Interview with Helen Allan

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't remember the first story I ever read, but I was a voracious reader from a young age - always being told to "get your nose out of those books and go outside and play". The books that had impacts on me as a child were those with animal characters like Charlotte's Web and Watership Down.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I just can't narrow my favourite books down to 5 - if I love a book it stays in my bookshelf and no matter how many times I move house, those boxes of books are carted from place to place. Long-time loves though are Lord of the Rings, any number of historical romances, thousands of fantasy and sci fi novels and (guilty pleasure) Twilight.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read books that allow for total escapism into another world. Preferably those with many, many books in the series, like Game of Thrones, that I can live in for a long time.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Call me a luddite but I only read books on paper. I love the feel, the smell, the ability to dog-ear a page to mark my place....
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Covers attract me to books. Then I will read the back, then the first page - if the first page doesn't grab me I put it back on the shelf. I haunt book shops, especially second-hand book shops.
Describe your desk
I'd like to say it is pristine and clean....but actually I have little bits of paper all over the place with notes on things I have to do, I have whiteboards crammed to the hilt with notes on characters and books and coffee rings - I'm a piglet!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in coastal and inland Western Australia. We moved around a lot, I have a very great love of the natural environment, the ocean especially, and animals. Books and my pets were the one constant in a long chain of changing schools, homes and friends - they are still my main love (plus my husband and daughter).
When did you first start writing?
I've always written stories, had a very active imagination and crossed the line often between truth and bullshit because I couldn't resist making something sound just that little bit more exciting...
What's the story behind your latest book?
After a trip to Egypt a few years ago I wanted to write a time travel fantasy novel - I also wanted to use an everyday Australian girl from a white-trash background as the main heroine because I was writing for the students in my class at the low socio-economic high school I was teaching in. Many of the students came from terrible homes and many did not enjoy books because they felt they could not relate to the characters. I was trying to inspire them with a character they could relate to and enjoy. My 'Scarab' series is due for release in August.
What do your fans mean to you?
Many of my fans were once my students, I've only recently begun to publish the books I wrote more than a decade ago to read out loud to children in my classes, so it is somewhat strange to me to find that I have fans now, all over the world. I started with a book 'Bilby' 15 years ago - it is now available on Amazon. I wanted something with strong values, quintessentially Australian, but pure escapism. Then I read my students a fantasy series 'Scarab' soon coming out. I read the books to the kids without telling them who wrote them and I asked them to write to the 'probably very busy and famous author' with their feedback, whether they liked the books or not, any questions etc. Later in the year, after they had left my class, I would post a letter home to them, revealing that I was the author and answering their questions. I always ended the letter with 'hey keep this signature, you never know I might be famous one day and it could be worth something'.
I have kept every letter and illustration sent to me by those students - even the boy who wrote "I don't like books, I only like motocross magazines, don't bother writing back".
I still get stopped in the street by former students, now adults, whom I read my books to more than a decade ago and asked for hugs - some have even messaged me with pictures of them holding my book and the letter I sent them all those years ago. I cherish every person who likes my work and I think I always will - because they have come into one of my little worlds, and enjoyed the visit.
Published 2017-05-10.
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Books by This Author

Scarab Falling Through Time
Price: Free! Words: 58,570. Language: English. Published: January 21, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Fantasy, Fiction » Romance » Time travel
(5.00 from 1 review)
Ancient Mystery – Timeless Love. ‘An eternity as an immortal in slavery was not what she had in mind.’ Desperate and alone, Megan uses a powerful and ancient talisman to escape modern-day life and make a new start in ancient Egypt. But powerful enemies lie in wait. Will an alliance with the handsome and secretive Franklin save her? Or cause her to lose everything, including her heart?