Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Guest Interview with Helene Young

I’d like to welcome Helene Young, who’s second Novel, 'Shattered Sky' is released this month by Hachette Australia. She also leads an interesting life nestled on the far northern part of Queensland's coast, at Trinity Beach.

By answering the question below you could win a copy of 'Shattered Sky'. Do writers use specific incidents from real life incidents and if so, being a reader, do you expect or appreicate it?

Hello Helene, it’s great to have you here.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog Suzanne. I love dropping by to read your posts!

Helene, as a child you lived quiet close to an airport. Was this the beginning of things to come?
I think it may well have been, Suzanne. Our family spent a lot of time at Currumbin Beach, right underneath the flight path for Coolangatta airport. Large jets were infrequent and noisy visitors and you could almost count the rivets on their wings as they roared overhead. As a child I can also remember an aircraft landing on Tugun beach when its engine failed and I thought that was a pretty amazing. It all seemed sooo romantic!

When did you first start writing, and why?
As an adult I started writing with intent when we moved to Cairns for my new job and I had spare time and an empty social calendar. Naively, I sat down to write a Sweet for Mills and Boon thinking it would be relatively easy. I soon learnt that it’s a lot more difficult than it looks. The best advice I received along with several rejections was to join RWA. :)

What do your family think of your writing?
My family have been really supportive. I didn’t tell anyone I was writing to start with and when I got my first rejection I abandoned the manuscript in the bottom of a filing cabinet. A couple of years later my husband found it when I was away on an overnight and he was the one who pushed me to take it further. He’s still my first reader and my sister is my second reader.

You seem very busy. When do you get the time to write?
LOL – that’s an understatement… I write whenever and wherever I can. I can’t afford to be choosy so I’m not! A hotel couch, an airport departure lounge, five minutes sitting in a dentist waiting room – they all provide enough space. I must have great selective hearing because I zone out really easily. Must drive hubbie nuts some days…

Can you tell us a little about your other career?
My other career is fun! I have a rather cramped office full of computer screens, dials, flashing lights and really lousy air-conditioning. The upside is I have the best view in the world! Flying as a Captain on Dash 8 aircraft for Australia’s largest regional airline means I get to see some wonderful parts of Australia. Most of our work is based in Queensland but I can go as far afield as Melbourne. On a typical day I could start in Cairns, fly to Townsville, Mt Isa, Cloncurry, back to Townsville then home to Cairns. With three female First Officers in the Cairns base there’s a good chance of having an all female crew along with the two female Cabin crew when I go to work! Four women in charge - gotta love :)

Where did you get your ideas for Shattered Sky?
Shattered Sky is Lauren’s story and it pretty much wrote itself. When we first moved to Cairns there was quite a strong Outlawed Motorcycle Gang presence in the area so I’ve always been fascinated by their culture and the changing ethnic make-up of the gangs. They’ve morphed from small time crims into international syndicates with increasingly sophisticated operations.

Sex slave trading is another burgeoning industry and a spate of arrests in Australia of people involved in it sent me searching for more information.

It was then a matter of looking at how they all tied together – and Lauren needed to find love after the tragedy of Wings of Fear/Border Watch.

More so than Wings of Fear I think I’ve used some of my own experience in Shattered Sky. There’s a scene where there’s some action on an oil tanker. I did spend time as child on those types of vessels because of my dad worked on ships. I have a very clear memory of falling over the side of one and into the Brisbane River. (Once I was hauled out by a crewman I was more concerned that I’d lost my favourite shoe than the fact some poor man had risked his own life to fish me out!) It did mean when there were questions raised by the editor that I was pretty confident I had the details correct.

What is one piece of advice you wished someone had told you before you started your writing career?
Write what you know. Border Watch/Wings of Fear is my fifth completed manuscript and I’d shied away from writing something connected with my day job. Once I started to write it I realised I was using a different voice than I had earlier.

They say persistence pays. Does this apply in your case?
Absolutely! I’m sure writing is one tenth talent and nine tenths stubbornness… I used RWA contests as my training ground and kept dusting myself off after each round. It toughened me up so that now when the editing phase starts I’m reasonably well equipped to deal with it without taking it personally. Write, write and write! And then submit, submit, submit!!

Okay and now, our readers are probably dying to hear all about Shattered Sky.
Here’s the back cover blurb and I can’t do it any better!

“Surviving a missile strike on her aircraft suddenly seems like the easy part for Lauren Bennett. A year after being attacked mid flight, Lauren is sure she's overcome her guilt at losing a friend in the ensuing crash. Her brittle, glossy veneer doesn't fool Callam Granger, though. But the naval patrol boat captain knows he's got no right to an opinion. He wasn't there when she needed him most and she's not going to let him forget it.

On a routine surveillance assignment Lauren uncovers an operation trafficking sex slaves. Pursuing the women – and their captors – will take her deep into the Australian outback and a reluctant Callam knows this time he can't let her go alone. Is it possible for Lauren and Callam to put aside old enmities to outwit, outrun and ultimately out-fly the traffickers? Or will the frantic race to free the women simply ignite their emotions, endangering yet more lives?”

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today Suzanne. I look forward to interviewing you on my blog soon :)

Thank you too Helene. Let's hope so. :) 
I think everyone will agree that we have learnt a lot, not only about Shattered Sky, but about Helene's other life. :) 

All the best with Shattered Sky Helene. :) 

Don't forget to answer the question in the comments section. One reader will win a copy of 'Shattered Sky.'
For more information and where to purchase 'Shattered Sky' or 'Wings of Fear' here is the link to Helene's website: http://www.heleneyoung.com/


Karlene Blakemore-Mowle said...

I have been waiting eagerly for this release! Love hearing more about you Helene. Great interview girls! And Oh my goodness- you fell off a ship in the Brisbane river?! I have a fear of jetty's for this reason!

jenn j mcleod said...

Hey Helene, it's me Jenn...you know...the one's who is now famous (should anyone read the review snippets in the front of Wings of Fear that is! LOL)
Serioulsy, love your writing and that mantra (write, write, write, sub, sub, sub). But I am a little concerned about your ability to zone out, given your day job!!!!!!
You are are great inspiration to aspiring writers (and women in general - again given that day job.)
Thx Suz. Great post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Suzanne and Helene,

Helene, how did you manage to stay on a surf board given that you were challenged to remain on the wide and, above all, stable deck of a ship?

I hope the issue regarding the VDub was resolved in Shattered Sky.

Danielle Lisle said...

WOW! This book looks interesting and defiantly worth being picked up and dropped into my shopping cart.

With regards to the question; I would say, yes. I think experiences, no matter what they are shape us as people, therefore it would be impossible for writers not to incorporate there experiences into their works. I often wonder when reading books on a number of topics, if the author has been in a similar situation themselves. Most of the time I believe that is the case. Sometimes it feels too real to be faked.

Helene Young said...

Karly, the guy how fished me out was called Teagal and he was a Thursday Island deckhand. Even as a six year old I had an eye for a good looking bloke :) That probably gave me an obsession with heroic men!

Helene Young said...

Jenn, your wonderful words are there for everyone to see in Wings of Fear! Love them, and you!!

Never fear, I talk too much on the flight deck to zone out. It keeps the young First Officers awake :-)

And thanks, but I'm just lucky to be paid to have fun at work!! Nothing inspirational in operating heavy machinery...

Helene Young said...

Sandy, it was because we did this thing where you had to get down the 'stairs' from one deck to the other without touching the treads. That involved sliding down your hands on the rails. Six year old fingers were a touch smaller than my older brother and sister so occasionally I fell. I'd always hit the deck before... This time I was over the edge and gone. Just lucky the crew loved having kids around and always played with us :)

Helene Young said...

Danielle, thanks for dropping by and I hope you enjoy Shattered Sky.

I must admit that there have been scenes I've written which I only recognised as memories later during the editing process. I keep thinking I need to ride a motorbike again so I can feel that experience again :)

Kerri Williams writer of romance said...

OMG Helene your book sounds awesome. And your right, using life's experiences helps you writing voice and gives your ms power behind the words. you can show more depth in feelings and atmosphere etc.
Anyway, good luck

Helene Young said...

Thanks Kerri! It's a little ironic that I'm sat here tonight blogging and twittering about Cyclone Yasi bearing down on us and the opening scene in Shattered Sky has a yacht caught in the middle of a cyclone!! Lauren, the heroine, and her crew are battling to save it. I couldn't have written a better scenario than the one we're watching unfold now!

Christina Phillips said...

Wonderful interview, Suz and Helene! Helene, huge congratulations on the release of SHATTERED SKY. I'm so looking forward to reading Lauren's story and seeing she gets her well deserved HEA :-)

Suzanne Brandyn said...

The competiton to win a copy of Helene's novel 'Shattered Sky' will run until Monday next week.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Thanks Christina. Lauren is a great character isn't she? I can't say too much to give it away though. lol I loved 'Shattered Sky.'