Thursday, December 13, 2012
Interview with author, Helen Ginger, by DL Larson
A mermaid? In a bar? That's a concept few of us have ever considered as a premise for a story, but Helen Ginger's first novel, Angel Sometimes unfolds in these unique surroundings. Her main character, Angel, struggles with her past as an abondoned child. Now that she's grown up, she decides to face her family and ask the big question why? Or maybe she'll use the gun in her purse.
Helen hails from Texas, has three nonfiction books published that she admits were more for works-for-hire and she is now eager to venture into the fiction world.
My first question to Helen: What inspired you to write about a homeless girl?
"I didn't set out to write about a homeless girl. In fact, I wasn’t even sure where Angel's story would go. I started writing her as a twelve-year-old. She lived in a neighborhood of primarily older residents, so she mostly entertained herself swimming in the creek in the woods next to her house and finding things people had tossed in the dump in those woods or helping her mother plant vegetables and flowers in the garden. The more I wrote her story the clearer it became to me that something horrific would happen to her and her life would forever change. After writing what was long enough to be a book, I realized her story needed to be told through her adult eyes, so I began writing her as a twenty-two year old."
How did you become interested in writing about a bar mermaid of all things?
"When Angel is abandoned on the streets, she is still twelve and scared. Four years later she hitchhikes to Austin, TX -- her first step toward going home to confront her mother. She lives on the streets for two years in Austin before she manages to get the job as a mermaid in The Aquarium, a bar/restaurant. I gave her this job because on my blog I sometimes tell Mermaid Tales -- stories from my three years swimming at a mermaid at a resort in Texas. I got to the point where I quit writing those since I thought, man, people have got to be tired of reading these. But followers kept asking when the next Tale would be, so I decided to tell all (and make up some new tales) by having Angel work as a mermaid. Plus, it was a good fit for her since getting a job as a mermaid at a bar wouldn't require a college degree, and Angel never got past the sixth grade."
So you were a mermaid! What a unique job! Tell us how you developed your character Angel from a homeless girl to a strong-willed young woman.
"In my mind, any young girl who could survive on the streets for six years would be strong. Through it all, she endures. In the book, there are a few flashback scenes showing snippets of what happened to her on the streets. In the beginning as a young child, she feels she probably deserved to be left on the streets. But she comes to see that she did not and that fuels her determination to confront her parents, get her high school diploma, and go to college."
Do you have a writing schedule?
"Nothing rigid. I turn on my computer every morning, check email, and then write. Some days the words flow. Others, they don't. One fortuitous thing that helped when I first began writing Angel as a child was that the Brown Foundation awarded me a 4-week Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center. I spend those weeks writing. No cleaning to do, no washing clothes, no cooking. Just writing."
That sounds wonderful! Tell us about your next writing project.
"My next book, Dismembering the Past, should be out early 2013. Private Investigator Hallie McAllister is working the case of a missing 67-year-old woman when she becomes entangled in the FBI's hunt for a serial killer."
We look forward to seeing Dismembering the Past in print. Where are you currently promoting Angel Sometimes?
"I'm not the world's greatest promoter by any means. My three non-fiction books were works-for-hire, so I didn't do any promotion. I'm having to learn as I go with Angel Sometimes. I recently put up a Facebook author page and I have a regular FB page, as well as a blog, Straight From Hel. I also send out a newsletter to writers around the world. Doing It Write is about to start its 14th year. I don't mention my own books on that very often, unless it's something about promotion or writing that I think would be helpful to others. I’m hoping to get more speaking engagements. I spoke at a Literary Salon in Austin and will be doing a reading/signing at BookWoman, also in Austin. In April I will be the speaker at the Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas meeting."
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
"The most obvious advice is to keep writing. My other piece of advice is never throw anything away. If you've written stories or even entire books, and you think, oh, this is not any good, don't delete it and don't throw away the hard copy. I can't tell you how many computer crashes I've had over the years. Several manuscripts would have been forever lost if I hadn't had a print copy."
What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?
"I love meeting and defining the characters. They become almost real in my head. I do a lot of my plotting in the morning while I'm walking. Right now, I walk four miles. That's the perfect time to think about the plot and what the characters will do to move the story forward or get out of difficult situations, or for the book I'm plotting now, Deadpoint, what the opening scene will be."
Tell us something we don't know about you.
"I’m 5'8" and the shortest in my family. My daughter is 6'1". My husband is 6'6". My son is 6'10"."
I love tall people! My family is tall as well. Any last comments you'd like to share:
"In this day and time, writers have to be strong. It's very difficult to find an agent, so writers tend to plunge ahead on their own, but that, too, is difficult. So it often falls on the writer to make things happen, to get an agent or to research how to on your own publish your book or e-book. When Angel hitchhiked to Austin, her goal was to get a job so that eventually she could afford a place to live and a car. She tried many places, but was always turned down. One day she saw a Help-Wanted sign in a bar/restaurant. She sat down and waited for the owner to open up and she asked for the job. He said no, you're too young. She came back every day and asked him for a job and every day he said no. One day she asked, and when he said no, she told him it was her 18th birthday. She got the job and it saved her life. If it's something you really want, don't accept a no."
Thank you, Helen for being with us today. Congratulations on your book and for those wishing to purchase a copy of Angel Sometimes, follow the links below.
Helen Ginger http://helenginger.com/
Doing It Write http://helenginger.com/
Angel Sometimes http://amzn.to/KMvkOk
Straight From Hel (blog) http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com/
Til next time ~