Sea Witch Blog Tour: Guest Post by author Helen Hollick + GIVEAWAY

Readers of this blog know what a HUGE fan of author Helen Hollick's I am and so I can't be more thrilled to welcome her to Passages to the Past today as part of her Sea Witch Voyages Virtual Blog Tour!  Helen has written a fabulous guest post about how the Sea Witch series came to be and I also have an opportunity for a lucky reader to win their choice of one of the Sea Witch books.

To follow Helen on her tour, please click HERE to see the other stops on her tour.  Thanks to Helen Hollick for being on Passages to the Past!  It's always an honor to have one of my idols drop by for a visit!

Take it away Helen...

I am delighted to be invited aboard Passages to the Past as part of my Sea Witch Voyages Tour – thank you Amy for the friendly welcome. I’m not sure if my pirate, Captain Jesamiah Acorne, is as welcome though; he is rather in need of a bath and I have to keep the rum hidden….

I met Jesamiah for the first time on a rain-swept English beach. My (now ex) agent had wanted me to write something other than historical fiction – this was several years ago when historical novels were falling out of fashion (temporarily, I’m glad to say!) She wanted me to write fantasy – I did not object to that, but her idea of a Harry Potter look-alike was not very appealing.

“What about a pirate novel?” I suggested.

The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie had been out for some months, and “Jack Sparrow” was almost a household word.

I was thrilled at the idea of writing an adventure fantasy book, for the simple reason that I had been searching for something to read in the same vein as The Curse of the Black Pearl: a sexy protagonist, a beautiful woman for love interest; swashbuckling adventure on the High Seas – and a touch of believable fantasy. Trouble was, although there were plenty of “straight” nautical fiction such as Hornblower and Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey novels there was nothing that matched the fun of P.O.C. – or the sex-appeal of Captain Sparrow. So I decided to write the book I wanted to read.

I researched the subject – the real story of the Golden Age of Piracy – and while on vacation in Dorset, thought up my plot.

The ideas flooded into my mind as I walked, it was truly like opening a door into another world and seeing everything I needed to create an exciting story. I had my ship – Sea Witch, storms at sea, treasure, daring pirate raids – and I had my lead female, Tiola Oldstagh (pronounced Teo-la Oldstaff) Her name is an anagram of ‘all that is good’ and I thought it up while walking along that drizzly, deserted beach. She was to be a healer, a midwife, and a white witch. Not the Harry Potter wand-waving kind, more a Wising Woman, along the idea of the Force in Star Wars.
I had all I needed, except my hero charmer of a rogue.

I sat on a rock and imagined that the sullen, grey English Channel was the sparkling blue of the Caribbean. I looked up. And there he was, standing a few yards away. His boots brushed by the white-foamed surf, his buckram long coat blowing in the wind revealing the pistol thrust through his waist band, and the cutlass at his hip. He had black, shoulder length curly hair, and I could see the glint of a gold earring that was shaped like an acorn. 

He smiled and raised his hand; touched his fingers to his tricorn hat.

“Hello Jesamiah Acorne.” I said.

And I swear all that is true!

I wrote like fury for the next couple of months, unable to stop, pouring my heart and soul into Jesamiah’s story. The more I unravelled about him, the more I fell in love with him.

Glowing with excitement – sure I had a winner on my hands - I sent the finished manuscript to my agent and was shattered to hear that she hated it. It turned out that, for some reason, she had been expecting a story for teenage boys. She did not understand that the world was full of grown-ups (especially us (ahem) ‘mature’ ladies) who wanted to read exciting, romantic, novels about pirates and lovable rogues.

I did not want to turn Sea Witch into a children’s novel; I had very clearly written it for adults, so my agent and I parted company. Simultaneously she informed me that Random House UK were not going to reprint my back list. Devastated, I sobbed for two weeks, then found a small publisher for all my books, and Sea Witch set sail.

I have hit several rough seas since then, and some good following winds. Sourcebooks Inc in the US picked up my serious historical fiction (The Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, Forever Queen (entitled A Hollow Crown in the UK) and I am the Chosen King (Harold the King in the UK). I learnt recently that Forever Queen has made it into the US Today bestseller list!

Unfortunately, this February, my small UK mainstream company succumbed to the financial recession. With three Sea Witch Voyages written and my passion for Jesamiah as glowing as ever, I decided, rather than fall out of print, to self publish with SilverWood Books here in the UK – knowing that Jesamiah would then also be available world wide through Amazon.

So here I am telling you how I was swept off my feet by Jesamiah Acorne, an unkempt charmer of a dashing rogue, who is a blend of Jack Sparrow, Sharpe, Hornblower and Indiana Jones all rolled into one, and who is as real to me as any of the best fictional characters.

I hope you grow to like him and enjoy his Voyages aboard the Sea Witch as much as I do!

There are three at present, with a fourth under way. I intend to write at least six – possibly more!

Sea Witch - Voyage One
Pirate Code - Voyage Two
Bring it Close - Voyage Three
Ripples in the Sand - Voyage Four (expected publication Winter 2011/12)

You are welcome to visit my WEBSITE | join me on FACEBOOK |or come aboard the Sea Witch Facebook page

The Sea Witch Trilogy Book Trailer...

About Helen Hollick...

Helen was born in North East London, England, and started writing pony stories as a young teenager. She moved onto science fiction and fantasy and then discovered the delight of writing historical fiction.

Published in the UK and the US with her books about King Arthur and the 1066 Battle of Hastings, Helen also writes a series of historical adventure seafaring books inspired by her love of the Golden Age of Piracy.

Helen still lives on the outskirts of London with her husband, Ron, adult daughter Kathy and a variety of pets, including a dog, a cat, and three horses.


Giveaway is for your choice of one of the three Sea Witch books, please make sure to note in your comments which book you would like to win.

- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway).
- Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY!
- For +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries. 
- For +3 additional entries join the Passages to the Past FB Page.
- For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on July 17th.




  1. Thanks for the give away Amy!


  2. Wow! What a launch for my Tour! Thank You Amy (Jesamiah is grinning like a... like a.... well like a pirate I suppose!)
    Good luck to everyone who enters the competition - and I hope you all like my rogue of a pirate captain as much as Amy and I do!

  3. Thanks for the opportunity!

    +5 GFC follower

    +3 asked to join FB page

    littleone AT shaw DoT ca

  4. I've really wanted to read this! Thanks for the giveaway :)

    * I'm old GFC and facebook follower
    * tweeted:!/Elysianfield/status/87567164072148992


  5. What a cool story. I have Sea Witch on my shelf waiting for me to have time to read it so I would choose The Pirate Code to join her.

    I follow :)
    I am a member of the PTTP facebook page

    I shared on
    Google Buzz

    Thank you!
    kaiminani at gmail dot com

  6. I have been wanting to start to read this series for a long time! I am an avid fan of Helen's other books and can't wait to begin this series. Please enter me. I am a follower and have joined your fb page.

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

  7. Hi Amy,
    Another great giveaway!!! and great post. Very interesting. I used to devour pirate romances back in the day, well that was what historical fiction was then.

    I shared on FB and Twitter..have been a follower for a few years and I am a follower on the FB page...
    Thanks Amy and Hellen!!!

  8. PS if I win I would like first in the series, Sea Witch...thanks.

  9. A wonderful interview by an amazing writer. Her passion and emotional writing drags you into the past, so much so you can smell the salty sea and feel the wind in your hair.

    I'd love a copy of the Sea Witch if I am lucky enough to win please!

  10. I love this period of history.

    I'd like to enter for Sea Witch

    booklove [at] sawcatsverse [dot] com

    I'm a member of your group and follow on GFC

  11. I already have books 1 and 2, so I'd love to win Bring It Close. Thanks for the giveaway.

    +5 - GFC follower


  12. Wow - what a process! I have read The Forever Queen and I Am The Chosen King and loved them, but didn't know about this pirate series.

    Please enter me - dolleygurl[at]hotmail[dot]com

    I am a longtime follower, already follow the facebook page and tweeted the giveaway!/dolleygurl/status/87585375555551232.

    Thanks Amy!

  13. Since this is a new to me author and series I would love to win Voyage One-Sea Witch.
    Love & Hugs,


    Awesome giveaway

  15. Would love to have the 1st book of this series! Love Passages to the Past, Amy and love Helen Hollick!!!

  16. Would love the chance to win this book. Thanks for the contest - I'm already a follower.


  17. Thanks for the giveaway! I'm already a follower, and I just joined the group on FB!

  18. I love Helen, and her books! I'd like a chance to win Sea Witch, please!


  19. Thanks for the giveaway and for making it International.

    Much appreciated.

    Helen certainly seems to have had more than her due on publisher problems but I am glad she has managed to survive all of that to give us such lovely books.

    I have not read any of the Sea Witch series as yet so if my name is picked I would like the first book.


    Carol T

    buddytho {a} gmail DOT com

    +5 I Follow via GFC (buddyt)

  20. I am amazed at her. She is amazing in the fact that she can write two distinct styles. I follow you and I posted the giveaway on my sidebar.
    I would love to go on my first voyage by reading the first book!!

  21. I'm glad the author chose pirates! I'd love to read these!

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

    +5 GFC follower
    +3 FB follower

  22. I cannot resist a story about a charming rogue and his adventures at sea! The series sounds fantastic. I really want to read this. I would love to win SEA WITCH (Voyage One).

    +5 gfc follower

  23. These books sound so exciting. I'd like to enter for The Sea Witch. And I'm a follower.

  24. ooops!! I think I commented twice. I'm having a ditzy moment. Please remove one.
    BTW Amy, I love your blog. :)

  25. I would love to read these books-

  26. I would love to win the Sea Witch. I'm looking forward to the series. At least 6 books. =)

    I'm a follower.
    tiredwkids at live dot com

  27. Thanks for the giveaway! I would love to win Sea Witch (Prat I).

    - GFC Follower @Misha Mathew
    - Joined the FB page @Misha Mathew
    - Tweeted!/Misha_1989/status/87569524450263040

    - Spread the word on FB

  28. Thank you for opening it to all. Much appreciated. This sounds a wonderful book. I follow on GFC


  29. Wow, what a story -- so glad Ms Hollick didn't give up and went ahead to publish this series -- it sounds marvelous! No need to enter me but I will publicize this giveaway!

  30. Fantastic guest post! I really enjoyed reading how Helen came about writing Sea Witch. These books sound very intriguing. Thanks Helen for the insight, and I look forward to taking this reading voyage.

    Thanks for the giveaway Amy. Crossing my fingers; hoping I win.
    If I do win, I would love the first book in the series; Sea Witch

    I am a longtime follower on GFC and facebook

    ibeeeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  31. Thanks for another great giveway! I'd love to win THE SEA WITCH since I haven't yet read any books in this series.

    Amy // amyismyfriend at aol dot com

    +5 GFC Follower (ArtsyBookishGal)
    +3 FB (Amy S)
    +1 Google Buzz
    +1 Tweeted
    +1 FB Share

  32. The series sounds amazing! Thanks so much for the giveaway :) I'd love to win Sea Witch (Voyage One).


    +5 GFC follower

  33. I would love to win this book. I just quit my job & I have lots of time to read.

  34. Wow it is really sad what an author has to do to get the characters and books they love to come to life. I can understand the business end if it but the reader in me hates it.

    I haven't started reading this series so I would love to win Sea Witch to start it off. I am a GFC follower as well as a Facebook follower.

    Thanks Amy!

  35. I feel so bad that Helen Hollick had to go through such a sad time when her first agent hated her book. Ah - but what sweet revenge she got! I'm sure that agent must be kicking herself/himself every day. Congratulations, Helen, on such a great series!

    Thanks for the giveaway, Amy. If lucky enough to be chosen as a winner, I would love to have a copy of "Sea Witch."

    Connie Fischer

  36. I would love to win a copy of Sea Witch, haven't read any of the series yet. Pendragon's Banner series was awesome, and so was Forever Queen. (I am the Chosen King is on my wish list, too!)

  37. Sounds like a good trilogy! Hope to read the first! I'm also a follower. Thanks!


  38. I would choose Sea Witch. I would start with the first book. Please enter me in contest.

  39. I am a follower and email subscriber.

  40. I'd love to win The Sea Witch!
    I'm a follower, I joined the Facebook page, and I tweeted the giveaway!

    Love this blog, that post is awesome!



  41. +3 follower
    +5 follow on FB
    +1 tweeted
    +1 shred on FB
    would love to read this book.


  42. Enter me please!

    beth-martin AT live DOT com

    +5 I'm already a follower

    I don't know if this counts as well, but I already joined the FB page, if that adds +3 also.

  43. Thanks for the giveaway! I'm a follower as well as a fan on FB.


  44. I'd love to win the first book in this series "Sea Witch". Thanks! mkbrow AT sbcglobal DOT net

  45. suusjes @ planet . nl

  46. Helen Hollick's books are on my wish list, and I would love to add this one to my TBR pile! (They'll probably get there sooner, after this fascinating origin story!) I'm a fan on Facebook as well. :~)
    Thanks much!


  47. I love all the books that I have read by Helen Hollicks. I put her right alongside Sharon Kay Penman and Elizabeth Chadwick....But I have ONE bug bear...I like to buy trilogies all at once and am disappointed that the Pirate series has only one book I can purchase which is the Sea Witch..Pirate Code and Bring it close don't seem available and that is disappointing.

    So keep writing Helen I LOVE your books!

    Good reading to all


  48. Please enter me. I have been a follower for a while. I have not yet read these, but I have heard good things about them and wish to be entered for The Sea Witch, the first one. tchevrestt(at)yahoo(dot)com

    Thank you for posting this interview. I enjoyed it. :)

  49. Marie! They will be available very soon - in fact they _should_ be available now, but for some reason known only to itself, Amazon has not yet got them listed! MY UK publisher went broke a few months ago and refused to return my up to date files - I only had old, unedited ones, so I have worked flat out these last three months to re-edit and get my books back into print with SilverWood. It is so frustrating knowing the printers are printing the books, they are listed in the databases etc but places like Amazon mark them as out of print! The new editions are on their way, I promise!

  50. Pirates! Fantasy! How could it miss? I'd love the first voyage, to begin in style . . . Pam Berkman,

  51. Hello Helen:)
    oh dear, I can understand a publishing company going broke because of the financial crisis but to keep your files is I feel, just plain mean spirited!

    I will be keeping an eye open for your pirate trilogy because I have truly enjoyed your other works(I so wanted King Harold to LIVE! But unfortunately one cannot change history)and the Pendragon trilogy had me rivetted(loved them all). As I said I have read ALL your books and loved them. And as I said DO keep writing because it IS your gift.

    Good Wishes to you Helen:)


  52. Well I don't know what is more interesting the Sea Witch series or how it has come about and the trials and tribulations of getting them published...amazing! So happy for the final success and this wonderful review/post. I'd like to win the first book and start the series off right with The Sea Witch. Fondly, Roberta

  53. Yes I'm a follower of PthP and a facebook fan ;)

  54. Just shared this giveaway on Facebook and those share buttons. Roberta

  55. Just posted this giveaway on my blog's sidebar:


  56. I would love to read sea witch, it sounds really good.

    I am a gfc follower +5

  57. +1 ooooooo! I wanna read this series!
    +5 follower of Passages to the Past
    +3 joined the Passages to the Past FB Page (mamabunny shelor)
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot

  58. I would love SEA WITCH thank you.

    Follow GFC: Mary Preston +5

    Join the Passages to the Past FB Page: Mary Preston +3


  59. I stumbled across this series on another blog. Boy am I glad I did, it sounds great! I can't wait to meet Jesamiah Acorne. So if I where to win any copy. It should be the first "Sea Witch, Voyage One."
    Thank You for a chance.


  60. Great Book Trailer! Wouldn't it be nice if more books like this could be made into movies? I can just see how popular it would be!

    Connie Fischer

  61. I'd love to win Sea Witch - Voyage One. Thanks!

    +5 I'm a follower of Passages to the Past - Aik

    +3 I joined the Passages to the Past FB Page - Aik Chien

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  62. I would dearly love to have one of Helen Hollick's witch books on my shelf to read at leisure and pleasure over and over again

  63. I would like to read Pirate Code. But all of the books sound wonderful. Please enter me. Thanks!

    +5 Follow on GFC


  64. I would like SEA WITCH.
    Follower. ;)


  65. Hi pls enter me! I am a follower! Marci .... Thx so much!

  66. I am such an avid fan of Helen's!! I absolutely LOVED her King Arthur series, and I've been waiting to get my hands on this series for a long time!

    -Longtime follower
    -Tweeted here:!/TreasuredReads

  67. I thought some of you might be interested - a couple of secrets about me and Jesamiah revealed!

    Where does imagination end and reality begin?

  68. I'd love to win Sea Witch, simply to start at the beginning.

    nanze55 at hotmail dot com

  69. I would like to enter for Sea Witch. I am a follower +5, and a member of the FB group, +3.


  70. Yay, pirates! I'm a follower, I just joined your facebook group, and I tweeted @teralynpilgrim teralynpilgrim at yahoo dot com

  71. thank you for all the fantastic comments - I'm quite overwhelmed by the level of enthusiasm I've received.

    You might be interested to know that there is another competition open world wide (closes 8th August 2011) to win a CD - Songs of a Sea Witch - various songs of a nautical nature by UK singer/songwriter Bronwen Harrison - a CD to compliment the Sea Witch Voyages

    You can find out more about Bronwen, listen to a few excerpts and enter the compettion by leaving a comment at the bottom of

    good luck - and thank you again for showing such enthusiastic interest in Jesamiah and my books!

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