A Word With Author Helen Dennis

A Word With Author Helen Dennis - blog post image

I am thrilled to welcome the lovely Helen Dennis to the site today to talk about her books and answer some of the questions you have sent in. I met Helen at a library event in Windsor and liked her instantly. Before you read further you should know, even though she has written ten fantastic books Helen is very modest. When I congratulated her on her amazing work she said, “at least it means I don’t have to get up as early as I would if I did a milk round.” I wonder what time she got up to answer our questions? I started by asking her to tell us a little about herself ...

I am the writer of the 'Secret Breakers' six book series and the 'River of Ink' quartet, both published by Hodder Children's Books in the UK. I was born in Brighton, England, and worked for twenty years as a junior school teacher. I write full time now but enjoy keeping up to date with young readers by making school visits, where I run code-cracking and creative writing sessions. I've always wanted to be a writer...and I am always making notes about the next big adventure to tackle! Luckily my family love books too. My daughter is studying for a degree in English Literature and my husband is a headteacher and we met at University when we were in the same creative writing group! I love books...but if I'm not reading or writing you are likely to find me walking along by the sea in my hometown of sunny Eastbourne.

Q. NAME OF YOUR FAVOURITE MUSIC ARTIST?

A. I had a sneaky look at Jenny Smith's answers and she was torn. But for me it's clear! Dolly Parton all the way! I've even been to Dollywood ;)

Q. FAVOURITE FILM

A. The 2001 film 'Moulin Rouge!' (I didn't add the exclamation mark for effect - it's in the title!) I love this film but only if I can stop just before the ending when everyone is happy!

Q. IF YOU COULD ACQUIRE ANY TALENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

A. I'd love to be fluent in lots of languages. I learnt German (badly) at school and I've tried to learn Spanish as an adult - but I'm terrible at it!

Q. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE FICTIONAL HERO?

A. I love Liesel from 'The Bookthief' by Markus Zusak. And also Matilda from 'Matilda' by Roald Dahl. Both are quite ordinary young girls who love books and who cope with terrible situations using the power of their minds and imaginations. That's my sort of hero!

Q. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE FICTIONAL VILLAIN?

A. On screen it's Moriarty in the TV version of 'Sherlock' played by Andrew Scott. Genius! From a book it's The Man in the Yellow Suit from 'Tuck Everlasting' by Natalie Babbitt. He's so cleverly written and so terribly creepy...and we never get to know his real name!

Q. IF YOU COULD MEET ANY HISTORICAL CHARACTER, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO HIM OR HER?

A. Joan of Arc. I'd love to ask her if she would have spoken out and been so brave if she had known how things would have ended for her.

Q. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE OCCUPATION, WHEN YOU'RE NOT WRITING?

A. Reading! It can be fiction or non fiction. And I love watching films. So basically...I just love to be involved in some sort of story!

Q. WHAT'S YOUR FANTASY PROFESSION?

A. Working at Pixar Studios in their Story Development Department. It would be a long commute from my home in Eastbourne but I would love to work in such a creative writing environment! I'd particularly like to work on a team led by the writer and director Pete Docter. That's the ultimate dream!

Q. IF YOU COULD EAT ONLY ONE THING FOR THE REST OF YOUR DAYS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

A. Bread. Any type. And I don't mind if there is nothing on it. Just lots of bread, hopefully fresh from the oven!

Q. WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDREN'S AUTHORS?

A. So many to mention! I love books by Andrew Norriss, John Boyne, Eva Ibbotson, Jenny McLachlan, David Solomons, Anthony Horowitz, Kate O'Hearn. There are so many fabulous children's authors out there!

Q. IS THERE A BOOK YOU LOVE TO REREAD?

A. 'The Unluckiest Boy in the World' by Andrew Norriss. It's a children's book which is so beautifully profound. It's my top recommendation for readers of all ages!

Q. DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG WRITERS & STORYTELLERS?

Don't throw anything away! I mean...you can throw things like apple cores and old banana skins away. But keep everything you write. You never know when an idea you reject might suddenly reignite! No writing is ever wasted. It's all part of the process of your writing apprenticeship...which even after publishing ten books...I think I am only just beginning!

We have a fan and guest reviewer talking about your River of Ink novel Genesis over on the bookshelf, but could you tell us a little about your work before you go?

My books aim to tackle big questions...for example the 'River of Ink' series was inspired by the question: is it good to want to live forever?

As a student I worked at two schools for deaf children as well as Brighton Deaf Centre. One of the main characters in 'River of Ink' is a deaf boy who uses BSL, and it is important to me that his character is strong, funny and integral to the plot and emotional arc of the story.

I wrote 'Secret Breakers' under the name H L Dennis, and this series looks at secrets, codes and global conspiracies to protect the truth. I hope all my books are full of action and adventure and can be enjoyed by boys and girl or all ages!

Thank you so much for answering our questions today Helen. If you want to know more about Helen and her books or if you would like her to visit your school or library, you can find all her links and social media details at www.helendennisbooks.com

 


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