A launch of the books will be held at The Tahi Bar & Kitchen on Saturday, May 22, from 5pm. Joanna will also do a book reading at Winter Words – an evening of creative writing at the Mahurangi East Library on Wednesday, May 26, at 7pm.
Sandspit playwright and novelist Joanna Pearce used the time spent in Covid-19 lockdown last year to complete the second novel in a series that she hopes will ultimately become a trilogy.
Of Love and War tells the story of David Pearce, a young midshipman who arrives home in Cornwall, England, after being wounded in the Battle of Trafalgar.
He falls in love with a nurse, Julie, hired to care for him, and the pair become engaged. But things go awry following a duel over Julie’s honour and the pair are forced to flee to America in a small boat while being pursued by the Royal Navy.
The latest book follows the first in the Pearce’s Ocean series – From Rags to Riches – which traces the story of Simon Pearce, David’s grandfather, who was born in poverty on the Isles of Scilly off the Cornish coast. Simon escapes a life of smuggling to rise through the ranks and captain his own ship.
Joanna says the Pearce name would have been familiar to those participating in the events of the time, and when it came to choosing names for her main fictional characters thought she might as well use her own.
She says the genesis for the books came after hearing stories from elderly Cornish folk while growing up in England. They would tell stories of “Cornish Wreckers” who would use lights to induce ships to get stranded on shore, before robbing them.
Later, Joanna moved to the Isles of Scilly herself and learned how to dive.
Among the sunken wrecks she explored was the HMS Association, which features in the books.
“I was dyslexic at school, but my history teacher made the subject come alive, and I’ve been interested in it ever since,” she says.
Joanna was helped with research and editing of the latest book by her partner, Amber Jones.
Mahurangi Matters has a copy of From Rags to Riches and Of Love and War to give away to one lucky reader. To go in the draw, email your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org. Competition closes June 1.