Thanks for allowing me to dance across your page, Susanne J
1. Are you inspired most by places, people or experiences and how do these work their way into your writing?
Inspiration comes from so many places! Half Moon Bay was definitely inspired by growing up at Currumbin Beach when it was still a small coastal hamlet in the 1960’s. We used to drive down from Brisbane every weekend to look after a couple of beach shacks my parents rented out to holidaymakers. It was such an idyllic way to grow up. When I started writing Half Moon Bay and found the story was about council corruption I couldn’t quite bear to do that to Currumbin so I invented a town and dropped it onto the coast around Yamba and Angourie in Northern New South Wales, another area we visited a lot when I was a teenager. It’s a gorgeous setting!
2. Please share one of your favourite moments of inspiration with us.
I think the most powerful moment of inspiration was finding a body washed up on our local beach. The opening scene for Wings of Fear continued from that moment even though it took some time for me to be able to write about it.
3. How did you come up with the idea of Half Moon Bay?
There are a lot of threads running through Half Moon Bay. There’s drug smuggling from Afghanistan, corruption in local government and the dislocation that injured servicemen and women have to deal with when they return home. Much of that comes from every day news stories. On a deeper level it’s a story about crossing the boundaries in pursuit of justice. How far is too far? Who makes that call? I guess I’ve always been fascinated by human nature and the idea that we put people we love up on a pedestal and are then angry and disappointed when they turn out to have feet of clay.
And this is the part that really fascinates me, how these threads are woven together from such diverse elements.
4. How do you come up with your characters’ names?
Some of them arrive already named and they’re the easy ones. Nicholas Lawson had so much presence he was only ever going to be a Nick. Ellie was a little more problematic and it took several goes before I worked out who she was. Once Eleanor Wilding had her name she finally started to open up to me!
5. If you could pick a soundtrack to match your main character’s life, what would it be?
Missy Higgins song ‘Waiting’ played on rerun when I was writing Ellie’s scenes J
6. What is your favourite holiday?
My favourite, most awesome holiday was a 26 day cruise to Antarctica. There’s a whole series of stories waiting to be written inspired by that holiday!
I hope you’re already into these, Helene, because Antarctica intrigues me. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!
7. Do you read reviews of your books? What do you do when you read a not-so-nice one?
I do read reviews, but I understand that not everyone is going to like my stories so I take critical reviews on board and see if there’s a kernel of truth in them.
8. How many times were you turned down before you finally got published?
I was a spineless wonder and only submitted once to Harlequin Mills and Boons and then to Hachette Australia…
9. What reason(s) did the publishers give for their rejection of your manuscript?
HM&B politely rejected my story as it didn’t fit their guidelines. They were right! At the time I had no real understanding of the romance genre, nor the different lines and their requirements. It was a lesson I needed to learn J
10. Who is your literary hero?
Hard to go past Mr Darcy isn’t it?
There are many out there who will agree with you! Me included!
11. If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, and spend an hour with them, who and why?
Amelia Earhart - she was such an inspirational aviator and a woman ahead of her times.
12. What is your favourite book of all time that you can reread a hundred times, and it still feels like the first time?
Hungry as the Sea by Wilbur Smith. It’s comfort food for me J
Always loved his African settings too.
13. What do you need to set the mood for you to write?
No mood setting required. Since I juggle a flying life and a writing life I write whenever I can. In my ideal world I’d be sat on the back deck of Roo Bin Esque with a lavender scented candle, Missy Higgins playing on my ipod and a cool breeze. I’m working on it!
14. If there is one genre that you have not written in yet, but would love to try writing a book in that specific genre, what would it be?
I’d love to write an action packed YA.
15. How many blurbs did you have to write before the final one?
Writing blurbs is as hard as putting together a synopsis, so for everyone out there who’s struggling with their first submission, don’t despair! You’re not alone. I don’t know any writers who just whip up a back cover blurb, but blurbs should be the essence of the story so it’s worthwhile persevering even when it’s hard.
16. Would you like to share an excerpt from your writing or a photo or music link that inspires you? Click the link to read the first chapter for Half Moon Bay: http://www.heleneyoung.com/books/half-moon-bay/
17. Please share your favourite cocktail recipe or celebration photo.
My first writing award at the Australian Romance Readers Convention!