Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Silly, of course, but a bit of fun which we all need. So, I’m especially delighted that the author of a number of books about pirates is contributing to my series Where I Write. I’m talking of course about the talented and ever-helpful Helen Hollick who has written books, not only on pirates, but on a very wide range of subjects.
I used to live in Somerset so know the delightful part of the world where Helen lives very well. It seems an idyllic place in which to write.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.
Where I Write
by Helen Hollick
Well, being truthful, I write a lot in my head in the small hours of the morning when I wake up and after visiting the bathroom, can’t get back to sleep again. I plan out entire chapters, complete with conversation, action, romance or whatever… so not surprising I don’t fall asleep again is it?
Of course, by the time I do have to get up (after having finally slept), had a shower, breakfast etc, booted the computer up, answered emails and the routine daily tasks (I run an historical fiction review blog called Discovered Diamonds, which requires daily updating) I’ve forgotten most of what I had intended to write. Once I get going, though, the ideas flood back.
It also depends on what I am writing. If non-fiction for a book I’ve been commissioned to write, or maybe a blog article for my own blog or as a guest spot on someone else’s, there may be research to do. Perhaps my monthly newsletter needs writing or a review for the above review blog – whatever, I guess I get through several thousand words a day. No wonder I wear out keyboards pretty quickly!
So where is this physical place where I park myself to write the next (hopeful) bestseller? I have a ‘study with a view’. It’s actually a conservatory-type extension to the 18th century Devonshire farmhouse I live in. Built in 1769 it was a dairy farm until the mid-nineteen-seventies, although hay has always been grown and cut in the fields, alongside grazing cattle, sheep, geese, hens and horses. Now, we occasionally play host to our neighbouring farmer’s sheep, but alas no cattle just the geese, ducks, hens and horses.
Oh and a donkey.
My view out of the windows overlooks our orchard, the slope down to the Taw Valley and the rolling hills beyond. I love watching the colours change, depending on the time of day, the sun and shadows or the (frequent) showers of rain. You would think the Devon countryside was just green, but since moving here in January 2013 I’ve realised how many varied shades of green there are – from almost yellow to the darkest hues.
There are also the birds. We have a bird table quite close to the house, so even with my fading vision I can see them hopping about. Chaffinches, verities of sparrows and tits, nuthatches, robins, yellowhammers… I’ve just glanced out – there is an enormous hen pheasant squeezed on to the table. Think rugby ball shape and size! She is one we rescued and reared two years ago, her ‘mum’ had been run over in the lane. We got out of the car to remove her and found five day-old chicks nearby. Four made it to maturity and they still live in the orchard. We also have woodpeckers, buzzards and a pair of barn owls are nesting nearby.
Before moving to Devon I lived in north-east London (hated it there) but I came to Devon a couple of times a year as my editor used to live not far from Barnstaple. I would get the train from Paddington, change at Exeter on to the Tarka Line. Little did I know that I was passing the house I now live in – I can see a little bit of the line from my bedroom, and I enjoy watching the trains go by twice an hour as they clickety-clack over the bridge. It is rather like having your very own full size train set!
I love Appledore, Instow and the confluence of the Torridge and Taw Rivers, one flowing past Bideford the other, Barnstaple
So of course I had quite a bit of inspiration for the fourth of my Sea Witch Voyages, Ripples In The Sand which is set in the vicinity. My pirate character, Captain Jesamiah Acorne, goes up the River Taw at night to the town for a specific reason, but I’m not letting on what – *spoiler*! I am also thinking of writing a murder-mystery series which I will initially base here in North Devon.
Taking a break from writing, usually for lunch or an afternoon cup of tea I wander up to our stable yard where my daughter keeps our horses. Kathy showjumps the two competition horses (she also rides side saddle), and we have three Exmoor ponies, all of which were once wild ponies on the Moor.
Then there are the two dogs, Baz and Eddie, who keep me company either while I am writing or on nice walks up the lane or down to the woods.
I expect you’ve gathered by now that I love my study and my home – although I have another confession: I do tend to spend more time looking out the window than writing!
Well, there is always something interesting happening! Maybe the farmer across the valley is ploughing or cutting the hay, maybe the roe deer (or even sometimes, red deer) appear in the field beyond the orchard. Or I spot the barn owl hunting, or it has been raining and the sun comes out. Suddenly there is the most beautiful rainbow arcing across the valley.
I do get the writing done eventually, after all I am about to start the sixth in my Sea Witch Voyages series, Gallows Wake and I have a book about smugglers planned…
Main Blog: www.ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.com
My Author Page on an Amazon near you : http://viewAuthor.at/HelenHollick
Discovering Diamonds Review Blog: https://discoveringdiamonds.blogspot.co.uk/
Newsletter Subscription: http://tinyletter.com/HelenHollick
Thank you very much, Helen and good luck with all your forthcoming books.