Please start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! My name’s Helen and I have an afro. I’m not sure whether I’m growing it or it’s growing me… I live in London and spend most of my time trying to figure out how I could have a dog.
Now please share a little bit about your books.
The first instalment of my young adult ‘Afterlife’ trilogy is now available. It’s a fast paced, action packed story based in a future Britain ruled by a fascist Christian government. A minibus of teenagers are scattered across the Afterlife. They wake up in paradise and what reviewers have called ‘inventively nasty’ hell sectors. It’s fast, funny and free (on my website) so you can make your own mind up…
Do you have a favourite character in your books?
So many favourites! I adore my main character Eve, I’ve put a lot of my little sister into her. I’m loving writing Hannah, the first main character of the second book, she’s turning into a master manipulator. Actually- my favourite favourite is Grace Gupta, who is just angry all the time. She’s great. If I’ve had a hard day there nothing like writing a bit of Grace as a way to vent.
How about a favourite moment?
Hard to answer without spoilers… It’s probably when Mare and Joel kiss for the first time just before the tidal wave… Although all of part two of my book is a contender for that honour- I actually got addicted to writing it!
What made you decide to go down the e-book publishing route?
I am not the most patient person (see Grace) and I quite quickly decided that I’d rather publish as an ebook, and start building up my fan base and my brand, than send letter after letter to literary agents. Once I’m making enough noise they might come to me- if not, never mind, my book is out there for the world to enjoy.
Is there anything that’s surprised you since getting published?
Maybe how difficult it is to get yourself out there. I do events, social media, blogging… marketing a book is harder than writing a book.
Are there any authors who particularly inspire you?
Malorie Blackman, who wrote my favourite book growing up ‘Thief’. She also campaigns for greater diversity in books which is so important. I am of mixed race heritage and Eve, my main character, is too. My character Hannah is gay, Grace has Indian heritage, Peter is Scottish… I feel like Malorie would approve.
Do you have a special place for writing?
Would you believe that I do my best work on the London Underground? There was one job where I had a particularly long commute and I wrote most of my first book travelling to and from work. I have a twitter site called #creativecommute, so if you do writing on your journeys tag us and we’ll share.
What advice would you give to someone who’s just getting started writing books?
Set yourself an unrealistic deadline and then try and meet it. I decided I wanted to write a book before I turned 29. This was 3 months before my birthday, but I actually did it- my first draft was ready for April (17th if you want to send a card) and I released the novel digitally on my 30th. There’s a lot to be said for challenging deadlines.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on book 2 of my trilogy! I’m just finishing Hannah and about to return to Eve. It’s going well! A lot of questions asked in book one are answered in book two, which is very satisfying as a writer. Getting time to write is a proper treat. I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but it’s basically going to be the best thing you’ve ever read :-p