Friday, August 5, 2011

Interview with Darcia Helle

Name of the book:

I have six books currently available and number seven will be available in July. The titles, from oldest to newest, are:

Enemies and Playmates
Hit List
No Justice (A Michael Sykora Novel)
Beyond Salvation (A Michael Sykora Novel)
Miami Snow
The Cutting Edge
Into The Light (soon to be released)
I also have three short stories: The First Kill and Wilted Brown Eyes are available individually and You Can Call Me Ari is part of The BestsellerBound Short Story Anthology, Volume One.

Kindle Price:

My first novel, Enemies and Playmates, is 99 cents. The next four books are priced at $2.99 and The Cutting Edge is $3.99.

The short stories, including the anthology, are free downloads.

Available from:

Print copies are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and my website. I think they are also on Books-A-Million's website.

The ebooks are available on Smashwords, Amazon for Kindle, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Sony's ebookstore, Kobo, Apple's iPad store and Diesel.

The free short stories and anthology are available on my website, Smashwords and hopefully soon all of the others.

Those are too many links to list, so I'll give you two:

My Amazon Author's Page:

My Smashwords Page:

Authors Website: or (same site)


I write because the characters trespassing through my mind leave me no alternative. Their stories come alive and I write them down. When I try to twist the characters into something I'd prefer, they get cranky. Sometimes they yell at me. They do not conform any better than I do.

I live in a home ruled by four-legged babies. My books and music addiction often leads to compulsive purchasing and downloading. Some people feel I should seek intervention but I'm happy being surrounded by words and music.

Tell me about your book?

I don't want to take up too much of your time by talking about them all, so I'll tell you about my most recently published novel - The Cutting Edge. This is a dark comedy/suspense novel that draws heavily from my own experiences. It's also the only book I've written in first person. Here's the blurb:

My name is Skye Summers. I'm a hairstylist and I can't stop fantasizing about killing my clients. Not all of them, of course. I only want to kill the ones who irritate me, which, if I'm being honest, is most of them. My occasional fantasies have turned into chronic daydreams. They're bloody and vivid, like watching a slice-and-dice movie on IMAX.

I also want to kill my husband's ex-girlfriend. She's not a client but she tops my list. Eighteen years ago, she gave birth to his daughter and she has tormented him ever since. I should be troubled by this growing desire to use my surgically sharpened shears for more than a haircut. Instead, I wonder how I can get away with it.

What will readers like about your book?

I hope they enjoy the humor and the characters. Most people can relate to job burnout and I think we've all been irritated by people a time or two. Skye's job is to please people and it requires a lot of personal contact. Her case of job burnout is pushed to the extreme.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I was a hairstylist in a small town salon for fifteen years. In fact, the town I placed Skye's fictional salon in is the same town I worked and lived in. While I was a stylist, the women I worked with and I would always say how the place would make a great sitcom and how we should write about some of the things that went on. One day Skye popped into my head and I decided that it was time to fictionalize a bit of my life. To be clear, Skye is not me. But almost all of the clients, conversations and incidents that take place within the fictional salon are based in fact. Those clients were real and those conversations happened. I just changed the names and minor details to protect the innocent and hide the guilty. :)

When did you start writing?

I started writing as soon as I was old enough to put a sentence together on a piece of paper. When I was very young, I wrote silly children's picture book stories (and I was and am a terrible artist!). As I got older, I'd pick ten random words from a dictionary and write a short story using them all. Then I moved on to my teenage angst poetry stage. Writing has never been something I thought about doing one day. I've just always done it.

When did you realize that you were a serious writer?

I think I've always been a serious writer. Even when I only wrote for myself, I would rewrite sentences and change words until the image I wanted to portray became crystal clear. But, as a profession, I became serious after my illness forced me to stop working. I'd been home a couple of years and had put that time into writing. When I had three books done, I decided it was time to do something with them. I'd queried agents off and on over the years and that is a daunting process that I didn't enjoy. Self-publishing and PODs had just begun to get popular. I did my research, taught myself HTML, designed a website and published my books. By that time, I was completely serious about getting my books out into the world.

When did you decide that you wanted to write a book?

I decided that when I was about a quarter of the way through writing my first one. I had bits and pieces of random nonsense tucked into drawers. Snippets of scenes would pop into my head and I'd write them down. For a variety of reasons, I never thought much about turning those ideas into a book. I had these characters that would not leave my head, so I sat down to write the scene that wouldn't leave me alone. That scene kept moving forward and soon I realized that, like it or not, I was writing a book.

Why did you choose this particular genre to write your book in?

I don't believe I chose a genre. If anything, the genres choose me. I'm drawn to the why behind human behavior and I love the unexpected. These factors are likely the reason that I typically write some form of suspense.

What is your writing process?

My best answer to that is that it's totally unstructured and unpredictable. I don't plan ahead, I don't outline at all and I don't write at any specific time of day. I write all the way through a first draft without worrying about research and minor details. I fill in the holes during my first major edit.

My books start with a vague idea. Sometimes one or two characters pop into my head, with a flash of a random scene. For instance, my novel Hit List began with my character Corinne pacing in her living room. I saw her there, thin and fragile and frightened. I had no idea who she was or what was happening to her. I wrote that scene down and followed her. Corinne didn't turn out to be the main character but she led me there.

Other times, a 'what if' scenario runs through my head. With my novel No Justice, I wanted to explore the unjustness of our Justice system and the things that would lead a man to murder for a living. I wanted the character to be a likable killer. That was my challenge. That idea floated around my mind for days before Michael Sykora, my lead character, was born. But, as soon as he stepped into my head, he led the way.

Then there are the times when I want to follow a specific path and a character stamps his feet and says absolutely not. That would be Max, in my upcoming novel Into The Light. Initially, I'd planned to write a story about a private investigator who hears ghosts speaking to him. The P.I. would be the main character and the book would follow him as he solved a ghost's murder. Then Max entered my head. He is particularly stubborn and took me down paths I had no intention of going. There is still a P.I., though he is not the main character, and Max is still a ghost but the story is not at all what I'd expected.

How long does it take you to write your first draft?

That varies with a few factors. If the book is complicated with many twists to the plot, such as Hit List, the first draft will take me longer than a book that's less complicated with an easy flow, such as Into The Light. Overall, the time it takes depends on how I feel. I have chronic health problems, due in large part to chronic, late-stage Lyme disease. The neurological complications sometimes jumble my thought process and make writing difficult.

Why did you publish on Kindle and other eReaders?

This is probably the easiest question you've asked me! My answer is because it's fairly easy, cheap, and reaches millions. And I can offer them free without spending a fortune on production and shipping.

It's funny, really, how far I've come with my opinion of ereaders. I am an old school book and music addict. I still love vinyl and print. I long ago conformed and turned to CDs but I'm not a huge fan of digital music. I'll buy it on occasion, usually if it's something I like but don't love and/or don't want the entire CD. I love my iPod but I want to own the physical CD, complete with artwork and liner notes. I felt the same way about books. I love print. I love the feel of books and the look of them on my shelves. (And I have many!) When ereaders came out, I said there was no way I'd read a book that way. Then I started networking with other indie authors. Many would send me PDFs of their books for opinions and/or reviews. Reading on my laptop killed my eyes, so I broke down and got a Sony Touch. Now I also have a Kindle. I will always prefer print books and I buy only print for those that I plan to keep, which is mainly nonfiction or fiction by authors I know. But ereaders are great for most fiction, since I only read that once. The ebooks are (usually) far more affordable. And I help the environment by saving paper.

What kind of advice would you like to share with an aspiring writer who’s looking to publish a book for the first time?

I'm always hesitant about giving advice. Really, I'm fumbling through this journey myself.

These are some of the things I've learned are important. Before publishing, seek unbiased opinions. Network with other authors. Ask one of them to do a beta read for you. Get someone to edit your work, whether it be a fellow author or a professional. Editing your own work properly is a horrible ordeal. I know. I tried! Make yourself visible. Get a website, a blog, a Facebook account, a Twitter account. But don't just talk about yourself. Listen to others, make friends, talk about other people's books and things you enjoy reading about. If you write about a particular topic, find others who enjoy the same. When you decide to publish, do a lot of research on your choice of publishers. Don't just do what your friend did or go with the first one that comes up in a Google search. Research what they offer. Some cost a lot, others nearly nothing. Some distribute your book to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. Others do not or only do so for a large fee. Then comes formatting. The look of your book matters. Either learn how to format the interior (for both print and ebook, which are different techniques) or hire someone to format for you. And don't forget to design a great cover that draws readers in.

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