Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why I Love Pirates by Helen Hollick (includes international giveaway)

In all honesty, if I was somehow transported back into the early 18th century, I don’t think I would love – even like - a real pirate. They were rather a horrible lot – thieves, murderers, uncouth – and smelly. But then I doubt any of us today would survive back then – we are too used to health and hygiene. (Where and how, I wonder, could I take my daily shower on a pirate ship? :-)

Fictional pirates are another matter entirely of course!

I think most of us who enjoy historical fiction, historical adventure and fantasy, enjoy a good book for its escapism, excitement – and maybe for the echoes of the past that linger in our DNA? The charmer of a rogue, the dashing gallant wielding pistol and cutlass – be he prince, knight, highwayman or pirate is a lure to the sense of romance. He has to be brave, strong, dependable – with only a hint of roughness. Capable in any situation, never flinching, but with that underlying vulnerability - and loyal to the one he loves or serves.

The typical hero.

I fell in love with my Jesamiah Acorne the moment I “met” him on a beach on the south coast of England. I had been walking in the rain, thinking up the plot and characters for Sea Witch, the first Voyage in my historical adventure fantasy series. I had the whole thing planned out, but not my dashing Pirate Captain.

I sat on a rock and gazed out at the cold, grey English Channel, imagining it as the Blue Caribbean. I looked up, and there, a few yards away was a man in pirate clothes – complete with cutlass and pistol, and a gold acorn as an earring. He touched his three corner hat in salute. “Hello Jesamiah Acorne” I said.

And that was it. I’ve been besotted by him ever since.

Now, whether I was seeing a vision of someone I knew in the past, or I just have a very fertile imagination, I don’t know. I did see him though.

irates – highwaymen, knights in armour, they are all characters that form the basis of an engrossing story. They are big and bold and have lots of daring-do adventures. Indeed, trouble follows Jesamiah like a ship’s wake. He is, in fact, only a true pirate in the first novel, Sea Witch, in Voyage Two, Pirate Code, he has accepted a government grant of amnesty (amnesty for the pirates was a true historical fact) but he gets embroiled in spying on the Spanish – and ends up with a beautiful woman of course. (He is rather a so-and-so for the ladies, I’m afraid). Voyage Three, Bring It Close, sees him again coerced into helping the right side of the law. He is arrested in Williamsburg, Virginia, for acts of piracy, where Governor Spotswood gives him a choice: help put an end to Edward Teach – Blackbeard himself – or hang. Spotswood’s campaign against Blackbeard is all fact – you just won’t find any reference to a certain Captain Jesamiah Acorne in the surviving records. But then, as you will read in the book, Jesamiah specifically asked for his name to be left out…. I so love binding real history with imagined make-believe!

I also love Tall Ships and anything nautical. I can’t, in reality, go off sailing the Seven Seas in a beautiful ship, but there is nothing to stop me doing so within the pages of a good book.

The trouble was, I couldn’t find the right book…. The Hornblower stories are great, but there’s not much, “romance” in them – the same with Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey books. Frenchman’s Creek was the closest to what I wanted – adventure and romance (well Ok, a bit of sex as well.) Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe was a superb character in book and TV form, with all the right ‘qualifications’ for an adventure romp – and on the movie screen there was Indiana Jones, James Bond – and Jack Sparrow to set the heart fluttering.

I took a pinch of all those characters and mixed them together with a hefty dash of historical fact and an exciting blend of supernatural fantasy, to create Jesamiah – and the books I wanted to read.

I so hope they are the adventure romp books you enjoy reading as well!

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Giveaway details

You can win a copy of any of the Sea Witch books by Helen Hollick (in either print or ebook) by leaving a comment on this post telling us about your favourite pirate.

- open to everyone! (Yay!)
- leave a comment and don't forget your email address or Twitter ID so that we can contact the lucky winner
- the contest closes on 7 August at Midnight GMT


  1. Favorite pirate... it would be either Captain Hook or Jack Sparrow. One is a multi-faceted literary character, the other is just pure fun.

    Laura Hartness
    CalicoCritic at gmail dot com

  2. As I am from Louisiana, I have to say that my favorite pirate is Jean Lafitte. He was so dashing and handsome... yummy!

    Thanks so much for the giveaway!

    tiger_fan_1997 AT yahoo DOT com

  3. Blackbeard, because his ship The Queen Anne's Revenge went down not far from where my grandmother lives in North Carolina, so the maritime museums have several artifacts that have come up from it.

    Tied with him would be Anne Bonney and Mary Read for being fairly successful (and infamous) female pirates

  4. Capn Jack is my favorite. But my favorite non fictional would be Blackbeard.

  5. My favorite would have to be the most recently famous one namely Jack Sparrow.

    Not your typical pirate but great fun to watch.

    Thanks for the giveaway and for opening it to International entries.

    I don't have an e-reader so please enter me for a print book.


    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  6. Sounds like a great book, and who doesn't love the idea of pirates!


  7. I recently read Beauvallet by Georgette Heyer and really fell for this handsome pirate. Having read other books by Helen Hollick, I know I'll love her pirate. Thanks for the giveaway.

  8. My favorite pirates in fiction are Inda and Fox from Sherwood Smith's Inda novels, my favorite in movies is either Jack Sarrow or the Dread Pirate Roberts, and my favorite real-life pirate is Anne Bonny. :)

    Thank you for the giveaway, this book looks great!


  9. I think the only pirate I know of is Long John Silver so shame on me!


  10. Gotta admit I haven't read/watched much about pirates but I'll say Geoffrey Thorpe from The Sea Hawk. Isn't Errol Flynn just dashing?


  11. I haven't met many pirates but the ones I have I have all adored. They are dashing, spirited, sea-loving men! Some of my favourite pirates include those from books by Brenda Joyce, Devlin O’Neill from The Prize and Liam O’Neill from The Game.


  12. 2 close relative in merchant navy!
    my grandfather was in Irish Lights bringing supplies to lighthouses.


  13. Grace O' Mally would be my fav pirate the ONLY womam! :D

  14. Hmmmm, I think Jean Laffite would be my favorite because he did sail around Galveston, Tx at one point and I'm from Texas. I did read he burned the settlement after they ran him out!

  15. I don't know about very many pirates. Jack Sparrow. =)
    tiredwkids at live dot com

  16. Favorite pirate Jean-Benoit Aubéry from Frenchman's Creek.

    I think we love pirates the same way we love all outlaws real or fictional (from Robin Hood to Billy the Kid). They flourish beyond the realm of normal society, have a rip roaring good time while doing so, and are just waiting to take the right lady along for the ride.

  17. I don't know if I really have a favorite pirate but I saw the 'Real Pirates' exhibit last year and was intrigued by Sam Bellamy!

    booksr4reading at yahoo dot com

  18. Hmm I guess the two sisters (Rusila and Stikla). Dunno why, they just intrigue me, even if I don't know all that much about them.

  19. Other than incidental reading of pirates as being part of a story not really read a "pirates pirates" story.


  20. One of my favorite pirate stories is Daphne DuMaurier's Frenchman's Creek. It recounts the love story of Dona St Colum and Jean, pirate master of La Mouette. DuMaurier tells a rousing tale that captures life in England during the time of Charles II with vivid and exciting prose.

  21. Oh I've always thought Anne Bonny was interesting. Hollicks books sound so great! THanks!

    libraryofmyown at gmail dot com

  22. Jack Sparrow has got to be my favorite. Johnny Depp probably made him more famous and loved than any other.

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  23. Grace O'mallley is one of my favorites and I think in the Angelica series, she was a pirate for a while.
    kim in ohio