The literary life of EDWARD JAMES, author,reviewer, occasional poet and former pension adviser to the government of Kyrgyzstan
My guest this week is Helen Hollick. Helen is a fellow Managing Editor for the Historical Novel Society and has kindly agreed to be the judge for the short story competition, The Cheltenham Prize, which I am organising for Cheltenham Writers’ Circle. She is a prolific author best known for her maritime and Arthurian novels.
Edward: I see from your blog that you live in Devon.
Helen: Indeed. My husband, daughter, son-in-law and I live in North Devon, in an eighteenth century farmhouse surrounded by thirteen acres of fields and woodland. Our variety of pets includes my daughter’s side-saddle riding horse and a show jumper, two Exmoor ponies which once ran wild on Exmoor, two cats who ignore each other, two wonderful dogs from the Dog’s Trust rescue Centre, some chickens, ducks, and a very grumpy goose called Bernadette (although Boudicca is a more appropriate name!).
Edward: What are your main interests as a novelist?
Helen: I have two major interests: Roman/Saxon Britain and the Golden Age of Piracy – the early eighteenth century. My particular pleasure is researching the facts behind the small glimpses of history and bringing the characters behind those facts to full and glorious life. I have an honours diploma in early medieval history and may one day, if I ever find the time, go on to obtain my full degree.
Edward: And I believe you are an extremely active supporter of indie authors?
Helen: I’m a passionate supporter of indie books and authors, I took over the role of Managing Editor for Indie Reviews for the Historical Novel Society and in 2014 introduced the HNS Indie Award. I wanted to encourage indie authors to not only write good books but to ensure they are also presented at a quality standard. Introducing the HNS Award seemed a good way of doing it.
With my editor, Jo Field, I co-wrote Discovering the Diamond, a short advice guide for new and novice writers who are interested in going down the self-publish route. Although the emphasis is on Historical Fiction, Discovering the Diamond is a useful little book for any new and hopeful writers. Jo and I wrote it because we were getting so many e-mails asking for help and advice we thought it would be simpler and quicker to put our answers in one handy place.
Edward: Would you say that was your main passion?
Helen: My main passion is my pirate character, Captain Jesamiah Acorne of The Sea Witch Voyages. The trouble with writing pirate-based adventures, though, is that you find yourself going ‘arrr’ every so often!
Edward: And I know you have collected several awards.
Helen: All my SilverWood novels carry the quality endorsement of Indie BRAG medallions and I’ve been nominated for several awards. I am also published traditionally/mainstream in the US with my ‘serious’ historical fiction, becoming a USA Today Bestseller with my novel The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) – the story of Emma of Normandy who was wife to two kings and mother of two more before the Norman Conquest. My novel of the events that led to the Conquest, Harold the King (titled I Am The Chosen King in the US) has been a popular and acclaimed telling of the 1066 Battle of Hastings for many years.
My Arthurian novels – the Pendragon’s Banner trilogy, set in the fifth century, have also been widely acclaimed as a different telling of the Arthurian Myth – no magic or Medieval Knights, no Merlin, no Holy Grail – just a down-to-earth ‘what might have happened’ story of the boy who became the man, who became the king – who became the legend.
Recently signed to SadWolf Verlag, the trilogy will soon be available in German, a very exciting project! My books are also soon to be published in various other languages including Turkish and Italian.
And of course I am very proud to be asked to judge The Cheltenham Prize.
Edward: Thank you, Helen. We are very proud to have you as our judge.
Devon Diary : http://leaningonthegate.blogspot.co.uk/
Newsletter H2U : http://h2unews.blogspot.co.uk/