Helen Vivienne Fletcher

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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 through her creative writing classes business, Brain Bunny Workshop. She is the author of several children’s and young adult books, including Broken Silence, which was a finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Best First Book Award. She has also had success with writing spoken word poetry, short stories and plays, and was named Outstanding New Playwright at the Wellington Theatre Awards for her play How to Catch a Grim Reaper. Overall Helen just loves telling stories and is always excited when people want to hear or read them.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
Hmm… I’m not sure there are any I didn’t like but continued to read voluntarily, but I think there were many books I had to read for school that I wasn’t keen on when forced to read them but later appreciated. I know I struggled when studying The Handmaid’s Tale in the seventh form but have since read several other of Margaret Atwood’s titles.

Do you try more to be original, or to deliver to readers what they want?
I think the best stories are a balance of the two. There are definitely some things that I think would be cool in a book but have to be sacrificed for the sake of a coherent story.

How do you select the names of your characters?
Sometimes they just seem to appear! When I started writing Broken Silence, I was trying to think of a name for my main character, and the song Kelsey by Metro Station started playing on the radio. Kelsey was the perfect fit, though I’m not sure my Kelsey would be a fan of the song.

What was the first book that made you cry?
Not sure if this was the first one, but one that stands out – To the Dark Tower by Victor Kelleher

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Write more, get feedback and listen to it!

Have you Googled yourself? Did you find out anything interesting?
Yes, among the results of my books, I found an obituary. Naturally, I panicked and wondered how long I’d been dead!

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Why?
I considered it briefly, because of the field I was working in when I started writing more seriously. In the end, I’d changed jobs by the time I published. I chose to include my middle name as there was already a children’s writer called Helen Fletcher. Sometimes people contact me to try to buy her books – secretly I’m hoping she’s getting requests for mine.

How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
It’s made me take writing more seriously, which is both a positive and a negative thing, depending on the day.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Ermmm… no comment? Too many, but they’ll all get finished eventually.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?
I mostly write from a female perspective – probably because I find it too hard!

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I read them, but just try not to take either the good or bad ones too seriously. If they’re getting under my skin, yoga while listening to heavy metal seems to be a good way to deal with many of life’s problems!

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