What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I’ve always enjoyed writing. I technically wrote my first novel in high school. I wrote it by longhand a chapter at a time and brought it to school. At first, there were only a handful of people reading it, but by the end, it felt like the whole school was waiting for me to finish. Even teachers read it. Pieces of it were lost or destroyed in the process and I never did anything with it. But twenty-five years later when Awake In Hell was published, a bunch of people from my high school showed up for the first signing. Every single one of them brought up In the Toni Room. That made me cry a little.
How often do you write? And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
I try to write something every single day, even if it’s just a paragraph. I think if you are committed to something then you will find the time to do it. I work full time, I’m a single parent, I’m a caregiver to my mom and dad, I have a ton of projects, but I always find time to write. For me it’s like asking, “How do you find time to love your children?” You just do, because you do.
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
All of my stories are fiction. But all of them have a few themes running through them. I like to use humor, and I love stories of redemption. I also have a strong spirituality and that comes through as well.
What draws you to write in that genre?
You write what you know. Even if it’s steeped in situations that you can’t possibly relate to, you still ultimately write what you know.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
I’m working on a new book called Getting Better. It’s going to be kind of a romance, but it’s also going to be a subtle commentary on how each of us approach God. It should be interesting. It will be very different from Awake In Hell.
What are your writing plans for the future?
To keep writing! And to keep promoting what I’ve written. Awake In Hell still has lots to say, so I’m working just as hard for that book as I am on the new one.
Where can people find out more about you?
Find my blog here
Like me on Facebook here
Follow me on Twitter: @imtellinhelen
- Helen Downing’s ‘In the Booth with Her Book – Awake In Hell’ interview can be read here.