Interview with Helen B. Henderson

Have you always wanted to be an author?
I inherited a love of reading from my grandmother and that translated into the flip side of the coin–writing. Recently I cleaned out the source notes and unused photos from my published columns and feature articles, and travel clips of now defunct events. What was kept were memories, and a large pile of material that forms the perfect research base for helping me plan the itinerary when I take people to worlds of imagination or to the Old West.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I often walk through cemeteries, whether to do period research, pick up trash or upright flags that have fallen over. Add in a full moon and All Hallow’s Eve, and the idea of a soul trapped on Earth with all the consequences of it started to form. An old sea chanty was also one of the muses for Imprisoned in Stone and with new words it became one of the spells in the book. The first time I heard the tune was in an episode of the television program, Sea Quest. In that use, a grizzled chief got the crew singing to overcome their despair at their vessel’s damage. In Imprisoned in Stone, while the music rang in my head, my character used the magic inherent in the rhythm to cast out the spell threatening her ship and crew.
What are you working on next?
Now that Imprisoned in Stone is published, my next major project will be to the re-release of Dragon Destiny, the first Dragshi Chronicles, and to get the rest of the chronicles into print. Another project, a collection of short tales from the homefront and the battlefront that is a tribute to family who have served in the military is also moving towards the front line.
Who are your favorite authors?
Maybe it is my Gemini sign, but my favorite authors are direct contrasts. Ann McCaffrey and Barbara Hambly call to the fantasy in my soul while Louis L'Amour takes me back to the past. Of more contemporary authors, when a little romance or romantic suspense is wanted, Judy Griffith Gill and Carol McPhee. And for fantasy? Michael W. Davis and Kinley MacGregor are among those whose works I reach for.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Walking the bayfront promenade in our town and watching the sun hit the Liberty Tower and the other buildings of Manhattan is an almost daily event. When longer excursions are desired, bicycling the Henry Hudson trail provides relaxation. During the fall and summer months, local events such as concerts and festivals are other destinations. A number of which are within walking or bicycling distance.
What is your writing process?
Although different research and background go into each book, some things don’t change, namely the creation of a novel notebook. The amount of detail going into each depends on the muse, the story and how it develops. My writing approach remains what is currently referred to as an exploration. I work with an outline. Not the old Roman numeral hierarchy of cascading levels, the storyboard is equivalent to a first draft. Items in any one outline can vary from a sentence or three or four bullet items to a fully-developed scene complete with dialog. For me the approach allows me to use structure to get started, without losing the freshness when the characters take over the telling of their story. About the mid-point of the drafting of the story, the voices take over and the journey can take unexpected side trails.
Have you ever taken real world events and incorporated them into your stories?
Writing fantasy, incorporating the real world can be difficult. Sword fights and dragons soaring overhead aren’t part of most people’s everyday life. That said, I believe a secret to a good fantasy is the world must be real to you and the reader. So places I’ve been or researched creep into settings.

Sometimes, the real world unintentionally collides with the fictional. For one of the tales in the Dragshi Chronicles I wrote a scene which involves the villain and unwilling shark-bait. Of course, I did have a hard time explaining to my husband that I wrote that chapter four months prior to the Jaws movie marathon he was watching on television.

Another case where the real word and fictional overlap occurred with the novel, Windmaster. After being forced to run a gauntlet, the hero, appropriately dressed or is it undressed (use your imagination), is in a dungeon. Several months after the book's initial release, a television commercial caught my interest. If someone had read the book they would immediately recognize the prisoner in the dungeon--Lord Dal.
Describe your desk
The room designated as my formal "office" is an organized chaos where only a hardy soul dares to trespass. Volumes on military weapons stand next to books on antiques and traditional crafts while The Chicago Manual of Style and The Synonym Finder mingle with The Pirate Primer and gaelic-english dictionaries. Depending on the day of the week/month/position in a project, my desk can be perfectly organized, or the center of a mass of photos and research notes that spills onto two adjoining workspaces and sometimes the floor.
Name one thing readers would be surprised to know about you.
In some ways, Imprisoned in Stone is different from a number of my other works. While it does not have the dragons that fill the skies in the Dragshi Chronicles, it is not bereft of magical creatures among them a strong-willed stallion named Rascal. And I was able to pull on other experiences to bring my characters to life. In my bio, I mention I was a correspondent in a past life. Among the topics I wrote about were history (including military history), antiques, and military weapons. People who see me in a suit giving a lecture on how to create a novel notebook would not recognize me in fatigues with a press badge hung low on my belt and a reporter’s pad in my hand. Another persona is me wearing a hoop skirt and wide-brimmed hat, walking through a re-enactor camp carrying a basket with a camera and recorder hidden in it. Recalling shooting arrows on my family farm and discussions with a retired sailor on life at sea melded with the military to produce a blend of action and romance.
How does music and writing go together?
Music is an important part of my writing life. Since, I can’t go to Scotland in person, I travel to the fantasy worlds the land inspires with celtic music, especially the lilt of the flute. I close my eyes and the seidheirn (the magical breed of horses in the Dragshi Chronicles) prance to the Irish air, “Garryowen.” The costs of duty are emoted by "Desperado" by the Eagles and Celtic Thunder, or a tune from my younger days, Barry Sadler's "Lullaby." While battle fever is quickened by another tune from Celtic Thunder, “Ireland’s Call.”
Published 2014-01-23.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Hatchling's Mate
Series: The Dragshi Chronicles, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 90,040. Language: English. Published: February 29, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
From their birth it was expected that Talann’s and Lexii’s destiny would be entwined. However fate had other intentions. Lexii and Talann could not stand to be together. Glyn, Lexii’s bodyguard, fights to keep hidden the secret no one could never learn. And threatening them all? The charismatic leader called the Parant. Sometimes not even dragon fire and talons.
Magic and Steel - Mt'wan Comraich
Series: The Dragshi Chronicles. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 23,820. Language: English. Published: May 16, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
Bodyguard to a lady dragon shifter threatened by a former suitor, Kedar dared not fail in his duty—or more dangerous, love the Lady Mairin Alidryer of the Dragshi. A novella of duty and honor, love and adventure from the Chronicles of the Dragshi.
Hatchlings Curse
Series: The Dragshi Chronicles, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 86,300. Language: English. Published: January 18, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
Lord Branin Llewlyn means to break the hatchling’s curse and end the childlessness of his kind. Cryptic references to mating flights add hope, but dark references about the deaths of suitors threatens not only his life, but the dreams of all dragon shifters.
Dragon Destiny
Series: The Dragshi Chronicles, Book 1. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 91,400. Language: English. Published: February 20, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Fantasy, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
The awakening of his dragon soul twin brought Dragshi Lord Branin the freedom of flight and near-eternal life, but not happiness. For eons, he feared he would never find a woman with her own dragon soul partner—until one day another's mind touched his.
Imprisoned in Stone
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 96,690. Language: English. Published: October 13, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Fantasy, Fiction » Fantasy » General
For the crime of healing without payment, the Brethren imprisoned a mage's soul in stone. After centuries, he felt the touch of another's mind and hope for escape from his eternal prison soars. However, his potential savor is unaware of her latent magic--and her only knowledge of him comes from an eerie message on the wall and nightmarish dreams.
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,250. Language: English. Published: October 12, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
In a not so distant future, a select group of the world's most talented and intelligent are brought back from the dead. Called recovs, they have 96 hours to create a child with the perfect genetic match selected for them by the government. Love is not supposed to enter the equation and there are consequences when it does.
Hatchling's Guardian
Price: Free! Words: 5,070. Language: English. Published: October 5, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
Not all dragons are fire-breathing demons. Hatchling's Guardian is a short story with sweet romance in the fantasy. Trelleir is a true dragon whose magic allows him to take on human form. The last of his kind, he longs for companionship. Even if it is only that of a human female. However, she is a slayer. Sworn to kill all dragons, including him.