My special guest today is fellow Aussie author, Helene Young. By day she's pilot with a major regional airline here in Australia, but in her spare time she writes romantic suspense for Hachette Australia.
Hi, Helene, thanks for dropping in to answer to a few questions.
Thanks for inviting me, Kylie, it's great to be here. I love your new look website! It's wonderfully evocative. (Thanks!)
One of the first things I noticed while reading your blog is your love for Australia. You talked about magpies, beaches, the Sydney to Hobart Yatch race, possums (in hobnail boots), and the places you’ve lived or visited. Do you have an absolute, will-always-love, favourite part of Australia? Are you a city or country girl?
I'm a water lover, be that in the city, the country or on the coast. Sailing, swimming, drifting on water, in lakes, oceans or rivers, would be my favourite place but then... I love the outback and the colour of the earth. And then there's the ancient mountains and the endless deserts. Confused? So am I...
I lived in the UK for three years back in the mid 80's. (I brought home my very own souvenir who's still my husband.) Like a lot of Aussies, while I loved England, I developed a new appreciation of the diverse and wonderful Australian landscape. Absence really brings home how fortunate we are to live here. I just need to find the time to go exploring more than just the eastern half!
Your job as a pilot takes you all over Australia but have you ever been abroad? Where would you most like to visit?
I've been to a few place overseas - mainly Europe, but I think my most amazing trip was to Antarctica on a 26 day cruise into McMurdo Sound. The immense power of the land and its silence was amazing. The historic huts were literally frozen in time and you got such a clear sense of what enormous hardship those early explorers faced.
Africa is on my must see list, but so's Canada, Argentina, USA, Portugal, Iceland, Borneo, more of New Zealand... So if I could just win lotto and take off travelling that would be great! Any hints on the numbers?
How special your Antarctica trip sounds. I hope you took some memorable pictures! Maybe you might be able to make the RWNZ conference this year - you'll be able to tick NZ off on that list :-) .
Have your work colleagues been supportive of your second career as a published author?
For the main part, my colleagues have been supportive (there are always exceptions...). Of course, working predominantly with men means there's the usual comments -'So are there sex scenes in this book of yours?' I can just see them reading it, then looking at me sidewards with that, 'We know what you do in bed' look...
And you can't convince people that the story is purely a work of fiction...
You had a solid contest resume before publishing with Hachette Australia – placing in the Emma Darcy Award & RWNZ Strictly Single, a finalist in the RWAmerica Golden Heart & RWAustralia STALI competitions. What was your purpose for entering contests?
Contests, wonderful contests! The feedback was an addiction. It didn't matter whether it was good, bad or very ugly, (and I got some of that :-D) the reader's reaction was important. It gave me confidence to keep writing. The critiques could be quite confronting, but that toughened me up for rejections and also the editing process. They also taught me an enormous amount about my craft and where my voice actually fitted. The time some judges took to explain clearly what they meant was humbling. I hope when I've judged comps I've managed to do the same. There are some wonderful fledgling voices out there just waiting to fly.
And we hope to see you up on the stage for the Golden Heart in 2010! (Now that would be an achievement!)
Ahh, nice to see another contest junkie! But seriously, yes, you can't beat that valuable feedback! And speaking of feedback - do you belong to critique group or have a critique partner? How have you developed your skills as a writer?
I had a go at a crit partnership which was disastrous. It left me battered enough that I didn't write for a month. She had very strong opinions...
So I went back to what I've always done. I write my first draft, give it to my husband who reads it for the big picture, and then to my sister who does a more detailed fault-find. The wonderful Bernadette Foley, my publisher, also looked at the first draft for my second book and has given me some great advice (as well as the thumbs up, which is a huge relief!!).
I always love the RWA conferences and the wonderful sessions they offer. A veritable forest of light bulbs illuminate in my brain. I haven't read many of the 'How To' books but probably should - especially the grammar and punctuation kind!
I notice you don’t have an agent. Is that a deliberate decision on your part or are you actively looking for one?
I have an agent waiting (hopefully) in the wings. I was fortunate enough to get my contract with Hachette without an agent - by pitching at an RWA conference - but I have had discussions with one for future books. The collective wisdom seems to be that they will help you with your career in total, rather than just the books you currently write.
The cover of BORDER WATCH is visually appealing. Not only is the setting gorgeous but I liked that your title and name are so clear. Did you have any input into the design? Do you know if the sea theme will follow through on the covers of your trilogy?
The cover's beautiful isn't it? Hachette designed it and I love it! I did have some input because we needed to get the right aircraft type (and they have) but I thought it caught the spirit of North Queensland perfectly. The next cover is a similar concept, but the colours are different. They're Lauren's colours and she's all sunlight and gold.
I can't wait to see that cover, Helene, it sounds great! It'll be a good example of branding when they follow through with that cover style. Besides the BORDER WATCH trilogy you’re writing, have you started developing any ideas for future books? What will they involve?
I do have several other books which I'd love to see on the shelves one day. North Queensland will feature prominently for a couple more, but then I've had an idea bubbling around since we stopped at Macquarie Island on the way home from Antarctica!
Promo time! Tell me about BEYOND THE BORDERS, the next book in your series coming out in 2011.
BEYOND THE BORDERS is Lauren's story. She's a secondary character in BORDER WATCH who has to deal with a great tragedy. Now a captain herself, she uncovers an operation trafficking in women for the sex slave trade. As she heads deep into the Australian wilderness she’ll need the reluctant help of a Navy Patrol Boat captain, Callam Granger, who’s already demonstrated his contempt for her. Ultimately she'll have to outwit, outrun and outfly the traffickers before she'll earn his respect and free the women.
Helene, thanks again for being my guest! It’s been great having you here.
It's been fabulous, Kylie!
And all the best for your next release BEYOND THE BORDERS!
Take a look and discover more about Helene and her books by checking out her website www.heleneyoung.com
Helene's generously giving away a copy of BORDER WATCH to one lucky person - all you have to do is leave a comment and tell her about your favourite place in Australia and why she should visit it.
Comments close 3pm (Aust.Daylight Savings Time), Sunday 7th Feb. The lucky person will be announced here - Tuesday, 9th Feb.