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The Music I used for 'background inspiration' 
while writing the Sea Witch Voyages

This is a long article - feel free to bookmark and return at intervals
this post will remain here as a permanent one.

original (much shorter) version was published on 

the Undercover Soundtrack

The Time : The Golden Age of Piracy - 1716.
The Place : The Pirate Round - 
from the South African Coast to the Caribbean.

Until writing my Sea Witch Voyages, I used music as background noise. Meeting my pirate, Captain Jesamiah Acorne, changed that. Was this because I went Indie with Sea Witch, or does Jesamiah himself require more ‘audio colour’ perhaps?

Music enhances the mental process of writing. I ‘see’ the action as if I am watching a movie, and a good soundtrack brings images to vivid life.

Mike Oldfield heads my all-time favourite list. 
I was introduced to Tubular Bells in 1973 by my friend, Frances when it was first released. It has remained a favourite, only overtaken by subsequent versions. This following track on You Tube is like a shot of adrenalin and the line ‘Far Above The Clouds’ makes me feel that I am soaring into the world of Imagination. I will often listen to this track when I need to empty my mind and ‘timeslip’ into the past.

Going Indie with Sea Witch, and Jesamiah as my charming rogue of a hero, was a leap of faith in my ability as a writer, and in the prospective popularity of Jesamiah. Who doesn’t like a pirate adventure? According to several publishers and agents, though, pirates do not make popular reading. Have they not heard of Jack Sparrow? As inspiration, what could be better? (Although mental images of Johnny Depp can be somewhat distracting!) The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was not intended to be taken seriously, it was meant as tongue-in-cheek sailor's yarn entertainment to encourage families to attend Disney's Pirate Ride. It was also originally intended as a children's movie - but Mr Depp changed that perspective. Indeed Disney nearly removed him from the movie - then realised what they had: an adult attraction that by far superseded the children's entertainment idea. What a pity publishers do not have the same sort of insight! 

I searched for similar novels - seafaring tales with a splash of fantasy - but found nothing except children’s stories. (Children again - I truly despair that the publishing industry is so short-sighted). I wanted something written for adults with adult situations. 

Giving up the search I wrote the book I wanted to read.

I developed the entire plot while on holiday in Dorset. I had my heroine: Tiola, a healer and a white witch, most of the secondary characters and the ship herself, Sea Witch. But I needed my dashing Captain. I sat on a rock gazing at a grey sea listening to another favourite Mike Oldfield: Sentinel from Tubular Bells II

I looked up, and there stood Jesamiah in full pirate regalia. Blue ribbons tied into his black hair, a gold acorn dangling from his ear. He touched one finger to his hat and nodded. ‘Hello Jesamiah Acorne,’ I said. 
That track has always made me think of his enigmatic character; quick to laugh, formidable when angry. As skilled with cutlass and pistol as he is in bed. A man who values his freedom, and the woman he loves, Tiola.

Jesamiah is now a treasured friend, although with each new Voyage I discover more about him. He gets easily into fights, and he is not a man to enter a drinking contest with as he would win hands down. He is all too often influenced by what is in his breeches and pays too much attention to a pretty face (well, a part of a woman's anatomy slightly below the face!) But despite his indiscretions, he is devoted to Tiola. He would die for her, indeed, in Voyage Two, Pirate Code he took a flogging to save her the humiliation of public punishment.

EXCERPT from Pirate Code

From a small, rowan-wood chest she produced rolls of clean linen, cleansing herbs and salves. She was a White Witch of Craft with the gift of healing, but even she did not know where to start with the mess that was now Jesamiah’s lacerated back. A small portion of his shoulder-blade showed white where the skin had been flayed to the bone; the rest was mangled, bloodied, bruised and swollen. He sucked in his breath as she bathed the congealing wounds, tending and inspecting the damage as gently as she could.
“You are an idiot to have done this,” she said tersely as he flinched and gasped aloud as her touch probed a little too insensitively.
“What was I supposed to do then?” he objected into the pillow. “How could I have stood where you are now, looking at you lying here?” He shifted position, eased onto his side and half raised himself to face her, suppressing the groan. “How could I have lived with myself if I had let you suffer?”
As she had to watch him suffer. Tiola said nothing, instead, showed him her answer by bending forward and kissing his mouth. A lingering kiss expressing her love, understanding and appreciation. A more pertinent answer than any spoken words could have conveyed.

My third Mike Oldfield selection is Weightless from Tubular Bells II 
The music is for Jesamiah and Tiola to make love to. 
I have chosen this particular Video as the images, although nothing to do with the sea, are superb, sit back, watch, and enjoy. (But don't forget to come back to my blog and this article!)

I wrote Sea Witch in three months. I have never been on a moving ship and have no idea of nautical matters, instead, I read extensively, devouring Patrick O’Brien, C.S. Forrester; James L. Nelson and Julian Stockwin, in addition to many text books.
I rely on my imagination to feel the swaying of the ship, hear the wind in the sails and the creaking of the hull. To be there on deck, feeling the rise and dip of her bow as Sea Witch ploughs through the waves.

My Muse Music for scenes at sea is Promoentory from the movie Last of the Mohicans. 
Apart from being evocative, it has powerful, swaying rhythm; you can feel the grand majesty of the ship and the sea crashing over her bow.

I suggest, set the music to play, then read the excerpt below while listening

Excerpt from Sea Witch

Chapter One
Late January – 1716

Mermaid was moving fast, the ship bowling along with her sails filled, the canvas billowing, cordage creaking and straining. She climbed over the next wave, her bow lifting to linger a moment before swooping down into another deluge of spray. Completing the see-saw movement her stern soared high as the roller trundled beneath her keel. The wind smelt of hot, dry and dusty land, of jungle and grass savannah. Of Africa.
The look out, clad in an old shirt and sailor’s breeches was perched high in the crosstrees, one hundred and thirty feet above the deck. Excited, he pointed to the horizon. “Over there Jesamiah, that’s where I saw ‘er. I swear I saw a sail!”
With the ease of years of practice, Jesamiah Acorne stepped from the rigging on to the narrow platform that swayed with the lift and plunge of the ship. He hooked his arm through a t’gallant shroud and brought his telescope to his eye, scanned the ocean. Nothing. Nothing except a flat expanse of blue emptiness going on, unbroken, for twenty miles. And beyond that? Another twenty, and another.
These were the waters of the Gulf of Guinea, the huge stretch of sea beneath the bulb of land where the trade wealth of West Africa was turned into fat profit: gold, ivory and slaves. The African coast, where merchants found their plentiful supply of human misery and where an entire ships’ crew could be wiped out by fever within a week.
Where pirates hunted in search of easy prey.
The crew of the Mermaid were not interested in slavers or the foetid coast. Their rough-voiced, ragged-faced captain, Malachias Taylor, had more lucrative things in mind – the sighting of another ship, preferably a full-laden, poorly manned merchantman with a rich cargo worth plundering.
“What can y’see?” he shouted from the deck, squinting upwards at his quartermaster, the relentless sun dazzling his eyes. His second-in-command, Jesamiah, like his father before him, was one of the best seamen Taylor knew.
“Nothing! If young Daniel here did see a sail he has better sight than I ‘ave,” Jesamiah called down, the frustration clear in his voice. All the same, he studied the sea again with the telescope.
Jesamiah Acorne. Quick to smile, formidable when angered. Tall, tanned, with strong arms and a seaman’s tar-stained and callused hands. His black hair fell as an untidy chaos of natural curls to his shoulders, laced into it, lengths of blue ribbon which streamed about his face in the wind, the whipping ends stinging his cheeks. The ladies ashore thought them a wonderful prize when he occasionally offered one as a keepsake.
If there was a ship, Daniel would only have glimpsed her highest sails, the topgallants; the rest of her would still be hull down, unseen below the curve of the horizon. “I think you had too much rum last night, my lad,” Jesamiah grinned. “Your eyes are playing tricks on you.”
Young Daniel was adamant. “I saw her I say. I’ll wager m’next wedge of baccy I did!”
“You know I cannot abide the stuff,” Jesamiah chuckled good-natured as he stretched out his arm to ruffle the lad’s mop of hair. He had turned his back on anything to do with tobacco – except stealing it – seven years ago when his elder brother had thrown him off their dead father’s plantation, with the threat he would hang if ever he returned. But then, Phillipe Mereno was only a half-brother and he had always been a cheat and a bully. One day, for the misery of his childhood, Jesamiah would find the opportunity to go back and finish beating the bastard to a pulp.
Out of habit he touched the gold charm dangling from his right earlobe: an acorn, to match the signet ring he had worn since early youth. Presents from his Spanish mother, God rest her soul. She had always thought the acorn, the fruit of the solid and dependable oak tree to be lucky. It had been the first word to come to mind when he had needed a new name in a hurry.
Acorne, with an “e” to make the name unique, and his own.
About to shut the telescope a flash caught his eye and Jesamiah whisked the bring-it-close upwards again. The sun reflecting on something?
“Wait…Damn it, Daniel – I’ve got her!” The sudden enthusiasm carried in an eager flurry as he shouted down to the deck, his words greeted by a hollered cheer from the rag-tag of men who made up the Mermaid’s crew.
Even the usually dour-faced Malachias Taylor managed a smile. “Probably a slaver,” he muttered, “but we’ll set all sail an’ pay her a visit.” His gap-toothed smile broadened into a grin. “She might be wantin’ company, eh lads?”
Aye she might, but not the sort of company the Mermaid would be offering. Respectable traders and East India merchantmen did not care for pirates.

A confrontation at sea soon follows: all sea-battles were bloody, with horrendous injures caused by cannons fired into narrow spaces; there is not much room on a gun-deck. 
What better inspiration for writing such scenes than the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

This You Tube video will give you an idea of what those men faced while under attack. Instead of Jack Aubrey, however, imagine my Jesamiah, blue ribbons fluttering from his black hair, his acorn earring glinting in the sunlight...

Incidentally, the ship a the reproduction of The Rose, a British Naval Ship sent to the Colonies in the late eighteenth century to stop the smuggling that was rife. Her high success was one of the factors which started the American War of Independence. The Rose was renamed Surprise (the ship of he movie) and can be seen in harbour at San Diego, California. I modelled Sea Witch on the Surprise.

Later in the story, Tiola is keeping watch over an injured girl and stares at a painting of a ship on the wall… she sees Jesamiah, in trouble in a storm.

I listened to the soundtrack of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie a lot during the writing of Sea Witch, so maybe here is a good time to add some stirring piratical music: 

click play, then read the excerpt below as you listen.

Excerpt from Sea Witch

“Kisty was feverish. She at last slept, helped along by the few drops of laudanum Tiola had administered. The tiny room at the rear of Bella’s apartment was no more than the size of a large cupboard, but Kisty loved it because it was hers. She had brightened the cramped space by covering the cot with a quilt made from sewing scraps of material together, and on the wall, two pictures Bella had not wanted. One was of flowers. Round, yellow sunflowers and brilliant red poppies. The other was a ship. A Spanish Galleon, cleaving her way through a wild sea.
In between tending the injured girl Tiola had sat staring at the picture, seeing in her mind not a mediocre painting but a real ship. His ship. She felt the dip and rise of the deck, heard his voice calling frantic orders above the howl of the rising wind.
“Clew it up! For God’s sake, get it clewed up!”
 … She could do nothing but stand helpless and watch – unable to stop the nightmare from running its dreadful course.
Hauling himself hand over hand along the rail, Jesamiah ran, his hair sodden as he took the wind full in the face, the ribbons snapping as if in sympathy with the tattered sail. He needed to get to the wheel, to help Isiah keep her steady…but Rue was there before him, the both of them grim-faced, hauling at the spokes of the bucking helm.
Jesamiah turned back to focus on the ruined sail. “Take in canvas!” he roared, cupping his hands around his mouth in an effort to send his voice further. “For fok sake, haul in sail!”
Combined with an angry sea, the wind was determined and vicious. Again the Salvation shuddered as the paw swiped at her, a tearing, scraping sound that shivered, ominous and foreboding through her entire hull from fo’c’sle to rudder.
Tethys was full awake, and furious.
“We are too far west!” Rue shouted, although none could hear save for Isiah Roberts at his side, who with all his strength was trying desperately to hang on to the helm. “Mon Dieu! We ’ave ‘it a reef!”
Jesamiah also yelled, his words torn from his mouth. The crew did not need to hear, they knew instantly. She was drifting against or over something. Coral? Rock? The clawing fingernails of Tethys herself?
“Drop anchor!” Jesamiah screamed.
The cable, thicker than a man’s forearm was run out, the rattle and following splash of the anchor descending from the cathead masked by the gleeful howling of the storm. The anchor should hold them, should stop the ship from its sideways drift into disaster. Again the Salvation quivered and a muffled thumping pulsed through her keel.
“The fokken anchor’s dragging!” Jesamiah cursed. If it did not find purchase there would be little more they could do. “Throw down the sheet-anchor,” he shouted, and a moment later a second anchor and cable rattled out, another splash. But that also failed to grip on the bed of flat rock beneath them, and it too dragged across the unyielding ocean floor.
The scraping was heard again, echoing below deck, amplified through the wooden hull. Then, a terrible splitting noise and the Salvation groaned from bow to stern, her death rattle, as water began flooding in through two rents in her keel. They must have crossed one reef, dragged over shallows and hit another. She was heeling over, the water pouring in from below, surging across her rails as she fell, to lie on her side as if for careening, the deck pitching at an odd, impossible angle. Another final sigh as she settled onto the reef, and died.
A curling wave grasped Jesamiah and took him overboard as if it were a hand plucking from the sea. Everywhere, the saline smell of the ocean and decaying, rotting fish. Frantically, he tried to cling to a tangled mess of cordage, to shattered railing, to anything! But Tethys was for having her own way, and she wanted the man with the blue ribbons and the golden acorn. Wanted blood and life.
He heard a scream as he went under. It must have been his voice, although it was oddly higher in pitch, and it shrieked his name.
~ Jes…a…mi…ah! ~

Now why would he be shouting out his own name? Sounding like a desperate young woman?
What odd things a man thinks of, he pondered, when he is about to drown.

No spoilers, but obviously Jesamiah survives the shipwreck. He returns to his family home – now his half-brother’s plantation – and after seducing his brother's wife (an old 'acquaintance' of his ) and a sword fight with his brother, he steals a ship - which results in Jesamiah being pursued by pirate hunters. 
He has been shot and injured. The streets of Cape Town are starting to look like they might become his graveyard. Tiola senses his difficulty and must find him before he bleeds to death.

Cue inspirational music…..

Again, start the music and read the excerpt: (different soundtrack to above)

Excerpt from Sea Witch 

Twenty Two
December – 1716

With the onset of dusk, all the miscreants of Cape Town made their way to the brothels and drinking houses – all those who had no decent home to go to, which in this fleapit, was the majority. Jesamiah among them. It was the third day of December, tomorrow was his birthday he was entitled to celebrate.
The noise from the tavern below was increasing but he was too busily occupied with Aloette to notice the rowdiness. “That was good,” he said. Breathing hard and withdrawing from her, he leant across the bed for the bottle he had left on the floor, the sweat gleaming on his naked body. He took a long swig, offered it to her. She shook her head.
“You have it, my prince, you need to get your strength back for next time.”
Jesamiah grinned, saluted her a toast. There was to be a next time then? Do anything for a handful of silver, these Cape Town strumpets.
“We have the entire night,” Aloette said, her voice low and purring. “You have paid me, have you not?” she added with a coquettish smile, while trickling her fingers over his nakedness, her broken nails tracing the patterns of the acorn tattooed to the left of his chest and the mermaid on his left forearm. Doing as she suggested, he drank; with most of the bottle already consumed and his desire for a woman sated, was asleep before he had emptied it.

He awoke to find the candles had burnt low – several were out, the stubs a congealed mess of molten wax. The hubbub downstairs was less rowdy, the sounds in the street beyond the window quieter. The early hours, then. He groaned, half pleasure, half headache and rolled across the bed his arm seeking the warmth and delight of the girl. Grunted, annoyed to find her gone. He opened his eyes properly, looking for her. The shabby room was empty, her side of the bed quite cold, her clothes missing.
“Bitch,” he muttered as he lurched from the bed, fumbled for, and almost filled, the chamber pot, and retrieved his shirt, breeches, stockings and boots. Most of his clothes were scattered over the floor; he vaguely remembered being in an eager hurry last night. He ensured his pistol and cutlass were where he had left them, looked for his coin purse in his coat pocket. The money was gone, he would have been surprised to find it had not, but his weapons were untouched. The coins did not matter there had only been five or six shillings anyway, and he kept a few gold doubloons sewn discreetly inside his waist sash. He could always filch some more silver when he had need of it.
Rather unsteadily he dressed, found his waistcoat under the bed; wound the sash around his waist, satisfying himself that the gold was where it should be, and fastened the leather belt from which hung a cartridge pouch containing shot and powder, and his knife. He pushed his pistol through his belt, checking it was loaded, and buckled his baldric slantwise across from his right shoulder, more irritated to discover that the girl had also taken the second bottle of rum.
Grumbling at the dishonesty of women, he set his three-cornered hat firmly on his head, tossed his long coat over his arm and unlatched the door. Met face to face with the barrel of a pistol.
No time to draw and cock his own weapon; he swung aside, attempted to slam the door – the man fired, the acrid smell of powder and the sharp sound of the shot reverberating into the room.
Jesamiah reeled, somehow managed to ram the door shut with his boot, slapped the bolt home. Dropping his coat, breathing heavily, aware of a searing pain below his left shoulder and the sticky feel of trickling blood, he dragged a chair across the door, ramming it beneath the latch. He winced, slid his hand inside his shirt and pulled it away to discover blood on his fingers. He felt at the back, nothing; the lead had not gone clean through then. Damn.
He could not think about it now, there were more pressing matters to consider. He ran to the window, grabbing at the catch to the slatted wooden shutter. The thing was stuck, rusted solid. He pulled at it, swore again, spun around frantically looking for something he could use to smash his way out. The door was splintering as an axe struck through the flimsy panels, revealing more faces. He drew his pistol, cocked the hammer home and hearing the necessary double click as the door burst open, aimed, fired. One shot. One dead man. He was looking at four more very alive men with swords and pistols. Submitting, he stuffed his now useless pistol back into his belt and resigned to fate, held his hands up in surrender.
“You’ve got me fair and square, mates.” Nodding at the rumpled bed, added, “You must have paid her more handsomely than I did.”
“Jesamiah Acorne,” the one with the fancy sword said, waving it uncomfortably close to Jesamiah’s belly, his face crinkled into a leering snarl. “I am authorised to place you under arrest for acts of piracy committed against His Majesty King George and certain private parties. Crimes for which you shall hang.”
“Oh aye? It is a long way between here and the gallows, lads.” Jesamiah said with a tilt to his head and a calm smile. “Am I not entitled to a trial? The good citizens of Cape Town enjoy a good trial.”
“As they enjoy a good hanging.” One of the pistols was shoved nearer Jesamiah’s chest. “Judge, jury and rope are ready and waiting for the pleasure of your company. As we await the pleasure of our reward.” The pistol barrel prodded Jesamiah’s sternum, none too gently.
He frowned. What reward?
The hammer cocked. One click. Two. “One hundred and fifty beautiful gold pieces to him who delivers you into His Majesty’s custody.”
“We figured we’d split it a’tween us.”
Only one hundred and fifty? Jesamiah was unsure whether to laugh or feel insulted.
A long blink of silence and a frozen stillness; a waiting for one man to move before the other.
“I am afraid you may have need to figure again, mates.” Jesamiah finally said with a grin, “I’m not in the frame of mind to oblige helping you in your grand scheme of things.” He kicked out, hard and sudden, catching the startled pistol holder in the crotch, sending him sinking, groaning and clutching at himself to the bare floorboards. Falling forward, Jesamiah rolled, grabbing for the dropped pistol as he rose, fired. The man nearest the door yelped, blood pouring from where an ear lobe had been. And within seconds the room had became a vicious brawl.
Ducking low Jesamiah drew his cutlass and slashed at the nearest pair of legs, avoided a punch, took a kick in his ribs. He felt something crack, a sharp hurt, crumpled, wincing, knocking the chamber pot over as he fell, but was up on his feet again, dodging another blow, taking a punch to the jaw that sent him staggering.
A man lunged, caught Jesamiah off balance. Almost at the same moment another pistol fired, the shot thumping into his midriff – the two blows combined sending him toppling backwards, hard and fast against the window shutter. Thin and rotten, the wooden frame gave way and with a yip of surprise Jesamiah fell through, tumbling into the early morning quiet of the street below. He lay a moment, winded and disorientated. Gathering his wits, glancing upwards at the furious faces peering down at him, he was on his feet and off, running into the night, darting and weaving along the narrow, dim-lit alleyway as if he were a hare with the Hounds of Hell chasing after him.
A musket shot whistled past his ear, he swerved, kept running, aware, with sharp curses rattling in his panting breath, that he was being followed. Damn them! They had been expecting him to make a run for it, had posted men outside.
Dodging to the left behind some piled crates stinking of fish he flattened himself into the shadows, took the opportunity to get his bearings and breath back. He ran his left hand across his waist. Chuckled. No wonder the pistol ball had packed such a thump; it had met with one of his gold pieces! He would find a coin-shaped bruise there come daylight. Funny, the rest of the pain was not registering; he had a lead ball in his shoulder but could not feel it. Frowned, looked down at his right arm, saw a ragged shirt, sodden with blood dripping profusely from the torn skin beneath. He grimaced. Must have caught himself on the wood and glass as he crashed through the window, regretted looking. Now he had seen it his arm felt as though it were ablaze with searing fire.
Running footsteps, shouting voices and flickering torches coming towards him. He would have to move.
He tried to run, his legs feeling suddenly odd, his vision blurring. He stumbled, fell to one knee. Leaning on his cutlass – incredibly, still clasped in his right hand at the end of the bloody mess that was now his arm – he scrambled up, kept himself going by willpower alone, aware his blood was draining out of him like water leaking from a spout. He clamped his left hand across his forearm, ignoring the protest from the wound in his shoulder. If he did not find a safe hiding place soon, tend to this, he might well bleed to death. Could he reach the Inheritance? He cursed, realising he was running in the wrong direction, heading uphill away from the harbour. Aside, these were not fools; they would have had the savvy to put a watch on his ship.
“Fine bloody way to spend a birthday,” he grumbled, stumbled again, leant against a wall, head back, breathing heavily. He closed his eyes, let the world of these dark, slum alleyways of Cape Town spin by a few times.
Feeling the first signs of consciousness beginning to ebb away, desperate, he murmured, “In the name of all that is good, someone help me!”

His vision blurring, walking – staggering, he no longer had the strength to run – he reached the end of the sewage-stinking alley, turned right then left, the agony of his arm and shoulder tearing through him. Men coming towards him. Where were they all appearing from? He side-stepped into a passageway, swore colourfully and explicitly as an arm caught at his waist, spiralling him inward towards the unlit darkness of a sheltering wall. He tried to kick out, to lift the cutlass clutched in his right hand but all strength was leaving him, seeping away with his pumping blood. He almost fell, but a woman’s arm was holding him upright. Her fragrant smell of summer meadows and flowers filled his nostrils. Her voice, urgent, in his ear.
“I can help. Do not struggle.” Deftly she turned him so his back was against the wall, her body pressing close into his to hold him upright as much as to shield him.
“Put your left arm around me – quick man! Do it!”
Bizarrely he still wore his hat. She reached up tipped it forward to hide his eyes, and then her lips were over his mouth kissing him, her palms flat against his chest as torches flared and the sound of heavy boots approached. With one hand she brought Jesamiah’s head down burying his face in the mass of her black hair. She half turned, glowered at the two men who had paused to watch.

In a clipped uneducated accent, she snarled, “Go pay fer yer own pleasure, ye poxed curs! I be busy.” And she turned her head, her mouth seeking for Jesamiah’s again, her hand starting to hitch up her skirts.
Grinning, the men moved off, one of them lewdly fumbling at himself.
Bewildered, feeling wretched, Jesamiah moaned. This woman, a beautiful young woman, had come from nowhere, grabbed him, and was kissing him in a public alleyway. Yet when she had turned and bawled she was busy her features had blurred, her immaculate appearance had become ragged, greasy and smutty. He shook his head confused, felt the dizziness churn through him. His legs buckling, blackness rushing in, he began to slide down the wall.

And so the story - and my Mood Music continues:

After Jesamiah has been healed, he realises he is in love with Tiola, a realisation nudged by a rival for her affections. 

One of the singers who also inspires me is the fabulous Neil Diamond. His lyrics are so beautiful and meaningful.
One day Jesamiah overhears Tiola’s guardian reminding her: “Stay away from him girl. A pirate’s no good. The only certain prospect he has is to dangle at the end of a rope.” 
Jesamiah is hurt and upset because he knows, now, that he loves Tiola

I played and re-played the track Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon while writing that scene:

Lyrics by: Neil Diamond

Girl, you’ll be a woman soon.
Love you so much, can't count all the ways
I'd die for you girl, and all they can say is
"He's not your kind'.

They never get tired of puttin' me down
And I never know when I come around
What I'm gonna find
Don't let them make up your mind
Don't you know
Girl, you'll be a woman soon
Please come take my hand
Girl, you'll be a woman soon
Soon you'll need a man

I've been misunderstood for all of my life
But what they're sayin', girl, just cuts like a knife
'The boy's no good'

Well, I finally found what I've been looking for
But if they get the chance, they'll end it for sure
Sure they would
Baby, I've done all I could
It's up to you
Girl, you'll be a woman soon
Please come take my hand
Girl, you'll be a woman soon
Soon you'll need a man.”

But Jesamiah also has his love of freedom and the sea.
He has the opportunity to acquire the most beautiful of ships and must make a choice – the ship and the sea, or Tiola.

This track captures that moment when the call of the sea is greater than the desire of love:
"Suddenly I knew, that you'd have to go.... Like a bird in a cage spreads its wings to fly..."
"The thundering waves are calling me home... The pounding sea is calling me home..."

Loreena McKennitt The old Ways 

Watch the video - beware tears, I usually cry, it's such an emotional song

No spoilers, but suffice to say Jesamiah sails away without Tiola, and both of them are devastated.

“The wind was buffeting Jesamiah's face, the salt from the sea stinging his cheeks and eyes. As well it did. It would not have been fitting for his crew to discover the moisture on the face of their Captain was not from the spray, but from spilling tears.”

Tiola is bereft. She is on her own, confused, bewildered and heartbroken :

 "… I regret, now it’s too late…" The pain and aching inside, the question, over and over : 

"Why? Tell me why? Nobody gives an answer - I'm asking why? Why it has to be like this..."

Why by Enigma

There are two more tracks that wandered around my head  for these devastating scenes :

"Standing in the shadows, watching the sun rise. Damn your love, damn your lies... and if you don't love me now, you'll never love me again...damn the dark, damn the light...I can still hear you sayin' you will never break the chain..."

Fleetwood Mac The Chain

Nights in White Satin - the Moody Blues

Just what the truth is, I can’t say any more…. And I love you, yes I love you – oh how I love you!”

I originally intended to write Sea Witch as a stand-alone novel, but Jesamiah stole my heart and two more Voyages rapidly followed: Pirate Code and Bring It Close, which has the notorious Blackbeard as a guest character. We know about Blackbeard because we have the records of the trial and subsequent hanging of his surviving crew.

One of the delights of writing ‘made up’ novels, as opposed to based-on-fact historical fiction, is the freedom to manipulate true events while remaining entirely plausible. In Bring It Close, Jesamiah devised Blackbeard’s demise, but as he stated, ‘I do not want my name writ in any record book.’ 
Which is why you will not find him in any existing documents!

Oh I so love writing these Voyages!
My graphics designer, Cathy Helms of www.avalongraphics creates my UK covers and  book trailers, and a good friend with a beautiful voice, Bronwen Harrison, adds the soundtracks.
For Bring It Close, we used her composition Dark Music. A fitting song for the dastardly Blackbeard: 

Bronwen also composed the background music to all my trailers – which can be viewed here on my website

However, back to the first Voyage, Sea Witch

The two lovers reunite when Jesamiah is in danger from his half-brother, and the man who wanted to marry Tiola. They are determined to kill him and almost succeed, but Tiola with her gift of Craft rescues him, but first she has to face the greed and manipulation of the sea goddess, Tethys, and then the frustration of no wind to fill the sails of the Sea Witch...

With her Craft, she calls up a wind
Karl Jenkin's Adiemus compliments Tiola’s voice, the words are not Latin, they are just the singers singing ‘words’ – maybe a spell to conjure up a wind?

click play - and read on: 

Excerpt from Sea Witch

“We need a wind?” Tiola asked, her head cocked on one side as she watched the men heaving the yards around in an attempt to find one.
“Without the wind we can make no progress,” Isiah Roberts answered, flatly. “Nature is a cruel mistress. We wait all this while for the schooner we’ve been trailing. We find her – then we sit here like a hen, arse-tight to her eggs, and watch her sail by because she has the breeze and we do not.”
 “I am learning the requirements of this ship with a speed that surprises me,” Tiola announced casually, “but tell me, from which direction do we require this wind to blow in order for us to catch Ruby before dark?”
Rue answered gruffly, this was all talk. There was no wind nor, if he knew his signs aright, were they likely to get one. “Anything between sou’east through west to north will suit, the Trades blow the total opposite – when they blow. All we can do is ‘aul our sails and limp along as efficiently as we can.”
“And hope we do not lose her?” Tiola was scornful. “I am not willing to take a risk Rue, not again. Jesamiah has suffered long enough already.”
“Well then, Dieu!” Rue kicked, furious with the turn of fate, at the helm. “What are you going to do? Are you going to get out and push?”
He was not prepared for Tiola’s blithe answer, “If I have to, ais.” She knew exactly what she had to do – summon a wind. It would be difficult to gradually blur the memory of all of them yet again, but sailors, especially pirates, were a superstitious breed; easier, to let them believe something else had brought it and not her. Those geese winging south for instance?

Casually, she leant her back against the stern taffrail, her full attention on the fore topsail, that without the pressure of the wind was collapsed into a sagging rag. She concentrated on the yard and braces, the standing and running rigging; the shrouds and the gaskets – the ties used to furl the sails. Thought about Sea Witch moving through the ocean, the dip, lift and roll as she surged forward. The curtsey of her bow, the uplifting swing of her stern, her joy and liberty. Merging with the ship, Tiola felt every swaying movement, every shift of settling or bending beam of timber; felt the constant, aching strain on the masts, the push against the sails – the surge of water beneath her keel.
And then Tiola sang. A sound an octave above the pitch of the human ear, and as sweet and pure as liquid honey. A sound that swirled around the three masts and brought with it three enormous snow geese.

Jasper, perched aloft was to swear later a whole flock of birds had flourished overhead, the sky had been filled with them. But then, he could not count beyond a tally of two. Barking and whooping, the birds came in low over the ship, the music of their wings rushing past Jasper’s ears, causing every man to look up, point and gasp. Three damned, great bloody geese!

They circled the ship twice, black-tipped, white pinions shimmering in the late afternoon sun, bright against the empty water world of white-splashed grey. Their outspread wings sighing, spread as if they were feathered sails, the birds themselves the graceful, sleek hull.
A higher, clearer singing soared above their mournful cry. More beautiful than a mermaid’s love poem, or the voice of an angel; more captivating than a siren’s song. An enchantment, the spell of a Sea Witch fetching up a wind. And in answer, it came, flurrying across the sea from due west, shivering through the rigging, nudging the cordage, the ratlines, the shrouds into their own voice of harp-like song.

The geese circled a third time, caressing Sea Witch with their outspread wings as the lifeless sails caught the hurry of the breeze and she began to gather way, her dull lethargy quite gone, quite forgotten. In a wide, graceful spiral the three birds rose higher against the sky. Rue, forgetting them, intent on the rise of the wind shouted for sails to be hauled and set.
“We ‘ave a wind!” He bellowed, elated. “Let fall, mon Dieu let fall before it fades!” Canvas began to tumble from the yards as eager men leapt to backstays. “Look alive! Forget those birds – we ‘ave a wind! ‘Ands to braces. Belay!” 
Rue was almost dancing in his excitement, his arms whirling like windmills encouraging the men.

 All seems well - except this is a given chance for Tethys, to take Jesamiah for her own, 
’I love you, I’ll kill you’. Enigma : you can hear the heart-beat of the sea, and the obsessed danger of the Goddess...

Tiola’s ability as a white witch is great - but what holds the greater power?  Love or greed? 

The final scenes were an emotional conclusion for me to write because I had put my entire heart and soul into creating Sea Witch
When I had finished, my ex-agent turned the manuscript down. She wanted me to write something suitable for teenage boys. I knew she was wrong, I stuck to what I wanted to write because I knew Jesamiah was the right character; I know he will be a famous pirate one day. I'm sure of it. My agent and I parted company.

Sea Witch was conceived and written for adults; it is an adult story with adult adventure and passion - written for those of us who seek escapism within the pages of a book - accompanied by a handsome rogue of a pirate and a pretty wench (who happens to be a white witch).

Imagine a ship, the roll of the sea, the lift and dip of the waves.
A ship glides across the sea, her sails filled with a following wind.
A man stands at the helm:  

Mike Oldfield Tr3s Lunar – Misty :

Excerpt from Bring It Close
Sunday 6th October 1718
North Atlantic Ocean

The wind was freshening, blowing off the Carolina coast, and although the sun shone bright, a few lingering patches of early morning sea-mist clung obstinately to the distant horizon.
Once clear of Nassau Jesamiah had spread as much canvas as he dared: courses, tops’ls, t’gallants and sprit’sl, all trimmed and set with the efficiency and speed that he expected from his crew. Though they were running northward with the Gulf Stream current, the wind had been annoyingly capricious. They would have to wear ship again soon.
Jesamiah eased the helm a point, watched with approval as the men met her and made the necessary adjustments to the sails.

Sea Witch felt alive beneath his firm, nursing hands, bucking and tossing as she skipped over the lively sea. The Atlantic rollers were breaking in quick succession against her bow, sending arcs of spray frothing over the bowsprit and foredeck. A trail of white, as straight as a cannon’s bore, creamed behind. She was responding to his caresses like a mistress beneath a lover’s touch, his skill as a seaman keeping her at the right edge of her best, gentling, coaxing her to perform like the duchess she was.

This was living, this made Jesamiah the man he was. The feel, sound and smell of the sea; the shrill of the wind as it whined through the rigging and bullied the sails into groaning billows; as it buffeted his face, tugged at his hair and blue ribbons. The exhilaration of his ship. The lift and roll and dip beneath his wide-planted feet as she sang to him, every fibre of her oak keel, every inch of her cordage and acre of canvas. Every single thing about her shouted a vibrancy of joy and life. And freedom. 

For this was freedom; to be at the helm of your own vessel with no man to give command or comment. To go where you pleased, how you pleased, at the mercy of nothing but the natural forces of wind and tide. 

That was freedom. Total, euphoric, freedom.



  1. Jesamiah made me do it!
    Actually, it was your awesome addition of muse music here. Awed by how you did this, I Googled ... and learned how to add a YouTube clip to my own excerpt of Heavy Weather Sailing on my blog. As always, you are an inspiration, Helen.

    1. Must pop across and have a look.... can you email me the link Inge and I'll add it here


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