May 11, 2013

Author Interview with Helen Howell

Hi Helen, first of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I live in Australia but am originally from England. I've been writing for just over four years and I write in several different genres which include fantasy, noir, horror and humour. Before I took up writing I use to paint watercolours which I exhibited at various art shows for over 18 years. When I gave that up, writing seemed to be the natural extension. Writing is really like painting pictures with words. Since I started writing I have had my work published in both e-zines and printed publications. Also some of my stories have been showcased on various blog Fests.

Why did you start writing?
I've always done something creative in my life and when I gave up painting I was looking for something to replace that with. I had often thought about writing, but didn't necessarily think I had what it took. But I stumbled across a writing website one day that encouraged you to just write about anything. So I had a go and sent my effort off to an author friend who was so encouraging that I continued on from there. I started writing the first draft of a fantasy fiction novel and I also joined Friday Flash Dot Org, and the rest is history.

What do you think makes your genre special?
I guess my latest book really comes under the genre of thriller, but the fact that it has a psychic element to it moves it out of the general thriller area. Because this story has the aspect of a fortune teller, and a serial killer along with a supernatural twist puts it into a category that I would call a psychic thriller and makes it just a little different from other stories that are out there.

What do you think makes a great story?
It's knowing what to put in and what to leave out, as an author, along with the right amount of backstory, that counts. Creating a world, where the characters are believable, the dialogue realistic and the tension mounts so that the reader keeps turning the page, are the essential ingredients to a great story. Whether that story is based in an everyday world or a fantasy one, if the scenes are set so that you cannot disband your disbelief then your story is lost. But when the reader feels like they are part of the story, and they can taste, touch and feel what they are reading, that's a mark of  good writing.  One of the reviews of my latest novella said "Howell does an excellent job of ramping up the tension from chapter to chapter -- as a reader, I felt like calling the police on Kipp myself!"  I think that illustrates what I am trying to say.

What is your latest book called and could you explain to us in 20 words what it is about?
My latest novella is called I Know You Know:  A deck of cards, a Tarot Reader, A Serial Killer is the client - each knows the other knows - who will survive?

Which kind of reader do you think will enjoy your book?
Anyone who likes thrillers that keep you turning the page, will enjoy this story.

Is it a Standalone, or part of the series? If it's the latter, how long do you think will it go on?
It's a Standalone story.

What influenced or inspired you to write it?
I have owned tarot decks since the 1970's and having spent a large amount of time studying them which led to me also becoming a Professional Member of the Tarot Guild of Australia and a Professional Reader, along with being the co-author of the blog Tarot Notes Major and Minor -( all of which I have now retired from in order to concentrate more on my writing,) gave me an insight into these cards. As a reader I knew it was possible to see certain things about a person's situation in the cards. That got me thinking, what if a tarot reader could see in the cards, her client was a serial killer and what if the serial killer suspected she knew? How would that all play out?  So I suppose you could say my history and knowledge of the Tarot is what inspired me to write this novella.

Why did you choose especially this title? Was it your first choice?
It was indeed my first choice and seemed to really fit the bill. The Title expresses the main theme of this novella and that is that each party, the Tarot Reader and the Serial Killer both knows the other knows about them.  

What was the most difficult part for you working on your book?
Bringing all the different elements together at the end. We have two starring roles, the Tarot Reader, Janice, and the Serial Killer, Mr. Edgar Kipp. We also have supporting roles in the form of D.I. Tate and of course Janice's dead grandmother and Kipp's dead mother. Working the plot out so that everyone arrives where they should be at the end and to create a surprise twist, took a fair bit of thinking through.

Was there a scene that you didn’t want to add or remove in your finished work?
I can truthfully answer a simple no to this question. 

Do you already know what to do next? 
Right now I'm working on an on going serial called Wizard that is being showcased on my website. I Know You Know in its original form started life out as a serial on my website too.  I find this a good way to decide if what I have it worth expanding on.  I also have another serial called Mind Noise that I think could be expanded into a full length novel. My other plans include to do a collection of my ghost stories and my gangster noir stories.

Where can we find more about you and your books?
You can find my flash fiction, serials, poems and drabbles on my website

Any last words?
I would say to anyone out there who wants to be a writer, just have a go. Writing is a skill you learn and the more you do it the more you learn. So just jump in, join in some writing groups and give it a go.


The darkest cards in the tarot deck reveal the darkest side of the man sitting opposite Janice—Mr. Edgar Kipp.
She feigns an inability to read for him, but will he believe her?  His parting words indicate that he knows she knows he's a serial killer. And he plans to return. 
The voice of her dead grandmother urges her to be careful, warning Janice she might be seeing her own future in those foreboding cards. 
But Janice doesn't want to listen. Gran's dead. 
How can she possibly help her?

3 Kommentare:

  1. Thanks Patrick for having me over to your place!

  2. Nice to catch a glimpse into the mind of the author of I Know You Know. It's a scarey story indeed and the unexpected climax rolled my stockings up and down. Good job.