'e occasionally does the stupid things.

Helen: No spoilers. But are you a ‘goody’ or a ‘baddie’? (Or maybe you are both!) [Rue Laughs] Well ma’am there be very few ‘good’ pirates – many of ‘em were nasty pieces o’work. Murderers, torturers, rapists - the list is long. Kill you as soon as look at vous. Not Jesamiah or the crew on our ship. We ‘ad a sense of ‘onour – for all that we stole what we wanted when we wanted it. Oui, I 'ave killed men, but most of them were trying as 'ard to kill me first. I 'ave never, ever, laid a finger on a woman, nor will I.

Helen: So you support the lead character? Who is he or she and tell us a little bit about him or her? Jesamiah Acorne is quick to laugh, formidable when angry - and I 'ave seen both, ‘E ‘as a misfortune to get ‘imself into trouble – usually when I’m not around. ‘E is like me, ‘e values ‘is freedom and loves the life at sea where the only rules are those of the wind, the weather and the tide. ‘E also adores ‘is special Lady, Miss Tiola. Ah… if only I were a few years younger I would 'ave fought ‘im for ‘er! [laughs again] except ‘e is the better man when it comes to ‘andlin’ a cutlass and I would 'ave lost, especially since 'e would die for 'er if 'e 'ad to. You do not cross Captain Acorne, unless you ‘ave the wish to die. 'E took a flogging for 'er once, stood in 'er place rather than see 'er 'urt. [growls] 'Tis a barbaric law to publicly flog a young woman for bedding with a man who is not her 'usband. The man, 'e is not punished and as far as I am aware it takes two to commit adultery. The 'usband, 'e can bed 'is mistress as much as 'e pleases but the wife? Pah! She must remain silent. Bah! The law stinks! Do you not think it odd, too, that it is only the young nubile ladies who are stripped in public and punished with the men shouting and leering and rubbing at themselves? You do not see the old ones with the sagging teats tied to the whipping post! And as for the men who love men... to be 'anged for loving someone? [he spits over the side of the ship] merde...

Helen: Now be honest – what do you really think of this lead character, of Jesamiah? [Rue laughs again] ‘Onest as in ‘onest pirate? Well ‘e tends to think with the bit of ‘im that should stay buttoned in ‘is breeches. ‘E is easily distracted by a pretty face and a ripe pair of apple-dumplings [he mimes a buxom pair of bosoms). Got us into a lot of trouble ‘e ‘as by thinking down below, not up top. [He taps the side of his head.] 'E can be an idiot at times, but 'e values 'is friends. Looks after us. 'E is a good Captain. A good man, for all 'e can be a dolt over the ladies.

Helen: Do you like being the ‘supporting role’ or do you wish you could have a lead part in a book of your own? Non, I am ‘appy where I am. Jesamiah is a good seaman, a good sailor. Did you know that not long ago 'sailor' referred only to the Topmen? These were the men who climbed the rigging to tend the sails. On some of the larger vessels there could be anything up to an acre of canvas, and believe me it takes guts to climb up those masts in bad weather. The men on deck were seamen or foremast jacks - or Tars because anyone aboard a ship can be recognised by the tar grimed into 'is 'ands.
Jesamiah, ‘e ‘andles our ship, Sea Witch as if she is a delicate flower, knows just how to take 'er into the wind, ‘ow to get the fastest speed out of ‘er. ‘E ‘as a nose for the wind and the tide – an’ where there be treasure for the taking. I’d follow ‘im into ‘ell if I ‘ad to. Come t’think of it – I ‘ave done so on more than one occasion!

Helen: What is one of your least favourite scenes? I cannot say, Ma’am as it is in the Fifth Voyage, On The Account and it is, ‘ow you say? A ‘spoiler’? A sad scene for me. Very sad.
[Thinks] Ah! There is another though; I was not too ‘appy in our second voyage, Pirate Code, when I thought Jesamiah was dead. The silly mule ‘ad deliberately blown up a Spanish ship, and ‘ad planned to take ‘imself with it. ‘E can be such a clodpoll at times! Fortunately I see ‘im in the water an’ fish ‘im out again. If I ‘ad not been there though…. [shakes his head ruefully – excuse the pun!]

Helen: and your most favourite? [Rue laughs heartily] Oh for certain when I played the trick on Jesamiah when ‘e was more than three sheets to the wind drunk! We were ashore on Madagascar, kicking our 'eals. Jesamiah, 'e were in a bad way, 'eartbroken 'e couldn't face the world.

(Excerpt from Sea Witch)
Waking several hours into the fore noon to a thundering headache, Jesamiah staggered to his feet. He tottered to the door, peered out, squinting at the brightness of the morning sun. He dipped a wooden cup into the bucket beside the door, the water warm and brackish, but sufficient to slake his thirst. Not bothering to go into the bushes, directed his urine against the outside wall.
“You would ‘ave threatened us with a flogging if we ‘ad been so lazy as to do that aboard ship,” Rue observed wryly from where he stood some yards away.
“Well we ain’t aboard,” Jesamiah grunted adjusting his breeches. Wished the fellow would not shout so loud.
Rue stepped forward offering a pewter tankard. “Drink this.”
Hesitant, Jesamiah took and it wrinkled his nose at the foul looking liquid. “What is it?”
“Old French recipe. Brandy, ground garlic with ‘alf a pint of ale. Deux œufs – fresh-laid is that cackle fruit – a pinch of gunpowder and melted pork lard.”
Jesamiah sniffed again at the concoction, gagged at the stench. He poked a finger into it and picked out a piece of floating eggshell. “I don’t care for raw eggs.”
“Just drink it.”
Doubtful, Jesamiah raised it to his mouth. Changing his mind, offered it back. “Later perhaps.”
Folding his arms, Rue ignored the tankard. “Isiah and me we are getting the Sea Witch ready to sail. You ‘ad ‘er refitted when first we came 'ere, she ‘as cannon and swivel guns, all of it wasted with ‘er sitting there in the ‘arbour. Isiah ‘as beached ‘er this morning and is already scraping ‘er keel. We ’ave got a crew volunteered as well. Très bien, good men.”
He encouraged the tankard upwards. Jesamiah was staring at him, his expression blank. Sea Witch? To set sail?
Ecoute, mon gars,” Rue said finally losing patience. “Look, my friend, you ‘ave a choice. You lead us like the brilliant capitaine you are or we leave you ‘ere in this cursed-forgotten emptiness, with as many bottles of rum as you please. You can drink yourself into oblivion, with only this wind for company.”
Jesamiah looked from Rue to the tankard. He hated the wind. Hesitant, he raised the tankard to his lips. “It smells foul.”
“‘The fouler the medicine, the quicker the cure', or so ma mère used to say.”
“What was she? The village poisoner?”
“One gulp. Straight down,” Rue advised.
Taking a deep breath Jesamiah drank, much of it trickling down his chin into his scruffy, untrimmed beard. Rue held a finger against the bottom forcing him to finish it.
Swearing as he pulled away, Jesamiah wiped his hand over his mouth, grimacing, gave Rue the empty tankard then swallowed hard. One hand went to his belly the other to his mouth. “You sodding…” He doubled over sinking to his hands and knees, retching and vomiting up the contents of his stomach. When nothing more was heaving from him, rolled on to his back, eyes closed, his hands covering his face. Managed to croak, “That was bloody disgusting.”
“Cured your ‘eadache though, non?”
Opening one eye Jesamiah glowered. “And how d’you figure that mate? It’s still thumping away as if three ‘undred crew of buccaneers are bouncing about in there, hankering after a Chase.”
Rue offered his hand to pull him to his feet. Jesamiah accepted and stood, unsteady, the world wheeling past.
“You will be so busy puking your guts up this next ‘alf ‘our, you will forget about your sore ‘ead.” Rue guffawed heartily at Jesamiah’s murderous expression.

Helen: Thank you, monsieur, that was really interesting! 

Facebook Sea Witch Page:
Twitter: @HelenHollick
My Author Page on an Amazon near you and where you can buy the books to read more of Rue (and Jesamiah)  : 

Helen: Now, I have been told that I can invite six fictional characters (not my own!) to Christmas Dinner – who will they be? 

Lady Dona St Columb from Frenchman’s Creek. I found her fascinating, so stressed at the start of her story, but a different woman after she had spent a while at Navron in Cornwall… and met the French pirate.

Marcus Flavius Aquila from Eagle of the Ninth, he was one of my first heroes, and I’d like to hear the bits of the story where he found the Lost Eagle that Ms Sutcliff left out because it is a book for young adults not us grown-ups.

Jill Crewe from Ruby Ferguson’s ‘Jill’ series of pony stories, the first one being Jill’s Gymkhana. I was given the book as a tenth birthday present (‘Oh’ I thought, ‘how boring, a book.’ ) Then I discovered what the book was – and haven’t stopped reading, or writing, since. I think I’d like to meet Jill, although back then she was only twelve. I reckon she is as old as me now.

I was wondering about Bill Sykes from Oliver Twist, but if he turned out to be nothing like Oliver Reed I’d be disappointed, so instead I’ll invite Will Stanton from The Dark Is Rising Series. I loved those books, I remember reading The Grey King all night… Will was an enigmatic character. A real boy … yet one of the ‘Old Ones’. Fascinating to talk to over Christmas dinner.

Titty from Swallows and Amazons and Lucy from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I think they would have great fun chatting together and I would so like to know what Titty did with her life after childhood.

Finally, the Highwayman from the poem A Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. I’d like to warn him not to leave Bess the Landlord's daughter… but it will be difficult setting a place name for him at the table because the poem does not give him a name.

As a treat, here is Loreena McKennitt singing his story…

I hope you have all enjoyed this Hop through Supporting Role Characters, met some nice fictional men and women - and their authors - and discovered a book or two to read?

Farewell and Adieu and Merry Christmas to One and All!

did you make the acquaintance of yesterday's guest or miss anyone who called by? 
Here's the full list of authors and their characters :

6th     Inge H Borg and Vergil 
7th    Matthew Harffy and Coenred
8th     Alison Morton and Lurio
9th     Regina Jeffers and Viscount Stafford 
10th   Anna Belfrage and Luke Graham
13th   Antoine Vanner and Fred Kung 
15th   Derek Birks and Hal
17th   Helen Hollick and Claude de la Rue

LISTEN AGAIN! I was on Bristol's SilverSound Radio on 2nd December talking about Pirates with author Lucienne Boyce

Click Here  for the link then go to 2nd December and 10 a.m. Move the bar to about the 07.40 minutes point for the show to start, though I'm on from about 09.20 minutes


  1. Oh Claude de Rue!A charmer for sure but with a tad bit of mischief. Been wording who Helen would pick and you were on my list!Oh and you are correct, never cross a captain of a ship! Unless you plan on a .... well we both know Jesamiah is too smart to fall for any of that.

    Alas, sadness! This fun adventure ends. Do hope you take the humble wish of a reader and consider my February blog request. Hope to share some of the author's work presented the last few weeks on my own blog soon in the form of a book review. Shall be snuggled up in front of the fire this winter reading. Merry Christmas to all and thank you for such an enjoyable hop!

    1. Good grief... please look past the grammar. My phone is in mutiny with me.

    2. (Rue laughs) well I'll believe your excuse (whispers to Jesamiah: 'Now we know where that missing keg of rum went...')

  2. I dearly love Noyes' "The Highwayman." I memorized it some 50 years past and can still recite it.

    1. One of these days I'd like to turn it into a novel... don't hold your breath... LOL

  3. I do hope Jesamiah realizes (if not necessarily admits) that having someone like Claude de Rue guarding his back was a lifesaver on more than one occasion. He, Jesamiah (bless him), can be a bit of a hothead, as we all know.

    Now, as to Mistress Helen, thank you so much for bringing together "secondary" pirates, damsels in distress, and others (good and/or bad) who now will surely gain added attention from our readers. While these characters are not the main protagonists, our stories would have been a lot less lively without them and (I admit) we authors were quite taken with some of them.

    So, again, a big Thank You for a fun and most interesting Blog Hop - and all the preparatory work that went into it.

    1. Jesamioah is very fond of Rue - though he does occasionally remind him that it was Jesamiah who saved Rue's life once... (I think the debt has been paid a few times over though!)
      Thank you for the thank you! :-)

  4. I think I love Rue even more than that rogue Jesamiah. Rue has a good head on his shoulders and I hope Jesamiah appreciates it!

    I reminded Lurio about his interview on the 8th. He looked up from his screen for a moment and asked me to send his thanks. He was busy directing a raid in the Septarium, the dodgy area of Roma Nova city. I'll say thank you on behalf of both of us for all the hard work you've put in to make this blog hop a success.

    1. Must admit I'm fond of Rue as well. Hi Lurio.... ah, OK, a grunt as a response will do...

  5. Well, Jesamiah without Rue is pretty much like teh Sea Witch without wind - although my favourite pirate ever would never admit as much :)

    I may be a landlubber myself - things that heave beneath my feet tend to make other parts of me heave - but I am more than honoured to have been invited along on this cruise all the way from Pirate Vergil right at the beginning to Pirate Rue here, at the end.
    Thank you so much Helen for organising this. Luke would have you know that should you ever want to drop in on him in his luxurious London home (has he mentioned he is far more succesful than brother Matthew?) he will even break into his precious supply of tea.


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