I am delighted to be welcoming Helen Vivienne Fletcher to the blog for an interview. First, here's a little bit about Helen:
Helen discovered her passion for writing for young people while working as a youth support worker, and now helps children find their own passion for storytelling by teaching creative writing classes.
She is the author of four e-picture books for children, and one young adult novel, and has also had success with writing spoken word poetry, short stories and plays. Overall Helen just loves telling stories, and is always excited when people want to hear or read them. You can find more about Helen at www.helenvfletcher.com
And onto the interview!
How long have you been writing?
I've always made up stories, but I struggled to learn to write as a child. I think I first said "I want to be a writer" when I was about seven and had a teacher who helped me break through the problems I was having with the mechanics of writing. When I realised the stories I told myself could exist outside my head, and that other people might want to read them, it was a really exciting thing. I cycled through other jobs and career options in the time since, but writing was something I always came back to.
Do you write in the genre you love to read?
I write in a number or different genres, and I read widely too. I'm moving into writing fantasy now, and I'm very excited, as that was what I loved to read as a kid and teen.
What's your idea of a perfect writing day?
I love writing at the local library. My favourite thing is to meet up with some friends for a "writing date". We sit in different areas of the library, write for an hour or two, then meet up afterwards for a coffee or brunch. Writing can be lonely at times, and I find this a nice way to make it social while still getting the work done.
Do you like editing or is it something you loathe?
I like editing, but only when the time is right. I find I need to leave a while between drafts. If I start editing too early, I can see the problems in my manuscript but can't figure out how to fix them, and it makes me doubt whether there's anything worth saving. When I give it some time after the first draft, it's like my subconscious has done the work in the background and figured out all the hard bits for me. Then, editing becomes an enjoyable process of carving back the bad writing and exposing the real story.
Do you do character profiles? If so, why/why not?
Yes. I'm much more of a plot writer than a character writer, so if I'm not careful I have lots of action but not much substance to the people in my stories. I know this is my flaw, so at the start of a new piece, I need to spend time thinking and writing about the characters to make sure they behave like real human beings.
How would you describe your writing process?
My process involves a lot of writing sprints, to get the first draft out, then a slow process of editing. I'm a big fan of letting the problems in a manuscript unravel while I'm doing the dishes, out walking my dog, or in the bath. It's also possible some of that is procrastination, but either way it seems to work!
Do you prefer ebooks or paperbacks? Why?
I always used to prefer paperbacks, but lately I've discovered the joys of ebooks. I love being able to read off my phone on the bus, and I've found when I'm tired, reading at night with the lights off and the screen dimmed right down is the perfect way to drop off to sleep.
How do you plan a book launch?
I've done different things for each of my launches - ranging from a twelve hour online party to a more traditional launch in a bookshop. It just depends on what I think is going to work best for that particular book. My latest one (tomorrow as I write this) is for a children's book, and it's a shared launch with one of my students. Because we're both launching children's books, we've turned it into a mini festival for children with lots of competitions, games and activities. I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
What's your favourite idea of a cozy afternoon?
Curled up on the couch with a good series to watch, some good snacks, and my dog asleep on my lap. She's a labrador, so way too big to be a lap dog, but she doesn't know that and she likes to be a my personal blanket.
You can follow Helen at her patient blog, her Facebook or on Youtube!
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