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Author Interview with Helen Hollick

Today’s Author Interview by Jerelyn (I-F-Letty)  is with Helen Hollick. Thank you both for this interview!


Jerelyn:  I would like to thank author Helen Hollick for agreeing to talk with us about her newly released novel I am The Chosen King.

Why did you choose Harold Godwinson to write about?

Helen:  He rather chose me! I had finished my Arthurian trilogy and could not decide what to write next. My mother was organising a Women’s Group outing to Hastings, calling in at Battle Abbey – the site of the Battle of Hastings – on the way. There was a spare seat, so I went along. Walking the battlefield (on my own because it was raining) was such a magical experience…. Add to that, Harold’s own abbey at Waltham (Waltham Abbey) is only a few miles from where I live.

So he was an easy choice really!

Jerelyn:   It always amazes me how much research a historical fiction novel takes, it is evident that you did a great deal, just how long does it take you to do your research before your ready to sit down and write?

Helen:  It took me about a year to research for Harold the King (UK title) / I Am The Chosen King (US title) Another year to write it!

Jerelyn:    Often times there is very little information about the women of this time period, how do you go about fleshing them out?

Helen:  The small bits of information form the framework. For instance: we know that Edyth Swanneck was “wife” to Harold for about 20 years, and they had at least six children. So I built around that, adding domestic scenes and things from my own experience: Edyth riding her pony, walking with her daughter etc., From Saxon recipe books used domestic duties – all the little things that make up everyday life.

Jerelyn:   Besides Harold do you have a favorite person or people that you found while writing the book?

Helen:  Yes, Edyth Swanneck. She came from a village, Nazeing, which is also near to where I live. I saw her very clearly in a dream (another reason why I wrote the book) I dreamt the entire scene that became chapter 2 – seeing and hearing everything.

(*laugh* that will make you read the book now – to find out what happens in chapter 2!)

Jerelyn:   Your battle scenes are very well done, how do you go there?

Helen:  I go to a lot of re-enactments – I attend the Battle of Hastings re-enactment every year, signing books, but I have watched all sorts of battles. Some of them can get very realistic! The sight, sound, smell is as near to a battle as we can get. The rest, I’m afraid, is pure imagination.

Jerelyn:  What would you most like for people to take away with them upon finishing your book.

Helen:  Just enjoyment – and the knowledge that King Harold was our rightful King who gave his life defending his Kingdom and his people.

Jerelyn:   I understand that I am The Chosen King is being made into a movie titled 1066, and that you are co-screen writer.  Would you like to tell us about this?

Helen:  Yes that is right – when we can get the funding! I have worked on the project with the producer/director for about 5 years now (it takes a long time to get a movie together).

Our aim is to shoot an entertaining movie , but one that is as accurate as possible. The battle scenes, we promise, will be spectacular!

Jerelyn:  I’d like to change gears here, and ask you about a series you wrote called the Sea Witch Chronicles.  These are a particular favorite of mine.  So far there are three books and a fourth is slated for a fall release.

Helen:  Yes the fourth “Voyage” called Ripples In the Sand will hopefully, be published in October. I had wanted it ready for a Spring release, but publishing circumstances have caused a delay.

Jerelyn:  They are described as historical fantasy, why did you want to write about Pirates and what make them fantasy?

Helen:  I’m finding that I now describe them as Historical Adventure – it is very difficult to pigeon hole some books into a genre though. I suppose you could say they are “a blend of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe with Hornblower crossed with Indiana Jones”

The “fantasy” is supernatural really. My pirate’s girlfriend is a white witch – but not in the Harry Potter way, more the Star Wars “Force” way. She cannot perform magic spells – but she can use natural energy to conjure up a wind. I also have the supernatural elementals of Tethys, the Goddess of the Sea.

I wanted to write a pirate-based story because of falling for Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow. The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was such fun I wanted to read some novels that were in the same vein – adventure with a touch of supernatural. But there weren’t any!

Plenty of nautical adventures, several pirate adventures – but nothing with that extra touch of “fun”. So I wrote my own!

Jerelyn:   I adore Jesamiah Acorne,  I have read the story of how he came to you while walking on the beach would you tell us the story?

Helen:  He is a charmer of a rogue isn’t he? I went for a walk on a beach in Dorset, on the south coast of England. I had decided to write my story and was pondering the plot – the whole thing came to me except for my “hero”…. And then….

Well, you can read the whole encounter here…http://www.helenhollick.net/noteseaw.html

Jerelyn:   What were the challenges you faced when you departed from straight historical fiction?

Helen:  Finding a publisher for one. Publishers, for some strange reason think that no one likes reading about pirates….. A few people told me to write the story as “straight” fiction – but they had missed the point that the idea was to have a bit of make-believe fun!

I also found it quite difficult at first keeping to action, and not going into detail as I do in my “bigger” books.

Jerelyn:   Did you know about ships and sailing before writing these novels?

Helen:  Not a thing. Although I have always loved tall ships from when I was a small girl. The nearest I have been is sailing in a boat-lake dinghy! As soon as I started writing though, things just came naturally. Yes I had to look up specific words and manoeuvres, but the feel of a ship, the sounds, the smells – just being on a ship – well I just know it. I must have been a sailor in a previous life. My ancestors did come from Bristol….

Jerelyn:   What is next for you?

Helen:  After completing Voyage Four, Ripples In the Sand I intend to write another straight novel – either a follow-up to Harold or about Boudicca. Nor sure yet. And there will be at least Voyage Five “On the Account” and Six “Gallows Wake”  for Jesamiah fans.

Jerelyn:   Did you always want to be a writer?

Helen:  Yes, although until I was older I always thought writers were clever people who had degrees and a University education. (I haven’t. I left school at 16) Writers are ordinary people who have a good story to tell.

Jerelyn:   I always wonder what a writer reads, beside research.  Do you have a favorite genre or author?

Helen:  It depends on what mood I am I, I tend to go for books that provide enjoyment but I don’t have to think about too much. And an eye problem means I have to be selective with font size. At the moment I am reading some of Rosemary Sutcliff’s wonderful novels.

Jerelyn:  I want to thank you personally for taking the time to do this, and for the donation of the signed book one of our members will no doubt be thrilled to receive it.

Helen:  My pleasure!


For more information on Helen Hollick, please see her website http://www.helenhollick.net

To connect with Helen Hollick on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/helen.hollick


To win an autographed copy of  a Helen Hollick book, leave a comment.  A winner will be chosen at random. Helen Hollick has generously offered to sign a book of your choice!






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23 Responses to “Author Interview with Helen Hollick”

  1. Cathy says:

    Excellent interview Jerelyn. I’m a big fan of Helen’s books and Harold is definitely a favorite and he’s one of my *hunks in history*.

  2. thank you for the interview & for featuring me – good luck to everyone for the contest!

  3. Marilyn Watson says:

    I love Helen Hollick’s writing..I recently found another huge fan in one of my BF from College days. Please sign me up to win and thank you for the Contest!

  4. Alena Podhorsky says:

    I love reading about history. I haven’t had a chance to read any of your books yet. The library I live does not carry them. Hoping they’ll get it together. I look forward to reading the Arthurian trilogy. Keep on writing. We love reading.

  5. Christa H. (flchris) Denham Spgs, LA says:

    Glad to know that I have something in commong with Ms. Hollick…falling for Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow! Thanks to Letty and Helen for the great interview!

  6. Kelly P. (KellyP) , says:

    I’ve loved every Helen Hollick book I’ve read, esp. about Harold. How exciting to see that Ms. Hollick is considering a follow-up to Harold, or a book about Boudicca. That is one I’d definitely love to read.

  7. Jeanne L. (bkydbirder) , says:

    Having acquired all of the books which Ms. Hollick has written/published to date, I have to say that I am so glad that the Sea Witch series will continue and I agree with Kelly that to anticipate a book about Boudicca would be wonderful!

    Thank you both for this wonderful interview. It’s so great to have a chance to get to know our favorite authors a little better!

  8. Sianeka N Hollywood, CA says:

    I am unfamiliar with Ms. Hollick and her novels, so this interview is a good introduction to her various novels, plotlines and heroes. Her pirate series piques my interest (I also enjoyed the spirit of fun and adventures of Jack Sparrow, and not just the eye-candy provided by Mr. Depp!) and I do like to read Arthurian tales (which is why I’m quite surprised at not previously knowing about Ms. Hollick and her books!) And I’m a big fan of Cornwell’s Sharpe books, so I was pleased to see the reference to these stories…

  9. Cheryl M. (hannamatt52) says:

    Now I want to read “I am the Chosen King” even more than I did before. I love the Arthur legend as well and will certainly have to pursue those too.

  10. ANNA S. (SanJoseCa) says:

    Ms. Hollick is a “new” author to me. This interview has inspired me to read her books. Thanks!

  11. Diane G. (icesk8tr) , says:

    Very interesting interview. Another author I have not read at all, but I did love the adventures of Jack Sparrow! I will have to check out her books and see!

  12. Mimi M. (mimima) says:

    I’ve not read Ms. Hollick’s work, but greatly look forward to the opportunity to do so. My thanks to her for agreeing to be such a wonderful interview subject.

  13. Elizabeth B. (Cattriona) says:

    This has gotten me interested in the author’s works as well — thank you Letty and Ms. Hollick for doing this!

  14. Bonnie (LoveNE) , says:

    Another splendid job Jerelyn! Thanks for peaking my interest in your work Ms Hollick!

  15. Vicky T. (VickyJo) says:

    Thank you Ms. Hollick for taking the time to ‘talk’ to us. I’ve been quite impulsive and purchased all of your books for my Kindle. Now to settle in and read! I am so looking forward to each and every one. Plus, a novel about Boudicca would be wonderful.

    Another great interview Letty! Thanks to you too.

  16. Cannot wait to read I am the Chosen King! I would love to attend a re-enactment some day. It sounds like it would be something awesome to witness. The closest I have come so far are jousting matches at a renaissance faire 🙂

  17. Deb B. (bookzealot) says:

    Great interview — thank you both! I’ve had several Hollick books on my WL for a very, very long time — so I think you should pick my name 🙂

  18. Kelly E. (rainfall) says:

    Great interview! Wow, I have a couple of Hellen Hollick’s books on my list to get, but haven’t read any yet. I keep hearing wonderful things about them and am going to bump them up my reading list now!

  19. Denise K. says:

    I am so anxious to read I am the Chosen King, I loved The Forever Queen

  20. Leslie (karobee88) says:

    I haven’t read any of Ms. Hollick’s books yet either, but they definitely sound like something right up my alley. I agree as well, that a book about Boudicca sounds amazing.

  21. Katy (srfbluemama) says:

    I’ve been wanting to read a book by Helen Hollick–I’ve heard only great things about her books. Thanks for this great interview!

  22. Helen Hollick interviews are always entertaining. I love hearing what she has to say! Thanks for the giveaway!

  23. Shannon G. (forever913) says:

    The more I hear about the Sea Witch Chronicles, the more I want to read the books. =)

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