13 April 2022

When The Mermaid Sings (A prequel story to The Sea Witch Voyages) By Helen Hollick @HelenHollick @maryanneyarde @coffeepotbookclub Blog Tour!


Book Title: When The Mermaid Sings

Series: The Sea Witch Voyages

Author: Helen Hollick 

Publication Date: 21st June 2021

Publisher: Taw River Press

Page Length: 190 Pages

Genre: Historical/Nautical Fantasy

A prequel short read story to the Sea Witch Voyages of Captain Jesamiah Acorne

When the only choice is to run, where do you run to?

When the only sound is the song of the sea, do you listen?

Or do you drown in the embrace of a mermaid?

Throughout childhood, Jesamiah Mereno has suffered the bullying of his elder half-brother. Then, not quite fifteen years old, and on the day they bury their father, Jesamiah hits back. In consequence, he flees his Virginia home, changes his name to Jesamiah Acorne, and joins the crew of his father’s seafaring friend, Captain Malachias Taylor, aboard the privateer, Mermaid.

He makes enemies, sees the ghost of his father, wonders who is the Cornish girl he hears in his mind – and tries to avoid the beguiling lure of a sensuous mermaid...

An early coming-of-age tale of the young Jesamiah Acorne, set in the years before he becomes a pirate and Captain of the Sea Witch.


Ms Hollick has skillfully picked up the threads that she alludes to in the main books and knitted them together to create a Jesamiah that we really didn't know.” Richard Tearle senior reviewer, Discovering Diamonds

Captain Jesamiah Acorne is as charming a scoundrel as a fictional pirate should be. A resourceful competitor to Captain Jack Sparrow!” Antoine Vanner author

Helen Hollick has given us the answer to that intriguing question that Jesamiah fans have been aching for – how did he start his sea-going career as a pirate?” Alison Morton, author

I really enjoyed the insight offered into Jesamiah's backstory, and found the depiction of our teenage hero very moving.” Anna Belfrage, author

I loved this little addendum to the Jesamiah series. I always had a soft spot for the Lorelei stories and enjoyed that the author cleverly brought her over from the Rhine valley to fit into the story.” Amazon Reviewer

Trigger Warnings:

Sexual content, adult language.


Today, 13th April, is my birthday. (I can’t believe that I’m 69!) so the excerpt I have chosen for today – although a different date – is also my pirate’s birthday. But his is slightly more adventurous than mine!

A brief bit about the Sea Witch Voyages

I wrote the first Voyage (Sea Witch) back in 2005 after thoroughly enjoying the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Like most avid readers, however, I wanted more than just the movie, I wanted to read something that was as entertaining and as exciting. A nautical adventure with a charming rogue of a pirate captain, written for adults (with adult content) but with a dash of supernatural fantasy as well – elements of which had made that first movie such fun to watch. I found many nautical-based novels, but they were all ‘serious stuff’ – Patrick O’Brian, Alexander Kent, C. S. Forrester ... all good reads but without the fantasy fun, and barely a female character in sight. I simply could not find the book I wanted to read. So, I wrote my own.

The first Voyage led to more books in the series, and also generated several emails from fans who wanted to know how Jesamiah had become a pirate in the first place.

When the Mermaid Sings answers that question.

* * *

(Excerpt 9)

December 4th 1708

Four months of plying up and down the east coast of North America, from the Chesapeake to Charlestown, South Carolina. Routine: load a cargo, take it to where it had to go, unload, reload…

The monotony was broken by the challenges of the weather, from hot, sultry days where the heat-scorched breath and the deck ran with sticky tar, to downpours of rain ushered in by the tail end of the hurricane season. As autumn slid into winter and the Anna ploughed her way northward to Boston the bitter north-east winds blew in, with the rigging rimed by ice, and hands, faces and feet forever cold. Returning south, they were heading towards the sun of the Caribbean, short-handed by two men. One had died from blood loss after severing his hand, the other had fallen from the masthead, breaking his neck. Both were not missed by Captain or crew.

Jesamiah sat cross-legged beside the longboat, taking advantage of the shade and shelter from the sun and the wind, busy about mending a sail. He paused, sucked at a new spot of blood as the needle stabbed his finger. His hands were calloused, tar-grimed and rough, his skin sun- and wind-tanned and his hair was plaited into an unruly queue. His youth was changing into manhood, his voice losing its uncertain pitch to become deeper and huskier, and his face sprouting hair. He had not washed for several days. He was fifteen today, although only he knew it. When he had signed on as a foremast jack, he had told the Captain, Nathanial Parker, that he was seventeen. Whether he had been believed or not was immaterial, for he was here, aboard Anna, with no further questions asked. There would be no birthday treats, no hug and kiss from his mother. Thinking of his mother, after sucking the blood from his finger, Jesamiah touched the gold acorn earring dangling from his right earlobe. She had intended the trinket for his birthday today, though she would not have envisaged the day was to be spent aboard a merchant ship bound for Port Royal.

The food aboard Anna was poor. Weevil-riddled hard tack, stews with more fat and gristle than meat, the water in the butts had turned green and foul within days of replenishing. His worn old clothes were constantly damp and the work was hard. Anna rolled as a strong gust of wind buffeted her. Jesamiah looked up, ready to assist in tending the mainsail if needed, but other men were already there, seeing to it. He fashioned another stitch and grinned as Captain Parker, standing on the quarterdeck, grabbed his felt hat which was about to be abducted by the wind. Life aboard a merchantman? Tough, relentless work. 

Jesamiah absolutely loved it.

“You finished that yet?” growled Stannis, the bosun, as he walked past, his gait rolling with the ship. No one knew his first name, or even whether he had one. General opinion was that, if he did, he was too mean-minded to use it.

“Nearly, sir – three more stitches an’ I will’ve done.”

“Providin’ you don’t take all day about it. When you’ve done,get yourself up that mast to relieve Markham. Your eyes are better ’n ’is. There’s a ship layin’ over t’starb’d. Cap’n as wants t’know what she be.”

“Aye, sir.”

Before Stannis had walked the length of the deck, Jesamiah had completed his task and was heading for the mainmast rigging. He hoisted himself up into the shrouds and began climbing, gripping on to the permanent rigging that supported the mast, not the ratlines, the smaller, tarred ropes stretching horizontally like the steps of a ladder; the bare, hardened soles of his feet scarcely feeling their coarseness as he climbed. Manoeuvring around the running gear that threaded its way through the rigging, he climbed on upwards. The view of the ship grew narrower beneath him, the great grey and tar-stained arcs of canvas billowing and cracking, banging and slapping, the roar of the wind, loud in his ears.

He reached the wooden platform halfway up and, ignoring the easier route through the lubber’s hole, swung outwards up and over the rim of the platform. A few agile steps and he was over. The sky was the purest blue, only a few puffballs of white cloud marring its perfection. The horizon plunged back and forth with the swaying, circular motion of the mast as the ship rolled and pitched, the distant line sweeping in an unbroken arc where sky met shimmering sea. The men working below on deck were minute from up here, Anna herself appearing long and thin, and so small compared to the vast blue of the restless ocean surrounding her.

Jesamiah grinned at Tom Markham, who was on his feet ready to go down. Markham pointed to the black shape of a topgallant sail north-east of their course.

“That’s her. She’s been with us since first light. I’ve a suspicion about her. A smell.”

Settling himself, as if unaware of the great drop below, Jesamiah answered, “Do you reckon she’s Spanish or French? Will they attack?”

“If she’s flying colours from either country we could be in trouble. Sing out if you spot what she is. If she’s an enemy, we’ll need every minute we can muster to get away from her. We ain’t no match for the Dons or the Frenchies, and once they see we’re a poorly armed merchant, well, I hope you know your prayers, young Acorne. The safety of English Port Royal is a good few hours away yet!”

Smiling to himself, Jesamiah shuffled his backside into a more comfortable position. Acorne. It had been the first name to come to mind when he was asked to sign his mark on Anna’s list of crew. He had not wanted his birth name, had not wanted anything more to do with his old home. He had decided to take on a new identity as well as a new life. The ‘e’ he had added with a flourish as he had signed. Jesamiah Acorne, foremast jack.

He was determined to turn that last into ‘Captain’ one day.

How I met Jesamiah Acorne (the tru-ish) story


Buy Links:

Available on #KindleUnlimited.

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0968RQ6FS

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0968RQ6FS

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B0968RQ6FS

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B0968RQ6FS


First published in 1994, Helen became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she writes a nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages. She is now branching out into the quick read novella, 'Cosy Mystery' genre with her new venture, the Jan Christopher Murder Mysteries, set in the 1970s, with the first in the series, A Mirror Murder incorporating her, often hilarious, memories of working as a library assistant.

Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales and Life of A Smuggler. She lives in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in North Devon, runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction, and occasionally gets time to write... 


Social Media Links:

Website: https://www.helenhollick.net

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HelenHollick

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/helen.hollick

Amazon Author Page: https://viewauthor.at/HelenHollick /

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/477847.Helen_Hollick

Newsletter: http://tinyletter.com/HelenHollick

1 comment:

  1. Good luck to Helen for the book's success and the tour!



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