Guest Post by Helen Hollick + Giveaway of Ripples in the Sand

Passages to the Past is pleased to be hosting author Helen Hollick today as part of her virtual tour for her latest release, Ripples in the Sand!  You can see the full schedule of stops here.

Hello Amy – thank you so much for inviting me and my pirate, Jesamiah Acorne (Captain!) on to your blog. And an even greater thank you to your lovely readers for taking the time to join us here.

It is not easy living alongside invented characters. They do, somewhat, take over your life – the make-believe becomes the reality, and reality can take a bit of a back seat on too many occasions for too many hours of the week. Cook dinner? Go shopping? Do the laundry? Sorry, I’m too busy having wild adventures in a different world with my larger than life friends! To me, my fictional characters are real people – especially when one of those characters is Captain Jesamiah Acorne, a charismatic rogue of a handsome charmer. I know him intimately; his likes and dislikes, his quirks and foibles. What makes him laugh or cry; what pleases him, what makes him angry. I hear his voice – especially that deep, husky guffaw of his when something I do amuses him. I know exactly what he looks, smells and sounds like, and I am very aware of his continuous presence behind my right shoulder.

Is this imagination, or is there some sort of ethereal link to someone from the past – or to someone who exists in a parallel world, one which we call “imagination”?

There are two sides to having your very own pirate though, one good, one a tad annoying. It can be very unsettling when daily Life has to come to the fore – for instance, these last few weeks when I have been moving home from London to Devon. Moving is a stressful business, and my husband, daughter and her partner have worked hard at making the new house ‘home’ – but it can be most disconcerting to hear an (imagined or otherwise) voice in your ear grumbling: ‘When are you going to get on and write my next adventure?’

On the other hand, I have occasionally found myself in an uncomfortable or even frightening situation, when it can be most useful to feel that I have a 5’10, cutlass-wielding pirate standing guard behind me! That thought can boost a sagging confidence no end!

So how ‘real’ are the characters that authors write about? In historical fiction we portray the people of the past, those people who did indeed live real lives – the kings, queens, their consorts, friends and enemies. Or maybe we create made-up people who lived in turbulent and troubled times that actually occurred. We research what facts we can, gather as much information – from a variety of sources – and write a version of history that we feel is probably close to the truth. Others, be they readers or writers, academics or historians may disagree with our version of past events of course, but everyone has their own theories, and we argue like made between ourselves as to who is right or wrong. We will never know the truth, but does the truth really matter in a novel of fiction?

I guess it does when it comes to the detail – who is going to enjoy a novel about the Battle of Hastings, for instance, if the author sets this most famous of historical events in 1067 - the wrong date? Or, unless it is deliberately written as alternative fiction, a novel where Richard III survives and Henry Tudor dies? (Interesting that until now many have ridiculed Shakespeare for depicting Richard as a hunchback with a deformed shoulder – yet the recent discovery of his remains have shown that he had distinctive curvature of the spine. Shakespeare obviously knew something we didn’t!)

Some novels I read I just cannot get into. This has nothing to do with the plot, the style of writing or the accuracy of the detail, but is all to do with the believability of the characters, particularly the main protagonist.

How can the reader believe in a character if the writer does not? If that character is only one dimensional, if he or she does unbelievable things, or changes their given characteristics halfway through the novel? Having said that, many a hero, or heroine is placed in unbelievable situations. My Jesamiah has survived trauma that most adults possibly would not – and look at movie characters such as James Bond. How many unbelievable times has he survived the prospect of death (while everyone around him cops it)? That sort of occurrence is acceptable in fiction though. We know no real person would be able to endure such outrageous difficulties – but that is the fun of stories; it is not what the plot is about but how the hero gets through it all.

It might only be my opinion, but for what it is worth, I think that it is an author’s duty to think of the people they write about as real people – even if, in consequence, others who live outside the realm of imagination think that most of us writers are completely potty!

My life has been enriched by meeting Jesamiah Acorne – and my King Arthur, Emma of Normandy and Harold Godwineson. I would not trade their presence in my life for anything – not even my rather shaky sanity! *laugh*

Publication Date: January 15, 2013
Silverwood Books
Paperback; 310p
ISBN-10: 1781320772

Approaching England's North Devon Coast Captain Jesamiah Acorne is worried. A Royal Navy frigate is trailing in his wake and Sea Witch has a hidden cache of brandy and indigo aboard. His instinct is to hoist full sail and flee, but he cannot attract attention, for his wife, Tiola, is ill and getting worse. She says the sea is affecting her, but Jesamiah has never seen seasickness like this before - is it something worse; something to do with her being a white witch perhaps? Like an approaching storm, his worries get deeper, darker and more sinister. Tiola's brother, Ben, is in gaol, arrested for smuggling. At a loss of how to help him, opportunity comes in the unexpected form of Sir Ailie Doone - the last of the notorious Doone family of Exmoor. He offers Jesamiah a highly secret but lucrative commission to go to Spain and bring back to England a man who will lead a Jacobite rebellion. It seems an ideal solution, but first Jesamiah must break young Ben out of gaol. Once escaped from the threat of the gallows, the boy can sail with Jesamiah on the Sea Witch leaving Tiola ashore to recover in peace. Except, being captured and interrogated by the Spanish and meeting with an old friend, the beautiful English spy Francesca, is not part of Jesamiah's plan. Once again he is in danger of losing his fidelity, his freedom and maybe even his life. Tiola meanwhile, has her own fears to face. Why is the ethereal spirit of the sea, Tethys, so determined to have Jesamiah for her own? To save him, Tiola must find a way to recall her previous lives and discover why events of the past have influenced the hatreds of the present. Like ripples in the sand blending together when disturbed, she must influence the fragile ripples of time... 

About the Author

Helen Hollick lives in London with her husband and adult daughter. In between researching the background information for her historical novels, and her pirate series about Jesamiah Acorne, she spends most of her time helping with her daughter's horses as chief groom and general run-around. She has a university diploma in early medieval history - and a passion for pirates.  


Passages to the Past has one copy of Ripples in the Sand up for grabs.  To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter form below.

Giveaway is open internationally and ends on March 19.  Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thank you Amy for inviting me aboard your blog - so far the Tour has gone well, I have met some lovely people these past few days!
    Good luck to everyone who enters the competition - I'm sure you'll enjoy adventuring with my rogue of an (ex)pirate!

  2. Just as an addendum: above in the "about the author" section it states I live in London - as all my regular followers know I very recently moved to Devon, where it is much nicer than London! :-) I now live about 11 miles from where Ripples In The Sand is set!


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