(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)
Last week I was able to be part of Ripples in the Sand blog tour with USA Today’s bestselling author Helen Hollick and I’m excited today to share with you a 4 Questions with Helen! I love what she has to share and I hope you’ll be inspired as I was to follow what you know what you were born to do!
Helen Hollick lives in London but is moving to Devon in 2013 with her husband and adult daughter. In between researching the background information for her historical novels, and her pirate series about Jesamiah Acorne, she spends most of her time helping with her daughter’s horses as chief groom and general runaround. She has a university diploma in early medieval history – and a passion for pirates.
1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
We are moving house – escaping London to live in a farmhouse in Devon – by the time you read this I expect the move will be accomplished and my family will be well settled into our new home.
Born in the outskirts of London, and having lived there all my life, I have yearned for living in the country for many years, never believing that one day a “picture postcard” home could be mine, but an unexpected windfall fell our way and we decided to take the plunge and move. Our horses are coming with us as there will be 13 acres of field and four stables, along with an orchard and several outbuildings. Hopefully the cats will enjoy their new hunting ground (and the real log fire) and our old dog will finish his last days enjoying the sniffs and smells in the bit of woodland that will be ours.
As an added bonus, I will be very close to where the fourth of my Sea Witch Voyages, Ripples In The Sand, is set along the North Devon Coast. I am looking forward to incorporating Exmoor, and the rivers Taw and Torridge, into the future nautical adventures of Captain Jesamiah Acorne. I also have an idea for a spin-off series based around my Arthurian Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, which I will set in Devon as well.
The thought of being able to gaze out my study window at beautiful scenery is so exciting – mind you, I doubt I will get any work done!
2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I would have taken a more active part in marketing my books when they were first published here in the UK by William Heinemann (Random House UK). They accepted me for publication almost twenty years ago, and I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m set for life on a career as an author.’ It doesn’t quite work like that.
I assumed that as it was a big publishing house they would take care of all the marketing. I envisioned going on tour, doing book signings at book store after book store….. lulled into this by media interest when my first book, The Kingmaking, came out. That first book sold well, but the next two in the trilogy didn’t. Not helped by the fact that half the time one or other of the three were out of print (who is going to read a trilogy if the first or second book is not available?) My novel about 1066 the Battle of Hastings, did quite well, but the next one, A Hollow Crown (titled The Forever Queen in the US) didn’t – because the UK publisher did absolutely no marketing whatsoever for it. I realised, too late, that because my backlist had not been selling, they had lost interest in me. The plain truth is, no one will buy and read your book if they do not know that it is out there to be bought and read!
About seven years ago Heinemann dropped me. I was devastated, but I picked myself up and decided to self-publish my books here in the UK, and was fortunate enough to also be picked up by US publisher Sourcebooks Inc. I had a couple of false starts, but my books, published with the assisted publishing independent SilverWood Books, are holding their own.
And with lesson learnt, I now ensure I make contact with my growing following of readers via Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads etc. The nicest thing about this is that through social media networking I have found more than mere readers who enjoy my books – I have made some delightful, supportive, friends.
3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Outside of the day my beautiful daughter came into the world…. The day my first book was accepted for publication. It was a week after my 40th birthday. I had spent my actual birthday week on vacation in the Lake District area of England. It was Easter weekend and there had been no telephone call from my agent before we left home to travel northwards. No cell phone back in those days almost 20 years ago either, so I had to wait patiently until the holiday was finished and we returned home. For three days no phone call. I was starting to get worried. My agent had said that the publishers were ‘considering it’. With growing despondency I began to think that they did not want my book after all…. And then the call came. A three book deal with a rather handsome advance. I had been wanting to write since the age of thirteen. It had taken me ten years to write what became The Kingmaking, the first in the Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy.
At last I could stop saying ‘when I write my book’. Now it is ‘when I write my next book.’
4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I would like the next generation to know how to find and use the key to the door into the world of Imagination. In other words, to discover, use, and continue to use the world of pleasure that can be opened up by reading a book.