Sailing Into New Seas!

Something Exciting to Share!

As some of my friends, followers and readers know, I’ve been a published author for over twenty years now. During those years I have some fabulous ‘highs’ and some absolute depth ‘lows’. The biggest High was being accepted for publication by William Heinemann (Random House UK) in 1993, the lowest Low – being dropped simultaneously by my agent and publisher.

Words cannot convey the devastation I felt after being told (quite brutally) by said ex-agent that my career had (apparently) ended. The cause of the rift was that she didn’t like Sea Witch. That added to the devastation because I had put my heart and soul into writing that book, and since then several readers – including some top authors - have told me it shows. The few people to be negative seem to be readers who do not like violence, sex, or bad language… but Sea Witch is a pirate-based adventure for adults, with adult content. 

Pirates usually were violent, sex-orienteered and foul-mouthed, but fair enough, it would be a boring world if we all liked reading the same thing. 
Unfortunately ex-agent also didn’t like it, (didn't like the Pirates of the Caribbean movie) and didn't like me for sticking to my gut-instinct, not meekly doing as she wanted (ordered) me to do.
He’s a drunken womaniser!’ she protested. 

Umm… pirate? 
It isn’t suitable for teenage boys!’ she exclaimed. 
Umm… actually quite a few teenage boys love it - but I didn’t write Sea Witch for teenage boys. 
I don’t write for teenage boys. 
I have no intention of writing for teenage boys. 
I was told to either write it for teenage boys or find another agent. 

I wrote Sea Witch because I enjoyed the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and wanted to read something similar – a nautical adventure with a handsome, loveable, rogue of a pirate captain, with a believable blend of fantasy intertwined. I found plenty of Young Adult fiction that fitted the bill, but nothing for adults with that inclusion of adult content.

So I wrote my own.

Getting over the shock of being dumped in such a fashion I retrieved my files for my other serious historical fiction novels, put my faith in Sea Witch, and went ‘Indie’ – self-published. There have been several Lows there too, but I’ve survived. OK I don’t sell my books by the thousand, but they are selling steadily. I have an increasing readership – and my pirate, Captain Jesamiah Acorne, has an expanding fan base clamouring for me to get the Fifth Voyage, On The Account finished. (Nearly there!)

There is always that little bit of doubt, though, as an Indie writer. Am I a good writer? How do I reach more readers? Is this all just a waste of time? I can’t keep up with all this marketing – why on earth am I doing this!

And then, one day, out of the blue something turns up to make you shout ‘Yes! It is all worthwhile!’

Except for me on this occasion two things more or less came along together. Maybe small fry to established mainstream authors, publishers and agents, but these two things have restored my self-confidence and shown me that I was right about Sea Witch (and the following books in the series.)

Happy Dance Grin number one: 

I was approached by Catnip Edizioni, A young digital publishing house dedicated to unpublished authors and Italian translations of international discoveries” to have the entire series of the Sea Witch Voyages translated into Italian.
I have now signed the contract and look forward to seeing Jesamiah in Italian. 
(Well you’ve heard of Spaghetti Westerns… why not Spaghetti Pirates?)

Their latest release is :

Happy Dance Grin number two: 

I have signed a contract after being approached by UK mainstream Amberley Publishing to write a non-fiction book about pirates.

We have not completely decided on a title yet, but it will be something like Pirates: the Fiction and the Fact (although we’ll come up with something more interesting than that).

Inside will be exactly what is says on the label. The plan is to write the factual side of pirates, exploring the famous names and exploits but also covering what pirates did in their ‘spare time’; how they lived, plundered – and died. Balancing this with the fictional world of piracy, from Errol Flynn to Jack Sparrow, and yes, via my own Jesamiah Acorne!

The background flavour of my Sea Witch Voyages are based on fact – Bring It Close, the third Voyage for instance, features Blackbeard (that most notorious pirate). I wove his story into Jesamiah’s adventures. Exploring the facts that can be turned into fiction is occasionally a challenge, but is always exciting.

Were they Rough Hooligans or Romantic Heroes? 
They were actually terrorists, drunks, womanisers, murderers, thieves... but in novels, well, don't we all like the bad-boy hero who, beneath it all, has a heart (and a tooth or two) of gold?

About Amberley Publishing
At Amberley we aim to publish authoritative books which also broaden the appeal and accessibility of the subjects. Our authors range hugely in experience from first-time writers to well-known professionals but they all display impressive knowledge and enthusiasm in their fields of expertise. Our aim at Amberley is to channel our authors’ passion through their books, in a way that appeals to a large and varied readership. We hope our books can introduce new readers to a topic, stir up old memories, fill in knowledge gaps, spark debate or quite simply provide enjoyment of a subject.”
Living In Squares - Loving In Triangles
Their latest book is: Living in Squares, Loving in Triangles: The Lives and Loves of Virginia Woolf & the Bloomsbury Group by Amy Licence 

I am thrilled by this new venture (and although I am proud of being an an Indie writer,) a return to mainstream publishing in the UK because I have been asked to write a book is very exciting!

So to all who read my books, follow me here on this blog (and my other blogs,) on Facebook, Twitter and such - I am honoured by, and appreciate, your support, friendship and enthusiasm for my books...      THANK YOU


  1. Helen, HUGE congratulations, you deserve it all. Wonderful news x

  2. I'm so pleased for you, Helen. All totally deserved!

    1. Thank you Judith - I am a tad excited! :-)


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