Welcome to this months spotlight featuring the wonderful and talented Helen Pryke. Helen also writes MG (middle grade) childrens books under the pen name Julia E Clements. If you have followed my blog for a while now you will know how much i adore Helen and her writing, call me biased but please read her work for yourself i guarantee you wont be disappointed. This month to highlight how wonderful indie authors are, Helen gives us an insight to her process by way of life experience and the world around her and how it influences her writing.
Book purchase links writing as Helen Pryke
Purchase links writing as Julia E Clements
Adventure in Malasorte Castle and Dreamland are available in paperback and ebook at all online retailers!
“Write what you know” is the advice given to all authors. While it is good advice up to a certain point, I believe that with the internet at our fingertips and social interaction all around the world, we can also write about things we’ve never seen or places we’ve never been.
My debut novel, Walls of Silence, is set in Milan, Rome, and Sicily. Although I knew Milan pretty well, in particular the cathedral, I had never been to Rome back then, and only the once to Sicily. But through extensive research, I was able to keep it as realistic as possible.
What I do like to include in my books are experiences from real life, both good and bad. Some are amusing, some are heart wrenching, but they help enrich the stories I tell and bring the reader closer.
Walls of Silence was written as I was going through a very stressful separation from my psychologically abusive ex-husband. I poured my heart and soul into that book, using it to help me put everything I’d been through into perspective. While my life was nothing like Maria’s, the protagonist, the tiny apartment in Milan is the actual apartment I moved into when I first arrived here in Italy. The terror, the homesickness, the loneliness, the feelings of inadequacy that Maria has, all come from my own personal experience. It was the most difficult book I’ve ever written, but in a strange way, the most satisfying.
The next book I wrote, The Healer’s Secret, was very different. I was divorced, married to my second husband, my soul mate, and I had completely new experiences I could share with my readers. Again, I researched Tuscany, the area book is set in, and after I finished writing it we spent four days there so that I could add much more depth to the story.
Jennifer, the protagonist, is struggling with depression and fighting alcoholism, so her mother suggests she goes to Tuscany to meet her Italian relatives. Reluctant at first, she decides to take her mother’s advice. When she arrives, the first Italian she meets is a taxi driver, who gives her a small painting as a gift. This scene was inspired by a lovely gentleman we know here in Italy, who told us how he used to be a taxi driver and gave away his paintings to his passengers.
My latest book, The Lost Girls, is different yet again. This time it’s a suspense set in the south of England, in the area I used to live. I got very nostalgic checking Google maps and revisiting old haunts! But what is most touching about this book is how much the readers love the protagonist, Maggie Dupont, because a lot of her is based on me. Maggie has a debilitating autoimmune disease that flares at the most inconvenient times, making life much more difficult than it already is. She has a dry sense of humour which comes in handy when two teenagers, Mike and Chloe, enter her life and turn it upside down. She’s a loyal friend, sensible, but determined when she has to be. There are only two differences between us: I’m married with two sons, while she’s in a relationship with Sally; and she’s not afraid to speak her mind, whereas I try to avoid conflict.
I leave a small part of me in every book I write, whether it’s an emotion, a personal experience, or even just a funny comment from a conversation I’ve had. I also use my imagination, together with past events, to write about things I’ve never experienced. And that’s why I love writing!
About The Author
Helen Pryke is a British author who has been living in the north of Italy for almost 30 years, learning everything about Italians, their culture, and their way of life. She now considers herself more Italian than British, even though she has never lost her British accent. Addicted to coffee and chocolate, she has also developed a passion for good food, having married an Italian who is a wonderful cook!
Helen writes emotional women’s fiction set in Italy that deals with the difficult subject of abuse in a sensitive way. She also writes middle grade fiction under the pen name, Julia E. Clements. All published under Pink Quill Books her indie label. When she’s not writing, she works as a proofreader for indie authors and a translator (from Italian to English). She loves reading, and will read anything and everything. Find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/helenprykeauthor/ Twitter https://twitter.com/helen_pryke Instagram https://www.instagram.com/helenpryke/ Website http://helenprykeauthor.zohosites.com/ Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16066242.Helen_Pryke
Thank you so much Helen for sharing how life around you influences your writing. I for one am so grateful for your books that have all touched my soul in different ways.