Today I’m talking to romantic suspense author Helene Young.
Thanks for taking time to answer a few questions, Helene.
Bernadette, thanks so much for inviting me to chat with you. It’s great having such a vibrant community of writers in NQ RWA, albeit a widely spread group! Congratulations on your upcoming debut release! Exciting times for you.
Thanks, I can’t wait for the edits to arrive. Your first two books, Wings of Fear and Shattered Sky have seen you win reader awards for Romantic Suspense. Can you reveal what this means to you?
Thanks, Bernadette, it is lovely to win awards that are judged by readers not critics as is the case with the Romance Writers of Australia’s RBY and the awards from the Australian Romance Readers. At the heart of my writing is the aim to entertain, to take people on a journey with my characters, so awards like this mean the world to me. When I’ve spent twelve months tapping away at the computer keys being able to connect with readers is the ultimate thank you!
You began your writing journey in 1998. What made you start writing? Can you describe your writing journey up until ‘the call’?
I’ve always been a bit of a writing dabbler. I wrote the obligatory angst ridden poems during my teens and early twenties and assumed one day I’d write a book. Life had other ideas and aviation captured my imagination so writing went onto the back burner. It was only in my mid-thirties when we moved to Cairns for a new job with an airline that I suddenly had time on my hands again. I started writing in my spare time and didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. When I finished my first manuscript I hid it in a filing cabinet drawer while I contemplated what I was going to do with it.
My husband found it while I was away in Brisbane with work and he was responsible for really pushing me to take the next step and submit. I did that and was politely rejected, but part of the rejection, and subsequent submission to an assessment agency, was the best piece of advice I’ve received in my writing career. Join RWA. I did that and my manuscript came second in the Emma Darcy Award in 2004. It was beginners luck, but it was so motivational for me. I used the RWA contest circuit to hone my writing ability. The feedback was at times hard to take but I learnt so much, I toughened up and realised I had a long way to go. The RWA conferences were a source of inspiration and learning – and the camaraderie of Romance Writers is second to none!!
My fifth completed manuscript, Wings of Fear (Border Watch), was a finalist in the Golden Heart Contest with RWAmerica. Having that on my resume was enough to get a request from Hachette for the full manuscript. After taking Bernadette Foley’s advice and rewriting the manuscript I was offered a two book contract.
What technique/truth have you learned in your writing journey that you wish you had known at the start?
Editing is the time when your work really starts to shine. I was so fortunate to have Bernadette as my editor. I learnt so much from her about my own writing and the process of editing. I’m a committed pantser and I doubt I will ever be a plotter. I write my story and then I plot it out so I can tweak in the editing stage to ensure both conflict and tension are there.
For new writers I like to reassure them that the rules are there to guide them. Sure grammar and punctuation is a given, but POV, conflict, chapter length, narrative vs dialogue are all areas where opinions differ. I cringe when I hear presenters saying, ‘You must not’ or ‘You have to do it this way.’ Everyone has a different creative process and the rules will help you work out which ones are appropriate for you.
Hearing about a writer’s journey is always so fascinating. Be sure to watch out for part 2 of my interview with Helene when I ask her about her day job, her stories and her hopes for the future.
You can check out Burning Lies and Helene’s other books here: http://www.heleneyoung.com/books/