Welcome to another Wednesday Wondering and, boy, have we got a treat lined up for you today. Today, 2nd October 2013, is a very special day for all of the Write Romantics because Helen Phifer’s debut Novel ‘The Ghost House’ is launched today on digital format through publisher Carina who she met following a pitch at 2012’s RNA Conference. I kept waking up last night as I was so excited about her launch so I can only imagine that Helen must have been absolutely beside herself with excitement!
Here’s a picture of the lovely lady. I think that’s an image for the inside cover of a book if ever I saw one!
In honour of Helen’s launch day, all the Write Romantics have come up with some questions that we’d like to know about Helen’s journey so far, how she feels about launch day and, of course, nosey questions about Helen herself.
Here’s what we asked:
What makes your agent /publisher the right “fit” for you and your writing?
I’m so lucky that I met Anna and that Carina has taken me on, because my novel doesn’t fit exactly into one genre and they have never asked me to change anything to make it fit.
How are you feeling approaching launch day? Anxious? Excited? Nervous?
All three, last week it was stomach churning nerves, this week I’m a touch anxious and I imagine that today I will be excited and relieved that it’s finally out there.
What was the editing process like once your novel was accepted? Was it as terrifying as you thought it may be or did it seem a natural process?
They were pretty scary but not as scary as I imagined. I buried my head in the sand for a couple of days then pulled myself together and took it one chapter at a time.
How do you plan your books … or don’t you?
I write down my idea and then I think about it for a few days. Jotting down notes and then I take a big sheet of paper and do a bit of a brainstorming session.
Are you aware of including characters you’ve met in your books?
Yes, very I meet some interesting people in my line of work but up to now I’ve managed to make them all up, maybe pinching bits of people and combining them to make a different one.
How do you feel about doing author promotion?
I don’t like it. It has to be done; there is no doubt about it but I’m rubbish at selling myself so I really struggle with it.
What is scariest thing you’ve ever encountered, either in real life or in a film/book?
That would have to be the picture I took whilst walking the dog in the woods. It was dusky and I was snapping away and saw a white mist through the lens. I took the photo, lowered the camera but there was no mist. Then I checked the picture I’d just taken and almost fainted. On the photo was a white mist with what looked like three faces in it. I showed it my husband and asked him if he saw it when I was taking the picture and he shook his head. We soon turned and left the woods I can tell you. The picture is on my website for anyone who wants to take a peek http://www.helenphifer.co.uk
How old were you when you first started to write and did you start off with scary stuff?
I first tried to write seriously in my twenties. It was terrible. The idea for that story came to me after quite a scary nightmare.
What inspires your stories? Is it places or true life events that you can build upon or something else? I’m really interested in this one, as my YA book was inspired by a place name that translates as ‘Witches Hill’ and the story just grew from there.
Jo I can’t wait to read your novel. It sounds fab. I am very much inspired by places. I adore haunted house stories. In the woods where I took my spooky photo there used to be the most magnificent mansion which was destroyed back in 1961. I would walk the dog and wonder to myself, what would the house be like now? Who would live there? My story practically wrote itself.
As we know, the publishing world is changing fast and eBooks are now favoured by many readers over print books, but do you have any qualms about being published digitally rather than in print form?
Ah, erm, yes and no. I always wanted the traditional deal, the agent, the book in my hands but I also realised that digital books were really becoming popular and what it boils down to was that I was offered a digital first deal. Which means if the book sells well enough then it will be made available in print format. I am eternally grateful for Anna and Carina for taking a chance on me and I’m extremely glad that I accepted their wonderful offer.
Have you ever seen a ghost?
Yes, I think the white mist thing in the woods was at least one ghost and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen things out of the corner of my eye. I’ve definitely felt and heard things.
What inspired you to write this story?
The mansion in the woods with no-one to care for it until the council demolished it. It had such an unhappy ending for such a fabulous house.
Which character in the story do you wish you could meet in real life?
I think that would be Alice; the girl needs a great big hug.
What are you currently working on?
The follow up to The Ghost House, which will have all the same characters but a different story.
What has been the scariest thing you’ve done in your day job in the police force?
Probably the first day on my job when I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. I spent the first eight hours a nervous wreck. Obviously I’m an expert now 😉
How will you be spending launch day?
Working. I’m on an early shift. I never thought to book the day off. I’m having a lovely virtual party with all my writeromantics in the evening. I will keep my fingers crossed, finally crack open the bottle of champagne I’ve had chilling in my fridge for the last twelve months and go to bed relishing in my accomplishment.
What plans do you have for promoting ‘The Ghost House’ beyond launch day and how much involvement has your publisher, Carina, had in supporting you in this?
I have made some lovely contacts through my writing and a fair few are hosting me on their blogs. I have done an interview with the local newspaper. Through contacts on Twitter I have had the links to my book retweeted to thousands of people. Fingers crossed some of them may actually buy it.
What do your children think of you becoming a published writer? Have they read ‘The Ghost House’?
My children have all told me they are very proud of me which is lovely. It’s nice to make them proud. None of them have read it; they don’t really read which breaks my heart but they have told me they are going to read it now it’s published.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Yes, over the years I’ve experienced some things which have made me believe.
Does working as a police community support officer make it easier to write crime fiction?
Yes, I think so. The main reason I applied for the job was to help with my writing. I wanted to know what it was like in a police station and what the relationships were between everyone who worked there. Plus it’s a big help that I know what it’s like to do hours of H2H or guard murder scenes.
Did you plot your story? If so, how and would you do anything differently the next time/have you taken a different approach for book 2?
I did plot it because I really enjoy the plotting part. I don’t think I’d do it differently unless someone could tell me a much better way to do it.
Thank you ladies; I’ve had a great time answering your questions.
Thank you Helen for answering our interrogation! I am really looking forward to our virtual party this evening. I’ve never ‘attended’ one of these but will nip out later to get some cake to celebrate. Well, it would be rude not to! I’m also anxious to get reading. The Ghost House is now on my Kindle ready to be started and, although I’m meant to be working on my husband’s accounts this afternoon, I may have to sneak a little reading time!
If you would like to download Helen’s debut novel to your e-reader, here’s a couple of
links, firstly for Kindle and then for Kobo:
Congratulations, Helen! We’re all bursting with pride and I’m sure there’s going to be a competition out there to see which of The Write Romantics will be the first to read it. My guess is on Helen R in Australia as she’s already messaged us first thing to say she’s reading it. I, sadly, am the world’s slowest reader so I think it may take me a few sittings but I can’t wait to dig in.