Interview with Bestselling Author Helen Carey

I am so pleased to introduce the talented fiction author, Helen Carey. Helen is best known for her popular Lavender Road series, which is set in South London during the Second World War. The Lavender Road novels include Lavender Road, Some Sunny Day, On a Wing and a Prayer, London Calling and The Other Side of the Street.

Helen started writing about the war when she met a neighbour at a bus stop in London who pointed out where the air-raid shelters used to be on Clapham Common. That sparked an interest in the Second World War, especially for lesser known details, which now appear in Helen’s spell-binding novels.

Having lived in London, Germany, Switzerland and the West Indies, Helen now lives in Newport, Pembrokeshire in Wales, on a small coastal farm which she and her husband run as a conservation project. She is also a prize winning artist and has made a gallery out of a converted goat shed. As well as painting and writing she teaches Creative Writing at various universities and currently has a Royal Literary Fund fellowship at Aberystwyth University.

She has also written the exciting thriller novel, Slick Deals, which really piqued my interest due to its settings!

Helen, as the author of the popular Lavender Road series, a saga set in London during the WWII era, what inspired you to write Slick Deals, a thriller novel set in London and West Wales?

I was inspired to write SLICK DEALS after going out on a dolphin survey boat in Cardigan Bay just off the beautiful coast of Pembrokeshire where I live. We had a wonderful day, during which we saw masses of seabirds, gannets, terns, puffins, Manx shearwaters, and over a thousand dolphins. But on the way back we passed an oil exploration vessel, and we all agreed how terrible it would be if oil drilling was allowed to spoil such a fragile and beautiful environment. I used to work in the oil industry at one time so I knew the dangers. So I decided the best thing was to write a novel! As well as flagging up the local issue, I thought the conflict between the oil industry and environmentalists would make a good basis for an exciting crime thriller.

That sounds like some amazing inspiration with wisdom to back it up! Was there any particular inspiration behind the American character, Nick Jardine, who is the ‘irritatingly cool environmentalist’?

I suppose he’s a mix of various people I have met over the years, some Brits, some Americans. Yes, he is very cool, and a bit too laid-back at first, but only in a deliberate attempt to provoke the oil trader heroine of the story, Ella Crossley! In the end, of course, he turns out to be pretty tough, but I liked the idea of him pulling the wool over her eyes. I wanted to show that environmentalists aren’t all as ‘hippy-dippy’ as the media sometimes makes out. By the end of the book I was half in love with him myself!

Slick Deals also has a strong romantic suspense element, which seems to work very well in this novel, and many readers have asked for a sequel. Are you considering writing one, and if so, what can we look forward to in the next instalment?

I would love to write a sequel! I actually do have an idea in mind for another crime thriller, but at the moment I am finishing off my Lavender Road series. Once I have done that, and had a nice long holiday (!) I might well turn my attention to Ella Crossley and Nick Jardine once again.

Being a resident of West Wales yourself, your own experiences and familiarity with the countryside must have helped with writing the scenes in Slick Deals a great deal. What about Wales has drawn you to make it your home?

Yes, indeed, I don’t think I could have written Slick Deals without knowing the area and the varied mix of people who live here. The Welsh are extraordinarily tolerant and welcoming people. I think that’s partly why so many so-called ‘hippies’ settled here in the 70s!

The other reason that so many people come to live here in Pembrokeshire is that it is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt places in the world. My husband and I live on a small organic farm which we run as a conservation project. From our house, which is tucked under Carn Ingli (Mount of Angels), we have views out over Cardigan Bay and the Irish Sea. There are many other parts of the world that I love, but in the end I always want to come back here!

I can really picture Pembrokeshire as the perfect home for a writer! Are you planning another novel, and if so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

My next novel will be VICTORY GIRLS, the sixth in my Lavender Road series. It is set in the last year of World War Two. Like most of my books it is essentially about women trying to make their way in a male dominated world.

Helen de Burrel knows how dangerous it is in war-torn France, but it’s a long time since she heard from her French fiancé, André Cabillard, and now she has decided to go back to try to track him down.

Her friend Molly Coogan is finding it hard to stop thinking about a Canadian pilot she met while nursing overseas. But Molly wasn’t ‘good enough’ for him, and now she is back in London, determined to discover the truth about her family history, especially about the mother who gave her up for adoption when she was four years old.

The war may be nearly over, but the women of Lavender Road still have battles to fight!

As a prolific writer of seven novels, do you ever experience writer’s block, and if so, what tools and tricks do you use to overcome it?

I have never really experienced writer’s block, although that might be partly due to the fact that I have been commissioned to write most of my novels, and there is nothing more motivating than a publisher’s dead-line!

However, in between novels I do sometimes find myself floundering a bit and I have found Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, very helpful for getting me back on track.

My other tip for writers is to know your ending. Novelists, in particular, often get stuck when they don’t know for sure where they are headed. I spend a lot of time working out my plots, and that helps enormously, because I always know (more or less) what needs to happen in the next scene.

That’s great advice. I noticed that you are also a traditionally published author. What has been your experience with the traditional publishing industry?

Yes, my Lavender Road novels are published in the UK, Europe and Commonwealth by Headline Books, a major London publisher, and the audio version by Isis Soundings. I was previously published by Orion, another big London publishing house.

There are obviously plusses and minuses of being traditionally published and being an indie author. The plusses of the traditional publishers are that the books are professionally edited, and distributed into bookshops and libraries much more widely than I could do myself. I also get a nice fat advance on royalties!

The advantages of indie publishing are that I have much more control over content, covers and pricing.

I think the way I have it at the moment, retaining the US rights on my books, is a good compromise.

Helen, thank you so much for sharing your inspiration for Slick Deals and your insight on writing with us. Where can readers find your books and learn more about you?

I love hearing from readers.

You can visit my website: http://www.helencareybooks.co.uk

My books are all on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Helen-Carey/e/B0066LDO96

Or you can find me on Facebook and Twitter: @helencareybooks

 

Your Free Crime Thriller Novel

No good deed goes unpunished…

Two months after his fiancee, Elizabeth Reinhardt, leaves him with no explanation, broken and confused, Trent Lemend is forced to pack up and start over in rural Georgetown, Texas. Believing his life could get no worse, Trent attempts to bury the inner demons of his past.

But when he stumbles upon a terrifying crime scene, Trent’s troubles are only just beginning. Discovering that one of the victims, an emaciated, blood-covered woman, is still alive, changes his life in ways he never thought possible.

Saving the woman destroys all that he’s ever known. Suddenly, as a witness, he’s the killer’s number one target. With the murderer on the loose, nobody is safe–especially Elizabeth, the only woman he’s ever loved. Now, it’s up to Trent to save his ex and reclaim his life. But will he discover a dangerous dark side of his own?

New Release: Blood Red Winter

I’m really excited about my newest release and I’m grateful to be able to share it with you. Okay, so a heads up right off: this isn’t a Young Adult Fantasy novel. Just for fun, I wrote a thriller novel and entered it in the #StoryTellerUK2017 contest. Why on earth would a fantasy author write a thriller novel? Sometimes it feels good to change gears, and I wanted to experience writing in this genre at least once, since it’s so popular.

My inspiration for the book was the area of Texas where I used to live: rural Williamson County, near Georgetown. My husband and I loved how beautiful it was, and the fact that it was so peaceful and removed from the city. We had a sheep field right next to us and sometimes we’d see roadrunners as close as twenty feet from our door. At night the coyotes would howl from somewhere in an adjacent cattle pasture. We were out in the country and that was fine by us.

Here are the details about the book. Let me know what you think!

Winter in Central Texas is seldom white…

Two months after his fiancée Elizabeth leaves with no explanation, Trent Lemend moves from Austin, Texas, to rural Williamson County just outside Georgetown. He buries his inner demons in the cellar of his subconscious and makes the best of his new life. Working on a local cattle ranch helps pass the days, and he tries to leave painful memories behind in sprawling pastures of mesquite trees, prickly pear, and brittlegrass.

On a gray winter walk like any other, a call from his boss, Tim Corbin, leads Trent to discover a shocking crime in an abandoned house on County Road 118. As he stands beside the barbed wire fence, images of what he’s just witnessed assaulting him, something happens that can only be described as a miracle. One of the victims, a young woman, is still alive, and he stares in disbelieving silence as her emaciated, blood-covered body is carried out on a stretcher. Though this is beyond his expectations after seeing the horrors in that filthy back room, Aria Owen’s survival marks Trent for murder.

Deputy Sheriff Reyes urges him to relocate if possible and lay low until the killer is caught, but Trent soon finds himself dragged into a deceptive game. As Trent loses his job, his security, and his sanity, he is clutched by the grim realization that he enjoys the rush these new dangers provide – he has a dark side of his own. But when threats against Elizabeth force Trent to protect her, a secret from his past comes back to reclaim what was lost in a way he never thought possible.

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Get Your Free Supernatural Thriller Book

Peter’s reality has been shattered…

Every day seems the same to Peter. He walks to the bus stop, listening to music or daydreaming. He sits or stands while he is jostled to work each morning, avoiding conversation. He goes through the motions of accounting at the CPA firm almost automatically, without having to think about it. Sometimes he feels like more of a spectator in life than a participant, and nothing ever changes.

Until today. On his walk after work, Peter sees something shocking. He doesn’t want to believe it, but he just can’t look away. Terrified, sleepless, and not knowing where else to turn, Peter seeks the aid of Father Radcliffe at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. The knowledgeable priest seems to have an uncanny knack for finding deeper applications of the Bible, and unexpectedly, he appears to believe Peter’s story. But once Peter reveals all, will the holy man still help him – or will Peter have to consult a strange man who knows too much to be trusted?