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Thursday 28 May 2020

The Last Novel a Pirate or two...

To finish this series  of Novel Conversations
meet one of my characters:
Jesamiah Acorne
Location: The Crowing Cock - a fictional tavern somewhere in the Caribbean
Time: the year 17... something

The sun has set, night has fallen. Along the quayside tar torches have been lit and flickering, shadowy lantern-light spills from taverns and chandlers' stores. The brothels, as always where seafarers gather, are busy about their trade, various 'ladies' (and a few 'gentlemen') are advertising their offered entertainment skills to interested passers-by. A variety of brigs, brigantines, sloops and luggers are at anchor, their sails either drooping from the yards and masts like last week's unwashed laundry, or furled, with rope and cordage neatly coiled. Some captains and ships' masters do not care about the state of their vessels ... pirates mostly, who simply acquire a new boat when their's show too much rotten timber and begin to leak. Other captains take pride in their ships, and value their crew. Time ashore is time to relax, however, and most seafarers make straight for a tavern...
 Let's stroll along the quay to this particular tavern  and 'eavesdrop' ...

The door to the Crowing Cock opens and in walks a man with a couple of blue ribbons tied into his shoulder-length black hair.  (You can use your imagination regarding the nature of the sign hanging over the door to the Crowing Cock, depending on your age and blushability.) 

News-sheet Writer (NW): Hola! Captain Acorne, over here! Please, do help yourself to the jug of ale I've purchased - or would you prefer something else? Rum? Brandy...?

Jesamiah Acorne (JA): [sits down, removes his three-cornered hat and puts it on the bench beside him] Thank you, Ma'am, ale will do nicely for now.

NW: I hear that you signed Governor Woodes Rogers' great book of amnesty a while ago. Was it easy or hard to give up being a pirate?

JA: [grins] Who says I've given up sailing 'on the account'? Nay, I'm jesting. Piracy in the Caribbean has had it's day. Once the fat-bellied merchants realised their profits were being plundered by the dozens of pirate vessels here in the Spanish Main, they soon sent in the Navy and pirate hunters to put a stop to the trade. Most of us saw the sense in taking King George's amnesty. A few didn't - Blackbeard, Charles Vane, Stede Bonnet. Jack Rackham - Calico Jack...

NW: Calico Jack Rackham sailed with two women pirates didn't he?

JA: [laughs] Anne Bonny and Mary Read? They weren't the only female pirates, you know, but they happened to be the only two who got caught. Jack were a friend of mine, he was a good chap, but let's face it, he was a pretty useless pirate. He should have signed that book and gone straight - but Anne stole his heart and his wits. He ended up swinging from the gallows. As did the others.

NW: What happened to Anne and Mary?

JA: Mary died in gaol, no one knows if it were from fever or childbirth. Anne? Someone paid a hefty bribe for her release. Where she ended up [he shrugs] well, I ain't sayin'. 

NW: But you know where she is?

JA: How about a refill of ale?

NW: [takes the hint, changes the subject] You have your own woman, a wife?

JA: Aye, Tiola, She's my mainstay, my anchor, my calm sea in a storm. I'd do anything for her. Die for her if I had to.  [thinks: but I'd never tell a soul that she's also a white witch.]

NW: You've had several adventures after taking amnesty - I heard a rumour that you are now an intelligencer, a spy, for King and Country?

JA: [taking a sip of his ale] Who told you that? 'T'ain't true. [grins] even if it were, I'd not admit it would I? And what king? James Stuart or George of Hanover?

NW: I've also heard it said that 'Trouble follows Jesamiah Acorne like a ship's wake'?

JA: [shrugs] I get into a few scrapes, aye. Mostly because other people want me to do dangerous things that they ain't prepared to do themselves.

NW: such as...?

JA: Well, I tangle with the Spanish quite often. We don't see eye to eye, me and those dons. They seem to have this ongoing need to do nasty things to me - like hang me with various nasty preliminaries. 

NW: You were involved with the demise of Blackbeard, I believe?

JA: [lies] Not that I recall. 

NW: And you had a tousle with some Barbary Pirates?

JA: Aye. The buggers kidnapped some children and my wife. I sailed after 'em.

NW: And...?

JA: Found 'em, rescued the kids and my Tiola, and blew their ship up. 

NW: Tell me about some of your crew? Likes and dislikes?

JA: Not many I dislike - those I don't get on with I soon get shot of. Bob Crawford were one, a lazy lubber who got on my nerves. He ended up murdered, though the person that did for him thought it was my throat they were cuttin'. Captain Henry Jennings is a friend, though he tends to get me into more trouble than a friend ought to. Claude de la Rue was my best friend and quartermaster - that's second-in-command aboard a pirate ship, we don't have Navy ranks such as lieutenants and such. I've been fond of most of my crew. Some are still with me, some ain't:  Jansy, Toby Turner, Isiah Roberts, Skylark, Chippy Harrison, Young Jasper... Finch, my steward [grimaces] Gawd but he's a curmudgeonly old rogue! Drives me to distraction at times, but I don't know what I'd do without the old sod! 

NW: And what about the women in your life?

JA: [laughs] Where do I start? Before Tiola I knew quite a few 'buxom wenches' ... well, truth to tell, I still do know several of 'em, but not in 'that' way, if you get my drift. Alicia was one of my first loves, but she's as trustworthy as a thief in a jeweller's shop. She was my sister-in-law for a while, 'til I killed my half-brother, her husband. Self-defence; he were tryin' to kill me. Then there was 'Cesca. The beautiful red-haired Senora Francesca Escudero.  Don't be fooled by her married name, she's not Spanish. She always claimed to be English, but I never established whether that were true or not. I'm not even certain that 'Francesca' or 'Frances' are her real names. We had a few misunderstandings when we first met - on Hispaniola, at the time when rebellion was about to erupt. I'd been sent there by Henry Jennings to find a missing spy. Oh, and by a Dutchman to find his missing indigo and brandy. I ended up, finding 'Cesca. I'd probably have been better off, in the long run, if I hadn't found her.

NW: Is there anyone else special to you?

JA: Aye, a fellow called Maha'dun. An odd bloke, he has this skin condition that means he has to stay out of sunlight - I call him Nightm'n because of that. He can be as irritating as a bed full of fleas, but as loyal as a spaniel. There's no one else I'd rather have at my back in a fight. [laughs] But there's many a time I've been tempted to toss him overboard! Still, I'm afraid the tide's on the turn, time to get back to my ship, Sea Witch.

NW: I wish you bon voyage, Captain - any clue as to where you'll be sailing to next? 

JA: [taps the side of his nose] One horizon or another, Ma'am - which one, depends on which wind is blowing and where the tide takes me...

The Sea Witch Voyages have recently been acquired by Penmore Press USA and are in the process of being republished

available from Amazon and other on-line stores
or order from your bookshop

available now from Amazon
available now from Amazon

Available now from Amazon
Available from Amazon soon
(June 2020)
available soon
(autumn 2020?)
an e-book prequel novella
- how Jesamiah Acorne became a pirate
available NOW from Amazon
Voyage Six Coming soon
(probably early 2021)

Newsletter Subscription:
Amazon Author Page (Universal Link) 
Twitter: @HelenHollick

This was the last interview,
I hope you have enjoyed the series

Novel Conversations:Voyage End
 ... Drop Anchor

you'll find a list of guest characters 

My thanks to all the authors who have taken part, and to Geri Clouston of IndieBRAG who initially sponsored the idea.

Monday 25 May 2020

Tuesday Talk - a Re-visit to Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery

I'm busy proof reading Ripples In The Sand - due to be republished by Penmore Press very soon, so rather than be distracted I thought I'd re-post a page that might have been missed (despite it being on the top menu bar!) so...

A Gallery of Sites and Places
The reality behind the fiction
I go to many places to research locations where scenes are set 
- here are a few of them ...
(some are a bit blurry - old camera!)

~ The Sea Witch Voyages ~
~ Sea Witch ~
Voyage One

where I planned the story and met Jesamiah Acorne
click here for the full story!


thank you to Sue Bloom for the following seven photos
taken aboard The Rose/ Surprise aka Sea Witch
Captain's Table

where the men ate 

looking towards the bow

the Helm 

on deck 

and so to bed 

The Rose 
I based Sea Witch on the tall ship Rose - also known as 
Surprise from the movie Master & Commander

~ ~ ~ 

The following four images are by permission of John F. Millar 
owner & host of Newport House B & B 
Williamsburg, Virginia.
Colonial House
Newport House is in the style of the Colonial period - while not totally authentic in detail (no electricity in the 18th Century ) these images do give an idea of how well-off people would have lived - Jesamiah's home at La Sorenta, for instance, would have these features: he would recognise many things. 
Colonial Ball - The ballroom
Colonial Bedchamber 
(authentic apart from the lamps & air conditioning!)

~ ~ ~ 

a dear friend kindly took these photos
of the Florida Beach - where Jesamiah's ship went down

~ Pirate Code ~
Voyage Two

My thanks to José Bográn for the lovely photos of Nassau! 

approaching Nassau - sunset 

 Nassau Harbour
View from the cannon mount at Fort Fincastle (c 1793).

Cannon mount at Fort Fincastle. 
These are replicas, the original weaponry was sent back to England.

View of the other end of Fort Fincastle. 
Fun fact: the castle was shaped to look as a seagoing ship.

View from the bottom of the Queen’s Staircase. 
Carved by slaves in the 18th Century 
(after Jesamiah's time)

Market stalls at the bottom of Queen’s Staircase

Thank you to Crysaa Bazos for these next photos:

Legend has it that this was Blackbeard's Tower on Nassau where he would keep watch on shipping coming in and out of harbour. It is unlikely to have been Blackbeards - but it was a watch tower!

This is the view from the base
of the tower facing north.

~ Bring It Close ~
Voyage Three


Gov. Alexander Spotswood of Virginia

Hampton Roads - Virginia

where Jesamiah sat and talked to AAlicia

from John Brush's house

 John Brush's  House

 The Capitol Building


Williamsburg Gaol - from the exercise yard 

Williamsburg gaol -the  window & the "toilet!

The Ocracoke

Photos: Cathy Helms

~ Ripples In The Sand ~
Voyage Four

A tobacco hogshead 

"Pressed" Tobacco

loading tobacco hogsheads 

Where Ripples In the Sand is set


Barnstaple Quay

Barnstaple Old Bridge
where Jesamiah met Winnard Doone in the dead of night

Queen Anne's Square
 the jailbreak was just behind here
Barnstaple Quay


The Full Moon Inn would have had a similar view

One End Street

Market Street
this corner building (on the left) is where the Full Moon Inn was located.
The buildings on the right would not have been there in the early 1700's

Looking towards Appledore from Instow

 Appledore - On the far side of the estuary, opposite Instow & Crow Point

The Bar
from Appledore towards the sea


Moonlight over Instow

Instow - looking towards Appledore

Instow - where the fictional Tawford Barton is placed


Lundy from Hartland Point - a smuggler's haven
You can just see the island of Lundy on the left in the distance


Doone Valley


Knapp house as it is today
Where John Benson and his son, Thomas lived

Knapp House, (Artist Impression) Devon

 The Lane beside the House
Jesamiah walked down here with Pamela and Thomas
 River Torridge below Knapp House

~ On The Account ~
Voyage Five

Tiola  crosses the Moor to get to Doone Valley
- and meets with an old friend...... and then an enemy

Exmoor  overlooking the sea

Castle Rock

Exmoor Ponies
Llandoger Trow Bristol
1930's & below,. modern day
A well known Smuggler's haunt and said to be
the inspiration for the Admiral Benbow in Treasure Island
two gables were destroyed in WWII bombing

Jesamiah stays here for a couple of nights
and where the adventure starts!

Voyage Six
(not yet written)

The coffee shop - Williamsburg
Duke of Gloucester Street
Situated near the Capitol this will be Alicia Mereno's pride and joy 
(financed with Jesamuiah's diamonds) 
The coffee shop will feature in Voyage Five of the series - On the Account 


Voyage One


(images taken from: )

More information links about Port Royal, Jamaica

~ ~ ~
~ The Pendragon's Banner Trilogy ~
The Kingmaking 
Pendragon's Banner 
Shadow of the King 

Glastonbury Tor 
Yns Witrin in the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy
 (note: the tower was built in the 14th Century)
 Cadbury - the entrance as it is today

Cadbury "Castle" - an ancient hillfort
Caer Cadan in the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy

 Tintagel, Cornwall

Modern-Day Aquae Sulis (Bath)

The Roman Baths

 ~ ~ ~ 
The Saxon Lost Kingdom Series
~ A Hollow Crown / The Forever Queen ~
~ Harold the King / I am the Chosen King ~

US edition of A Hollow Crown
UK edition of The Forever Queen

UK edition of I Am The Chosen Kingg
US edition of Harold The King


as it is today of course, not 11th Century

the cliffs where Emma climbed up with her baby


The Abbey

The River Lee


where Godwine and Harold's Wessex manorhouse was located

near where Cnut tried to turn the tide

Holy Trinity Church

 Battle Abbey and the site of the Battle of Hastings 1066


Mon Saint Michel

Dives San Mer

St Stephens

Duke William's Cathedral

Duchess Mathilda's Abbey
Abbey of Sainte-Trinité, Caen
The Convent


Falaise Castle