Historic Naval Fiction is pleased to have obtained an Interview with Helen Hollick whose new novel in the The Sea Witch series, Ripples in the Sand, was recently released.
What can you tell us about Ripples in the Sand without spoiling the plot for readers?
In this fourth adventure Captain Jesamiah Acorne again finds himself in trouble, (trouble follows him like a ship’s wake) but the action has moved from the Caribbean and North America to England and Spain. He has a cargo of tobacco to sell – legally, I might add, although he also has a substantial amount of contraband aboard. Tiola, his wife, is also aboard but she is very ill. The crew assume she is suffering from acute seasickness, but in fact her energy of Craft is being drained by the malice of Tethys, goddess-spirit of the sea, who wants Jesamiah for herself. Tiola must find out why Tethys is obsessed with Jesamiah in order to put an end to the on-going feud between them – if Tiola fails, then she could lose Jesamiah to the sea.
Our charmer of a rogue, meanwhile, has his cargo to sell, meets with relatives he did not know he had, and the notorious Doone family of Exmoor. Unwittingly he becomes embroiled in the Jacobite rebellion of 1719 in which there was an attempt to put James Stuart back on the English throne through a great armada of ships. (The Spanish did not seem to learn the lesson of a previous such attempt during the reign of Elizabeth I !) He is also to meet with an old flame… and somehow get himself out of the difficulties he finds himself in…
I decided to bring Jesamiah to England for two reasons; the first to make a change of scene, the second because it is easier for me to research the details of my home country – and County, for I have recently moved from London to Devon. I now live about 15 miles from where Ripples In The Sand is set!
Tiola is more to the fore in this story, we find out a little of her past and how she came to be ‘involved’ with Jesamiah’s ancestors and his own birth.
I originally decided to use Bideford, Devon, as a setting for this book as my good friend and treasured editor lives near there – imagine my astonishment (and delight) when undertaking more detailed research I discovered that in the early eighteenth century Bideford was one of England’s leading ports for the Virginia tobacco trade – I had no idea of this when I was thinking up the original plot!