Name Helen Henderson
Age Beyond a double nickel, (55 if you’re not familiar with the term) that’s all I’m going to say.
Where are you from:
My people are from Pennsylvania (USA) coal country. My heritage is Scotch and Pennsylvania German, which fits perfectly with the two sides of my Gemini sign.
A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc
I grew up on a small farm and had a voracious appetite for reading. Fortunately, the small town library was part of a larger system. It meant a 12-mile drive but at the library there were enough books to entertain a young girl.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
2016 has been an unusual year. I moved from my home state to another part of the country, and this past summer had two releases in the same month. Hatchling’s Vengeance completed the Dragshi Chronicles while the release of Windmaster with a new cover and new publisher re-introduced The Windmaster Novels.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Like many authors I have been writing a long, long time. Unlike some, I didn’t learn to love writing as a result of school assignments.Quite the opposite, school assignments sent the muse away. When I did write, it was for the other reason many authors got started. I wrote to entertain myself. Through the stories, I travelled from the family farm to exotic locales.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The statement, “I am a writer” marks several points in my career. The first when I opened the mail containing payment for my first feature article. Although now a paid ‘professional,’ I did not feel like one until receiving contract offers for two non-fiction books. I would say I officially joined the ranks of romance writers with the appearance of the short story Recov in Romance of My Dreams 2, released for Valentine’s Day 2011 by L&L Dreamspell. However, all the previous moments paled with the release of Windmaster. With two series now either released or under contract, I can no longer doubt that “I am a writer.”
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Although fiction came later onto the scene, writing has been in my official job description in some share or form for several decades. Computer code and ‘how-to’ manuals gave way as the technical writer shifted focus to a more public audience. A feature-story writer and correspondent, my writing credits include over 300 articles on a number of topics including military and American history, antiques and collectibles. All of which form a great basis for world building.
Among the more unusual stories covered were air shows and battlefield archeology. (Yes, I do know a little something about the subject and have participated in digs using both traditional screen and trowel methods and the new-fangled metal detectors). I’m proud of my local histories. Two cover Monmouth County (New Jersey) towns: Matawan and Aberdeen – Of Town and Field and Around Matawan and Aberdeen. The history of the Society of Methodists of Middletown Point from its founding in the 1700s to the congregation of today was chronicles in From the Back Street to Main Street… And Beyond.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
There was no single inspiration for Windmaster. In fact, I don’t even like being in water over my head so writing about a ship captain is not something I would normally do. I was taking a writing course and there were several specific criteria to be met. I was reading a lot of fantasy at the time so that was the genre chosen. I like strong heroines who can fight as well as any man. Add in a little magic and a touch of romance (courtesy of the talented Carol McPhee) and the concept of the windmaster was born.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing has been described as action mixed with adventure and romance. Or to paraphrase a popular commercial, enough romance for a woman, and enough action for a man. How I get there is a combination of the structured road map of a plotter to start the journey, then the discoveries of an explorer filled the remainder.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title? The title for Hatchling’s Vengeance demanded it fit several criteria. Being the fourth volume in the romantic fantasy series, the Dragshi Chronicles meant Hatchling’s Vengeance had to be consistent with the other books. The first book in the series, Dragon Destiny, was never intended to be the start of a series. But the characters refused to leave. The next book was titled Hatchings Curse, with the text chosen to reflect the goal of the dragon shifters to break the curse of childlessness. Which led to Hatchling’s Mate. Although I wanted the last book to be Dragon Something, I couldn’t find a combination of words available that I liked. Especially ones that began with the letter “d” to keep the symmetry with Dragon Destiny. I went back and reviewed the book and discovered that although it was not the original intent of the storyline, vengeance had become a prominent theme for several of the sub-characters whose futures were being determined. So the title became Hatchling’s Vengeance.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Redemption is a goal worth achieving, even if you don’t know you want it. And the path is through duty, honor… and love.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I write fantasy so the world as we know it doesn’t fit in. That said, there are ways that my experiences appear in my writing. The first is the portrayal of strong women, worthy of walking beside a man rather than behind him. The idea of the twinned souls from the Dragshi Chronicles grew out of watching a hawk play tag with the clouds and a long-held desire to fly.
I am a firm believer that the imagined world needs to be real enought that the readers feel as if they are moving through it with the characters. There are things that are universal in the real world and the fantasy ones I create, people’s emotions to name a few. Despite being a fantasy, locales of Scotland, China, Australia, and Polynesia have been used as the inspiration for the worlds of the Dragshi.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
The books of E. E. Doc Smith such as the Galactic Primes introduced me to science fiction. The Tower series by Anne McCaffrey and the Sackett books by Louis L’Amour showed me how to blend characters and create a different world than the one we live in.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. In acknowledgements she is usually referred to as the wandering sailor. In the low points she has helped me decide to continue writing. To the readers of her science fiction and romance, she is known as Judy Griffith Gill.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would write it sooner. There was a lag time between writing Hatchling’s Mate and Hatchling’s Vengeance. The tale of Glyn and Talann felt complete and I went on to write several novellas that although they were based on the world of the dragon shifters and their twinned dragon souls were not part of the Dragshi Chronicles. Something kept nagging at me and I decided to try something new and explore more of an epic fantasy genre and vengeance and redemption provided the means. Fortunately I hadn’t lost the contact with the dragon shifters and were attuned enough to them to finish the final work.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I inherited a love of books from my mother and grandmother and as a result read anything and everything I could get my hands on. Lying in the grass, watching the clouds go by I became part of the stories. Not the main character, but in a supporting role which better fit my personality. Later in my professional life, I was described as being the perfect number two, which I took as the ultimate compliment as Star Trek: Next Generation was popular and I was being compared to the first officer of the Enterprise. Able to take charge if situations required me to be in command. After which I willingly relinguished control back to the captain.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Windmaster Legacy, the second book in the Windmaster Novels is being finalized for production. When the book stops fighting me and the vision settles, the windmaster series will continue with Windmaster Legends, a tale from the history of the world inhabited by Captain Ellspeth and the mage, Lord Dal.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Characterization challenges me in two ways. Ensuring the necessary depth of characters is one issue. Of course, having to rise to the test takes the work to a higher level. The second challenge is result of longevity. When I started writing, telling a good tale was sufficient; however, now readers expect more, that the characters change in some way, whether for good or bad.
What is the most difficult part comes not with the writing but the promotion because so many of my books are parts of a series. Specifically, what do you reveal about a book that won’t be a spoiler for the previous one. I’m still working on that.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
While I would love to go to Scotland and Ireland, or to horseback ride in the mountains of Montana and Wyoming, itis not possible. The Shetland pony of my youth and infrequent outings at local stables have to suffice for the one and pictures and other’s memories for the other. The farthese I travel for a story is the deci of a log cabin overlooking a lake. My room is paid for by labor, staining the logs and deck.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Fantasia Frog Designs created the covers for the Dragshi Chronicles and Michelle Lee is responsible for the piercing gaze of Ellspeth on Windmaster.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For Hatchling’s Vengeance, it was changing several characters who had obeyed orders to kill and other crimes to make the men worthy of redemption.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
If I was ever so lucky, Adrian Paul (Duncan McLeod, Highlander) would handle the character of the archmage Dal in Windmaster. Lighter hair would put Gabrielle Anwar (Fiona Glenanne, Burn Notice) behind the ship wheel.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I love to hear from readers. They can reach me through my website or direct through firstname.lastname@example.org. I try to answer all notes. Putting one of my book titles in the subject line will help ensure the message doesn’t get caught in the spam filter.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It has been so long ago, I don’t remember the first book. A task made more difficult by the shelves full of books that I read when I was younger. Looking back at old records I would say Fun With Dick and Jane was probably one of the first, if not the actual first, book I read.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Long before I learned to include romance in my stories, I was a romantic at heart. Tales of opportunities lost, especially when they are the result of duty and honor can raise tears to be blinked back.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Lois L’Amour. His Sackett clan was always a favorite and since I can’t ride the Old West with them, I would have to make do with their creator. However it wouldn’t be a formal dinner. We would be in sheepskin jackets, denim jeans and cowboy hats and boots. And riding the high mountain trails he was so familiar with.
Fiona: What do you want written on your headstone and why ?
This is definitely a different question. Surprisingly, it is one that has been on my mind recently. Name and dates don’t capture the imagination of the viewer when they walk through the cemetery. I prefer the old-fashioned sandstones with epitaphs rather than the new-fangled markers with a video embedded in it. So here goes.
Here lies an author, storyteller and historian. She captured the past for the future and cared for all.
As to the why? Although I am no longer as active in the field, history is still part-of-my past and is embedded in my fantasy worlds to make them realistic. Storyteller because at some time we all need to escape our everyday lives and a good tale will take us to another time and place. The last has nothing to do with my career (although I like to think I’ve given a hand up to people rather than trampling them), but rather with me as a person and my hope that the scales of life tilt in favor of a loving, caring, decent human being.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Knitting, crocheting and cross-stitch have kept fingers nimble. Photography and beading provided a creative outlet.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
The NCIS shows and Scorpion are either watched or caught on video for later viewing. Past favorites sometimes reflect the popular shows of the time, and at others were more eclectic. Military shows like Rat Patrol and Garrison Gorillas (yes, I’m dating myself) replaced westerns, and they in turn slipped away as starships and futuristic explorers filled the airwaves.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Favorites: Blue / Pizza (or a good steak with a sweet potato, butter and brown sugar and a frozen peach schnapps drink.)
Music is harder to answer. My favorite depends on the date, what life is dealing me, or where I am in a specific writing project. Some songs translate from book to book, while other tunes help create one book, then go back into the CD pile. On the spindle as inspiration for characters can usually be found “Desperado” and “Ireland’s Call” performed by Celtic Thunder. Instrumentals of celtic flute and harp motivate the pen for fantasy settings.
I assumed the question related to my choice of music, not that of my characters. In the Windmaster series, Ellspeth, Captain of the Sea Falcon, was a talented composer and flutist. Both music and captaincy required total dedication and a lifetime to learn. When her two abilities fought to control her destiny, Ellspeth had to choose between music and her ship. She chose to make her life on blue water.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Due to age, caregiving responsibilities, and a host of other reasons, taking to the skies as a pilot (or at the helm of a starship) which were my early dreams are no longer feasible. If writing were denied me, I would still need some kind of creative outlet such as painting or jewelry making, then travel making the rounds of craft shows across the country.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Author website: http://helenhenderson-author.webs.com/
Blog: http://helenhenderson-author.blogspot.com and while there you can check out the first chapters of my books
Amazon Authors Page https://www.amazon.com/Helen-Henderson/e/B001HPM2XK/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Dragon Destiny – http://helenhenderson-author.blogspot.com/p/dragon-destiny.html
Hatchlings Curse – http://helenhenderson-author.blogspot.com/p/hatchlings-curse.html
Hatchling’s Mate – http://helenhenderson-author.blogspot.com/p/hatchlings-mate.html
Hatchling’s Vengeance – http://helenhenderson-author.blogspot.com/p/hatchlings-vengeance.html