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Interview with an author: Helen Garraway


About the author:


Helen Garraway lives in the leafy royal borough of Berkshire in the UK and has been writing about the world of Remargaren, a fantasy world of her creation, since 2016. An avid reader of many different fiction genres, a love she inherited from her mother, Helen writes high fantasy stories where she creates her own worlds and populates it with amazing characters and adventures. When she has time, she also enjoys paper crafting and scrapbooking as an escape from the pressure of working as a Product Manager. Having graduated from the University of Southampton with a Degree in Politics and International Relations, she remains an active member of their alumni.




What got you into writing your own stories?

I have always been a voracious reader of a wide range of genres, but my favourite genre is Fantasy. When my daughter left home and I had an empty house, I decided to write down some of the ideas bubbling in my head. I suddenly had time to unleash my creativity and I began to write. The result was the Sentinal Series. I wrote seven books in the series, and I have now self published four of them.

What genre do you write?

I write what I love to read, fantasy. I love world building and having the freedom to create my own worlds. My Sentinals Series is Epic Fantasy, and my first Fantasy Romance novel, SoulBreather, releases on October 4th, as part of the Realm of Darkness anthology. A collection of forty full length novels. You can preorder it now for only 99c!

Tell us about your WIP.

I am currently working on two books. The fifth book in my Sentinal series has just been named. My newsletter subscribers and Patreons have been voting on the title, and they chose Sentinals Banished. Whilst Sentinals Banished is with the beta readers, I am writing the second book in the SoulMist series. It has been great fun exploring this new world, and the characters have so much to say that there is plenty more to write about. I hope you all love Solanji and Demavrian as much as I do!! My second audio book, Sentinals Rising is currently going through QA and will release in September. Learning to create Audio books has also been an experience. Every aspect of self publishing teaches you more.

How would you describe your writing style?

My writing style tends to be a bit of a mixture. I have lots of ideas bubbling, and once I've captured one, then I flesh it out. I build out the skeleton of the story, and I know where I'm starting and where I want to finish, but at heart I am still a bit of a pantser. I write scenes as I think of them, and then slot them into the timeline, putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle. It is such a great feeling when it all snaps into place.

What comes more easily, plot or characters?

The more I've written, it's the main characters who firm up first. Once I know who they are and what their goal is, then the plot can evolve. Of course, the fun is developing a convoluted plot that will test your characters at every turn.

Do you cross over genres or do you only stick to one?

I have only ever written fantasy, and I can't see me writing anything else, though even though it is fantasy there is an element of mystery, political intrigue, romance and suspense built in, so I think there are elements of other genres within my books.

What is your "writer's den" like?

I'd love to have a writer's den! Because I work from home, my spare room is my office. I associate my office with work, not writing, so I rarely write there. I tend to sit on the sofa with my laptop and write. My writer's companion is never far away and my cat, Alfie, snoozes beside me, keeping me on track.

How do you get into the flow for writing? Do you have any rituals?

I don't have any rituals. I just start writing. I write anything, until the words begin to flow. Play with ideas, describe the scene, write a piece of dialogue. Once I'm into the groove then the story begins to flow. My problem is typically which book to concentrate on. I'll be in the midst of one book and an idea for one of my other books will pop up, and it depends on which character shouts the loudest as to where I concentrate.

What is your personally most significant achievement as a writer, and why?

My greatest achievement has to be publishing my first book, Sentinals Awaken. It was such a steep learning curve, understanding how to self publish. Not only was I writing a book, I was researching how self publishing works. Each book I've written, I've learnt something more. I am very proud of my Sentinal series, especially as the series has begun to win some awards and recognition. It always feels like coming home, when I return to the world of Remargaren and my characters.

What are you most grateful for as a writer?

The support of the writing community on Instagram has been amazing. Writing is quite a lonely occupation, so it's great to be able to chat with other authors about the ups and down of writing. Everyone needs someone cheering their corner and their support makes all the difference. I try to give back, by reading and reviewing indie author books, and posting author interviews to my blog. We all support each other.


Do you have a day job? What is it?

I work full-time as a Product Manager. Responsible for managing the service lifecycle of the products the company manufactures. So writing is always in the evening or weekends.

Do you read the same genre you write? Why, or why not?

I read all genres except horror. I have too vivid an imagination to read gory horror stories! I love fantasy and science fiction, but I think as a writer it is good to read other genres as well because all books have elements drawn from romance, thrillers, mysteries, and the more you read, the better you will write.

Do you read fellow indie authors' works? Why or why not?

Yes, all the time. I always leave a review because for Indie authors, the more reviews we get, the more it drives the visibility of our books. Marketing our books must be the most difficult part of writing. How to get our books in front of our target audience as we don't have the big publishing house behind us to promote into large book stores.

Do you have any hobbies?

I love paper crafting. I create greeting cards and I used to do scrapbooking (Journalling) but I don't have time anymore as writing has taken over. My house is a craft stash though. I am trying to squeeze in time to make some Christmas cards.

Do you have pets?

I am a cat person. I currently have one ginger moggy called Alfie, and he was the inspiration of the Arifels in the Sentinal series. A magical creature of the Lady Leyandrii, a cross between a kitten and a dragon. A fluffy cat with scaly wings and tail. A rather mischievous messenger and very popular with my readers. Everyone wants one!


 

Take a look at Helen Garraway's new book Soul Breather:

"This new series from the acclaimed, award winning Fantasy writer Helen Garraway, far exceeds what she has written before. As the first line of the book states -


‘Not all that was good was in the light; there was good in the dark too, if you bothered to look.’

Helen Garraway. SoulBreather: Book One of the SoulMist series (Kindle Location 65).


This sets the theme which permeates throughout. Within this book, Helen has created two dystopian worlds, as far apart in both essence and goodness, as is humanly possible - Puronia, where all is ‘goodness and light,’ at least on the surface, and Eidolon a place of correction, where those who have sinned go to pay their penance.


There are two main protagonists, Mav (Demavrion) a fallen angel, and an archdeus, who was banished to Puronia many years before, for a crime he did not commit, and Solanji, a young woman who has hidden talents and powers, in that she can touch souls, and read peoples’ minds, which is something she has to keep hidden for her own safety. Time in these worlds has no meaning.


Solanji, whilst on a mission in Eidolon, finds Mav in a dire situation. Together they set to clear his name, and place him where he rightly belongs. Their journey is fraught with danger, as they battle those that would try to prevent this. As well as helping others that had been put to slavery.


The descriptions in this book, are what set it apart from other books of this genre. Helen is a master in conjuring, and creating these worlds. You feel the dank coldness, the constant drizzle as they make their journey throughout Eidolon. The pain and exhaustion, that envelopes these two people at every turn.


To sum up, I would say that even if you are not a fan of fantasy, this book will change your mind. Within its pages there is a wealth of emotions, injustice, hate, love and a person’s desire, no matter what their own circumstances are, to help and protect others.


It is an outstanding read, I cannot recommend it more highly." Goodreads Review by Daisy Wood



 


Soul Breather is Garraway's first Fantasy Romance book, and the first book I've written outside the world of the Sentinals. SoulBreather launches on October 4th as part of the Realm of Darkness anthology.


“Bright perfection wore on the nerves after a while, and Solanji relaxed into the soothing absence of expectation.”

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

My heroine, Solanji was my favourite character to write. She is the one who has to tussle with the difficult decisions and it was fun getting inside her head as she tried to balance doing what was right versus protecting her family. Of course, travelling with a gorgeous angel wasn't a hardship at all! and he was just as much fun to write.

What was your favorite scene to write and why?

The scene where Mav and Solanji get 'mind-locked'. There is such a range of emotions from tragedy to light humour. Solanji is trying to help Mav remember what happened to him, but she gets tangled in his shadows. Adriz has to figure out how to break them out of it which helps alleviate the dark emotions. I love writing strong emotions. I hope they evoke an equally strong response in the reader.

What was the spark that started this book?

My original thought for this book was about how we are so quick to make judgements on little facts, and that we always assume there is evil in the dark and goodness in the light. I wanted to write a story to demonstrate the reverse can be just as true. The angels live in Puronia in the golden sunlight. Those who are stripped of their souls are banished to Eidolon, a land of shadow and gloom. But does that mean only the good can be found in Puronia?

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