I have not enough words to describe how happy I am that I discovered Indie writers and so found my first, and second, and third… book of Helen Pryke. She really became one of my top favorite writers. Helen Pryke has a terrific pen, her words are so beautiful. The topics of her books are on domestic and child abuse. Helen’s approach is giving an intense insight into what victims of abuse emotional experience. Her women characters are real survivors and so give hope in darker days. And that makes it a joy to open her book and in no way feeling part of it. I so much look forward to her next book.
Helen has also written a children’s book under her pen name Julia E. Clements. It is an amazing book full of dreams of Danny’s dream adventures with unicorns, a dragon and giant, with witch Stregona and Argit the cricket. And underneath, on a subtle way, there is this message for kids and adults, that we all need to stand still sometimes and look at our guilt feelings, forgive ourselves as Danny did with the help of his friends…
- Can you introduce yourself, what’s your name, where are you from… ?
I’m Helen, I’m British but I’ve been living in Italy for the last 28 years, so I guess I’m more Italian than English now! I live close to Milan with my second husband and two sons, and work as a freelance translator and proofreader when I’m not writing.
- Tell us something unexpected about yourself!
I once did a voice-over for a short film by a couple of Italian indie filmmakers. I did the voice of an elderly woman and a young child, thanks to some technological wizardry they had! It was a great experience, but I realized I’m not cut out to be an actress!
- Give 2 things about yourself that you think matter the most?
I am very sensitive to other people’s feelings, probably too much. I tend to misread their expressions/moods and instantly feel I’ve done something wrong.
I’m also a perfectionist, I will constantly check any work I do until I’m happy with it (which is probably why I got into proofreading!). This can be a good thing, quite often it drives my husband and sons crazy!
4. IDENTITY CARD
- Do you remember the first book you read?
I started reading at a very young age, so I can’t really remember the first book I read. But I remember going on adventures with The Famous Five and up The Magic Faraway Tree, crying over Black Beauty and Watership Down, and going down the rabbit hole with Alice to Wonderland.
- What makes you laugh?
My sons. They can be incredibly funny – they both have a British sense of humour, even though they’ve grown up in Italy, and come out with the funniest things. They also make me cry, when I see them struggling to get over traumas from the past. I wish so much I could help them and make everything all right again.
- In which genre do you write?
I write women’s fiction mainly, with topics such as domestic and childhood abuse. I also write children’s books under the pen name Julia E. Clements, which is useful when I need a break from all the dramatic writing!
- What makes your book special, how is it different from other books in your genre?
My books touch your emotions, people say my writing makes them feel everything the protagonist is going through. I write from the heart, sometimes from personal experience, sometimes from just imagining what a certain situation must be like, and this draws the reader into my books and the story.
- How do you feel when you write, do you have a special ritual?
I don’t have a special ritual, as such. I need to start writing early in the morning in order to get a couple of hours in, as I have an auto-immune disease and get tired by midday. I do have my own corner in the house, with my desk and a cupboard where I keep everything I need for writing. Woe betide anyone who invades my space! I love that feeling when I get in ‘the zone’ – the words just pour out and time passes unnoticed. I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve glanced at the clock and realised my son will be home in a few minutes, and I still have to cook his pasta!
- What inspired you to write your first book?
I wrote my first book, Walls of Silence, when I was going through my separation from my first husband. It was a very stressing time, as I’d been in an abusive relationship for 23 years, and writing the book helped me get rid of all the hurt, anger and frustration I felt. The more I suffered, the more I made my protagonist suffer!
- How did you come up with the title?
I’m hopeless at finding titles for my books, and try to get inspiration from anywhere. One evening I was watching QI and one of the panelists, Bill Bailey, recited something he’d made up, and finished with the words: the walls of silence. It just seemed the perfect title for my book!
- If you could be any famous book character, who would you be and why?
I would be Lucy Pevensie, so that I could travel to Narnia and meet Aslan. She’s such a lovely character, I used to model myself on her when I was younger.
- Is there a message in your book that you hope the readers will grasp?
I hope my readers will understand that even in the blackest moments of despair, there is hope, there is a future. I’ve been to rock bottom and made my way back up, and never thought that I’d end up where I am now: happily married with a man who loves and respects me, a published writer with fantastic friends in the writing community, and with a strength and courage inside me I never knew I had.
- What are your top 3 books of all time?
This is so difficult! I love so many books. From my childhood, I’d have to say Voyage of the Dawn Treader from the Narnia series. From my adulthood, I’d say The Stand by Stephen King, and Fluke by James Herbert.
- How important is marketing and social media for you?
It’s very important. I’ve learnt a lot over the last year or so since I published my first book. The main thing I’ve learnt is how important it is to support other writers and have them support you – people you can celebrate your achievements with and who will listen to you when things aren’t going so well. Social media means you can reach people all over the world, people you’d never have met otherwise. And readers can get in touch with you and let you know what your book means to them. That’s a wonderful thing. Marketing is difficult – there are a lot of writers out there, all shouting “buy my book”! That’s why community support is so important!
- Is it important for you to get book reviews? Do you read them?
I do read book reviews, although sometimes I wish I hadn’t! I haven’t had any really bad ones (yet!) but a couple have made me go “ouch”. At the beginning I took everything to heart and let the few negative reviews outweigh the many more positive ones. Nowadays I take a more relaxed approach to it all, and just shrug my shoulders.
- What advice do you have for other writers?
Get your books edited and proofread. No matter how good you are, you’ve read and re-read your manuscript so many times that you won’t see the errors anymore. You can find good editors and proofreaders who don’t charge a fortune, and your readers will thank you for it.
Make friends with other writers. They’re not competition, even if they write in the same genre as you, there are more than enough readers out there. Help others, and they’ll help you when you need it. If someone offers you advice, have the courtesy to listen, even if you don’t agree. Then think over what they’ve said, without dismissing it outright. Nine times out of ten, you’ll realise they have a point.
- Can you give your book information: blurb, link, genre (for children’s book, please tell for what age)
The Healer’s Secret
Blurb: Jennifer’s life isn’t going as she planned. Fired from her job and on the brink of divorce at thirty-one, her only salvation lies at the bottom of a wine bottle. When her mother insists she get away from everything, she reluctantly agrees to explore her Italian roots in Tuscany.
Staying in her family’s centuries-old cottage, she becomes embroiled in a mysterious tragedy involving her great-grandmother. As she delves further into her ancestors’ history, she discovers there is more to her heritage than meets the eye.
Ghosts from the past could give Jennifer something she thought she’d never have: a future. But that depends on whether she can resist temptation and avoid slipping back into her old ways.
Will she be able to conquer her inner demons and discover the healer’s secret?
Asin (Amazon): B078CXN299
Walls of Silence
Blurb: Living in the mountains of Sicily, Maria has the perfect childhood until the tragic accident that changes her life forever. The events that follow will take her away from her home town to the streets of Milan, in an ever-increasing spiral of abuse and deception. Will she ever be able to trust anyone ever again? Set in turbulent 1960s Italy, Walls of Silence is the story of a girl who must find the courage and strength to survive her family’s betrayal and the prejudices of her country.
Asin (Amazon): B01MDVMQYT
Blurb: The day Julia’s best friend Becky gives her a magazine article to read, her whole world falls apart. After years of emotional and psychological abuse, is Julia ready to face the truth about her perfect marriage to Simon or will she continue to hide her head in the sand? Autumn Sky is a short story of 7,000 words from the author of The Healer’s Secret and Walls of Silence.
Asin (Amazon): B01N4G80LN
Dreamland (writing as Julia E. Clements)
For ages 9-12
Blurb: Daniel Green is a typical ten-year-old boy with just one difference – when he goes to sleep at night, he travels to Dreamland, a magical place where he can create amazing adventures using only his imagination.
But he is not alone. An evil being follows him into his enchanted world and joins forces with Stregona, the powerful witch who reigns over the Dark Forest. Together they are determined to destroy Dreamland.
Who is this dark entity, and what does he want with Danny?
Asin (Amazon): B075C6WJ8D
Social Media links:
- QUICK POP-QUIZ. (You can choose one or both, and please feel free to add a very brief comment)
Snow or sun: I hate both, but if I had to choose one, it would be snow!
Soccer or (ice) hockey: Again, I don’t really like sports, but I occasionally watch soccer.
Dogs or cats: Dogs.
Ice-cream or fruit: Ice-cream!
Fact or fiction: Fiction, I like to step out of the real world sometimes.
Music or silence: I prefer silence nowadays.
Sport or reading: Reading!
Sea or mountains: Mountains.
Groundhogs or squirrels: Squirrels.
Books or movies: Books.
E-book or print: Both are fine, as long as I can read!
- Is there anything more you want to tell your readers?
I love to hear from anyone who’s read my books and enjoyed them, or have questions to ask. I’m on most social media, so feel free to get in touch!
Thank you so much Helen Pryke!