1) Tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind The Helper.
First of all, thanks for this opportunity to talk about my novel and writing in general.
Now to your first question. I was mired in a low spot in my life. Despite my best efforts it wasn’t improving and it was stretching out for well over a year. So, of course, the idea kept coming to me that I needed help of some sort. And then I thought that wouldn’t it be nice if I could just be “made well.” And that led to the idea that wouldn’t it be cool to be someone who had the ability to “make someone well.” And that led to the idea of what it would be like to have that power and then lose it.
And, of course, there were a million other thoughts that all float through and coalesce to make an idea. It’s like the old saw: It takes twenty years to be discovered overnight. Well, for me, it also takes a million different thoughts, over a period of who knows how long, to suddenly add up to a poof-in-one-moment, there-it-is IDEA.
2) How did you come up with the concept of “helping”?
I, like almost all people, have had difficult periods in my life. Sometimes those periods were emotional or mental in nature, sometimes there were physical, and sometimes a combination of the two or three. And often there have been certain people who have been instrumental in helping me through those tough times. Sometimes these people were (mental) health professionals, sometimes spiritual advisers, often just a close, understanding friend, maybe even a stranger. In each case it seemed as if there was no way out of these situations, yet I came through them. And maybe there was a “coincidental” nature to some of the help I received that was hard to explain.
So the idea of “Helping,” and “Helpers,” that I used in my novel is really just a metaphor that came out of being helped out of those situations that I mentioned above. And I’m sure there have been situations where I helped someone else out a bit too. While the “Helping” I describe in my book has a “magical realism” spin to it, it isn’t really that many degrees of separation from what we’ve all experienced in real life. Maybe NO degrees of separation. Who knows about these things?
3) Which character did you relate to or connect with the most when you were writing the book?
Easy answer. That would be Dusty. As soon as he appeared it made some of the writing fun, which is rare for me. A smart-aleck, no filters kind of guy allows me to write in that manner and I enjoyed that. That’s not to say that Dusty is me. He isn’t, although like other characters there are parts of me in him, or vice versa.
4) What do you enjoy more when writing: developing plot or creating characters?
Singing! Ha! Seriously…singing! Lol. What I enjoy is coming up with initial story ideas and also spending time thinking about what characters will inhabit any particular story.
After that it’s all work, because then comes the writing, which is effort and I don’t particularly enjoy it, and I put it off as long as I possibly can. (Gripe, gripe, gripe, huh?! I’m really not complaining, I’m just explaining how it works for me.)
I’m an ideas guys more than an actually do it kind of a guy! I’m a better starter than a finisher, but even I was able to push through and write a book. That is meant to be, and should be, hope for any potential writer who is reading this. You want to be a writer? Write. It’s as simple and/or as difficult as that. Once you’ve committed word to paper, PC, etc, you are by definition a writer.
Now, how to be a successful writer? Well, if we could bottle that what a sweeter world this would be. That, however, and in my opinion, is lightning in a bottle. But you need to write first to even have a shot at lightning in a bottle. After that it’s just wait and see for any of us. I’ll hasten to add that I’m still here “waitin’ and seein’” along with everybody else.
5) In this digital age, what has been the most helpful social media site to connect with readers?
Reviewers/bloggers, such as yourself are very helpful. (Thank you very much, by the way) A Facebook presence and Facebook promotion has been a good tool. And Amazon reviews are quite helpful as well.
That’s something that I think we all need to remind readers of more often. If a reader really enjoys a book, a short review on Amazon or CreateSpace or Goodreads helps a lot, and in a variety of ways. It helps other readers connect with what could be an enjoyable read for them, and it also helps the author, especially a self-published author, spread the word about their work. Plus, it doesn’t take all that much time.
So, after you finish reading this, I invite you to head over to Amazon and write a review about a book you’ve really enjoyed, whether it be my book or someone else’s.
6) After the release of The Helper, what are your future plans? Any other books in the works?
I have two other novels that I’ve started and stopped. One is at a complete dead-end. I don’t have a clue where to go with that one. The other needs an outline and then I need to sit my behind down and start writing. The Helper wasn’t written with an outline but this latest novel that I’ve started is too complex for me to just write blindly to see where it goes. I’m ten-thousand words in and finally realize that I just can’t just wander with this one—I need some direction.
I have ideas for two or three other novels that I may or may not get to. I also have five or ten short stories that I should start and/or finish. Writing can be pulling teeth for me. I’d much rather sing! But, as we used to say in the Marine Corps, “How does it feel to want?!!!” Or, “Small price to pay to be one of the world’s finest!”
Thanks again, Anthony, for this opportunity to talk about my book and writing.
M. N. SNow