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Monday, March 14, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Helene Young

SHATTERED SKY is Helene Young's latest release.

The book is aptly titled considering Helene recently survived TC Yasi, a category 5 tropical cyclone that made landfall not far from her home town in Queensland, Australia.

Welcome back, Helene!

Kylie, thanks so much for having me on your blog. I love reading your posts – I’m guaranteed to learn something every time!

What's been happening in your world since the RWAustralia Coogee Beach conference?

Kylie, the RWA Coogee conference seems like a million years ago. I can’t believe New York is only a touch over three months away and Melbourne a mere five months. I keep thinking I must have slipped into a time warp somewhere!

2010 was an incredibly busy year with my day job where I fly aircraft for a regional airline. I changed roles within the company, which meant I was back on the receiving end of training instead of being the trainer. That made my brain rev into gear at full speed…

The release of SHATTERED SKY was moved forward a month to February, leading to some pretty hectic editing and a few very late nights.

Cairns, Queensland
I was also fortunate to be part of the Brisbane Writers Festival and from that I’ve been signed up to run one day workshops for QWC in Cairns and Townsville later this month. I’m looking forward to that as I firmly believe teaching people always brings new insights. Of course, there’s a fair bit of preparation that goes into a full day’s training so I’m madly polishing that as well as pushing on with book three.

Are you a panster or plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influence you most? What's your writing process from start to finish when writing a book?

I’ve always thought I was a panster, but a friend introduced me to the term scener and I think that fits pretty well. When I start writing a story I have a theme I want to explore and a series of scenes. I can see my characters in situations, but from there I’m happy for them to take me on their journey without a clue where we are headed. While that leads me up blind alleys occasionally, I do think I know the characters better for the winding path. Sure I then have to cut more words than if I’d rigidly written to a plot line, but because I have to be so pedantic in my day job I enjoy not knowing the exact ending. (It would be a bit of a worry if the passengers didn’t know where the flight was landing, lol.)

Can you tell us about your new release?

SHATTERED SKY was a long time in my head. Lauren, a secondary character in WINGS OF FEAR (previous title was Border Watch) was always trying to muscle in on that story. I knew she had to have her own book and I knew just the man she needed to cross swords with.

The theme in SHATTERED SKY is people feeling trapped by forces outside of their control. The story explores organized crime, and particularly the Outlawed Motorcycle Gangs, as I think they reflect the changing cultural make-up of Australia. Their move into global crime is part of that change.

Lauren uncovers a people trafficking operation that’s bringing in women for the sex-slave trade. Her search for answers takes her deep into the wilderness of northern Australia and she’ll need the reluctant help of Naval Patrol Boat Captain, Callam Granger. Will their history force them together or apart or will it risk more lives?

It was so much fun seeing these two find their way forward!

Can you share a few fun facts about the geographic locations where your novels takes place?

Trinity Beach
Hmm, these maybe more interesting than fun!

Trinity Beach was used during World War II as a training camp for the Australian Army. Vasey Esplanade takes its name from Major General George Vasey who died in a plane crash in the waters of Trinity Beach in 1948. He’d been a hero in the New Guinea campaign and was much loved by his troops.

The largest recorded crocodile was shot in 1957 by Mrs Kris Powloski on the banks of the MacArthur River near Normanton in North Queensland.

Golden Shouldered Parrot
It was a whopping 28 feet, 4 inches long.  If you, your partner, and your two children lay head to toe in a straight line this monster would still be longer than you all! You wouldn’t want to meet his big brother on a dark and storm night.

Cape York is home to the Golden Shouldered Parrot, which is one of Australia’s most endangered bird species. It only lives in very small areas and is really sighted.

What’s the most unusual place you have visited?

Antarctica! Without a doubt, the coldest, driest place on earth is amazing!! We did a twenty-six day voyage starting from Bluff in New Zealand, tracking right down into McMurdo Sound before returning to Hobart in Australia.

Scott's Hut, Antarctica
The history of the early explorers, the wildlife and the ice itself were overwhelming! To be standing in the hut where Scott and his men camped out before they began their ill-fated journey to the south pole was inspiring. Their clothes, their food, their skis were all there, frozen in time.

Are there any particular settings or sorts of characters you'd like to use in a future book?

I want to set a novel on Macquarie Island. We visited there on the way back from Antarctica and it’s had more than its fair share of dramas and adventures. The early whalers have always fascinated me. They were so mentally and physically tough. I’m dying to write that story, but it will have to wait its turn…

Do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?

Persevere! Writing is about being stubborn. Keep knocking on doors. It’s one tenth talent and nine-tenths determination.

Join Romance Writers of Australia. Rejections hurt so a more gentle way of toughening up is to use the RWA contest circuit. Writers such as Kylie, Anna Campbell, Tracey O’Hara and Erica Hayes all used those contests to hone their skills and learn their craft. I can’t speak highly enough of the organization and the opportunities it offers. And it’s not just for category romance writers!

Kylie thanks so much for having me here today.
Helene, it's always a pleasure!

As a special extra, Helene has generously donated a copy of her books SHATTERED SKY and WINGS OF FEAR. 

If you'd like to be in the running to win one of them, please leave a comment about the most unusual or favorite geographical location you've visited.

Please leave a comment by midday (Aussie Eastern Daylight Savings Time), Saturday 19th March 2011. The 2 winners will be posted by that evening.

If you'd like to know more about Helene go to her website, follow her blog, Facebook page or on Twitter

Helene's books:



  1. Hi Kylie, Hello Helen.

    Thanks for bringing yet another amazing author to us, Kylie.

    And Helen SHATTERED SKY sounds so intriguing and interesting. Thanks for the tip about joining RWA.

  2. Nas, you're back in the #1 spot! LOL

    Helene's new covers ARE great, aren't they? They'll stand out on a shelf for sure.

  3. Hi Helene, lovely to see you here on Kylie's very very awesome blog *VBG* And congratulations on your 2nd release! Can't wait to read it. I always knew Lauren was the type to demand her own story ;-)

    Well, I can't say I can compete in the unusual geographic locations answers. DH, having done a decade stint in the airforce and visited Antarctica and Middle Wallop (among other places), would be better off answering that on my behalf! But I was lucky enough to do a trip round the South Island of NZ a couple of years ago and we visited some incredibly beautiful places. Queenstown stands out for me from that trip. It isn't exactly an unknown spot, but I gotta say, the view from the Kawerau Bridge before I jumped off it was pretty spectacular -- as was the view on the way down, LOL.

  4. Oh, Maree, I know that bridge too! I stood there WATCHING others jump off it. And I know Queenstown as well - got a birds eye view of it as I tandum parachuted to the ground. Spectacular!

    I wonder what other wonderful places people have been to?

  5. Both of these books have been on my Goodreads To read list :). I can't say I've been to too many unusual places. Having been here for 9 years from America, Australia can be an unusual place. I love the bush and the Apline region of Victoria (wish I could live there). Probably the most unusual place I've been to would be "The Horn". it is the highest peak on Mt. Buffalo. Lori

  6. Hi Nas, RWA is fantastic! The opportunities they provide are awesome. Other organisations worth checking out are Romance Writers New Zealand, and The Queensland Writers Centre.

  7. Hello Helen and Kylie!

    As always, thanks for hosting such wonderful authors Kylie! Muwah!

    As to my favorite location, the Snowy Mountains wins, hands down! I live in Tropical Australia and it’s a very different environment to the snowy monitions of NSW. I loved standing over the lookout on the road from Cooma to Jindabine and gazing out at the natural splendor! The jagged hills, covered in lush forest. Ahhh, it’s still the most sunning terrain I’ve ever seen!

    I have Shattered Sky and am dying to read it but my mum borrowed (STOLE!) the book off me before I even turned the first page. She’s now finished it and LOVED it. So much so, she re-reading it and it hasn’t been returned to me. Grrr! But she’s my mother – what am I to do??
    I haven’t read Wings of Fear, but if my mum’s on the money and it’s as good as the first, I’m sure it’s a ripper too!

  8. Maree you had your eyes open as you jumped!!! Sheeeshh, you're braver than me :) We didn't get to Queenstown when we did our one week tour of the South Island. We did make it to Christchurch which just made me feel even more devastated for the people living there during the earthquakes....

  9. Lori, welcome to Australia! You're practically a local now :) 'The Horn' sounds very aptly named on Mt Buffalo - I'm guessing it's a long hike to get to it??

    Goodreads is a fun site to find out about other books. I'm in the middle of being educated by some of the generous readers on how I should be using that site more!

  10. Australia is an unusual place, Lori. Where I live I can experience fertile floodplains, volcanic mountain ranges and down the road a bit (3-4hrs) some spectacular underground limestone caves, while further west endless flat, pilliga scrub (almost semi-arid desert).

    I've snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef up near Townsville, QLD, wandered tropical rainforest near Dorrigo, NSW and walked the Blue Mountains near Sydney, NSW, and the Snowy Mountains, NSW/VIC.

    Diverse and beautiful, this country of ours. :-)

    I have to admit I don't know where Mt.Buffalo is, Lori. Can you fill me in and share your experience in more detail? I'd love to hear about it.

  11. Danielle, sounds like you've stood in the same place I did in the Snowy Mts! I loved Jindabyne, we took a class of kids there in late summer. Beautiful!

    As for Helene's book, you might have to steal it back of your mum to read it! LOL

    GoodReads is something I've also yet to learn about Helene. I was thinking of asking the editor at HT to run a couple of features on these sorts of sites to inform our members.

  12. Danielle, I love your profile picture! The Snowy Mountains are gorgeous but I've only seen them under snow or from 25000 ft. I need to drag hubbie down there during spring for the wildflowers!

    So glad your mum enjoyed Shattered Sky. Wings of Fear is the first one so if you can get your hands on that, it's best to read it before SS :) Having said that they are stand alone stories!

  13. Kylie, an article on that would be great because I think it and other sites like it are becoming more important in spreading the word about authors. I know I don't use any of them to best effect but they do take a lot of time...

    And it sounds like you've seen a heck of a lot of Oz!

  14. Done, Helene! Emailed our editor and made the suggestion.

    Funny, you should say I've seen a lot of Oz. If you'd asked me before today I'd have said I've seen more of the world than my own country.

    Probably true as far as tourist attractions and places of interest go but as for travelling and seeing various types of landscapes, I've seen quite a list. I just didn't consider it from a tourist POV just "necessary travel", if that makes sense.

    Many of the places I listed were on school excursions (my own as a kid) or when organising them for my class as a teacher, or when I've visited rello's or friends in various parts of the country.

    Which leads me to another question about the settings in your books...they're obviously in areas you're familiar with but do you research more about those places for your books?

    What about your character's occupations and procedures involved in their line of work? In SHATTERED SKY you mentioned Outlawed Motorcycle Gangs and the sex-slave trade. Do you have contacts or people you talk to or is it all research via books/internet? How do you go about finding out information for those sorts of things?

  15. Great interview Kylie and Helene. I won't go in the competition as I have both books, and loved them both, but I have been to some unusual places. One of the most unusual was to the remains of an Ancient Roman cemetary beneath the Vatican in Rome. The Vatican run very small tours underground but you have to apply six month in advance and be vetted. I was lucky and scored a place on a tour with six gorgeous young giggly African nuns and guided by a young and handsom Dutch priest. The security was full on as you can imagine but we were taken down through various levels and shown the archaeological remains of centuries of occupation on that spot, right back to Ancient Roman times. Many of the mausoleums and sarcophagi were still there - just fascinating stuff, so atmospheric and eerie, and then we squeezed into a small space to look into a crevice where a jumble of bones lay and were told that they 'beleive' and the evidence is strong, that they are the bones of St Peter. I am an atheist but it was a very, very moving experience to be there and to glimpse the centuries of history and beleif. We came out in the burial chambers of the past popes and were then let through security and back into St Peters Square. What an experience for a antiquities junkie like me!

  16. Phillipa, what an experience! That would have been a fascinating tour to go on and how lucky that you were a part of such a small group. That would have been extra special.

    I know the crowds lining up to get into the Vatican are huge to begin with but I was in Rome in May last year when they'd opened up almost everything to public for free and the crowds were beyond belief. I saw the Vatican from the top deck of one of those sightseeing buses but decided not to spend most of the day lined up to get in. There was so much to do, but little time to do it in, unfortunately! LOL

  17. Wow, I'm jealous of everyone's adventures! I haven't seen much of the world (never been overseas, and only interstate to QLD, VIC, & TAS), but I have been lucky enough to live previously in the Blue Mountains, and now in the beautiful south coast of NSW - both places people travel to visit, so I think I'm very lucky.
    I did climb Mt Kosciusko (sp?), but that's probably the extent of my adventures! Although what I remember the most is walking for eight hours without a toilet in sight!!

  18. LOL on the no toilet eight hour trek, Juliet! I bet there were plenty of trees though, if you got desperate!

    The Blue Mts are pretty rugged and spectacular as their Snowy Mts counterparts. And you're right about the south coast, some great beaches and lakes just inland. I've always wanted to houseboat some of the lakes there but have never got round to it. One day!

  19. Kylie I do indulge in more research! It's fun!! The OMG info kept falling in my lap. When we moved to Cairns I used to chat to a lady with a couple of dogs who played with ours. Turned out she was some sort of matriarch with a gang yet she seemed so ordinary! Then I was trapped on a bus going to Melbourne airport by a guy who was involved with the Hells Angels and he was happily sharing his stories with me at 6 am. The final insights came from a friend in the WA police who dropped round for a visit in Cairns and talked about the concealed weapons on bikes! It's manna from heaven and I soak it up!

  20. Phillipa that sounds absolutely fascinating. I loved Ancient history at school and spent a fabulous two months with a girlfriend wandering around Greece and Italy! I had no idea you could do such tours of the Vatican!!

  21. Juliet, the Blue Mountains are gorgeous! I was very fortunate to spend a week there at Varuna and I fell in love with the area. Early morning walks with the mist rising were amazing. I'd love to go back and explore some more'

  22. And today I've been to Mt Isa and Townsville! Always an amazing contrast from the tropical coast! Unfortunately I've left my laptop in the aircraft otherwise I'd be sharing a photo of the amazing sky as we flew back to Townsville. I'll post it tomorrow when I get home!!

  23. I just adore the new covers Helene. I'm glad to see that Lauren has her own book. She really is a great sassy character. I loved Border Watch (as it was known when I read it) and looking forward to Shattered Sky.

    I loved going Monemvasia, Greece. An old church, Agia Sofia is on top of a hill. It's an island connected by a causeway. It's an old Byzantine fortress and really is just majestic - slippery cobblestone streets, windy paths, and the view of the sea - just gorgeous. I also visited it at night and it can I say wow. It's a step back in time.

    Though I must say I loved white-water rafting in New Zealand. Definitely in the beginners and with my sore body, all I could have handled. But it was a breathtaking.

    Oh and just anytime, I love the beach. There's something about water - LOL - it's the South Australian in me - we are after all the driest state in the world :))

  24. Wow, Agia Sofia sounds fascinating. I do love Greece. The wonderful sense of history is everywhere and it felt like you were literally tripping over it at every turn.

    And whitewater rafting in NZ is definitely on my list! I've done it on the Tully, in NQ but NZ looks even more exhilarating :)

    Glad you enjoyed BW Eleni. Lauren was always going to get into trouble - she's just one of those girls !!

  25. Eleni, the history behind that Greek church sounds fascinating! An old Byzantine fortress - how cool!

    And white water rafting is heaps of fun - except on a river in flood, which is how I did it, and while it might have made for an exciting ride, I don't think I'd do it again (when it's flooded that is!). A little too scary. LOL

  26. How about the southerly tip of Tassie camped at Deadmans Bay on the turn of the century! (Love that name - certainly a story idea there!) Actually a very picturesque little bay. Slept through NYE as we had to climb a fairly large mountain the next day! Worth the effort with the most amazing 360 degree views of pure wilderness!

  27. Tassie!!!! One of the states I HAVEN'T been to and would love to travel. Sigh.

    Deadmans Bay sounds lovely. I bet it was quiet, Carol. And I hope you took your camera!

  28. Carol, that name sounds a little eerie and a lovely spot to have changed centuries. I've only had two brief visits to Hobart so I have a lot of exploring still to do!

  29. Hey Kylie and Helene

    I grew up in Southern Africa, so even though I live here in Australia now, I haven't got to see all my country - just yet... but the places in NZ and Australia that are so stunning and mentioned before meon this blog are being well noted by me ( thanks all) to put on my 'wish list' to visit...

    The most magical and unusual place I visited has to be the Okavango Delta in Botswana (for my honeymoon). Flying just over the tree tops, seeing the elephants and giraffes almost eyeballing the small plane...and the water so clear you could see the hippos, and crocs, and it continued for miles and miles its so huge!!!

    Taking a makoro along part of the reed covered channels within the swamp, makes one feel like you are the only people in the universe as you are surrounded by the green and brown of the reeds, the abundant bird life, the fast swimming fish and the odd Hippo family...

  30. Oh, how lovely and what a great description of your special place in Botswana, Tina! I'd love to be able to see the big six out in the wild like you did. I've only ever seen them in zoo's.

  31. Oh Tina, I am now green with envy! Africa is on my 'must see' list and the Okavango Delta is right at the top. I've been trying to wangle a photo-safari for a holiday but the budget hasn't quite stretched there yet...

    Enjoy exploring Australia!

  32. Hi Helene,
    I don't remember how long it took to get to the top (the Horn). It was 5 years ago and took longer than it should have because we had 8 kids in tow. The youngest were only 1,3, and 5. The one year old needed to be carried and the 5 year old needed to be helped most of the way.

    Mt. Buffalo is in the Apline region of Victoria. Not too far a drive from Bright. It sounds pretty awesome where you live!

    What an awesome experience you have had! I love looking at real history.

    Sounds like you had a great honeymoon.That would have been pretty awesome!