It is a tremendous pleasure to welcome Helene Young to my Sunday blog. Helene is an acclaimed romantic suspense novelist who lives in Trinity Beach, on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef in North Queensland. Her work as a senior pilot with a major regional airline takes her all over the east coast of Australia. She is the RUBY-award-winning author of the popular romantic suspense novels Wings of Fear, Shattered Sky and her new one Burning Lies. In 2011 Helene was voted the country’s most popular romance novelist.
It was a great thrill and privilege to be Helene’s Penguin publishing buddy in July, with the release of both Burning Lies and Brumby’s Run on the same day. And now, it’s over to our flight Captain, taking us through her Call Story and giving us an insight into what is important to her …
Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Jenny. I’ve enjoyed reading Rachael and Cathryn’s call stories. They’re proof that dreams can come true with hard work and a little dash of luck. Here’s mine!
I’d been writing with intent for almost ten years before I received my call. Along the way I discovered Romance Writers of Australia and its fantastic network of writers. I entered all the RWAustralia contests and I was fortunate enough to be a finalist a number of times, but never a winner. The feedback was encouraging, but I wasn’t quite hitting the mark.
In 2007 I decided I needed to be brave and write a romantic suspense story that had been simmering in my imagination for some time. That was the start of the Border Watch series, set in the aircraft I fly and based in North Queensland where I live. Wings of Fear (Border Watch), which was my fifth completed manuscript, finalled in the RWAmerica Golden Heart contest. That same year I pitched to Bernadette Foley from Hachette at the RWAustralia conference. My resume of contest results was enough to give the manuscript credibility and she asked to see the full manuscript.
Her answer was, ‘You’re not there yet, but…’ She gave me detailed suggestions for improving the manuscript with the offer of resubmitting if I felt I could work with her ideas. It would have been easy to take that as a rejection, but I rolled up my sleeves and several months later I sent her the next version. Then waited…
My husband and I were heading off on holidays to go sailing in the Whitsunday Islands and I was hoping she might call, but was terrified the answer would still be no. I also knew phone reception would be sporadic for the next ten days.
We dropped anchor for the first night and my husband was peeling the foil of a bottle of champagne when my mobile rang. It was a Sydney number. No voice will ever sound as sweet again as ‘Hello, Helene, this is Bernadette Foley….’ The smile lines were tanned into my face!
I always get a little spine tingle at stories like that! Could you tell us a little bit about what’s important to you? This could be writing related, or something else altogether.
I thought ‘What’s Important to Me’ would be an easy post to write, but it wasn’t! Family and friends are important, sense of community is up there as well, but the idea was harder to nail down than I thought.
Ultimately I think making a difference is important for me. I’ve spent most of my working-life teaching people something – the restaurant trade, adventure sports, flying, and now writing.
As a flying instructor nothing could beat the satisfaction of the mile-wide smile on a student who’d just completed their first solo flight. As a climbing instructor, seeing the wonderment and pride in the face of a young teenager who’d successfully climbed a sheer cliff then abseiled back down was pure gold. Receiving emails from writers to say something I’ve said in a training course has turned a million watt light bulb on in their mind is a reward all of its own.
I’m never going to change the world, but if I can help someone achieve one of their goals along the way then my day hasn’t been a waste.
I can understand now why some of my teachers at school carried on long past their retirement date because the job was its own reward!
Wow Helene! You certainly like heights, don’t you – flying and climbing! And reaching great writing heights as well. How fortunate your students are, to have a tutor who’s so generous about sharing her knowledge. Thank you for telling us about your passion for teaching and for sharing your Call Story.
Helene’s new novel, Burning Lies, is out now and is earning rave reviews.
“Lies, all lies. It didn’t matter how attractive he might be. She didn’t really know this man . . . He was living a lie and she didn’t know why. ”
Kaitlyn Scott is searching for the truth about her husband’s death, even if that means revisiting the most painful day of her life. But what she uncovers is a criminal willing to stop at nothing to keep his secret.
Ryan O’Donnell, an enigmatic undercover cop, is investigating arson attacks when he is drawn into Kaitlyn’s world. He tries to fight his attraction for her, hoping the case might put his own demons to rest, but it only threatens to push him over the edge.
With Kaitlyn and Ryan on a collision course, the arsonist seizes the chance to settle some old scores. As the Atherton Tableland burns, the three of them are caught in a fiery dance of danger and desire, and not everyone will come out alive.
Visit Helene at http://www.heleneyoung.com
Find Helene on FB at : https://www.facebook.com/HeleneYoungAustralianAuthor
Follow her on twitter at: https://twitter.com/HeleneYoung
Great interview but I’m still quaking from all those heights. 🙂
I know! … so am I
lol – glad to know I’m not the only one scared of heights!
Lol, acflory, it’s a lesser know fact that many pilots have a fear of heights! I don’t suffer from that particular problem 🙂
They do???? I cannot imagine … I’m literally lost for words!
I love reading about author journey’s to publication, yours made me smile Helene. The idea of ‘pitching’ to an editor makes me hyperventilate but it’s promising to know that they can actually eventuate into getting your book in print! I’ve just joined up to RWA and have been amazed at the wealth of information available for writers.
Jaye, you should be at conference now on the Gold Coast! It’s a great big group hug that keeps you safe on the journey to publication! But then you’ve already done the hard yards by self-publishing your novel so pitching should be a breeze!!
I’m at the RWA Conference at the moment. Last year I pitched there and got a contract. It’s a wonderful organisation!
I’ll be logging into the conference virtually! That’s fantastic to hear so many authors finding success in pitching opportunities! BTW i really enjoyed Brumby’s Run, Jennifer!
Isn’t modern technology marvellous! And you’re right. The opportunities to pitch to key industry professionals at the RWA Conference are amazing. So glad you enjoyed Brumby’s Run, and thanks for letting me know.